Name as it appears on the ballot: Amanda Murphy
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: https://electamandamurphy.com/
Occupation & employer: Director of Communications for the North Carolina Forestry Association
Years lived in Cary: 8 years
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?
My priorities are transportation, housing affordability, and sustainability. I love, love, love living in Wake County, and I’m proud of our town, our county, the Triangle, and North Carolina. We’re one of the best places in the country to live, and people are moving here for the opportunities and quality of life we experience every day. But we can do better.
I spent my career in marketing for local engineering firms, minus graduate school, a lovely stint as a stay-at-home mom, and a period in software development marketing. I’ve written close to 100 different engineering proposals, reviewed approximately 50 municipal budgets, sat across the table with dozens of local municipal clients to discuss wins and losses, and spoken to 100’s of procurement folks.
My priorities are clear. Cary needs to have dedicated reallocation of funding to make meaningful action on affordable housing. We will need all hands on deck to take every opportunity for a creative solution, from leveraging partnerships with local developers and private companies, nonprofits, to federal grants, and reallocating our current budget. We have to plan for alternatives to cars. Transportation alternatives are not just good planning, they are environmentally responsible. We need to make sure our citizens are able to walk and bike safely, and maneuver to bus stops and other forms of transit. Alternatives to driving include benefits for the community including health and wellness, environmental sustainability, and helping with our climate crisis. When elected, I will weave environmental sustainability into the work I do every day on behalf of the citizens of Cary. We must take care of the land with which we have been entrusted.
2) Given the direction of Cary’s town government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
Cary is a great place to live and does a lot of things right, but we can do better. I will advocate for available town owned property to be dedicated to creating safe affordable housing for those in our community that are cost burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
I’m running for council to increase housing affordability in our community, create multimodal transportation to support growth by connecting greenways and sidewalks and creating alternatives to driving, environmental sustainability, and thoughtful development in District C.
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.
The most important thing the town did in the past year was unanimously pass the Housing Plan offered up by the housing manager, Morgan Mansa. This plan is just words on paper though unless we get funding to work towards the action items presented in the plan. Council passed a housing plan in 2010 that in my opinion was just words on paper, there was no action behind it, which is part of the reason Cary is 11,000 housing units down when it comes to serving our community. An issue that bothered me was voted on the same night as the Cary Housing Plan passed in November 2021, which was the allocated of $750,000 for new benches at the Cary Tennis Center. This spending is an area where I can see we could reallocate the budget towards higher priorities for citizens struggling in our community. I love tennis, but as a citizen of Cary, I want my tax dollars to be prioritized towards keeping families in my community from becoming homeless.
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.
My background researching and meeting with local municipalities like Apex, Raleigh, and Cary allows me to have an understanding of the inner workings of municipal government. I’ve learned that if you want to know a local municipal government’s priorities, then you need to look at the budget. Where you spend your tax money is where your priorities lie. I’ve received numerous endorsements from the community, and I feel like those are all significant. I’m honored to have received the Wake County Democratic Party endorsement, as my values align with those of the democratic party.
6) Given the rate of growth in Cary, 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?
7) As with most places in the Triangle, Cary 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?
Hard working folks in our community can work here but can’t afford to live here. This is an issue that is challenging for municipalities because the North Carolina General Assembly doesn’t give local government the right to inclusionary zoning, etc. We have Dillon’s rule in NC, which means if NC legislature doesn’t grant it, municipal government can’t do it. Local municipalities surrounding Cary have been making efforts towards a solution, including a penny tax in Apex that is a dedicated fund for affordable housing in their community.
We absolutely need more rentals, including apartment living, and also duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, and condos. Cary is 73% single family homes, this is not a sustainable percentage. Council in the past has not favored rentals for whatever reason, and we are seeing the negative effects of low supply and high demand with astronomical market pricing for apartments.
When I’m elected, I’ll work to make sure Cary is pushing on this issue, and finding the right mix of solutions for this housing tsunami, which will absolutely include density and infill since only 10% of Cary’s land is available for development.
Diversity creates stronger communities. We have got to see that it is our responsibility as a community to take care of those who serve our community.
8) How should town leaders work with the large organizations who are relocating to, or expanding or investing in Cary? What obligations, if any, should these businesses/companies/facilities have to the town?
I want to start off by saying that the NC legislature recently passing a 0% tax rate for corporations was a poor decision for our community because taxpayers will have to make up the difference in the lack of contribution from companies. We have the lowest tax rate in the Southeastern states, if not nationwide, and yet we are the most popular spot for companies to relocate to. The math doesn’t add up. Large organizations are coming to Cary because we have built a community that has high standards and quality of life, like 39 parks, and Town of Cary staff who are second to none nationally in regards to collaboration and customer service. Businesses/companies/facilities do have an obligation to the town in that they will bring with them citizens who will use our roads, libraries, schools, and public spaces. We must work with these businesses to ensure they pay their fair share when it comes to improving our community.
9) In your view, how can Cary be safer and more accessible using different modes of transportation? What is your vision for public transit, pedestrian and bike safety?
My vision is a bikeable and walkable Cary. I’ve tried riding my bike on Cary streets in District C and nearly lost my life. And others in Cary have lost their lives trying to bike on the streets. I have a 10 year old and a 13 year old and it is unsafe for us to bike in Cary unless we are using a greenway. In District C, you can’t bike far on greenways. I’ve read through the Town of Cary Environmental Advisory Board’s “Carbon Reduction Recommendations” linked here a couple of times now. I love their section on Transportation, this language aligns with my values and what I would love to get accomplished once elected. Highlights include Walkable and Bike Friendly Community, Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Infrastructure, and Last Mile Solutions. Here is an excerpt: “Transportation Vision: Cary should be a leading example of a walking, biking and Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) friendly community. These recommendations would provide a safe and healthy environment for Cary citizens and visitors due to significant carbon reductions, better air quality, and infrastructure designed for the user’s needs. Some of these elements are reflected in the Imagine Cary Plan while others support North Carolina’s Executive Order #80.”
10) What are your goals for Cary’s downtown and what does the town need to do to achieve those goals?
Downtown Cary has had quite a bit of focus in the past ten years, and that has made a positive change downtown, from an almost blighted landscape, to a thriving, walkable community space. The downtown park is going to be a big draw for tourists in surrounding communities and maybe even other states. I think we need to focus on the rest of the town, including adding sidewalks and greenway connectors in District C in order to help make Cary walkable and bikeable in my community.
11) Cary residents love their parks and greenways. How should the town work to preserve, improve, or expand them?
At a recent council meeting, the town mentioned they have 39 parks! What an amazing number of parks to point to, we are so very fortunate in this respect. I believe it’s time to turn our attention to helping folks get to parks via bikes, walking, or other transit opportunities. We can do a lot to promote a walkable Cary if we invest in greenway expansion.
12) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.
I want to talk about my volunteer experience in the community over the years, which I’m super proud of. Most recently, I’ve worked with Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. I volunteered for a day with Habitat and helped construct homes on Trimble Avenue in Cary in October last year. I helped put up walls for the house frame, scrubbed floors, cleaned a porch, and painted. I participated in the Triangle Woman of the Year Candidate for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and raised more than $20,000 for their 2021 campaign. I was previously a board member for the Leadership Raleigh Alumni Board for three years ending in 2022, and serving as Communications Committee Chair to promote the work of this organization, including collaborating with local nonprofits to provide leadership projects. I was a Leadership Raleigh 37 participant for the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and worked with Layers of Dignity to hold a packing party. Their non-profit gathers clothing and toiletries for sexual assault survivors as they are leaving the local hospitals in our area. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of being on a monthly nonprofit leaders call led by Maggie Kane at a Place at the Table. We discuss issues that affect nonprofits on a daily basis including human resources, software, technology, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. This group of individuals has changed my heart and given me so much hope about the future of our community. So many great folks working hard to make our community better! When elected, I’ll work with these connections to make Cary a better place. Town Council decisions affect our daily lives. I can’t wait to sit on council and work for you.