Name as it appears on the ballot: Donald Mial
Campaign website: www.donmial.com
Years lived in Wake County: 64
1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues facing Wake County? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
a. Growth and Sustainability– Transit, implementing transit plan, more bus rapid transit, rail system, preservation of green space, ensuring water supply, supporting smart growth
b. Health and Human Services – the county should help ensure basic necessities for our most vulnerable residents including access to quality healthcare, clean water, and affordable housing. There should be more workforce housing, people who work here should be able to live here. We need to consider programs and or tax efforts to support our seniors staying in their homes – working with the nonprofit community such as DHIC, Habitat for Humanity, CASA, and others who are doing the on the groundwork.
c. Education– we should take a comprehensive approach to education from Pre-K to higher learning, this involves supporting early childhood development through organizations such as Wake County Smart Start, and funding WCPSS and Wake Technical Community College, both of which are the largest school systems in the state.
If, elected, I will address these issues first with my colleagues, staff, and stakeholders of the community for Wake County is home to many businesses- from fortune 500 to small and mid-sized companies.
2.) 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.
My government background and other relevant experience that I would bring to this position are numerous. As someone, whom father and grandfather were sharecroppers they taught me the important of hard work. They also taught me the need and value of education of which I will bring to the position of County Commissioner. Therefore, my many years of experience as a leader, as an Army Officer, Probation Officer, Parole Case Analyst and Juvenile Facility Director are just some. I will also bring other life skills to the position and education. Presently, I hold a Certification as a CPR instructor and Certification as a General Instructor through N.C Criminal Justice Standard Commission. I am also presently serving as a member of Raleigh Board of Adjustment (Secretary) Wake County Board of Adjustment (Vice Chair) and previously served on the Wake County Board of Elections. I have also served as the Wake County Vice Chair and Precinct Chair of precinct 17-04. As well as being appointed by the Governor’s Office to the Victim Compensation Commission. I also hold a master’s degree in Criminal Justice, Master’s in Public Administration, B.A History and Government as well an Associate in Paralegal Technology. Retiring from the N.C Department of Public Safety receiving the state’s highest civilian award, the “Order of the Longleaf Pine” The way this experience would relate to the prospective of this office are many, I am in my fourth term as a member of Wake County Board of Adjustment and starting my fourth term as well on the City of Raleigh Board of Adjustment. Thereby, giving me over twelve years of experience serving on a board along with my years that I served on the Wake County Board of Elections and N.C Victim Compensation Commission. My years of experience as an Army Officer and a Facility Director have given the experience of managing a large budget. I also understand the qualification and training of the Sheriff Department, because as a certified General Instructor by the N.C Criminal Justice Standard and the Sheriff Department as well as the WCPSS receive their funding from the county.
3.) 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?
For Affordable Housing, the success with creation of the Housing Affordability & Community Revitalization led by Director Lorena McDowell, the opening of Oak City Cares, support for homeless women with partnership with Urban Ministries Helen Wright Center, creation of the county’s Affordable Housing Committee, and working with community partners DHIC, Habitat for Humanity, CASA, etc. The County has also developed a “Comprehensive Partner-based plan” called “PLANWAKE” that guides the framework of growing communities such as Apex, Wake Forest, Morrisville, Raleigh, and Cary. The PLANWAKE plan expands over a 10-year period and addresses the needs of the twelve municipalities. Also, as a veteran, I appreciate the county’s efforts to address veterans’ homelessness.
Failures are not addressing gentrification in areas such as SE Raleigh and not doing enough to keep seniors in their homes who cannot afford tax increases. For example, inner city Southeast Raleigh has displaced many Senior Citizen Renters, who cannot afford rent or pay taxes on their 40- and 50-year-old family homes. Those senior renters have lived and raised serval generations of their families there but now they are displaced. Also, not enough workforce housing and much of the housing being built across Wake County is not affordable. The Board of Commissioners also need to take the “PLANWAKE” Comprehensive Plan to each municipality, and not just rely on online marketing.
4. 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?
The county should be a leader and convener when it comes to addressing economic inequality, including gentrification and affordable housing are of epic portion throughout Wake County. Yes, I believe the county is doing a great job working with municipalities managing Wake County’s growth. The current board is addressing the problem with programs like “Lease 2 Home”. That said, while there are many factors outside of the county’s control, there is certainly still room for growth in this area, even though in October 2021, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved $10.5 million dollar loan to preserve existing and naturally occurring affordable housing with Self-Help Ventures Funds called “The Affordable Housing Preservation Fund”. The county must continue and increase efforts to engage municipalities around smart planning and be a convener in these important conversations to ensure we are all working from the same playbook with the same information, data, and goals.
5. The Wake County Public Board of Commissioners voted to give the Wake County Public School system is a $50 million budget increase over the last fiscal year to hire more employees and raise teacher pay, $12 million more than the county manager had recommended. Was this the right move? Please explain.
Yes, and I firmly support investments in the WCPSS system. Our students are our most prized asset for our future and there is also the reality that WCPSS is among the largest employers in our county. Therefore, we must support programs that addresses early childhood care, Pre-K and other programs that prepare our children for lifelong learning and overall well-being. I think that it is important that we ensure that WCPSS employees are paid competitively so we can attract and retain the best employees.
6. Wake County has received $217 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?
Yes, I believe the county has done a great job in its COVID-19 responses. The County have allocated roughly half of the federal funds for COVID-19 recovery (mask, community health and vitality services). About 12 million went to Community partners that helps the vulnerable communities such as Knightdale, Wendell, Zebulon, Rolesville and Southeast Raleigh. I believe the County has done an excellent job distributing the funds countywide. The county has engaged the community and ensured testing sites and access to vaccines by working collaboratively with municipalities and community groups to ensure widespread distribution across the county and with intentionality when it comes to the hardest hit populations such as our communities of color. However, I would like to see the county continue to support businesses who were hurt by the pandemic and to continue ensuring access to testing sites and vaccines particularly to vulnerable populations.
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?
Yes, I would like to see this changed because there are some concerns and issues that Wake County would like to address but due to the Dillion Rule, the county and municipalities cannot implement. Each year, the Wake County Board of Commissioners and the Wake County Legislative Delegation meet to discuss issues like this. So, I would like to keep the “Dillion Rule” on their radar.
8. Is the county doing enough to protect, preserve, and maintain its natural resources, including parks, waterways, and green spaces?
Yes, the County has developed and implemented fundings for open space, greenways and bike sharing lanes. Because it is important to preserve open space in Wake County and the county has designated Open space to be natural land that has not been converted to residential or commercial development. It includes forests, greenways, parks, meadows, wetlands, floodplains, and farms. The County has partnered with municipalities to construct greenways. Therefore, Open space land is owned and managed in the public interest for:
- Protection of good water quality.
- Preservation of natural resources.
- Managed production of resources (forest and farmland).
- Preservation of historic and cultural property.
- Protection of scenic landscapes and outdoor recreation opportunities.
- Protection of public health, safety and welfare.
- As Wake County’s population grows, natural lands are being converted to suburbia at a rapid rate. To balance this pressure on the natural environment and ensure future generations will have access to greenspace, Wake County government has recognized the need to protect a portion of the county’s remaining natural land.
- Protecting open space and constructing greenways will generate an interconnected system of greenspaces that attract homeowners and businesses; prevent economic losses from floods and costly pollution; support a clean water supply; and produce fresh air, fertile soils and biologically diverse landscapes. The Open Space Program’s investment in the preservation of working lands (farms and forests) will also help support a vibrant agricultural economy that has historically defined much of the county’s sense of place.
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.
The one issue that I would consider is giving the School Board taxing authority and the reason for me even thinking about this is because, the county must find a consisted funding source. We cannot continue hosting a bond every two to four years. However, because of the need for WCPSS to adequately provide a sound basic education for all our students we must start thinking outside of the box, due to the failure and shortage of funds from the State.
10. If there is anything else you would like to address, please do so here.
Wake County has placed two bonds on the November ballot, the Wake School Bond and the Wake Tech Bond and it is very important that we pass those two bonds. We must accommodate the growth here in the county by reinvesting in our educational facilities, by constructing new schools and upgrading existing ones. Our students and teachers deserve more comfortable, safe, and upgraded learning environments.
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