Randall Williams (R)

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Age: 54
Current occupation: Obstetrician/Gynecologist
Website: www.randallwilliams.net

Randall Williams

How long have you lived in Raleigh?
22 years

Why have you decided to run for office?
I think that one of the most important things facing Raleigh is leadership that could help people work together and develop consensus. I think we have some great challenges ahead. I’ve worked with all sorts of people for my 22 years, delivered lots of babies — Republican babies, Democrat babies, Independent babies — and gotten to know a lot of people, and I just feel one of the skill sets I have is getting people to work together to try to meet those challenges.

What do you think are the three biggest issues the City of Raleigh faces, and how would you address them?
I think the first one is obviously the economic situation. I think the mayor has to do everything he can to create a favorable business climate, attract jobs, increase the jobs that are here, increase customers.

The second thing goes along with that one and that is just to be fiscally responsible. I think one way you do all that is to keep taxes low, and listen to businesses to what you can do to help them be more productive. I think my experience overseas and here have taught me that a strong business sector solves a lot of social ills.

The third thing is the mayor needs to set the tone for the city. So much of politics now is divisive, almost driven by an anger by people who disagree with you and that’s just not who I am. I’ve spent my whole life both here and in the Middle East trying to get people to work together. I think Raleigh has historically been like that, but in the last couple years, I think we’ve gotten away from that some, and not just Raleigh, but the whole area, and I think that diminishes all of us when we can’t resolve your differences with civility.

What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current city council has made?
Well I think the worst decision that they entertained was the public safety center. I just think that in this economy, to build a $200-million public safety center and raise taxes, with the economic reality of the times, that wasn’t a good move. I also have problems with it being a 17-story building downtown. I spent a lot of time overseasand I just think to put your nerve center in a 17-story building a la Oklahoma City bombing, the World Trade Center, I just think there’s probably a better way to approach that. The city’s done a good job with their current council with the comprehensive planning.

If you talk about the current council being the last couple years, the last four years or so, I think they’ve been very thoughtful and forwardthinking in that, and that’s good.

What do you think is the most important issue facing the city, and how you plan to address it?
Growth. From the standpoint that there are supposedly 200,000 more people to come, 400,000 here, and many people
move here. That growth is a good thing, but it creates all sorts of issues, and one of those is how to plan for that growth. Right now we have $1.2 billion in debt and that’s quadrupled in the last 10 years and people would argue that that has been around the whole idea of trying to accommodate that growth, but I believe very strongly as a fiscal conservative that you just got to keep taxes low to attract businesses to provide jobs for all those people coming, or all you do is just strain the resources you have—the roads, the water, education.

I think all the candidates would say the same thing, it’s growth. I just think we probably differ a little bit on our approach
on how you manage that and that’s my approach.

What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
First of all, you know, I’ve talked with [Raleigh Police] Chief Dolan, and I’ve talked with [the city manager], and clearly there’s a need for facilities. We haven’t spent money on that. I would have voted against the public safety center because it was going to be another $200 million in debt and raise our property taxes by 8 cents.

The second thing I was against it for is that I don’t know, I served a lot of time overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I just think it’s a bad idea to put all of your nerve center — communications, fire, police — in a 17-story building.

How do you feel about impact fees?
I think it’s a nuanced answer, and by that I mean it certainly, you have to work with staff to understand that clearly the people who are paying them are getting a benefit, but often the community at large is getting a benefit, so I think you have to be balanced in that.

What ideas do you have for public transportation in Raleigh?
When we talk about public transportation, we’re talking about federal, state, county, and then regional authority, and then the City of Raleigh. Now, of all those things, one entity that doesn’t probably have any role in paying for it is the City of Raleigh. If you look at everything out there, it’ll come out light rail, buses and referendums — it’s all on the county level. So, I think that given all those factors, I’m always very sensitive to the cost of those, and that’s going to be first and foremost an issue for me.

But on the other hand, I think Raleigh has to do its part as a regional entity if the other ones are going in that direction. You know the [proposed sales-tax increase] referendum is $900 million, of which $400 million is for buses, so certainly I think we can all agree on the $400 million for buses, regional buses. It’s the other part that I think is kind of out of our control, but clearly, all of the other entities put up the money for it. You know, I think it’s been reasonable for Raleigh to do its part in planning where the things are going.

How do you think the city should plan to meet its future water needs?
I think once again regionalism. I think you need to do everything you can to stay out of watersheds if you can and to me it seems we have plenty of areas that have concrete on them already that you can redevelop. So, I guess my answer would be again really to work well with others with regionalism and be really sensitive to trying to emphasize redevelopment. The city has been given a million dollars to do whatever it wishes.

What do you think the money should go to?
I probably would think long and hard about using that money in some way in a job promotion program to attract businesses to Raleigh. So I guess I would … work with the Chamber [of Commerce] to say, “we’ve got $1 million dollars, we need to get jobs and industries and businesses here, help us figure it out.”

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