Name as it appears on the ballot: Cheryl F. Stallings
Campaign website: www.cheryl4wake.org
Party affiliation: Democrat
Profession or occupation: Psychologist & Small Business Owner
Years lived in Wake County: 30
1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues facing Wake County? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
Broadly speaking, I want to help the current Board create more equitable opportunity for a healthy and sustainable economy, community, and environment for all. Within the community category, I think the three most pressing needs are housing affordability, education, and affordability and accessibility to health care and mental health care.
With housing affordability, I will work with Board members, Staff, municipal leaders, and community stakeholders to increase the number of affordable units throughout the county. We will work to leverage land for affordable housing, and we will also work to preserve existing affordable housing stock. I believe we should also continue rental and utility assistance, and eviction prevention programs.
Within education, I will work to support access to quality childcare and pre-school programs year round. Additionally, I will work with our School Board and my Board colleagues to improve educational outcomes for all Wake County Public School (WCPSS) students, including those with special needs. We will also determine how we can support staffing needs for school health and mental health (e.g., nurses, counselors, social workers, and school psychologists). We will also provide support with education and training programs at Wake Tech Community College. And finally, we will continue our long-range funding plans for capital needs (renovations and new construction), and collaborate with state legislatures to shoulder their part of public education funding as well.
And with health care and mental health care, I want to work with my Board Colleagues, Staff, and community stakeholders to increase access to effective and efficient medical and behavioral health care across the life span. The pandemic has demonstrated even more disparities in our health care system that need to be acknowledged and reconciled.
2. With Wake County’s rapid growth comes challenges related to suburban sprawl, transportation, and affordable housing. What have been the county’s successes in managing this growth in recent years? What about its failures? What would you do differently?
I think the County is moving in the right direction. We need to continue the work of attracting diverse and good paying jobs that benefit all residents, while providing a path forward to affordable skills/education/training when needed. We must also be very intentional in supporting high-speed internet access to homes, schools, and businesses; and be very intentional with our housing affordability goals, and preservation and maintenance of our green spaces, parks, and greenways. I would like for us to work on attracting renewable energy jobs, and developing a reliable public transportation system.
3. What should be the county’s role in addressing issues of economic inequality, such as gentrification and affordable housing? Do you believe the current board is doing enough to help its municipalities manage Wake County’s growth in order to prevent current residents from being priced out?
I think it is important to have a good relationship with our municipal leaders as we continue to work together to attract jobs for a diverse work force, and invest in preserving existing affordable housing stock (and investing in additional affordable housing stock). I know some residents are concerned with property tax costs given home values have increased significantly. I know there is discussion about possible tax relief, and I am open to exploring options on this matter so current residents are not priced out of their neighborhoods.
4. The Wake County Public School system is asking for a $56 million budget increase next year to hire more employees and raise teacher pay. Given the General Assembly’s longstanding reticence to adequately fund public schools, does this seem like a reasonable request to you?
I trust that our Wake County Public School staff knows their needs best. I will be listening to the upcoming budget meetings to hear more on the specifics of the requests. I think it is very important to keep building relationships with our legislators in the General Assembly and hold them accountable to fund the operational expenses of our public schools so children can get a sound, basic education (as directed by our state constitution). The General Assembly should be held accountable to fund their fair share of our public school needs as well. If elected to the Commission, I will be a strong advocate for our public schools and will work to appropriate needed funds to the fullest extent possible.
5. Wake County has received $216 million from the American Rescue Plan and so far, has allocated about half of those funds. Has the county done a good job investing that money into its COVID-19 response, healthcare, housing, public safety, and other community initiatives? What would you like to see the county do with the remainder of those funds?
I would want to get an updated assessment of our needs in those areas/initiatives from Staff to determine how well those programs are funded now and what needs remain. This updated assessment could be a guide for future decision-making with the remainder of the funds.
6. How would your experience―in politics or otherwise in your career―make you an asset to the county’s decision-making process? Be specific about how this experience would relate to your prospective office.
I am a North Carolina native and a resident of Wake County for about 30 years. Additionally, I am a psychologist, small business owner, and Apex Town Council member. In local government, I have worked in pandemic relief mitigation efforts and policy related to infrastructure; housing affordability; diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; and responsible development decisions within the context of environmental stewardship, school capacity, and traffic needs. I work hard, believe in strong communication and collaborative partnerships, and I am thoughtful and deliberate in my decision-making. I believe my professional and local government experiences have given me a strong skill set for the County Commissioner role.
7. North Carolina is a “Dillon Rule” state, meaning that the only powers municipal and county governments have are the ones granted to them by the legislature. Would you like to see this changed? How would you work with state legislators from Wake County, as well as mayors and council members from the city’s municipalities, to ensure that Wake County, its municipalities, and the state are on the same page regarding policies that affect residents of Wake?
I believe communication, collaboration, and relationship building are key in working to get elected officials moving in a similar direction for the public good. It’s always good to start with common ground, kitchen table issues and work from there. I would be interested in more conversation with our state legislative representatives to discuss municipal and county government needs related to infrastructure and environmental protections, for example.
8. Is the county doing enough to protect, preserve, and maintain its natural resources, including parks, waterways, and green spaces?
The County has strategic goals and objectives specific to sustainability and achieving clean energy by 2050, in addition to goals for protecting our water supply. Additionally, we have an Open Space program that aims to protect 30% of the County’s land for current and future residents to enjoy. We also have a strong Parks and Recreation program for our residents to enjoy. I think it is important to stay vigilant with our sustainability goals, with regular assessments to make sure we are on a healthy path for current and future generations.
9. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.
I remain very concerned about the consequences of gun violence for our children, schools, and communities. I would like for us to explore together firearm safety and gun violence prevention efforts in the County.
10. What sets you apart from the other candidate(s) in this race?
I explained in question 6 about my professional and local government experiences. I believe this combination of experiences sets me apart from the other candidates in this race. I am the only District 3 candidate with local government experience as an elected official.
I look forward to this opportunity of expanded public service to the people of Wake County. I believe very strongly in public service working for the public good. I would appreciate your vote!