Name as it appears on the ballot: Todd Kennedy 

Age: 48

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Public Infrastructure and Environmental Consultant, WSP

Years lived in Raleigh: 25+

1. Given the direction of Raleigh government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, what specific changes will you advocate for if elected?

I am running to be the independent representative of District D. On balance I believe that the current city council has put Raleigh on the right path. Areas of progress include affordable housing, missing middle zoning reform, and moving bus rapid transit forward. There are some areas where I do think we can do more. For example, support for our first responders and community engagement.

Public safety is one of the most essential services that our local government provides. Raleigh’s continued economic prosperity is reliant on a strong commitment to the city’s public safety network of police and other first responders. We currently have an unsettling number of vacancies in the police and fire department due to pay and other issues. We should increase the police and fire budget to address this critical issue. In addition, I support expanding the ACORNS crisis intervention unit city-wide to assist the unhoused, those suffering from mental illness, and other vulnerable populations.

Further, parts of our community are clamoring to be more engaged with the council and issues that affect them. While we cannot turn back the clock on issues like CAC disbandment, I believe we should seek out every opportunity to make it easier for residents to engage including additional effort to seek out the voices of underserved and marginalized residents.

With that said, I believe we are at an inflection point for our community. We need to move Raleigh forward instead of returning to policies that will stifle our city’s potential and that means building on the work of the current council.

2. If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identify your priorities for your district. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces.

Growth and Infrastructure: The question is not will we change and grow but will we make better choices to grow in a more thoughtful, well-planned way. We need to advance transit, take decisive action on housing, and protect and restore our environment including actions on climate change. I will advocate for better public transit including a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along Western Blvd and Wilmington/S. Saunders streets that has robust ridership, viable mobility options at stops, and well-planned corridors for density.

Public Safety: In addition to addressing the large number of vacancies in the police department, the city should expand the ACORNS crisis intervention unit city-wide to assist the unhoused, those suffering from mental illness, and other vulnerable populations. We also need to work with our partners both in government and in the community to bolster crime prevention efforts. In District D, we need more resources to address issues on Glenwood South.

Parks and Greenways: Our parks and greenways are critical to our resilience as a city. A parks system like Raleigh’s doesn’t happen without thoughtful planning and courageous investments. I support the 2022 Parks Bond because it strikes the right balance between making needed investments in our parks system including several within District D, including equity-focused investments in parts of our city, and making progress on what will be the crown jewel of the Raleigh Parks system, Dix Park. Dix will be an economic engine for the District and our city.

3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the city council and as an advocate for the issues that you believe are important?

The depth and breadth of my experience in both the community and in my profession is an area that distinguishes me from other candidates in the District D race. Throughout my more than 25 years in Raleigh, I have demonstrated a commitment to the community through service and leadership with vital community organizations, and city boards and commissions spanning issues of affordable housing, equity and inclusion, and the environment. I have served as Chair of the Raleigh Human Relations Commission, Vice-Chair of the Raleigh Environmental Advisory Board, member of the Board of Directors for DHIC affordable housing nonprofit, member of the Family Selection Committee and volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and a volunteer for SPCA’s AniMeals program helping seniors and their pets, among others. Further I have been a leader within the Democratic Party. A selection of roles includes State Executive Committee Member, County Executive Committee Member, Precinct Chair, and Wake Young Democrats President. Also, I received the statewide NC Young Democrat of the Year Award for my leadership.

​In addition to service, I have built a successful professional career partnering with communities, government agencies, and non-profits to develop solutions for public infrastructure and the environment. These are areas that are directly relevant to the needs of our growing city. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC Chapel Hill, and currently work for a global consulting and engineering firm here in the Triangle.

4. U.S. metros are grappling with a housing shortage, especially a shortage of affordable housing. Raleigh is no different. Many believe that the best way to address this crisis is via dense infill development along public transportation corridors. Do you share this vision for Raleigh’s growth? Please explain.  

We should focus the overwhelming majority of growth and housing into our downtown core, growth nodes, and into transit corridors including the planned BRT corridors. Focusing density in this way will reduce long term dependence on cars while enhancing quality of life and equity. Over time that density will also help facilitate the success of the BRT and commuter rail so that more people can get from homes to jobs more easily. It’s not just about getting people in housing, it is also about getting people close to work and schools which has a cost in terms of transportation.

Also part of the solution to housing is adding more incremental density into residential neighborhoods without undue burden through the missing middle zoning reform. And I believe there are ways to do that without losing the essential character of these areas. I will support reasonable and practical approaches in this regard.

5. In 2020, Raleigh citizens voted in favor of an $80 million affordable housing bond to assist with acquiring land and building near transit corridors, preserving existing inventory, down payment and homeowner repairs assistance, low-income housing tax credit financing, and more. The city also created a goal of adding 5,700 affordable units over 10 years and is on track to meet that goal. But it’s estimated that Raleigh has a deficit of some 20,000 units currently, and it’s clear much more work is needed. Should the city bring another affordable housing bond before voters? Why or why not? If yes, when, how much should the city ask for, and what should the bond fund?

On housing affordability, the city has made progress on a number of fronts. Despite those efforts, the housing crisis has gotten worse. Our need for more affordable housing for low to moderate income residents in our city is growing by the day. We should strengthen the affordable housing partnerships with our nonprofit partners such as the Raleigh Area Land Trust, expand the preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing, and put more emphasis on the use of city-owned land.

Before we consider a new bond, we need to implement and learn lessons from the current bond funding. In addition, Raleigh can’t solve housing alone; we must have greater collaboration with our regional and state partners in the search for solutions. With that said, given the large and growing need I do think we will need to consider a new bond some years down the road because I recognize the urgency and injustice of this housing crisis. It would be premature at this stage to speak to when, how much, and what it should go towards with any specificity.

6. In neighborhoods across the city, ranch homes and other modest, more affordable single-family homes are being torn down and replaced with large (also single-family) McMansions that don’t provide more density. Does the city have any authority to regulate such teardowns? Should it regulate such teardowns and redevelopment?

The city has authority to regulate certain aspects of this type of redevelopment including setbacks, heights, and related characteristics. I favor requirements that balance the reasonable desire for the redevelopment to fit the neighborhood with the rights of the landowner to replace an existing home with a new one.

7. One way Raleigh’s city council has attempted to address the city’s housing shortage is by allowing for more flexible housing options such as duplexes, triplexes, and quadraplexes in all neighborhoods in the city, eliminating certain zoning protections, and allowing apartments for zones along bus routes. Do you support this move to bring missing middle housing to the city and do you think it will be an effective policy for managing the city’s growth?

Yes, I support zoning reform for missing middle housing. While the debate around missing middle has become heated as of late, the missing middle zoning changes were necessary in the face of an unprecedented growth wave in Raleigh. Raleigh needs more housing of all types in all parts of the city. While I support placing a large amount of that into the downtown core, our growth nodes, and close to transit corridors, we also need to facilitate infill, redevelopment, and gentle density in our single family residential neighborhoods. We need balance. And we can do this without destroying essential neighborhood character. Just as we did with ADU’s, as we move forward with implementation of this new zoning regime, we should be prepared to tweak and enhance the requirements as we learn more and move forward in time. Growth brings both challenges and opportunities. Let’s tackle the challenges together and leverage the opportunities so we create a prosperity that all can share in.

8. Raleigh’s city council has directed city staff to gather data on absentee investors who are buying up properties in the city. Would you support measures to limit investors from buying up homes as other U.S. cities are considering doing or further regulating whole house short-term rentals that some argue are detracting from the supply of homes available for full-time residents?

I am concerned about the proliferation of activity by investment companies in the housing market. We currently have limited tools to affect that issue. We would need legislation at the state level to grant us more power to regulate that activity. In terms of what we can do outside of that, I think it is to build an abundance of new housing units in the city so that we balance the supply and demand equation, and stabilize prices.

9. What role should the city play in ensuring that the longtime residents of rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh and other areas of the city can continue to afford to live in those neighborhoods?

We need to work with our County partner and nonprofits to reduce the increased tax burden of existing homeowners such as those on low to moderate and fixed incomes in gentrifying areas so that they can stay in their home if they choose to do so.

For renters, the city’s focus needs to be on helping those that may be displaced (e.g., more notice, assistance to relocate, and increase affordable housing stock) and preventing displacement where we can through preserving naturally occurring affordable housing via partnerships with groups like the emerging Raleigh Area Land Trust. I believe there is room to grow that partnership in significant ways. Preserving NOAH has to be just as much a priority as building new affordable housing.

10. Public servants including police officers, firefighters, and teachers can’t afford to live in the city where they work. As a result, Raleigh loses good officers and teachers to other municipalities and is grappling with a current shortage of around 60 firefighters and more than 100 police officers. What can Raleigh leaders do to attract and retain the best officers and other public servants?

First, we need to increase the salaries of public servants including our first responders so that they can afford to live in the communities that they serve and so that we are competitive relative to other municipalities. In addition, the police department is having trouble retaining officers due to salary compression and other issues. We need to address these problems now.

We should also strengthen and build on our tools for housing affordability. The city needs more market rate housing of all types across the city to put downward pressure on rising costs and rents. Furthermore, we should focus a large proportion of new growth into downtown, our growth nodes, and near transit corridors. This will improve connectivity between resident’s homes and their places of work, and have a positive impact on family budgets. It’s not just about getting people in housing, it is also about getting people close to work and schools which has a cost in terms of transportation. Finally, the city needs to expand affordable housing stock significantly and put additional resources into preserving naturally occurring affordable housing.

11. Do you support the city council’s decision to eliminate parking minimums for developers? Why or why not?

I support the decision to eliminate parking minimums for a number of reasons. It helps to reduce the cost of housing. We need to devote less space to cars and more to housing, public spaces, and other modes of transportation. Also this provides a developer the flexibility to respond to their customer’s needs. In the end, the developer and the market will tailor parking to their customer’s needs rather than be restricted to a certain parking minimum. However, if over time this change in our parking requirements begins to cause unexpected problems we should reevaluate the policy.

12. In 2019, Raleigh’s city council voted to eliminate citizen advisory councils (CACs) without public notice or input. Do you feel this was the right decision? Do you support bringing back CACs? What do you think the council is doing right or wrong when it comes to community engagement post-CACs? Could you describe your vision for community engagement in Raleigh?

Though the CAC system was imperfect and in need of significant improvement, I believe the move by the council to stop directly supporting the CACs was rash and unnecessary. But now we must look ahead and work together to craft the best community engagement program possible. I do see a potential role for citizen led engagement groups like the CAC’s but a CAC 2.0 where we address the shortcomings of the previous system and focus on information exchange. This would be just one part of a larger community engagement strategy.

That larger strategy is one where we seek out every opportunity to make it easier for residents to engage including additional effort to seek out the voices of underserved and marginalized residents. We need to both meet residents where they are at and literally where they live, provide both in person and virtual forms of engagement, and provide flexible and easily accessible platforms. The office and board for community engagement have been working on a more robust platform and we should continue that work.

13. Following shooting deaths of Raleigh residents by RPD officers, the city council established a civilian-staffed police review board in 2020 that had no official power and fell apart soon after two of its members resigned. The council also established the ACORNS unit to address mental health crises, but data shows the unit rarely assists on calls related to suicides and involuntary mental health commitments, leaving most of those calls to police officers. Do you feel that the council has done enough, in partnership with the police chief, to reform the police force and address officer violence? Would you support cutting the department’s $124.5 million police budget?

I support the reforms of the last several years including the new de-escalation policy and the creation of the ACORNs crisis intervention unit.  We should expand this unit and seek ways to make better use of the unit to assist the unhoused, those suffering from mental illness, and other vulnerable populations. Since this is a relatively new approach for the city, and for many cities, it may take time to calibrate the process and procedures, including how to work collaborate effectively with the police. While there may be opportunities for professionals from the ACORNS unit to attend to calls without an armed police officer, it is not always clear what situation you have. In some cases it may be necessary to have representatives from the police due to uncertainty of the risk involved. We have to be smart and find ways to approach this without creating new problems.

I believe we need to increase the budget to expand ACORNS and address the large number of vacancies that we currently have in both police and fire, at a minimum. We have an urgent need to address pay issues in the department including salary compression and bring tools to bear on staff retention. Our city is fortunate to have good leadership in its police department so let’s give them the tools they need to perform the critical public safety function that all our residents deserve while also seeking common sense ways to reform policies and procedures, and approach issues of homelessness, mental health, and related issues with care and compassion.

14. Raleigh has made strides on transit in the last several years. Bus fare is free and construction of new Bus Rapid Transit routes is underway, bike lanes are expanding to areas across the city, and commuter rail will eventually connect Raleigh to Durham and Johnston Counties. Is the city doing a good job of managing its current transit systems, encouraging residents to use them, and planning for more future transit and connectivity? Should the city be investing more on bike, pedestrian, and other transit infrastructure?

I support keeping the regular city buses fare-free. I believe this helps to increase ridership and has an important equity dimension. We should also put in place measures to prevent abuse of this for the sake of all riders. In association, we need to find creative ways to begin to change the broader culture around the use of transit so that we can also help facilitate the long term success of the BRT system.

I support better public transit including commuter rail and a Bus Rapid Transit that has robust ridership, viable mobility options at stops, and well-planned corridors for density. This will help improve the environment, reduce emissions, and enhance the lives of all Raleigh residents including those who prefer to use a car.

Finally, we need a comprehensive and integrated multimodal strategy in this city that moves transit like the BRT forward but also creates additional bikeped opportunities and fosters connectivity. Raleigh should develop a comprehensive mobility plan that includes robust community engagement so we can assess the current state of multimodal including non-car options, find the gaps, and then use it to chart a long term strategy for the city.

15. Downtown Raleigh has struggled to rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic with foot traffic still down and many storefronts and offices sitting vacant. The council has implemented a new social district to try to bring people downtown again. What more could or should the city council do to revitalize the urban core?

The city should continue to collaborate with the Raleigh Chamber, Downtown Raleigh Alliance, businesses, and residents to create a downtown full vibrance, vitality, and opportunity. One area that will help to support this vision is to find ways to foster more retail in this area of the city. Additional support to small business retail should be provided as an example. As a councilor, I want to continue to try new things that make both our downtown and the city’s overall quality of life better.

16. Do you support Raleigh’s $275 million parks bond on the ballot this fall? Why or why not?

Yes. Raleigh’s parks and greenways are an essential part of our quality of life and critical to our resilience as a city. Parks and greenways were our mental and physical salvation during the pandemic. They are our gathering places, where children learn to play together and people from all backgrounds can enjoy unique experiences that enrich their lives. For our neighbors who are struggling to get by, our parks and greenways are essential as free entertainment and recreation a family can enjoy together and our parks track-out programs ensure that children have access to programs and nutritious food. A parks and greenway system like Raleigh’s doesn’t happen without thoughtful planning and courageous investments. I support the 2022 Parks Bond because it strikes the right balance between making needed investments in our parks system for our growing city, including equity-focused investments in parts of our city, and making progress on what will be the crown jewel of the Raleigh Parks system, Dix Park. Dix will be more than just a park; it will be a significant economic driver for the city.

17. If there is anything else you would like to address, please do so here.

I am proud to have worked with many current and former elected officials and a number of organizations on the issues that matter to Raleigh residents. Our campaign has received endorsements from a diverse set of elected officials and organizations. These include former Raleigh mayors Charles Meeker and Nancy McFarlane, former District C councilor Eugene Weeks, Equality NC, and others. A full list is provided on our campaign website.