Name as it appears on ballot: Matthew P. Clements
Party affiliation: Libertarian
Campaign website: matthew4freedom.com
Occupation and employer: IT Support, Fitch Creations
Years lived in Carrboro: Homeowner for 12 years, resident for 26
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 Aldermen do differently or better over the course of your term?
I decided to run for the Carrboro Board to offer to serve the community I live in. I have extensive experience with managing people, problem-solving and thinking outside the box. I want to make Carrboro the best small town in North Carolina, with clean streets, well trained and polite public servants, world-class cycling and pedestrian planning for safety, and efficient connection of local residents to theUniversity of North Carolina, UNC Hospital and local businesses.
As I have a different perspective on voluntary action, freedom of choice and smaller, less intrusive government, I think my contribution to town government will be significant.
My priorities are to continue transparent governance in Carrboro, and to achieve consensus on how to move our town forward responsibly with input from residents, taxpayers, businesses and the University.
2) Given the direction of Carrboro government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
I’m a proud resident of Carrboro and feel that our town governance and management are on the right course, with the exception of continually increasing property tax rates. I want Carrboro to treasure and value every tax dollar we’re custodians of and to ensure our local government is not picking and choosing winners and losers, but representing every resident as equitably as possible.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
The major pressing issues in Carrboro are clear, to the candidates, voters, and the press. Indeed the Indy later asks specifically about the three major topics that are central to my campaign – diversification of the tax base, determining the future plans for parking in Carrboro and proper planning for increasing entry-level housing for home-owners and tenants in Carrboro.
4) What prior experience makes you qualified for and passionate about the Board of Alderman and its duties? What made you seek this position?
I have managed with a local small business for years and since transitioning into information technology have the time available to volunteer to serve the Town of Carrboro to represent our residents and citizens. I want to see continued improvement of our community-oriented policing programs as the Carrboro Police Department is a leader in community outreach, education, and training. I would like to see a public and private discussion on how to improve the guest experience in Carrboro to help increase the competitiveness of our local businesses with parking, clean sidewalks, and friendly municipal employees. We need to come together to solve parking issues between businesses, residents, employees, and customers.
5) As with most places in the Triangle, Carrboro 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?
Chapel Hill and Carrboro provide excellent lip service to affordable housing, carving out funds for affordable housing from developers. Yet the town keeps approving luxury apartments and large lot single home development, and as a result, no new apartments, mobile home lots, entry-level townhouses and condominiums are not being proposed or developed.
Carrboro needs to set up a program to help streamline the zoning and regulatory process to incentivize development of high-quality, durable affordable privately funded and managed housing developments.
6) In what ways should Carrboro work on growing its tax base?
Carrboro currently has more than 50% of tax revenues coming from assessed property. Between Carrboro and Orange County, this rate keeps going up year after year. Carrboro needs to diversify revenue sources, especially by being business-friendly, to increase sales tax revenues, encourage responsible new business development, and eliminate excessive governmental red tape and streamline special zoning areas to help to incentivize development of additional business properties.
Carrboro has a comprehensive plan for assisting small businesses with permits, fees, and business development, we need to find out how well we are going to make the process easier, quicker and less expensive.
7) The town is considering implementing a paid parking system downtown. Do you think this is a wise option? What do you think is the best course of action for the town’s parking issues? Should the town hire a consultant?
Hiring a $50,000 consultant is a waste of resources. Instituting paid parking over all of Carrboro will add enforcement costs, development costs for an app and or smart meters and take away a competitive advantage for Carrboro.
A better alternative is to have a public/private initiative to allow local businesses to give vouchers to their customers for the new parking structure while retaining free parking in the remainder of the town. This option could keep enforcement costs to a minimum while providing a service to town business customers.
There are positive and negative repercussions of each path that Carrboro can take. The town-owned real estate could be generating revenues for the town if the paid parking plan is frugal and self-funding. Spending more money chasing revenues while driving customers into other more convenient options outside of Carrboro is unacceptable.
8) In your view, how can the town improve public transit, especially in terms of serving lower-income residents? How can bike lanes be made safer and more efficient?
Our pre-paid public transit needs to ensure that routes are set up to help our residents get to shop, leisure or work, students get to class. We have invested in ensuring that public transit is available for all so we need to make sure we are getting the best value for our investment.
Our bike lane system is very good but could be expanded especially to areas where there is significant danger for cyclists; for instance, traveling down Smith Level or Jones Ferry Road. Both of those routes to Chatham are perilous for cycling commuters. We need to ensure that our communities take into consideration the safety of our sidewalks, bike lanes, and motor thoroughfares.
9) Carrboro has traditionally struggled to attract businesses run by people of color. Why do you believe that is? How can the town work to attract minority-owned businesses?
The town needs to provide more equitable licensing, zoning, and development processes. Getting the capital to be able to invest in a business can be tough, especially with all of the challenges in getting a new project started. Mentorship programs can help to identify possible issues with business plans that can increase the success rate of new business incubation programs. Carrboro needs to continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce and Orange County’s small business loan program and or institute a program of local microloans to help convert great ideas into new minority-owned businesses.
10) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.
It’s time to make cannabis possession the lowest law enforcement priority in Carrboro.