Name as it appears on the ballot: Frank Pierce
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: www.pierce4nc.com
Occupation & employer: Small Business Owner/ Teacher
Years lived in Raleigh: 37
1. Given the direction of Raleigh government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, what specific changes will you advocate for if elected?
There are things that are being done well, and things not. This can be said about most councils. Right now we need to improve accessibility to Affordable Housing across the city. Only 10% of our First Responders live in the city and that is mainly because of cost, they are not alone we need to have a better plan of action. Our Firefighters and Police are severely understaffed, underpaid and mistreated. For us to be the city we want in the future we need to step up and take care of those taking care of us. We also need to start building infrastructure plans for each district because they are all different and unique.
2. If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identify your priorities for your district. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces.
District B is the most difficult and different from any other district. We have $1200 apartments all the way up to 1.5 million dollar homes. We have to have different plans to help out the diverse community in which we represent. District B has a crumbling infrastructure based on the amount of people moving to it daily. We are getting ⅓ of the people coming to the city daily 18 new residents a day. We did not plan properly so now need to fix it before our area becomes too crowded. We need to improve the issues facing Police and Fire in our area. If they are understaffed then that affects us as a whole and can cost citizens and them lives as well. That is just the beginning on what is needed in our district.
3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the city council and as an advocate for the issues that you believe are important?
I built my small business from the ground up to what it is today. A business that pays a living wage and does over 300k in business a year. I was a restaurant manager for 12 years and had as many as 100 staff members working for me at a time. During the pandemic I went and got my license to teach and stepped up to help at great cost to me. I taught middle school and helped out the community in its time of need. I volunteer to coach multiple teams a year to help give back to the community. District B is the second most diverse district in the city and being involved in it before running for office is important to knowing what it needs.
4. U.S. metros are grappling with a housing shortage, especially a shortage of affordable housing. Raleigh is no different. Many believe that the best way to address this crisis is via dense infill development along public transportation corridors. Do you share this vision for Raleigh’s growth? Please explain.
That is not the only thing we need to do. We do need to build density but we also need to build smarter and offer ownership with duplexes, triplexes and quadraplexes. Just building Condos is not the answer. We also need to be going after Federal HUD money that we are not doing in our grant writing department. We have many federal resources at our disposal that we are not accessing and it is putting a burden on our communities.
5. In 2020, Raleigh citizens voted in favor of an $80 million affordable housing bond to assist with acquiring land and building near transit corridors, preserving existing inventory, down payment and homeowner repairs assistance, low-income housing tax credit financing, and more. The city also created a goal of adding 5,700 affordable units over 10 years and is on track to meet that goal. But it’s estimated that Raleigh has a deficit of some 20,000 units currently, and it’s clear much more work is needed. Should the city bring another affordable housing bond before voters? Why or why not? If yes, when, how much should the city ask for, and what should the bond fund?
We may need to bring a bond, yet that does not need to be our first instinct. We need to seek Federal Grant money through HUD to help us alleviate some of the cost. This year HUD started with almost 11 billion in money to distribute and a good chunk of that money is still available. We need to go after those resources. We also need to build more public/private partnerships that will benefit all in the community. Once we have done this and see what we have left to achieve then we can look at a bond. But we can not just keep taxing people to the ends of the earth or the work for affordable housing will not matter cause unable to pay taxes.
6. In neighborhoods across the city, ranch homes and other modest, more affordable single-family homes are being torn down and replaced with large (also single-family) McMansions that don’t provide more density. Does the city have any authority to regulate such teardowns? Should it regulate such teardowns and redevelopment?
When an individual tears it down to build a home for their family, NO we do not have any authority to stop them or regulate them past the normal requirements. We should only get involved if it is wall street firms or big corporations buying them to tear down and build for profit. There have been cities and states that have started working on this so they can keep housing protected. We can look at how they did it and improve on it.
7. One way Raleigh’s city council has attempted to address the city’s housing shortage is by allowing for more flexible housing options such as duplexes, triplexes, and quadraplexes in all neighborhoods in the city, eliminating certain zoning protections, and allowing apartments for zones along bus routes. Do you support this move to bring missing middle housing to the city and do you think it will be an effective policy for managing the city’s growth?
How it is currently written I do not support it. It has the opportunity to be great but needs some text changes so that we can actually go about this the right way. Writing policy correctly matters and can make all the difference in the world.
8. Raleigh’s city council has directed city staff to gather data on absentee investors who are buying up properties in the city. Would you support measures to limit investors from buying up homes as other U.S. cities are considering doing or further regulating whole house short-term rentals that some argue are detracting from the supply of homes available for full-time residents?
As stated above, yes I would. We would not be the first or the last to do this. We need to protect our communities and make sure outside sources do not continue to make living in certain communities unbearable.
9. What role should the city play in ensuring that the longtime residents of rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh and other areas of the city can continue to afford to live in those neighborhoods?
As stated above it comes to Policy making, Grant writing and public/private partnerships. We need to work in all 3 of these areas to help the most vulnerable areas of our community. Southeast Raleigh is where I grew up. So what is happening there is personal to me. We can improve those communities without kicking them out. It just takes work and understanding.
10. Public servants including police officers, firefighters, and teachers can’t afford to live in the city where they work. As a result, Raleigh loses good officers and teachers to other municipalities and is grappling with a current shortage of around 60 firefighters and more than 100 police officers. What can Raleigh leaders do to attract and retain the best officers and other public servants?
We are actually shorter than that based on growth over next few months as well as industry standards. To have a city that is vibrant and continues to grow you need to have a police and fire unit that are capable of providing service. I have been talking with many in those communities that believe if we stay on this path we could end up like Seattle was during the pandemic. We just had a Mass Shooting in our city and in my district. With us being so understaffed it makes you wonder could we have saved more lives if we had been properly staffed. Our communities, our first responders and our future residents deserve better. We need to raise pay, offer better Healthcare, have the proper equipment and let them know they matter.
11. Do you support the city council’s decision to eliminate parking minimums for developers? Why or why not?
No to an extent. It needs to be done on a case by case basis. We need to look at each building and how it will impact areas without parking minimums and then go from there. This is just a text change to where we consider it on a case by case basis.
12. In 2019, Raleigh’s city council voted to eliminate citizen advisory councils (CACs) without public notice or input. Do you feel this was the right decision? Do you support bringing back CACs? What do you think the council is doing right or wrong when it comes to community engagement post-CACs? Could you describe your vision for community engagement in Raleigh?
No, not the right decision. I support improving them and bringing them back. They did fall short on quite a few levels, then again they succeeded on others. We need to learn from the good and improve the bad. This will require them having more virtual options as well as more meetings at different times so community can have multiple chances to attend. Community engagement has been very low since they dismantled the CAC. I will continue to be involved in my community coaching, volunteering and listening. I plan on having bimonthly meetings with my precincts that are grouped into sets of 3. I also plan on holding office hours in the community at local businesses so people can just meet and talk with me. This also helps bring business to local business owners.
13. Following shooting deaths of Raleigh residents by RPD officers, the city council established a civilian-staffed police review board in 2020 that had no official power and fell apart soon after two of its members resigned. The council also established the ACORNS unit to address mental health crises, but data shows the unit rarely assists on calls related to suicides and involuntary mental health commitments, leaving most of those calls to police officers. Do you feel that the council has done enough, in partnership with the police chief, to reform the police force and address officer violence? Would you support cutting the department’s $124.5 million police budget?
We have a new chief and from all looks she is doing a great job. We need to continue to build that relationship and improve our relationship between police and the community. I do not support cutting the budget. If we want the best we have to pay to be there. If we want our officers trained properly then we need to pay for that to happen. If we want to create a department to help on mental health crises moments then we need to fund that department. We need to train it so that we can use it and have them be a true working instrument in our police department. You can not improve issues by cutting funding, we need to properly fund it and make sure we are involved in making it the best in the country.
14. Raleigh has made strides on transit in the last several years. Bus fare is free and construction of new Bus Rapid Transit routes is underway, bike lanes are expanding to areas across the city, and commuter rail will eventually connect Raleigh to Durham and Johnston Counties. Is the city doing a good job of managing its current transit systems, encouraging residents to use them, and planning for more future transit and connectivity? Should the city be investing more on bike, pedestrian, and other transit infrastructure?
That depends on what district you live in. My district gets totally left out for the most part in all of the current plans for transportation. We need to make sure when we are planning for future infrastructure plans we take every district into account. We also need to look at each district individually because they all have different needs and it is not a one size fits all approach.
15. Downtown Raleigh has struggled to rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic with foot traffic still down and many storefronts and offices sitting vacant. The council has implemented a new social district to try to bring people downtown again. What more could or should the city council do to revitalize the urban core?
We need to make sure we are including all businesses when having the free increase in outside seating. We continue to pick and choose who gets it based on who you know. We need to actually need to be inclusive to all the owners and not just a select few. We also need to offer more incentives to small businesses in the area to help fill the empty store fronts
16. Do you support Raleigh’s $275 million parks bond on the ballot this fall? Why or why not?
I do. It does need some work and adjustments to it as for how all the spending will work but plan on fixing that when in office
17. If there is anything else you would like to address, please do so here.
District B is a very Diverse district at 46% people of color. We need a leader who has been in those communities before running for office and not just saying will be there once elected. I volunteer coach, run food drives as well as book bag drives for our most vulnerable communities every year.
I am Endorsed by the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association, Raleigh Wake Citizens Association (longest tenured African American get out the vote organization in Raleigh), North Carolina Transit Workers Association. These organizations represent a vast set of people just like our district which is why when you vote in District B vote Frank Pierce.
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