Name as it appears on ballot: Kevin Mason
Political Affiliation: Unaffiliated
Campaign Website: www.masonforhillsboroughboc.com
Occupation & Employer: Co-Owner of The Accidental Baker
Years Lived in Hillsborough: Hillsborough resident since 2007
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 Board of Commissioners do differently or better over the course of your term?
In short, I want to give Hillsborough voters a choice in the upcoming election. Simply stated, 5 of Hillsborough’s elected offices will be determined by this election. I am the only non-incumbent running. I believe the fact that I am a small business owner in Hillsborough will allow me to bring a different perspective to the existing board. Finally, I am completely non partisan and have no loyalties or history with any political party. My only obligation will be to the citizens of Hillsborough.
2. Given the direction of Hillsborough government, would you say things are on the right course?
I feel that in general, Hillsborough is a well-run town. My goal is to continue this going forward while keeping property taxes at present levels. To accomplish this, I would prioritize issues that relate to basic town responsibilities and obligations such as public safety, sanitation, maintenance of existing assets etc.
3. What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific?
I consider growth and traffic to be the biggest issues facing the town. Hillsborough is projected to double its population over the next 30 years, with a bulk of this increase occurring in the next decade. We are now witnessing the results of many years worth of land use decisions. Hillsborough’s growth and traffic issues are obviously intertwined. Where I think we went wrong was when we approved residential expansion but turned down the road projects that would have made our growth less painful. I would be in favor of commissioning a traffic study to re-examine the Orange Grove Rd extension. I would be in favor of any project that gives the coming Collins Ridge residents another alternative besides Churton St
4. What prior experiences make you qualified for and passionate about the Board of Commissioners and its duties? What made you seek this position?
I do not have any past political experience. However, I believe my experience as a business owner gives me a unique perspective. One of the most important lessons I have learned is the difference between wants and needs. My focus would be mostly on the needs of the town.
5. In light of the recent Klan protests—thought he Klan members were not from Hillsborough—how do you believe the town can best project an image of inclusivity? Has the town done a good job in the past?
In my time in Hillsborough, I believe the town has done a good job projecting an image of inclusivity. I don’t believe this is a result of town government. Rather I believe it is the citizens of Hillsborough who believe in and practice this ideal. I believe this to be strength of Hillsborough. In my opinion, the Klan appearance was an outlier and should be treated as such.
6. Do you believe the town’s storm water management plan is effective or is there a way to make it more efficient and less costly? How can the town decrease the cost of water and sewer services?
Rising sewer and water rates continue to be a concern for Hillsborough residents. Even though the water revenues/budget are separate from the general town budget/revenue, each rate increase feels like a tax increase. Part of the problem I believe is perception. Clean water always seemed abundant and unending. However, growth and pollution are squeezing the supply and clean water will become a more scarce commodity in the not too distant future. In this area, I believe Hillsborough should be commended for their forward thinking. However, affordability is a real issue for citizens and businesses. I do not have specific remedies in mind for lowering rates, but I do recognize that it is a problem.
7. In your opinion, what are the best methods to lure businesses to Hillsborough? How should the town seek to make itself more attractive? What types of industries should pursue to grow its tax base?
First off, I do not believe in using tax incentives to lure new business to Hillsborough/Orange County. In my experience, the math seldom works out in these situations. I also believe that collaboration with Orange County is needed when discussing business development. I would like to see more efforts made to promote/expand existing business in our county. We are seeing a gentrification in the commercial districts much like what we see in the residential area. One of the biggest issues facing small business is affordable space. Finally, I would like to see more Ag oriented business in our area. We already have a reputation as a top quality food producing region. I believe focusing on this segment of our economy could yield significant long term growth.
8. As with most places in the Triangle, Hillsborough is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
I honestly don’t believe there is much more the town can do to promote affordable housing. There are larger market forces at work in our town that are subverting our goals of more affordable housing. I have seen several projects these past few years that were rezoned to allow for higher density development for the purpose of more affordable housing. But what we get are more homes closer together that are still not affordable. My belief is that “capital” usually finds a way to exploit good intentions. I am a supporter of the Habitat for Humanity model and would work to support any of their efforts if they needed it
9. Like most surrounding areas, Hillsborough is currently experiencing growth. What are the best ways for the town to manage this growth and capitalize on it?
I believe I mostly answered this in question #3
10. Describe something you think the town should have prioritized differently in the current budget
.I believe once the Orange Grove Rd extension project was looking in doubt, the town should have prioritized finding an alternative. We have now missed out on this round of NCDOT funding and the clock has started for the next round in a couple of years. This and the Churton St widening project should be one of the top priorities of the town
11. Walkability and recreation are important to town. What environmental initiatives would you like to see change or improved?
12. If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.