Name as it appears on the ballot: PORTIA W. ROCHELLE
Party affiliation: DEMOCRAT
Campaign website: rochelleforraleigh.com
Occupation & employer: retired NC State Government
Years lived in Raleigh: 47+
1) Given the direction of Raleigh government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
As far as cultural and entertainment, yes. No, as far as helping low income citizens find and keep comfortable living places. The Council and I could do more to assist the homeless and families with children living from one hotel to the next.
2) If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for your district. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces.
Building affordable housing supply for low income residents;
Assist the homeless and families with children living from one hotel to the next; and
Address police oversight board.
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 believe as individuals we are called to be our brothers/sisters keepers. We are to come together in different capacities to make lives better. We all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I have lived in Raleigh for over 41 years. I am an African-American female that has served the community as: a leader, pastor, member of boards and community organizations, mentor/volunteer in Wake County Public Scholl system. I served 10 years as President of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP, gained experience in investigating social injustices for diverse races and ages. I am a social justice advocate for all people.
4) Most people agree that Raleigh faces a housing affordability crisis. Do you believe the council made a wise decision not to place a bond on this year’s ballot? Why or why not?
Due to the planned 2020 Five-Year Consolidated plan programs used to address housing and community development delaying the placing of a bond was timely.
5) Assuming the council places a bond referendum on the 2020 ballot, how much money to do you believe the city should ask for? What do you believe it should fund? Outside of a bond, what steps should the city be taking to promote housing affordability in Raleigh?
The result of the 2020 Five-Year Consolidated Plan should determine the bond size if needed and should address affordable housing for low income residents, affordable housing near BRT lines, Job training, grants for Nonprofits, etc. The plan can also address promoting housing affordability in Raleigh.
6) Discussions surrounding housing often turn on questions of protecting neighborhoods’ characters or promoting density in the city’s core—i.e., what kinds of new housing the city should add, and where? At the crossroads of this conversation is the rapid gentrification of Southeast Raleigh. What role should the city play in ensuring that the longtime residents of those neighborhoods can continue to afford to live there?
Support tax relief for long-term homeowners in gentrifying neighborhoods. This relief would certainly help keep seniors in homes they have worked hard to maintain. It would also bring a relief to low-income individuals which are struggling. Support Land Banking that is a great economical solution to benefit low income residents.
7) The city currently has twenty neighborhood conservation overlay districts, which can restrict new development. Do you believe this tool is being used effectively? How would you change the city’s approach to NCODs, if at all?
I support Neighborhood Conservation Overlay Districts for the future of Raleigh.
8) If you could change anything about the city’s unified development ordinance, what would it be and why?
We should explore options that would create better living opportunities for our citizens.
It is an approach, start the application process and learn as we work together to address ADUs.
9) Earlier this year, the council required homeowners who wish to build an accessory dwelling unit on their property to petition their neighbors through an overlay district process. So far, no neighborhoods have started the application process. Do you believe this is the right approach to ADUs, or do you believe they should be allowed by right? Please explain.
Automobile traffic and parking concerns should be a part of the development project plan.
10) When considering new downtown development projects—e.g., John Kane’s proposed tower on Peace Street or new developments in the Warehouse District—how much consideration do you believe the council should give to automobile traffic and parking concerns?
I support letting residents decide some community projects, residents have more knowledge about what is needed in their area.
11) Developers are eyeing at least three parcels on the outskirts of the downtown business district for twenty-plus-story buildings. Do you believe this area is an appropriate place to add height and density? What conditions should the city attach to such projects, if any?
I will need to better understand what the city’s current and future approach to alternative transportation options downtown are before I can make a statement.
12) What are your thoughts on the city’s approach to alternative transportation options downtown? Is the city handling issues such as regulating e-scooter companies and building protected bike lanes the right way? Why or why not?
Need more information on state law.
13) Earlier this year, the city passed an ordinance banning whole-house rentals and regulating other short-term rentals. Are you concerned about claims that this ordinance might conflict with state law? Do you believe the city’s policy is the best way to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rentals? Why or why not?
The system is currently working for some means of fostering engagement with local government. A way of tracking and communicating outputs could be the next step.
14) Do you think Raleigh’s system of Citizens Advisory Councils is the best way of fostering engagement with local government? If not, how do you believe the CAC system should be reformed?
The CAC system is a great way of fostering engagement with local government. I participate in my CAC. However; we must realize that all citizens are unable to attend CAC meetings. I believe letters should be mailed to communities where changes are proposed so that they have an opportunity to give their input. Not every citizen uses a computer so electronic notices will not reach everyone.
15) Four council members have called for the city to join a lawsuit over the RDU Airport Authority’s quarry lease with Wake Stone. Do you support RDU’s quarry lease? Do you believe this case is something the city should involve itself in? Why or why not?
It is my understanding that the quarry would be destructive to the environment. Yes, I believe the city should be involved to take every means available to protect our environment.
16) When Mayor McFarlane announced her decision not to seek reelection, she cited increasing incivility among council members. Do you agree with her assessment? If so, what would do to lower the temperature in city government and make the council more productive?
I am unable to agree with her assessment because I am not on the council to witness such. Once I am elected I will use my skills and experience to work collaboratively with individuals that agree and disagree. Thirty years working in NC State Government as a manager has prepared me to bring groups together to reach a workable solution. I have conducted public hearings so I’m experienced in listening to others in a civil manner. Pastoral training and experience leading the Raleigh-Apex NAACP (over 12 committees) has prepared me to be an asset to the Council.
17) Do you believe the city needs a community police oversight board? If so, what should the board look like, and what powers should it have? Do you believe the city can or should challenge the state law that blocks access to certain police personnel records?
As a social justice advocate I believe a review board of citizens with subpoena power should be established to review and investigate these complaints. The board will hold citizens and officers accountable.
18) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.