Name as it appears on the ballot: Vickie Adamson
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: VickieForWakeCounty.com
Occupation & employer: Full Time Wake County Commissioner
1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues facing Wake County? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
Strong Public Health Response to COVID. We currently have robust contact tracing and testing. We have free testing in 4 locations throughout Wake County that operate Monday through Saturday. If a citizen would like to be tested most likely then they can get tested within 24 hours and we have the lab capacity so that most results are back in 24 hours. We need to continue this level of COVID response. We also need to prepare for a vaccine. We have added 6 nurse positions and are gearing up to administer drive through vaccinations. Once we receive a vaccine, we need to be ready so anyone who would like to be vaccinated can receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
Better funding for our Wake County Public Schools. First, we need a General Assembly that prioritizes public education. Prior to COVID we worked with the School Board and created a 7-year improvement plan for our Public Schools that includes bringing all staff to a living wage, counselors social workers and psychologists to the national average, upgrading IT services, textbooks and better maintaining our building. Prior to COVID we did increase Bus Driver pay to $15 per hour.
Expanding Human Services/Housing for our most vulnerable citizen focusing on Children. Last year I had the honor to serve on our Infant Mortality Workgroup. In Wake County a black baby is almost 3 times more likely to die before the age of 3 months that a white baby. Two of the causes are unsafe sleeping arrangements for the infant and follow up medical care after birth. We have starting offering mothers not only free car seats but Pack’n’Plays so every child will have a safe place to sleep. We worked with a private partner and received a $900,000 grant over 2 years that adds home visit nurses so we can offer home visits to all new Moms. I am committed to whatever is necessary to decrease our infant mortality rate.
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.
Currently we have 7 progressive Commissioners focused on what is best for the citizens of Wake County. We each have different ideas on how to accomplish our goals but our record shows we are united in putting the citizens of Wake County first. I look forward to another term so we can continue to keep Wake County on the top10 lists of the best places to live in this country. Wake County is a great place to Work, Learn and Play. I am committed to policies that continue our success.
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?
With our current Economic Development policies, we have attracted high quality jobs, High Tech and Manufacturing to Wake County. Our policies equally reward companies that are started in Wake County as well as companies that choose to relocate to Wake County. We only offer incentive packages to companies that pay a living wage, offer full benefits and make an investment in our community.
I would like to see additional focus on companies, existing and startups, relocating to our underserved areas. One of the main reasons not all of our citizens enjoy our economic prosperity is transportation to the location of our current job base. We need to work toward more jobs in our underserved areas. This will also help with traffic.
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?
We have focused on companies moving into existing vacant buildings whether office space or manufacturing space. We identified 10 vacant manufacturing buildings and we focused our efforts on filling these empty buildings. This has been a successful effort. What I would do differently is start this effort years before it was started.
With the Parks and Green Space Bond that passed in 2018 we are able to preserve additional Green Space.
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?
I am concerned that some of our residents are feeling overtaxed. The majority of counties in North Carolina, including Johnson County, have higher tax rates than we do. Our quality of life is very important to the citizens of Wake County and until our State Government starts properly funding public education, we have to cover the underfunding with property tax. The Leandro case states clearly the State is not doing their part in funding Public Education.
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?
Property values increasing is a double-edged sword. One of the main ways to have generational wealth is through home ownership and appreciation on this home. This does come with higher property taxes.
We do offer tax relief programs for the Elderly and Disabled citizens that are based on income and a tax relief program for Disabled Veterans that does not have an income requirement.
If a family is struggling to pay their Property Taxes, we will work with them so they can remain in their home.
When we revalue the property in Wake County we decrease the property tax rate by the average value property has increased. Last year we dropped the property tax rate from 72.2 cents per $100 of value to 60 cents per $100 of value. This is a 24% decrease.
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?
We have been able to take this $15 million coupled with Tax Credits and Private Partnerships to increase our affordable housing stock by $100 million per year the last two years. In the last 2 years we have built more affordable housing units in Wake County that any other years in history in spite of the pandemic.
We also have been putting a lot of effort into the preservation of current naturally occurring affordable housing.
Is this adequate – no.
I would like us to create a citizen advisory board to help us with additional strategies in partnering with the non-profit sector to increase our affordable housing stock. I would like to work closer with our municipal partners.
I would also like to invest additional resources in Legal Aid. When someone is under threat of eviction. legal representation cuts their chance of being evicted by 50%.
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 are balancing our County Government needs with the needs of Public Education which includes our Public School and Wake Tech. During this unprecedented time when so many workers need retraining our investment in Wake Tech is paying off. We have also created an apprenticeship program with Wake Tech called WakeWorks where if you need to work while you retrain and you are training for one of the 5 most needed trades, we will cover tuition, fees, books, uniforms and tools so an education is within reach for anyone.
Public Education is critical to our quality of life in Wake County. In my opinion this pandemic has put a spotlight on how critical our Public Schools are to the families of Wake County. Until the state complies with the Leandro decision we have no choice but to continue to invest in Public Education. A child only gets one shot at a K-12 education and we have 160,000 counting on us.
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 am pleased with how public transportation is coming together in Wake County. We cannot pave our way out of traffic. All world class transportation systems started where we are today.
One of the successes had been the Youth Go Pass. This allows anyone under 18 to ride free. We have provided over 200,000 rides for students. Citizens over 65 can also ride for free.
Public transportation is about equity. I served for 4 years as the Chair of the Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School Business Alliance. I worked with some very bright accomplished young adults and their biggest challenge for education beyond High School was transportation. The transfer station at Wake Tech with Express Buses to downtown has opened our Community College System for Southeast Raleigh.
We have started planning micro-transit. I think going forward we should expand the available of non-conventional Public Transportation.
10. Are there any issues not covered by this questionnaire that you would like to address?
2020 was a Census year. I served as Chair of the Wake County Census Committee. For each undercounted citizen we lose around $15,000 to $25,000 in Federal Funding over the next10 years. Even thought we were not able to do in-person outreach and with this the first time the Census was on-line we had a higher self-response rate than 2010. Our self-response rate was over the National Average and Over the State Average. We came in as the 2nd highest county in the state. This was a very successful effort which will help fund needed services for the next 10 years.
We have over 700 bona fide farms in Wake County. They add a lot to our overall quality of life and are a natural preserver of open space. In 2019 I received an award from the Wake County Farm Bureau for my efforts to preserve Family Farms. Anytime our citizens can purchase from local sources this is important for maintaining our quality of life in Wake County.
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