District: City Council, District A
Why should your constituents elect you?
I believe Raleigh is a great place and, when elected, I am committed to sit, listen, and learn. I want to understand what is important to people, no matter what their background, no matter what their experience, no matter what their perspective. I am convinced that, if we work together, we can make thoughtful decisions that are focused on doing the right thing for Raleigh. Right now, I truly believe we need a vision, we need a plan, and we need good leadership and I am committed to bringing that to the City Council.
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?
One of the concerns I have is that we frankly don’t work well with our state government. We may not agree with a lot of what they’re doing but we need to find ways to work together, we need to find ways to build bridges. There’s plenty that we share in common, there are certainly more things that bind us than separate us. Good leadership finds ways to bring people together and that’s what our City Council should be working on with the state legislature and with the state government, finding ways to identify those things that impact us, that are important to us, finding the areas we can work together and accomplish for the best interest of Raleigh and for our state.
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?
Everything comes down to planning. Right now, growth is coming, that is a given and we can’t change that and growth by itself is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing. It will help us have a strong economy; it will insure that we have an economy that is viable and sustainable, but what we need to do is we need to have a vision about what we want our city to look like and we need to have a plan for how we are going to implement that vision. Through good leadership we can execute on that, but it really comes down to, first and foremost, insuring that we plan for it because if we plan for it right, we can promote and preserve the things that make Raleigh great, our quality of life, our cultural arts, our parks, our greenways, our neighborhoods.
I live in North Hills, I moved into the North Hills neighborhood in 2000, before the old North Hills mall came down. I moved here because I loved the old road trees, I loved the quiet backyard, but I also appreciated the ability to be 15 minutes from my office in downtown. That’s what makes Raleigh great: we have diversity, housing options, lifestyle choices, jobs.
What do you think are the best and worst decisions made by the Council these last two years?
The firing of the city manager is the worst. Put aside what you thought of the city manager and his job. My concern is the motives behind the firing of the city manager and the process surrounding his replacement demonstrate poor judgment and poor leadership. It has hurt our city’s reputation, it has hurt our city financially, we are spending money we didn’t have to. This is not good leadership. There was no prior planning, there was no succession planning to figure out what were we going to do if we needed to replace the city manager and there is none of that in the process right now. There’s no consideration of the ramifications and there’s mishandling of the hiring process.
We should be working together, we should be figuring out who the stakeholders are in the corporate community, in the civic community and the rest of our city government, bringing them together to figure out how do we get the best and brightest here to help our city so that we can continue in a positive direction. That’s not happening and right now the environment and the culture that’s being created at the city level is going to put in jeopardy that risk; that’s the single most important decision that we’re going to make in the immediate future, there are a lot of important decisions but that one can have a long-term impact and we get it wrong, that’s a problem.
One of the best decisions that the City Council has made, is, frankly, recognizing the importance of having companies like Citrix come into our city and working to develop that and certain city council members were very instrumental in that happening and that deserves to be praised because those are the kinds of things that are going to help us create the economic base that I talked about.
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 go back to the comment I made before: growth is coming, we can’t avoid it. We also just came out of, and are still coming out of, a very challenging economic time. Because of that, we didn’t spend some of the money that we needed to and that we wanted to, to insure that our transit infrastructure system was meeting all of our needs. We are going to have to spend money to maintain what we have, and we are going to have to spend money to meet the needs of what’s coming. It’s vitally important to make sure that our citizens get what they need, that we have safe transportation routes and road structures and infrastructure that meet the needs of the growth that is coming. That’s what businesses will want to see so, yes, I support the bond because it’s a way to help fund those things.
Maybe folks can disagree with all of the things that are in it but, at the end of the day, we can’t deny the fact that these expenses are coming, the need is there and will continue to be there. We’ve got to find ways to meet it. My sense is that we need to make sure that that’s a comprehensive discussion, that we’re not just focusing on any one part of our city but that we’re looking at all areas of our city to make sure that we have good, accessible, safe, well-maintained roads and infrastructure.