Date of Birth: November 1, 1950

Campaign Web Site:

Occupation & Employer: freelance writer and author, director of nonprofit

Home Phone: 919-732-4384


1. What are the three most important issues facing Orange County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

The three most important issues facing Orange County are 1) supporting and defending our values — in education, the environment, caring for people, and working in concert; 2) the ongoing need to provide a broad range of economic development opportunities; and 3) the imperative to assure continuity of experienced leadership in a time of uncommon change.

Support and Defend Orange County Values.

Experience, study, and observation have convinced me Orange County does in fact embrace a distinctive set of values that undergird many of our actions and attitudes as individuals and as governments. Many of these values are under assault by the current leadership in Raleigh. We must be prepared to protect our values – embodied in a high level of support and appreciation for public education; recalibrating and reinforcing environmental standards and land use that are among the most stringent in the state; reaching out to, and remaining mindful of, the needs of the poor, powerless, handicapped and elderly; and working in partnership with those of like minds beyond our borders to bolster our mutual strength.

Education. Orange County proudly and consistently devotes a higher percentage of its total local funding to public education than any other N.C. county. We do this because we believe in good pay for dedicated professionals in teaching and related fields, and in the public education provided by our fine Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School systems.

As we have throughout my tenure as a commissioner, we must step up to ameliorate cuts in state spending for schools. For instance, just last year we raised the total portion of our county budget for education to nearly 49 percent. Our budgeting starts with education, guided by a target of 48.1 percent based on a 10-year average. We almost always surpass that target, but it provides a starting point and some dependability in budgeting for all concerned.

Through a schools adequate facilities ordinance enacted on my watch we have responded to school overcrowding in a timely manner. During my first 11 years in office we built eight schools; as those met enrollment needs and then the recession slowed growth, we have turned more spending to per-pupil allocations.

Our next capital priority will be addressing the comprehensive studies of facilities in both school systems spurred by post-Newtown safety concerns, health issues with mold and asbestos, structural problems such as weakened wall support and leaking roofs, antiquated technology, and inadequate space. Many children in both systems attend class in buildings that are more than 40 years old and require immediate repair.

The total capital price tag for both systems figures to exceed $200 million, more than the county’s annual budget. I have been advocating the development of a series of bonds, with the first to come in 2016, to address these concerns in an orderly and equitable manner. The bond process should include careful education of voters about the condition of many schools, soliciting their support for the tax increase these improvements will necessitate.

Crucially, the county must continue to work collaboratively with both school systems, an emphasis that’s grown over my time in office. About a decade ago the three entities and the public discussed the possible merger of the two school systems. We ultimately decided the lack of significant savings, the distinctive cultures of each district, and the susceptibility to parental involvement in small districts mitigated against change. However, those discussions produced recognition of the importance of having the school systems work more closely with the county and with each other, sharing resources where they can.

As a commissioner I continue to encourage such partnerships and mutual support. This has led to creation of an innovative middle college program that allows high school students from both systems to earn college credits even as their get their diplomas. The school board and county commission officers and staff now meet regularly to discuss matters of mutual interest, particularly budget drivers that shape our decisions. And we are making common cause with our schools to support teachers – including legislative assaults on tenure and pay equity — and to prevent funds from being siphoned off for private education.

Environment Orange County is home to water supply watersheds that support numerous municipalities throughout the region. We are proud of a tradition of leadership in protecting these natural assets. Our land use plan properly concentrates growth away from sensitive areas to places where it can best be served by existing and planned infrastructure. Such mechanisms as joint planning with Carrboro and Chapel Hill, and separately with Hillsborough, assure growth boundaries and protected natural areas proximate to urban concentrations.

We must continue fine-tuning these arrangements in ways that better serve to create contiguous open space and wildlife corridors, and to improve affordability through clustering in rural areas that doesn’t increase density. One of my goals is to reach a joint-planning arrangement with Mebane at Orange County’s western edge that similarly defines future development areas and distinguishes where open space and agriculture will be preserved.

We have strong stream and vegetated buffer requirements, a local environmental impact ordinance I helped to craft while on the planning board, and a Lands Legacy program that acquires easements to protect farms and watersheds as well as makes outright purchases to provide parks and to preserve significant natural areas. However there are increasing efforts in Raleigh to weaken the ability of local governments to provide these kinds of protections and programs, and Orange County must find creative ways to adapt.

We must do more than react. We have scant regulatory control over the application of biosolids in our jurisdiction, and must continue efforts to change that through the legislative process. We must also continue to pursue partnerships to achieve responsible disposal of solid waste. We need to develop public transit, bike lanes and sidewalks to provide alternate, cleaner methods of transportation. When we craft a bond package driven by schools, a package that could total $100 million, I will advocate that one percent go to county provision of bike lanes and sidewalks. State funds for those purposes are drying up, and are only sporadically available to counties anyway. Having children walk in ditches to get to school and bike riders mingle in traffic is neither safe nor fair.

Helping Those Least Able to Help Themselves Orange County is committed to maintaining and, where it can, enhancing the social safety net through direct programming and partnerships with non-profits that provide much-needed services. I’ve pushed for periodic renewal of a flexible safety net fund that allows the county to respond to changing circumstances and to pick up programming we deem too important to drop when the state and federal government make cuts. Two years ago I raised the issue of taking a more concerted approach to unacceptable levels of poverty in Orange County, a topic that now has the attention of our board and staff.

The gamut of areas where we have stepped in to help the disadvantaged is broad – homelessness, inadequate child care, lack of affordable housing, reduced support for the mentally ill, substance abuse, victimization by sexual abuse and violence, assimilation of residents from different cultures, discrimination in housing and employment. I am pleased to support groups and efforts that address these concerns, including annual provision of funding in excess of $1 million to outside agencies.

Moreover, we need to craft policies that promote affordable housing, and support the efforts of individuals and families to achieve independence and self-sufficiency. I’m currently co-chairing a jail alternatives work group — which I proposed in anticipation of building a new jail – aimed at developing a comprehensive system for steering folks clear of incarceration where prudent and appropriate. Too many prisoners are mentally ill or substance abusers best helped outside a correctional setting, or get stuck behind bars because they have nowhere else to go or can’t make bail.

Orange County also enjoys a high quality of life we all wish to share through good libraries, senior centers, parks, and other amenities. I’ve been a longtime supporter of libraries, worked to establish and improve our parks and senior centers, and to acquire and expand the excellent SportsPlex in Hillsborough. (I also successfully advocated discounts there for our staff, and for military veterans.)

Partnerships Finally, Orange County is a place where working together, while sometimes fraught with competing imperatives, is a basic value. The Orange Water and Sewer Authority is a rare creation of three governments. The Joint Planning Agreement controlling and directing growth in the southern part of the county is the creation of three governments. We have a similar land use agreement with Hillsborough.

I continue to cultivate a relationship with Mebane that produced agreements essential to the growing success of our Buckhorn economic development district. We’ve created parks at Little River and Hollow Rock that are partnerships with other governments (and private non-profits). The Piedmont Food and Agricultural Processing Center (PFAP), which I first envisioned and shepherded to fruition, was formed by four counties. We lead the state in solid waste reduction thanks to the joint efforts of three municipalities and the county government.

Speaking of partnerships, while it may go without saying, teamwork with one’s colleagues on the board of commissioners and with county staff is essential to being an effective elected official. Rarely does a commissioner accomplish anything on their own.

Provide a Broad Range of Economic Development Opportunities.

Orange County has adhered to a thoughtful, well-articulated land use plan that places intense development where it is best served by existing or planned infrastructure. I served for 11 years on our Economic Development Commission to promote the services and tax base that we seek. I’ve been on planning groups that expanded areas where commercial and industrial development might appropriately occur – between Efland and Mebane, around Hillsborough, near Durham, and on NC 57 near the Person County line. We discourage disruption of rural areas with suburban sprawl.

I will continue to be the county’s foremost elected promoter of a local agricultural economy. In the past I helped to secure federal economic development funds through Congressman David Price for a farmer’s market shelter in downtown Hillsborough, and worked on creating PFAP. I’ve successfully championed a position for a county agricultural economic development specialist. I continue to work on our annual agricultural summits – which I initiated 16 years ago — to bring new ideas and approaches to the ag community. I remain steadfast in championing funds for conservation easements, often used for preservation of prime farmland.

Small business is key to generating jobs. We must nurture more entities like PFAP and LaunCH, a business incubator in Chapel Hill that already has generated spin-off enterprises. So far those new companies have remained in Orange County, a key concern as UNC and other enterprises develop cutting-edge ideas.

I helped to promote adding a quarter-cent sales tax, half of which supports economic development through water and sewer infrastructure in areas designated for commercial growth. These monies also go to supporting a small-business loan fund, agriculture, and joint projects with the towns. As we offer incentives to attract new businesses such as Morinaga, we must assure that we recruit firms which limit water use, provide a living wage and health insurance, and offer domestic partner benefits. I intend to work toward some system of incentives that also encourages businesses to adopt the same green design that I’ve helped put in place for county facilities.

Now we need a position in our economic development office that’s devoted to business retention. Governments get so focused on recruiting new firms they tend to neglect those already here. We lose too many businesses to other jurisdictions, and too many small businesses need loan, strategic planning, and other hands-on support. This job will quickly pay for itself.

Continuity of Leadership.

Orange County has a distinct need for institutional memory and consistent, experienced leadership in these times of uncommon change.

The majority of county commissioners will soon be first-term members, with no one except me having served for more than six years. We’re about to hire a new manager and voters are about to elect a new sheriff. Given the challenges we face both from without and within, this is a time when a source of consistent, seasoned leadership is essential.

My role on the new board will be to share how we arrived at certain decisions and to suggest avoiding pitfalls that ensnared us in the past. That doesn’t mean telling people what to do. Nor does it mean we should shy from new ideas, only that we should be guided by past experience. It’s surprising how much contemporary history is lost, taken for granted even as it fades from memory.

Government is ultimately about cultivating relationships. As I have throughout my public career, I intend to continue forging ties with officials and residents from jurisdictions inside and beyond Orange County. I will call upon these contacts as needed to promote joint projects or to clarify confused or contentious situations.

Most of all, I will make clear to residents, staff, and other public officials that they can rely upon me to share the institutional memory crucial to understanding the challenges we face.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Orange County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

I have a long history of public service in Orange County. I’ve been an active participant in local government here since the mid-1980s, and have lived in Orange County for nearly 40 years.

My first exposure to civic involvement came in the early 1980s when I looked beyond the wildlife refuge and 1785 house where I serve as site supervisor and executive director of a governing foundation. Moorefields is located near Hillsborough, adjacent to the Seven Mile Creek natural area within a water-supply watershed. I wondered how this distinctive resource could be preserved, and quickly realized the importance of proactive land-use planning.

I applied for a seat on the Orange County Planning Board and served as chair for four of my six years as a member. We aggressively investigated and sought better policies on environmental protection, affordable housing, water and sewer provision, transportation and traffic impacts, rural character preservation, and parks. We also went to extraordinary lengths to invite public participation, including from vocal opponents of our proposals. We were not afraid to publicly disagree with county staff or with the commissioners on matters of policy when we considered the issue sufficiently important.

Later I served for nearly six years on the board of directors of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority, again as chair for the majority of my tenure. We changed the culture of the organization to become more responsive to the community and to governmental land-use plans, advocated stringent watershed protections and an aggressive land-purchase program near our water supplies. Within the authority’s legal constraints, we reduced the cost of assessments for hooking to the system. We also started the “Taste of Hope” program, which still exists, to help low-income customers with their payments.

I am currently finishing my fourth term as an Orange County commissioner. I have a proven record of working on issues such as environmental responsibility, social justice, smart growth, natural area protection, park development, energy efficiency and solid waste reduction, growing a local agricultural economy, and expanding opportunities for economic development in appropriate locations. I actively and publicly blend fiscal prudence and social responsibility.

I am an unwavering supporter of public education, including widened opportunity through a community college which I helped to site and design after securing funds. Thanks in part to the rain collection, day-lighting, and other greenbuilding components we included in the structure, the Durham Tech campus in Hillsborough has incorporated sustainability classes into its curriculum.

I have repeatedly reached out to neighboring governments and other service providers to create partnerships that better serve our communities. Partnership, the willingness to listen and adapt, is a central strength of my service and essential to forging lasting relationships, extending the impact of limited tax dollars, and bringing predictability in relation to neighbors.

To that end, I worked to fashion the 1980s Joint Planning Agreement between Orange County, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill that set an urban growth boundary severely limiting water and sewer extensions outside town boundaries. The pact created the rural buffer, which protects significant natural areas (University Lake and Cane Creek watersheds, Duke Forest), farm and forest land. I worked for nearly a decade on a similar agreement with Hillsborough which is on the verge of adoption. I put together a partnership between Orange and Durham counties, the Eno River Association, and Triangle Land Conservancy that led to creation of the 391-acre Little River Regional Park, much of it grant-funded. I was involved in orchestrating a comparable arrangement involving Duke, Durham city and county, local residents, Chapel Hill, TLC and Orange County to create New Hope Preserve along Orange’s eastern border.

I led the effort to create the four-county PFAP, for which I was the first board president. I worked to establish the relationship with Mebane that’s led to burgeoning economic development in the Buckhorn area. Similarly, I was a leader in fashioning a plan with Hillsborough for its economic development areas south and east of town, where Durham Tech and UNC Hospitals now have buildings.

As part of our planning with Mebane, I championed the needs and aspirations of People for Progress, a group representing a predominantly elderly, minority, low-income community along Buckhorn Road. We worked to secure grant money and have extended the water and sewer previously denied to that neighborhood by another government.

While serving as chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, I set up annual luncheons for informal discussions with our counterparts from Durham, Chatham and Alamance counties (when they were willing); and with Durham and Mebane officials. I instituted similar informal sessions with school board leaders and with our DOT division staff. The meetings with DOT have proven so useful in identifying and addressing local needs, our district engineer has replicated the model with other governments.

To repair bruised relationships, after I took office I helped to establish annual meetings between the boards of commissioners of Hillsborough and Orange. The practice now has also spawned distinct annual meetings with Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Mebane. I reached out to Duke University, another alienated neighbor, and forged a tie that gives Orange County an opportunity to purchase natural areas in our jurisdiction for which Duke no longer has a use.

I have been at the forefront of efforts to assist those who need a helping hand. In times of fiscal difficulty I’ve been a leader in twice creating flexible funding pools for social safety net programs — from breastfeeding support to emergency fuel assistance to urgent home repair to childcare to drug court — adversely impacted by federal and state cuts. I continue to work on issues of affordable housing, senior services, and health care.

I have demonstrated leadership on the state level as co-chair of the Farm and Open Space work group of the N.C. Smart Growth Commission, and as a member of the N.C. Commission on Electronic Voting. Regionally, I chaired the Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization, and the Triangle J Council of Governments, on which I still serve. I am Orange County’s representative on the Burlington-Graham Metropolitan Planning Organization. I was president of the Conservation Leaders Network, a national organization of county commissioners dedicated to environmental protection.

3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am a progressive, and proud of it. That means I believe government can be a force for positive change and for protecting both the rights of the group and of the individual. I believe government must help those least able to help or protect themselves, including the environment, and must operate in a manner that is respectful and accessible to all.

To that end, I successfully pushed to have the county adopt a living wage, to bump up everyone in the lowest pay grades, and to extend benefits to domestic partners. I regularly lobby for contractors with the county such as in-home service providers for seniors, to pay a living wage. I intervened to help residents of an assisted living center get better treatment from management. As mentioned elsewhere, I have repeatedly championed picking up key programs cut by federal and state entities that help struggling residents, and have worked to keep annual funding in our budget for private nonprofits in areas as diverse as affordable housing, mental health, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and child care.

I believe in teaming with residents and with other organizations and governments. I am committed to working regionally to transcend artificial political boundaries. Clean air and water, effective transportation and solid waste systems, protecting land and wildlife, adapting to climate change, all require a holistic view. To that end (and in approaching rural-urban divides), seeking similarities is more productive than accenting differences.

Government must stress public participation, shared information, and sensitivity to residents who experience bureaucracy as impervious to the needs and scrutiny of individuals. Government serves many valuable roles in public life. Responsive government can be run efficiently without losing its humanity or generosity of spirit. The rights of the individual, and minority viewpoints, must be protected from intrusion or coercion, including by government itself.

One of the greatest pleasures of public service is getting people timely responses to their concerns from appropriate staff members. We have recently added a public affairs officer to county government. Our new meeting space in Hillsborough will allow the commissioners to cablecast all meetings in the county seat to make them more accessible.

In a county where we are committed to strong funding for schools and for a range of quality of life services (libraries, parks, senior centers), we must remain sensitive to the many folks on fixed incomes (particularly seniors, who outnumber public school students) or who are otherwise of limited means. Watching the public’s money as if it is my own may be considered conservative; I consider it responsible. Government spending that is not sufficiently constrained, and policies that are too restrictive, make it difficult to maintain the heterogeneous populace necessary to build a strong, welcoming, vibrant community.

Government should reflect the best of its citizenry, should lead by example, and should serve as a unifying force. I consistently remind staff that rules applied to private entities on matters from construction to erecting cell towers to land protection must be observed by county government as well.

My philosophy is further manifest in dozens of actions and initiatives I have pursued in office, as outlined in my other answers.

4. Plans for the Durham to Orange County light rail and enhanced bus service are underway at this time. What can the county do next to improve public transit?

We are poised to proceed on a number of fronts. Now that residents, elected representatives and transportation professionals have articulated a vision approved by voters in Durham and Orange counties, we must persist in executing the regional plan. Those who opposed the tax referendum, even if they now profess support for mass transit, can be expected to continually raise objections and attempt to delay implementation. We should periodically review the plan in open meetings, building support and confidence, or make adjustments that better reflect changed circumstances.

We need to build the case for rail connection across the Triangle, taking advantage of advocacy by Research Triangle Park and new growth plans at Raleigh-Durham airport. That in turn should help rail advocates build momentum in Wake County. Environmental concerns will be at the forefront in routing light rail — including the choice of a path that least impacts New Hope Creek and a nearby wetland.

Meanwhile we should advance bus plans on multiple fronts. The county will support Chapel Hill transit in extending hours with a handsome portion of the tax revenue, including plans for bus rapid transit (BRT) on Martin Luther King Boulevard.

The BRT can in turn address the short- and long-term imperative to provide public transit linking the 68-bed UNC hospital in southern Hillsborough to Chapel Hill, as well as the delayed Carolina North development to the numerous housing options now being constructed in Hillsborough. More robust transit in that corridor can supplant large portions of single-passenger travel on I-40, reducing congestion and pollution.

The existing bus that connects Hillsborough to UNC Hospital will soon be linked to a long-sought route running east-west along US 70 in the middle of the county. We can launch both an express Triangle Transit route running from Mebane through Hillsborough to Duke and west Durham, and a route operated by the county to provide local service from Mebane to Efland to Hillsborough and perhaps Durham.

We should work with TTA to site a bus transfer area in north Hillsborough along US 70 that links north-south and east-west traffic, to accommodate those coming into the county seat from Cedar Grove and Little River, and to connect with the Hillsborough bus circulator system. We also need to assign funding for a second bus circuit for the Hillsborough circulator in order to cut waiting times.

Park and ride lots are needed north of Hillsborough at the Cedar Grove Community Center, where we already own land; in Mebane or parts west; in Efland; and west of Durham where US 70 and I-85 cross in the Eno Economic Development District. I’m working through the Burlington-Graham MPO to encourage Alamance County’s public transit folks to coordinate with TTA. I’ve met twice with Duke representatives to discuss our mutual interest in an Eno park and ride for a TTA route serving Duke’s parking-starved campus. The presence of the park and ride could spawn economic development, perhaps in partnership with Duke.

Both of our school systems send students to the Middle College program at Durham Tech in Durham. If we want this innovative program to remain viable we must do a better job of linking the Durham and Orange campuses so students without cars can get to class in a timely manner.

We should actively engage Chapel Hill in discussions on rail-related development around stations within our county, specifically to promote affordable housing options supported by public transit. And we should continue to push for the Hillsborough Amtrak station we promised voters will be funded with the new sales tax.

5. How would you address the challenges of providing affordable housing in the county?

Since my days on the planning board, I’ve worked assiduously on affordable housing issues. Orange County imbeds operating funds within its budget for the Community Land Trust (CLT) to manage affordable units, mostly within Chapel Hill and Carrboro. We provide reimbursement for impact fees to CLT, Habitat for Humanity, and others. We provide funding annually to Club Nova, a transitional housing community for young adults. We host a shelter for women and children in Chapel Hill.

We work with other governments and non-profits through the Partnership to End Homelessness, which addresses the needs of those without housing. We need to plan for affordable units near rail transit stops.

We recently considered a public hearing item on allowing clustering on smaller lots served by wells and septic tanks in the rural buffer. This would reduce development costs without increasing density in proximity to urban education, employment and shopping areas.

The county is moving toward a 2016 bond issue driven primarily by school needs. I’m already advocating the inclusion of funds for affordable housing as part of the bond package. We first must coordinate recent studies by Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and our own Affordable Housing Advisory Board to fashion a comprehensive plan for rental and owner-occupied units. If necessary, we should create a short-term task force that includes provider and client representation to develop a unified plan prior to asking the public to support a bond.

In 2001, following work I did as co-chair of an affordable housing task force, I was part of the bond committee that included one of the few county-level affordable housing bonds ever passed in our state. That $4 million served us well, supporting housing nonprofits like Habitat and such projects as Manley Estates, a Chapel Hill retirement home for low-income, mainly minority seniors; a home for mentally challenged adults near Durham; and Eno Haven, another community for seniors near Hillsborough. The Eno Haven project in particular was created in partnership with a private developer, a departure from traditional affordable housing models that reflected prudent flexibility to leverage funding.

Going forward, we require more affordable rental units, either built with for-profit or non-profit partners. Where the county has water and sewer and plans for provision of high-density residential housing, we should negotiate to secure affordable units in the mix.

Like it or not, manufactured housing is a crucial component of Orange County’s affordable housing stock. We already are more liberal than most communities in allowing the location of such units, and should continue to be accommodating. Yet as redevelopment pressures mount, particularly in the towns, we must find alternative housing or alternative sites for mobile units to relocate. These sites could be owned by the county, allowing either owner-occupied or quality rental units.

Like it or not, manufactured housing is a crucial component of Orange County’s affordable housing stock. We already are more liberal than most communities in allowing the location of such units, and should continue to be accommodating. Yet as redevelopment pressures mount, particularly in the towns, we must find alternative housing or alternative sites for mobile units to relocate. These sites could be owned by the county, allowing either owner-occupied or quality rental units.

Finally, we should examine land-use and taxation decisions to consider how they affect affordability, always balancing other priorities with consideration of the needs of those whose fiscal resources limit their residence in Orange County.

6. Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.

Government has been under attack in earnest since the rise of the Tea Party. With that shift has come an anti-tax fervor that’s made funding government services by raising taxes a matter of vehement disdain and condemnation.

Rare is the elected official who wants to raise taxes, or the citizen who wants to see taxes rise. But, as someone who’s been in the position of meeting funding imperatives for mandated services, as well as trying to include other desired services such as senior centers, I’ve been willing to raise taxes for good purposes and explain my thinking to constituents.

Aided by sound fiscal planning, and paced in part by our innovative Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO), Orange County caught up with school capital needs and has been able to suspend tax increases during the recession. But, with our commitment to quality public education, and continued funding cuts at the federal and state level, we cannot defer tax increases indefinitely.

The imperative to meet school needs, which historically takes precedence in Orange County budget consideration, will eventually cause us to raise taxes. This will be met with howls of protest in some quarters but should not deter us.

7. What do you believe are the board’s greatest successes and failures in recent years?

Our greatest successes in recent years include:

• Stepping forward to increase funding to our two public school systems. Nearly 49 percent of our revenues go to schools, highest since such spending was tracked by the county. This comes at a time of general fiscal distress as well as aggressive cuts in education funding by the federal and state governments.

• Maintaining the highest funding in North Carolina devoted to public education as a total of all county expenditures, and sustaining high levels of service in county government, without raising general property taxes. This was done with prudent budgeting, freezing of positions, consolidating and streamlining functions, selling assets, eliminating office lease arrangements, and deferral of non-essential capital projects. Our fiscal strength in turn earned us some of the highest bond ratings in the state, making it easier for Orange County to handle debt within rigorous policy perameters and in a cost-effective manner.

• Advancing on a variety of fronts in economic development. In June we will have the groundbreaking for Morinaga and Company’s $50 million, 100,000-square-foot candy manufacturing facility near Mebane. The plant, expected to immediately expand, will employ 90-100 workers in the first phase, most trained at Durham Tech. Morinaga’s arrival already has attracted interest in the surrounding economic development district from other manufacturers. At the other end of the spectrum we’ve had three businesses graduate from LaunCH, an incubator done as a partnership with UNC and Chapel Hill; and PFAP is bursting at the seams after doing business for about 30 months.

• Successfully advancing a one-quarter-cent sales tax for economic development and for schools, as well as a half-cent sales tax for regional transit. The economic development funds already have provided infrastructure that landed Morinaga. The funds from the half cent, and from license plate fees, helped to advance federal rail project development monies, and have us positioned to improve bus service in the central and southern part of the county.

• Improving significantly our emergency services, especially our response times, by better coordinating with fire departments and more effectively deploying ambulances and first responders. I’ve promoted such cooperation since the late 2000s.We also are working on radio linkage uniting all public services in addition to the state’s Viper system.

• Opening the Walnut Grove Convenience Center, a key component of a solid waste disposal strategy the county worked out with the municipalities. I served on the committee of citizens, staff and elected officials that created a system with regional collection centers and smaller, satellite centers. Walnut Grove can take and compact most kinds of solid waste as well as clean wood, electronics, metal, fabric, hazardous materials and, importantly, food waste. Users are quite pleased and we will soon have sufficient data to measure the impact of these collections.

Our greatest failures in recent years include:

• Our inability to solve the legal, land-use, and funding difficulties involved in addressing the infrastructure needs of the historic Rogers Road neighborhood. To be fair, we have funded a $650,000 community center, on which we’ll break ground this spring, put in a water line and created a no-fault well repair fund. But our attorney has advised against active spending on water and sewer infrastructure pending a ruling on an old, pending EPA complaint. Chapel Hill’s attorney advises against spending town monies outside its territorial limits, and the town has yet to extend its jurisdiction to include Rogers Road. We have agreed to fund plans necessary to proceed with water and sewer lines when free to do so.

• The county’s inadequate dissemination of information during natural disasters such at the early-March ice storm. In part this reflected a loss of electric power, a failure that itself should be addressed if we are to be ready to inform the public. Yet even when up and running, the county failed to supply a central portal for residents and providers to find information regarding the status of utilities, schools, local government services, a shelter, and transportation. We currently are updating our strategic communications plan, and this deficiency must be addressed.

• Beyond closing the landfill and strengthening our system of convenience centers we have stalled in advancing a comprehensive solid waste disposal plan. The county has recently consulted with WasteZero, at my urging, to investigate additional strategies (mainly pay-as-you-throw) to reduce Orange County’s per-capita solid waste generation, already the lowest in the state; and with Green Stream, which seeks partners to fund an anaerobic vessel for digesting food wastes.

Unfortunately the towns, led by Chapel Hill, spent several years looking in vain for better waste disposal alternatives without county participation. That delayed development of joint plans until quite recently. Once the county and towns sign a pending five-year agreement on recycling services, we can resuscitate joint efforts to take fuller responsibility for our own waste. Facilities should be located proximate to the towns and university where waste is produced for efficiency, equity, pollution, and cost reasons. Simultaneously, working in partnership with neighboring jurisdictions, we must find environmentally sound, cost-effective alternatives for disposal beyond transfer stations and landfills.

8. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

Throughout my time in office I’ve endeavored to make Orange County government and the regional agencies on which I’ve served embrace policies that are as inclusive as possible. Social justice is central to the manner in which I govern and fashion partnerships. To that end, I worked with others to have Orange County become one of the first in the nation to develop a “Social Justice Goal” that articulates the county’s commitment to fair treatment for all in our decision-making.

I recently requested that staff make a presentation on our Social Justice Goal so the current board can become better acquainted with the policy’s genesis and possible application. Our meeting agenda items routinely have a line on which staff can stipulate “Financial Impact.” I’d like to see a similar line stipulating “Social Justice Impact,” if any.

A just community begins with caring for those least able to help themselves. I’ve worked to link job opportunities to folks on Work First, to extend Orange’s public transit, to aid with heating bills in the winter, and to provide funding to the many outside agencies that work diligently to provide counseling, treatment and other support for those in need. As mental health services devolved from the state to local government, we added funding to assure minimal compromise of the level and accessibility of service in Orange County.

Our land-use and housing policies have been, and will continue to be, designed to combat resegregation by race or income. I continue to seek employment recruiting that produces a work force reflective of Orange County’s diversity.

I’ve been a leader in promoting the provision of affordable housing. I strongly and actively support the county’s non-profit housing entities both publicly and behind the scenes. I led our board to assure a discretionary affordable housing trust fund from general fund revenues in the early 2000s, and in maintaining support of the Urgent Home Repair program that fixes critical problems for low-income, mostly elderly residents.

I’m a strong advocate for the county’s senior citizens, twice serving on steering committees that fashioned our award-winning Master Aging plans. I served on the county’s Advisory Board on Aging. I worked for bond monies to build a pair of county senior centers, and served on the design group for the Central Orange Senior Center. I was influential in siting an Adult Day Health Center in the new Central Orange Senior Center.

I continue pushing for a program that allows newcomers from agrarian backgrounds, particularly Latinos and Asians, to get involved in agriculture here, preferably through a training program at the Breeze Farm in northern Orange. I’ve prompted staff to send representatives to recruit employees at events and venues that support the Latino community. I’ve endeavored to promote job linkage with Club Nova, Orange Industries and others who aid folks suffering some handicap or disability.

I led the way in eliminating the bottom rung on our pay scale. I pushed for a living wage for every employee, even temporary help. I’m open to raising pay to match President Obama’s recommended minimum of $10.10, which is nearly what we offer now. I was instrumental in assuring that sheriff’s deputies, who are required to live within Orange County, are paid at least enough to afford housing in this community.

I worked to help Orange County assume oversight of animal services from what became a dysfunctional private entity. The animal shelter we subsequently built is a state-of-the-art, humane facility that’s significantly decreased the need for euthanizing animals. Not incidentally, it has natural lighting, rain water recirculation, and other green design features. How we treat animals says a lot about our values and who we are.

I’ve advocated strenuously for fair and prompt consideration of folks in and around Fairview, a low-income, predominantly African-American community on the edge of Hillsborough. That included lobbying for funds, and serving on the planning committee, for Fairview Park. The park has a community policing center the county partially funded. I also served on a redevelopment task force for Cornelius Street, which runs at the edge of Fairview.

We fought as a county against Blue Cross Blue Shield all the way to the N.C. Supreme Court for the right of local governments to investigate worker complaints of discrimination. I’ve pushed for undercover testing of housing inclusiveness in our county to ascertain the extent of discrimination in rentals.

I remain an unswerving supporter of public education as an important component of providing equal opportunity and building a just community. Over the years I’ve promoted strong, positive relationships between both school boards and the county commissioners, enabling us to better marshal and share resources and ideas. I worked to set in place what we call “fair funding,” a way to use equal county monies to provide a nurse in every school as well as social workers and public safety officers.

I’ve been a leader in promoting the provision of infrastructure in the historic Rogers Road neighborhood, where I once participated in demonstrations against the continued operation of the landfill sited there. I advocated a strong benefits package for neighbors of the American Stone Quarry, where expanded operation eventually will produce additional water resources for towns in southern Orange. And I stand for treating residents in low-income communities with the same deference and understanding insisted upon by citizens more familiar with how to work the system.

I believe strongly in environmental justice and in justice for the environment. I’ve pushed county government to adopt strong environmental standards for its own operations, including environmental and cultural surveys of every site the county develops for its own use or use by the schools.

And key to any just community are concerted efforts to facilitate involvement by those who, through barriers of language or custom, find themselves marginalized or uncertain in affecting decisions that shape their lives.