District: City Council, District B
Occupation: Owner of Meineke Car Care Centers in Raleigh
City of Residence: Raleigh
Incumbent: Yes, 14 years (total)
Why should your constituents elect you?
Number one, experience. I’ve shown the ability to get things done. I haven’t gotten everything done I wanted to, but the experience I’ve had on the Council over 14 years out of the last 20. I’m a person who listens. I don’t always agree with everybody, but I’m a person who does listen and if I think it’s something we ought to do. I work hard to get it done. I’m persistent in what I do. You don’t get it done immediately but you have to keep your eye on the ball and when the availability comes up to make something happen on the Council, you need to be ready to pull the trigger so to speak and get it done, and I think I’m very good at that.
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?
There are some things that have popped up if I’m not mistaken that directly affect our income. I’m for the state allowing the city to do more of its own thing rather than the state dictating what we do. Our charter, or the thing we’re supposed to do, is police, fire and water and sewer, and for the most part we’d like the state to allow us to make things happen. Especially in the state of North Carolina, the City of Raleigh is a major economic factor in what happens, so the conversation is being able to talk to a variety of other legislators that are down there. I have a personal relationship with many of them, both Democrat and Republican, so I can at least put my two cents in.
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 Raleigh has done a pretty good job with the water and sewer. We have a 25-year plan to stretch it out, even a bigger plan that goes 50 years of our water supply. Raleigh does not have a rain problem except when we have a drought and nobody can predict when that comes. That always puts pressure on our infrastructure to supply water, but we’re in pretty good shape if we go ahead and do the Little River Reservoir and get that done, and maybe one other holding station. Our problem is we need a place to hold water until we’re ready to use it. We’re continuing to look at those places, the Little River Reservoir in particular. I hope that we will get that done. It takes a long time to get that done but we’re going to have growth because it’s a great place to live. And it’s not only a great place to live, you can get a job here. The unemployment is better than most parts of the state and the people that are unemployed are just unemployed.
What do you think are the best and worst decisions made by the Council these last two years?
Well I think since we’ve pushed for downtown facilities, one of our worst things over the last two or three years is we haven’t gotten a new hotel downtown. I think that’s very important. I think we’ve had the opportunity to do that. We’ve had the opportunity to build a 911 center out actually in District B by the Westinghouse plant. I hope we get that done. We’re moving forward with that, so the worst would be there were some opportunities to get things done very quickly that we didn’t do.
We have the New Hope tributary which is a Shamrock Meadows, Brentwood Today Lake, and Beaman Lake. There were three lakes that during Fran and Floyd flooded and flooded the community pretty bad. We made a commitment to dredge those out, clean them out and use them as holding ponds and water quality ponds. That has seemed to have changed since we did the Beaman Lake, which was the first of those three lakes on the New Hope tributary and the others are key if we keep snowballing them or keep putting them off. And we keep blaming the state on that, and I’m not sure that’s true. I think the city could have put more pressure and already had dredged out the North Shore Lake and already had done what it should have done in the Brentwood Today Lake. That’s our negatives.
What have we done positives? We’ve allowed growth in the public-private sector, and the private sector to come in and help us build this city. I think that’s huge. With Red Hat, Citrix, and all the others. The RTI place out here that has 400 employees, it’s out on Capital Boulevard. We ran into some problems with our codes and our tree line, and we adjusted to be able to make that happen. We are helping to get employment up, get employment here so I think that’s one of our assets.
Raleigh voters will decide whether to approve bonds for a transportation plan. Do you support the bond? If so, what would be your priorities?
There are a couple of things here in District B that are in that bond. When I talk about transit, people need to realize I’m talking about the transit put inside the City of Raleigh. TTA, Raleigh Transit Authority, the national stuff and the transit between here and Durham, to me that’s way down the road but our bus line, our CAT system here in the City of Raleigh needs to be pushed and upgraded. Our transit stops need to be upgraded, and so I support that. It will come with a tax increase; most people need to know that. It’s 1.1 percent, I believe is the number, I may be off a percentage or two there, or a point off. But I’m going to support it, and then I’m going to let everybody else make their decisions on whether they want to support it. But a lot of it in there is transit, but it’s transit inside the city limits of Raleigh. For years in transit I have pushed; we can’t do transit without density. We have allowed density to go especially in downtown Raleigh and west Raleigh. There are a number of big high-rises that are going to open up in the next six months that are already a lot of them pre-sold, so that’s going to put a lot of people downtown. Not all of them are going to be able to walk from place to place, but they’ll need a bus system. So I think we need to do something about that, and I think this bond will allow us to do that.