Name as it appears on the ballot: Mary Insprucker
Campaign website: www.MaryforCary.com
Occupation & employer: Triangle 411 Producer/Host, Former Regional Director, Business Owner
Years lived in Cary: 16
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 town council do differently or better over the course of your term?
Community involvement is a priority for me–always has been and always will be. I view the town council as another level of community service, one that I am well prepared for. I differ from the other candidates because I am not a politician; I am your customer service agent and I believe the community is worth more than it is getting. I will bring a fresh, crisp, renewed energy to the Council. I possess a dual bandwidth, having worked in both the corporate arena, and the non-profit sector. This gives me the unique perspective to represent both the concerns of businesses and individuals. From my experience, I have gained business acumen and non-profit skills to partner well with communities and corporations. My executive leadership will bring innovation, expertise and efficiency. I possess critical management skills, supervising operations, budgets, and strong, successful strategies. Today, as a writer, author, and the producer and host of Triangle 411, I have my finger on the pulse of Cary, from a citizen’s perspective, not a politician’s.
My priorities? I want my platform to be the people’s platform; they are my customers. So, I have gone into the community and really “listened” to their concerns. Residents are telling me they want balanced development with matching infrastructure, low crime, low taxes, workforce housing, environmental health, and benchmarked crucial transit options.
It is my aim to see the Town Council demonstrate a stronger bias toward these concerns because it is what the people are asking for. The Town should be transparent and include voter input in their decisions. When elected, I plan to work on these issues and so much more not just for the good of my district, but for ALL of Cary.
2) Given the direction of Cary’s town government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
I believe Cary is generally on the right course, but with 90% of the town’s land already developed, the decisions on jobs, prosperity and quality of life will become more difficult. With redevelopment, it will be challenging to balance the interests of existing neighborhoods with proposals that promise growth. We will need to look to revitalization in place of development, as well, such as vacancies in MacGregor, Waverly and Crossroads, just to name a few.
It will be equally critical that we take great care with the remaining 10%, making sure that new development doesn’t eat up all the green space that Cary citizens love. We will need environmental protections such as tree canopies, buffers, bio-retention areas and safeguards.
Additionally, I will carefully scrutinize development proposals to assure that supporting infrastructure will be in place and to minimize impacts on neighboring properties. Traffic and potholes used to be uncommon in Cary. Water/sewer have projected capabilities for a decade-what then? With regard to workforce housing for our police, teachers, firefighters, veterans, seniors, etc., the town is already behind, so I will advocate for implementation of the Cary Housing Plan. As the only candidate who has experience in oversight of an affordable housing program, I am in the strongest position to push this forward.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
As previously mentioned, I want my platform to be the people’s platform; they are my customers. So, I have gone into the community and really “listened” to their concerns. Residents are telling me they want balanced development with matching infrastructure, low crime, low taxes, workforce housing, environmental health, and benchmarked crucial transit options.
To address these priorities, I will diligently scrutinize development proposals to minimize impact on existing neighborhoods and take a strategic approach to proposals that would use currently undeveloped land. I will be a strong advocate for workforce housing and will push for implementation of the Cary Housing Plan. I will seek out every opportunity to increase environmental protection activities, including citizen education and engagement. I will explore solid transportation options, and keep a keen eye on the Town’s budget to avoid increases in taxes. I have met with Cary’s Public safety Director and others, and will continue to do so to address crime before it happens.
4) What’s the best or most important thing the town council has done in the past year? Alternatively, name a decision you believe the council got wrong or an issue you believe the town should have handled differently. Please explain your answer.
Approval of the Cary Housing Plan is clearly the most comprehensive agenda item the council has addressed in the past year. The challenge now is to implement it to increase our inventory of workforce housing. A decision that the council should have given greater scrutiny was the approval of an “additional” $15 million for the Downtown Cary Park. It is understandable that construction costs have climbed, but the fault is this: Not one question was posed by council members as to what part of the project might be delayed or removed, in order to keep costs down. I feel certain the park will be a popular amenity, but I have to ask: Wouldn’t it be just as popular at maybe $55-to-$60 million, rather than the new estimate of $69 million?
5) What prior experience will make you an effective member of the town council and advocate of the issues listed above? Please note any endorsements you have received that you consider significant.
As stated above, having worked in both the corporate arena and the non-profit sector, I have developed business acumen and non-profit skills that combine to make sure I can get things done. As the only candidate who has experience in overseeing an affordable housing program, I am uniquely prepared to tackle this difficult and complex topic as a member of the town council.
I have received the endorsements of many prominent Cary leaders including Sheila Ogle, Alisa Colopy, Deborah Meehan and others. Additionally, I have been endorsed by two people who have actually done this job, former Cary Town Council member Marla Dorrel, and former Cary Town Council member and former Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman, among others. As Marla Dorrel stated, “Having served on the Town Council, I know what it takes. And I can assure you, Mary Insprucker has what it takes to serve District C and all of Cary exceptionally well.”
6) Given the rate of growth in Cary, how will you ensure that growth is well managed and enhances the town rather than detracts from it? Where does density and height fit in in planning decisions, if it does? How do you intend to balance growth with sustainability?
I have gone door-to-door (and continue to do so) to talk with voters about their concerns, and the issue that rises to the top is over-development – too much, too fast. We need to keep our standards high and be cautious stewards of the remaining land. We also must protect existing neighborhoods from development that is too dense. While there may be some locations in Cary that could accommodate high-rise development of six stories or more, those opportunities should be rare and diligently vetted before approval. I will challenge developers to demonstrate how they will apply sustainable practices that protect our environment, reduce stormwater runoff, provide e-vehicle charging stations, shepherd our tree canopies, and add rich landscaping, among other methods.
In 2017, the Town of Cary published a long-term plan for development, which projects the goals out to 2040. While an excellent first step, this should be a living document; it should be updated routinely to reflect changes that are taking place.
Land is a commodity. Like Will Rogers said, “They aren’t making any more of it.” We need to honor ecology, as well as the economy of an area. Parks, greenways and protected areas are important to the vitality of the Town, and quite frankly, part of the reason people live or have moved to Cary. However, rezoning adjustments need cautious consideration when measuring changes in active needs, or for the Town’s welfare.
7) As with most places in the Triangle, Cary is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? Should it promote apartment living, duplexes, and/or triplexes? Encourage density in single family housing? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
Many will say, “not in my backyard,” to workforce housing proposals. It should be noted here, that is not what this is about. We are talking housing for many including our police, teachers, firefighters, seniors, veterans, etc. As the only candidate with experience with an affordable housing program, I am uniquely prepared to guide Cary through the difficult issues surrounding this topic. Cary needs a wide range of housing options, both for rental and home ownership. The town took an important step last year with completion of the Cary Housing Plan. However, we should not just let this document sit on a shelf and gather dust. We must pursue the recommendations. (This is also true of some recommendations by the Environmental Advisory Board that need to go from paper to fruition.)
One thing I like to draw attention to on this issue is our senior population. Too often the topic neglects to mention that those folks who have built our town, lived, worked, served and paid taxes here must now be allowed to comfortably retire here and not be forced about by skyrocketing housing costs at the one time they cannot afford it.
8) How should town leaders work with the large organizations who are relocating to, or expanding or investing in Cary? What obligations, if any, should these businesses/companies/facilities have to the town?
Again, through my experience at the executive level in both business and the non-profit sector, I have the unique skill set to know how to partner with non-profits, communities, and corporations to get our goals over the finish line. In particular, I would want to have talks with some of the larger corporations on partnering on workforce housing initiatives. Their employee influx is part of the housing problem, so the corporations could be part of the solution.
9) In your view, how can Cary be safer and more accessible using different modes of transportation? What is your vision for public transit, pedestrian and bike safety?
Skyrocketing gas prices are hitting the wallets of Cary citizens. We can give them some relief if we commit to more bus routes and bus shelters (no one should have to wait for the bus in the rain!) I support multi-modal transportation. We need to get out of traffic and stop bouncing over potholes. A win-win to solve that and also provide environmental protection would be bike lanes, walking paths, and more sidewalks, greenways, and bike rental programs. Car-pool incentives and Park & Ride facilities would initiate traffic control and carbon emission reduction.
I think the top priority right now is closely watching feasibility studies for a commuter rail system. Early information suggests the train plan could reduce the number of vehicle-miles traveled substantially, (an environmental plus), estimating up to 12,000 people per day would ride a proposed 43-mile, 15-station system. As with everything, transparency and voter input is required here. Additionally, while not all of this may fall under the purview of the Town Council, I will never claim, “it’s not my job,” but rather look to be included in the conversations and act as a connector.
10) What are your goals for Cary’s downtown and what does the town need to do to achieve those goals?
There is a certain charm in downtown Cary along Academy Street. We must protect that charm. We must also protect our history as presented by the many structures in the Cary Historic District. The Downtown Cary Park will bring a significant amount of vehicle and foot traffic to Academy Street. We’ll need sufficient parking, hopefully looking at underground parking, if doable, to save the integrity of downtown. Downtown Cary can become a vibrant entertainment district or a traffic and parking nightmare. Let’s look at bike rentals. My goal is to see pedestrians of all ages, families and individuals, enjoying a Downtown Cary morning, afternoon, or evening, supporting local businesses, and sharing smiles .I am also a proponent of downtown streetscapes, eliminating hodgepodge, and creating main street-Americana for a unified, warm and embracing look.
11) Cary residents love their parks and greenways. How should the town work to preserve, improve, or expand them?
We need to continue to invest in green space, especially in that 10% of undeveloped land in Cary. We also must assure that greenway users feel safe and secure. I have met with Cary’s Public Safety Director on the safety concerns of our citizens and how they are being addressed. While the Town Council seems to have been overly focused on the Downtown Cary Park, the rest of Cary needs attention, too, especially with expansion of our greenway system.
12) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.
When I entered the race, I had to develop a logo and various marketing materials, all of which required a color scheme with the careful psychology that goes with that. Who knew yellow meant fun and pink meant romance! Without hesitation, I went with Red, White and Blue because it runs in my veins—and my DNA, well, that is service. I have served in countless ways including as a Wake County School substitute teacher, on a Township Senior Citizen Council, as the Media Relations Manager for the Special Olympics World Games, as a Media partner for Habitat for Humanity, and I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the American Red Cross.
My pledge is simple: Customer Service/Responsiveness– I’ll keep you, the citizens of Cary, first in mind. Integrity – I’ll hold myself to a high, ethical standard. Advocacy/Approachability – I’ll listen to your concerns and work for solutions. Dedication – I’ll spend whatever time it takes to serve you well. Hard Work – I’ll study each issue and proposal with care. Transparent/Honest Representation – I’ll ask questions, get answers, and won’t just “go along.” Kind, Smart, Courageous Leadership.-that’s me and I will not let you down!
Please vote for Mary for Cary Insprucker. Insprucker is a tough name to remember, but I am the only Mary on the ballot and I am the ONLY person for this job!