District: City Council, District A
Occupation: Retired Army Special Operations Colonel
Incumbent: Yes, 1 term
Why should your constituents elect you?
My constituents should re-elect me based on the fact that I’ve done exactly what I said I would do two years ago. When I knocked on their doors, I would introduce myself, let them know that after 28 years of military service, my wife Deborah and I chose to live in North Raleigh for the quality of life here, that was five years ago, in 2008. I believe that it’s incumbent upon me to preserve and improve upon that quality of life. That quality of life is what attracts a quality workforce, of well-trained, well-educated to Raleigh. That, in turn, is what attracts a variety of business interest here. Those business interests help to keep our taxes, our cost for service here in Raleigh, one of the lowest in the Triangle and one of the lowest in the state.
The reason that they should continue to keep me as their Councilman is pretty simple: after I would tell them who I am, I would shut up and ask them what their concerns are, either about North Raleigh or Raleigh, and then I would listen. And, that listening has produced great results for North Raleigh. In particular, there was an intersection, at the intersection of Lead Mine road and Bridgeport road. There had been several accidents on that road and when I knocked on the doors of folks there in Bridgeport, they were very concerned about this and two traffic fatalities. It took a year and a half after I knocked on their doors, but there is now a traffic signal there. I took that seriously, worked with the city staff and with NCDOT and we managed to come up with a solution that works very well.
I mean that’s just kind of an example, but, also, that’s happened throughout the district.
Many issues taken up by the state legislature have a direct impact on Raleigh. How can Councilors work better with the state legislature on those issues?
I’ve talked to our local delegation, our folks who represent portions of the city, either in the North Carolina House or the Senate and, it’s important that they know that we here in the City of Raleigh have concerns about actions that the General Assembly propose and then execute that have a significant impact on our ability to continue to have one of the best qualities of life. We are nationally recognized as being one of the best places to live in the country and, when the General Assembly impacts our ability to do what the citizens of Raleigh want us to do, they need to at least be aware of what they are doing and certainly have our delegation vote against and educate their follow members of the House and the Senate as to what the actual impact is.
Number one that comes to mind is the desire by the Senate to abrogate the lease on Dix Park. This was done, supposedly, as a concern that they didn’t get enough money for mental health. Our delegation was able to slow down what the Senate was doing and get to the point where we could get to an agreement that might be better for everyone, with the new governor. That’s the sort of thing that you have to do in order to work with a General Assembly that is almost — I’ve been told they are basically hostile to the major cities here in our state.
It’s important that they understand that such actions do have consequences and it seriously affects the quality of life of the citizens they are representing.
Raleigh continues to grow at a good pace, which affects everything from our water quantity to our infrastructure. How do you feel Raleigh can become more proactive about managing that projected growth?
I think that we have done an excellent job over, especially the last decade, of managing that growth. The growth was not well-managed prior and that winds up being a serious issue, especially up here in North Raleigh. A lot of North Raleigh came into being in the last 20, 30 years and, therefore, the infrastructure up here is relatively new. But there are also some serious mistakes made along the way. In the area of stormwater, at least every other week I will get an email or phone call about where impervious surfaces were allowed to go in and no one really considered where the water was going to go. So, that has a serious impact on the quality of life for residents impacted by those very poor decisions.
We’ve mitigated that with the stormwater fee, which does a couple of things. It helps to take care of problems that, if you will, previous Councils allowed to occur. Also, the stormwater fee helps to improve our watershed so that there is a better quality of water that is being delivered to our watershed.
What do you think are the best and worst decisions made by the Council these last two years?
Well, we’ve made a lot of really good decisions. I’m proud of the decision to vote for Dix and the lease. I’m not real happy with what happened with the General Assembly.
The Unified Development Ordinance has been a very important and well researched and well discussed program because it’s important to give everybody in the process of development an opportunity to feel as if though the process works for them. The Unified Development Ordinance cleans up the previous development ordinance and it provides a predictable process designed to insure fairness for all of our stakeholders.
It’s very important to me that the neighborhoods understand that their concerns are going to be looked after. It’s also important to make sure that the folks who do good developments, and we have several here in the city of Raleigh, that they’ve got a predictable process that they know that they can go to, that as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to, they’re going to be able to develop and make a profit.
There have been decisions that I’ve disagreed with and occasionally you will be the only individual to vote against something but even then, a lot of times that was for items that were of particular interest.
Raleigh voters will decide whether to approve bonds for a transportation plan. Do you support the bond? If so, what would be your priorities?
I do support the transportation bond and, number 1 for me, without a doubt, is fixing Sandy Forks Road. Back in 1990, we brought Sandy Forks road, the City of Raleigh brought Sandy Forks Road into the Raleigh street system. It should not have been accepted because it was substandard for our road system but they were growing so quickly out here in North Raleigh, they just kind of overran it and took it and it was a very bad decision and that’s not a decision this Council made, that was a decision a previous Council had made. But, it is a connector between Six Forks Road and Falls of Neuse, it was a simple country lane, it was never designed to carry the sort of traffic that is on it now.