Shelia Jones (D)

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Age: 48
Current Occupation: President of J.T. Locke Resource Center

Why have you decided to run for office?
I feel that there’s a dis­connection between community and govern­ment, and I want to make a change to bring com­munity and government together.

What do you think are the three biggest issues the city of Raleigh faces and how would you address them?
One is economic, which is getting job training in some of the lower-income family homes, which that’s where I work at — get­ting them aware or get­ting them back, loosen up in trust in the government to get them back into the workforce or school.

Environmental is anoth­er — making sure that, in the environment, that our water is not being wasted or contaminated, as well as our nature continue to be preserved.

The third one is our city is growing rapidly, espe­cially Southeast Raleigh, so the UDO plan and the comp plan is a very big con­cern for me for that area.

What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current city council has made?
We’re now the second-largest city for people want­ing to move here, but mov­ing towards a metropolitan city is a good plan, but plan it correctly — that the low­er-income people do not get left out. I think that is a very important piece. And I feel that our city needs to re-evaluate developers, making sure that develop­ers are going by the correct guidelines. And another thing is I feel the city needs a line-by-line audit from each department, mak­ing sure that our tax dol­lars are being spent the way they need to be spent and not on unnecessary things.

Right now the current UDO plan that they’re trying to pass, that’s one thing that I do not agree with because the zoning. They need to take a com­prehensive, closer look at that plan because it will af­fect the southeast Raleigh area.

What do you think is the most important issue facing your district and how would you address it?
I think the most im­portant thing that’s facing that particular district is the low-income families. They do not trust govern­ment. It has to be a connec­tion with the families, with people that maybe want to get jobs that cannot or the crime rate is built up. But they do not trust govern­ment because governments do not come in and work with them. I think the rep­resentatives, in the past, have not really connected with them. That’s some­thing that I do often. I work with the children, the families, getting them trusted back with govern­ment to connect, to start moving them into a place that they want to get out and work. They want to get job training. And once we get that connection back together, that reconnec­tion back together, I think people will start moving into finding what they can do best and how they can help themselves as well as helping their community.

What do you think the city should do to house its public safety functions?
If you’re going to have one great, big building, you have to make sure that building is safe enough if anything happens, that it’ll be able to evacuate quickly. Having everything in that building might not be a bad idea, but make sure it’s safe enough.

How do you think the city should plan to meet its future water needs?
Not putting gray water in the community, that’s one thing. The city needs to take a look at several dif­ferent things. You look at Falls Lake, and that’s one of our main sources, and around the watershed, if you’re going to build, have developers build and you’re talking about building four houses on one acre, you’re actually subject to have four houses on one acre instead of two houses on one acre. You’re actually missing the point, that we still want clean water.

I feel like taking another look at how many houses should be built on a piece of property. That would help preserve, and we’re talking about the 2.2 pounds that they just passed, I think the law, of the 2.2 pounds that they can let so many toxins out. Eventually, that 2.2 pounds might go up. Who’s going to monitor that closely, that it will stay within the ordinance of that cultivation? Who will protect the watershed?

How do you feel about impact fees?
I really haven’t looked at it as much as I should. It’s going to impact the lower-income people more than the people that really have jobs.

How do you feel about public transportation in Raleigh?
Public transportation needs fixing. We need to fix our public transportation before we do anything else. We have the R-Line that’s free; we have the bus that goes around that they call the “party bus,” that needs to be used for something besides just being the “par­ty bus.” We need to really fix our public transporta­tion in so many areas and so many ways. Expansion is growing in southeast Ra­leigh, and it’s expanding rapidly. So until we can fix our public transportation, I really don’t see any other transportation coming in here until we fix what we have.

The city has been given a million dollars to do whatever it wishes. What do you think the money should go to?
We’re going to have to invest in fixing things that we have already that need fixing, like our public transportation, job train­ing, really trying to con­nect with our community to get the job training to get these folks working. Really focusing on revital­izing the correct way. The more you push people out­side of the city, it’s harder for them to get a job.

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