Name as it appears on the ballot: Brett Gantt
Party affiliation: The Apex Town Council is a nonpartisan office (I’m registered as a Democrat)
Campaign website: www.ganttforapex.com
Occupation & employer: Statistician, Environmental Protection Agency
Years lived in Apex: 12
1) In 300 words or less, please give us—and our readers—your elevator pitch: Why are you running? Why should voters entrust you with this position? What are your priorities, and what would you want to see the town council do differently or better over the course of your term?
I’m running for re-election to the Apex Town Council to 1) improve walkability, 2) enhance Downtown Apex, and 3) grow Apex thoughtfully. These priorities are similar to the ones I ran on four years ago, but I’m running for a second term to continue implementing these changes and to extend the progress we’ve made in the last four years.
2) Given the direction of Apex government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
Yes. The current Apex Town Council membership represents a shift from the fast growth perspective of the past. I believe that the current Town Council priorities also better represent our increasingly diverse and thriving population.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
Traffic – I support the $42 million Streets and Sidewalks Bond on the ballot this year to help construct some of our highest priority projects in the next few years.
School Capacity – We’ve worked closely with the Wake County School System to identify potential sites prior to development occurring in the area. This effort has already led to several future school sites being purchased by Wake County or given the right of first refusal.
Downtown Development – I plan to strongly advocate for using a portion of our American Rescue Plan local funding to complete some of the improvements to our Downtown that were recommended by the 2019 Apex Downtown Master Plan and Parking Study.
4) What’s the best or most important thing the town council has done in the past year? Alternatively, name a decision you believe the council got wrong or an issue you believe the town should have handled differently. Please explain your answer.
We’ve used the unspent money set aside for small business loans during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic to partner with Western Wake Crisis Ministries to help eligible households making less than 200% of the federal poverty level pay their water, sewer, electric, and/or solid waste utility bills.
5) What prior experience will make you an effective member of the town council and advocate of the issues listed above? Please note any endorsements you have received that you consider significant.
I believe that my scientific background (PhD in Atmospheric Science from NC State) helps me make objective, fact-based decisions on the Apex Town Council even when those decisions can be emotional or controversial.
6) Given the rate of growth in Apex, how will you ensure that growth is well managed and enhances the town rather than detracts from it? Where does density and height fit in in planning decisions, if it does? How do you intend to balance growth with sustainability?
Through recent changes in our 2045 Land Use Map, we’ve tried to encourage growth in the right places and discourage it in the wrong places. Specifically, we’ve reduced the maximum allowable density to 1 dwelling unit per 5 acres in the far western part of Apex to control sprawl and protect the Jordan Lake watershed which serves as our drinking water source. At the same time, we’ve increased the allowable density around existing and planned transit routes closer to the core of Apex to encourage affordability and to reduce the reliance on personal vehicles. These changes were intended to ensure that public transit investments are successful and to encourage higher-density development patterns in areas where it can be supported by the transportation network.
7) As with most places in the Triangle, Apex is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? Should it promote apartment living, duplexes, and/or triplexes? Encourage density in single family housing? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
In the recently adopted Apex Affordable Housing Plan, a combination of ordinance changes and funding was recommended to start addressing the issue of housing affordability. We’ve already made changes to our ordinances in the form of updates to our 2045 Land Use Map that increase the allowable density near public transit. This increased density will likely take the form of apartments which are currently not common in Apex. Starting in last year’s budget and continuing this year, we’ve established and contributed to the Apex Affordable Housing Fund that will help retrofit existing affordable housing and provide gap financing for new affordable housing. I believe that Apex could work even more closely with Wake County and other regional partners to make that funding go farther.
8) A recent report found racial bias to be “deeply entrenched” in the Apex police culture and deep seated racial bias across the town as an organization as a whole. How has the town addressed racial bias within its police force and within its town culture? What more, if anything, should it do?
Along with the report, the Town of Apex released a 13-point action plan to address some of the issues identified in the report. This action plan is currently being implemented by our new police chief Jason Armstrong. We’ve also recently hired our new Town Manager Katy Crosby who is working on hiring a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer to address these issues.
9) In your view, how can Apex be safer and more accessible using different modes of transportation? What is your vision for public transit, pedestrian and bike safety, especially following recent reports of joggers being hit by cars?
I’m a strong advocate of modes of transportation besides personal vehicles. Apex plans to launch GoApex Route 1, our first local bus circulator in the spring of 2022. We’re also partnering with NCDOT and other nearby municipalities in a grant to plan for passenger rail and associated development along the S-Line rail corridor that runs through Apex. Lastly, we’ve recently passed a resolution to support Vision Zero Apex with the goal of zero fatalities on Apex roadways.
10) Apex was one of a handful of Wake County municipalities not to reimplement a mask mandate recently with the resurgence of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Was this the right decision? How do you feel Wake County and Wake School Board officials have handled the COVID-19 pandemic? If you don’t think the pandemic was handled well, what should have been done differently?
No, I disagreed with the Mayor on that decision but supported his right to make that decision for Apex in consultation with the other mayors, county commissioners, and health officials. I feel as though the Wake County School Board has had the hardest job in local politics during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I believe they’ve done about as well as they could have in a difficult situation.
11) In what ways should Apex promote economic development? What are your goals for Apex’s downtown and what does the town need to do to achieve those goals? How should the town address its downtown parking issues?
I consider our historic Downtown Apex as something that makes us unique, and an important tool for recruiting new businesses. In 2019, the Town Council adopted the Apex Downtown Master Plan and Parking Study which established a guiding vision for improvements to Downtown. We’ve recently voted to implement three of the top 10 recommendations from the Study, including a redesign and expansion of off-street parking to add 178 new spaces. Salem Street is the main road through our downtown, and we voted to transform the streetscape with wider sidewalks, street trees, and a curbless road/sidewalk transition that is more accessible and great for our many street festivals.
12) Apex residents love their parks and greenways. How should the town work to preserve, improve, or expand them?
Careful planning and more funding. Apex is currently working on a Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update which will help us determine the greatest community needs. Part of that update will be an objective prioritization of future projects. If re-elected, I intend on using that Master Plan and associated prioritization list to advocate for increased funding to the highest ranked projects.
13) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.
Local elections really matter, and I’d encourage your readers throughout the Wake County municipalities (besides Raleigh and Cary) to vote on November 2nd. In Apex, there’s an early voting site at the John M. Brown Community Center (formerly Apex Community Center) that runs from October 23-30.
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