Name as it appears on the ballot: Maria Cervania  

Age: 52

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Consultant / Maria Cervania

1) In your view, what are the three most pressing issues facing Wake County? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?


I did my graduate work in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and worked in planning and crisis management during the HIV/AIDS Epidemic and the H1N1/Avian Flu Pandemic. I commit to:

– Optimize our COVID-19 response to accelerate recovery especially in hard hit areas.

– Address the barriers that limit access to health care, and support residents who experience health challenges especially in crisis services and substance abuse treatment.


As a technical consultant to governments during the economic downturns of 2001 and the Great Recession, I led projects that saved millions of taxpayer dollars while saving jobs and enhancing quality of service. I commit to:

– Identify operational redundancies and efficiencies; and strive for cost-conscious budgets.

– Increase transparency and accountability to ensure that our tax dollars are going to good use.


I have and continue to advocate for: 

– Fully fund Public Education.

– Environmental protection; sustainability, and parks, open space, and greenways. 

– Affordable housing; Wake County Transit Plan, and balanced growth.

– Equity for All and prioritizing trust and respect for all people’s safety in Wake County.

2) Do you approve of the way the Board of Commissioners is running? Why or why not? Are there specific votes the board has taken to which you take exception? Please explain. 

As a board member of the Wake County Democratic Party, I have endorsed, supported, and actively campaigned for every member of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. They are a dynamic group of leaders who have accomplished wonderful things to make our county great. With a group of 7 people who represent different areas of Wake County, it is natural that there may be votes that will bring about disagreement. Giving an issue its appropriate amount of time and due diligence provides clarity and understanding especially if the votes are not unanimous.

3) Wake County is by most accounts prospering. What do you think the county has done effectively? What policies would you like to see put in place to that it continues to grow going forward?

I believe that the county has identified the priorities well especially with housing affordability and homelessness, public transportation, economic development, and health and human services. We need to enact policy that would create Comprehensive Master Plans for all these priorities bringing together our municipalities and act on associated goals.

4) With that growth comes challenges related to sprawl, transportation, and affordable housing, among other things. In your opinion, what have the county’s successes been in managing this growth in recent years? What about its failures? What would you do differently?

Identifying the issues is the first step, and some goals are in place, but to have real solutions, all entities must work together and delineate responsibilities. When:

municipalities are making most of the decisions regarding planning and zoning, Wake County is setting goals and guidelines for the number of doors needed to fulfill the needs of Affordable Housing; and

transportation is not convenient and does not connect between each municipality throughout the county, this leads to frustration and dissatisfaction, which people who live and work in Wake County already are experiencing. 

If the county and municipalities continue to address the same issues independently, we may be duplicative in work; possibly not going towards solutions; and not using public money effectively.  

5) In 2018, voters approved more than $1 billion in bonds for school construction, parks and greenways, and Wake Tech. This came on the heels of a 2016 sales-tax referendum to fund the county’s transit plan. And the county has raised property taxes every year since 2014. Do you worry that residents are going to feel overtaxed?  

Yes, I do worry that residents are feeling overtaxed especially seniors and those who may be struggling financially. Even though Wake County has a lower average tax rate compared to other counties in North Carolina, and one of the lowest rates of comparable counties from across the nation, the consecutive year tax increases are still tough on the taxpayers. If more revenue is needed — and with the COID-19 Pandemic, it will more than likely be the case — Wake County should look towards alternative funding sources and identify efficiencies within the current infrastructure before asking for more tax increases.

6) As a result of the recent revaluation, property values in the eastern part of the county have increased significantly, putting pressure on some low-income households in gentrifying neighborhoods who may be unable to keep up with their rising taxes. What can the county do to ensure that long-time residents can remain in their neighborhoods? 

The Wake County Affordable Housing Plan has concepts, goals and tools to ensure long-time residents can remain in their neighborhoods; one of which is called preservation.

Preservation is considered the other half of the solution to Affordable Housing. It increases the overall affordable housing supply, as it ensures that production yields net new units, instead of just replacing existing units that are being lost. Without effective preservation, construction of new affordable units will not be sufficient on its own to meet the affordable housing need.

The preservation tools focus on providing the County with the resources and information that it needs to become more proactive in preserving affordable units so it can:

 intervene when units are at risk; 

capitalize on opportunities to preserve significant amounts of existing affordable housing via the redevelopment of public housing; and 

ensure that units created with government subsidy maintain their affordability for as long as possible.

The top two preservation tools in the Wake County Affordable Housing Plan are:

Preservation Fund: Establish a preservation loan fund, in partnership with philanthropic or mission-motivated investors and municipalities, to provide low cost permanent financing to maintain existing affordable multifamily rental properties. 

Affordable Housing Preservation Warning System: Develop and maintain an affordable housing preservation warning system that tracks existing affordable units and guides preservation investments to prevent their conversion to market-rate units and improve their quality.

7) In 2018, commissioners voted to add a penny to the property tax—about $15 million a year—for affordable housing. Do you believe this is adequate? What strategic investments would you like to see? 

Wake County has an unmet housing need of approximately 60,000 units for Affordable Housing. With Wake County population growing, the need for additional affordable units to accommodate a greater total number of lower-income households is expected to rise exponentially. At the same time, overall supply of affordable housing in Wake County is decreasing by about 900 units per year. Together, there will be a significant increase in unmet housing needs from 120,000 to 150,000 units by 2035.

$15 million is a start to address the demand and will make an impact on Affordable Housing, but it may not keep pace with the significant growth.

There are two interesting strategic investments described in the Wake County Affordable Housing Plan: 

1, New Local Funding Sources for Affordable Housing 

Develop new sources of affordable housing funding, with an emphasis on value capture tools to harness Wake County’s rapid growth. The three potential funding approaches include increasing County General Fund revenue, expanding the use of increment financing, and deploying special assessments districts. 

2. Changes to North Carolina’s Qualified Allocation Plan 

Support changes to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA)’s process for allocating federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) to better address the housing needs of Wake County residents and help meet the County’s housing goals, particularly in regard to increased rental production, preservation, and supportive housing.

8) County officials often say that schools are their number-one priority, and schools account for the lion’s share of the budget. Do you believe the county is properly balancing school funding with its other responsibilities? Should the county be spending more on its school system? 

We have a responsibility to provide Wake County students with the best possible education and future. We cannot let the political environment continue to underfund public education. We want, at least, Education Equity, and, more so, Education Excellence; the incongruence of only being adequate is unacceptable. 

Wake County functioning as a stop gap by providing a local supplement must be acceptable, for the time being, but this is not the permanent solution. The amount of the local supplement has been increasing every year. The NCGA needs to take responsibility and fully fund public education. It is through this that we may significantly decrease the financial demand on Wake County to close the gap for public education. This would free up funding in the budget to provide for the other priority areas.

Before I completely answer this question, we must study the different baseline levels of Educational Adequacy, Equity and Excellence so that there is enough funding to provide a quality education for all Wake County students. We also need to see what resources are working or not in providing a high-quality education and look at methodologies that can help in meeting goals and benchmarks that WCPSS want to achieve. When we have, at least, the above information and data, there may be many traditional and non-traditional

ways to acquire the necessary funding to ensure all students in WCPSS have their needs met.

9) Three years after voters approved the transit plan, how do you see the future of public transportation coming together in Wake County? What sort of things would you like the county to do differently? Are there any new initiatives you’d like the county to try? 

I believe to reach the desire to be a global leader, economically prepared for Wake County’s future, and reach our ultimate goals for the environment, we must commit to an integrated transportation system including the potential of bringing back light rail into the transit plan.

My vision of an integrated transportation system is one that has thousands of people moving

timely, reliably, comfortably, and safely. We would work with major companies to have staggered work start/stop times to lessen demand on roads. Once on the highways, there would be high-occupancy vehicle lanes: one for vanpools, transit buses and charter buses, and the other for motorcycles, low-emission and other green vehicles, and vehicles with occupancy of 2 or more.

When it comes to mass transit with bicycle and pedestrian elements, there would be bus, commuter rail, light rail or bus rapid transit stops within walking or biking distance. Bicycles may be put on any bus or train. Wi-Fi enabled buses would be clean, stop frequently, and go to where people work, live or play. There also would be express buses at peak times. 

Specific to rail, we would use existing tracks, and have Wi-Fi enable trains with restaurants, conference spaces and quiet work areas. Train stops would be hubs filled with local restaurants, shops, services and gathering places.

Funding, depending on the type of transportation, would be through bond referendums,

Federal and State taxes, and (possibly, after thoughtful exploration) a gas consumption tax. If

enough money is generated from the above, a wonderful incentive would be free ridership.

Companies can be given an incentive for encouraging their employees to use public

transportation. Individuals may receive discounts and incentives in combinations with local

restaurants, goods, and services.

In an ideal vision, the entire system, as it is accessed by walking or biking, goes to most

places anyone would work, live or play. Then, there would simply be an inherent incentive to use the system and make it part of everyday life.

10) Are there any issues not covered by this questionnaire that you would like to address? 

Wake County needs a commissioner from District 3 who has real-life, relevant experience that

directly align with our county’s priorities and needs. My community, professional and life experience has prepared me to be the best choice in this race. I have:

taught in the classroom and have and always will support teachers and students.

collaborated with political, community, business, and religious leaders in the implementation of successful health and community programs.

actively campaigned and endorsed bond funding for parks, open space, and greenways.

publicly spoken to North Carolina Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) about the needs for Wake County Transit for all citizens and organized several neighborhoods for much needed traffic improvements.

developed partnerships in support of building affordable housing in Wake County;

built relationships between law enforcement and our community (especially those who are minorities and immigrants) to ensure that there is trust and commitment to all people’s safety.

fought HB2 and put everything on the line for LGBTQ+ rights.

advocated for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment with our Governor’s staff, State Legislators, and ERA activists.

worked with municipalities and organizations to make significant gains in the areas of balanced growth,

advocated for environment/sustainability, employment/income equity and other societal benefits to reach the highest quality of life for Wake County.

I have been a voice for all people, and a representative that is already working for the whole county. I listen to the needs of our community, work towards solutions, and successfully get things done. I commit to advocate and fight for all issues identified as the most important to you and Wake County.

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