Name as it appears on the ballot: Whitney Hill
Party affiliation: Republican
Campaign website: whitneyforraleigh.org
Occupation & employer: Business Owner
Years lived in Raleigh: 48 years
1. Given the direction of Raleigh government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, what specific changes will you advocate for if elected?
There is a general dissatisfaction with the City government. First the police department has been neglected and crime has been going up. Bad policies with housing have caused homelessness. Finally, a tax rate increase seems to be attached to everything.
2. If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identify your priorities for your district. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces.
First we need to raise police pay to the tops in Wake County to keep our experienced officers from leaving and going to other townships. Second, we need to work on a housing policy that benefits all levels of income. Third, we need to fix the post covid problems in the building permits department that are slowing down builders. Finally, we need to stop attaching a tax rate increase to everything (bond issues, cost of living increases and merit increases for city employees, etc) and start managing the city checkbook properly.
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 have been in both corporate management and small business management most of my adult life. For the last 27 years my clients have been small businesses. I was active in the Raleigh Chamber of commerce for over a decade. I am an outsider to local politics and with the current state of city management, one is needed to fix the problems we have.
4. U.S. metros are grappling with a housing shortage, especially a shortage of affordable housing. Raleigh is no different. Many believe that the best way to address this crisis is via dense infill development along public transportation corridors. Do you share this vision for Raleigh’s growth? Please explain.
I do believe that high density along corridors with bus service is one strategy to address population growth.
5. In 2020, Raleigh citizens voted in favor of an $80 million affordable housing bond to assist with acquiring land and building near transit corridors, preserving existing inventory, down payment and homeowner repairs assistance, low-income housing tax credit financing, and more. The city also created a goal of adding 5,700 affordable units over 10 years and is on track to meet that goal. But it’s estimated that Raleigh has a deficit of some 20,000 units currently, and it’s clear much more work is needed. Should the city bring another affordable housing bond before voters? Why or why not? If yes, when, how much should the city ask for, and what should the bond fund?
I am in favor of strategies to encourage affordable housing to be built and cannot say right now whether a bond is necessary, but if a bond is necessary we should be able to fund the bond payments from tax revenues form new tax payers moving into the area and economies of scale and not with a tax rate increase. We need also to look at corporations moving into the area to start paying their fair share into problems created by the rapid growth.
6. In neighborhoods across the city, ranch homes and other modest, more affordable single-family homes are being torn down and replaced with large (also single-family) McMansions that don’t provide more density. Does the city have any authority to regulate such teardowns? Should it regulate such teardowns and redevelopment?
Yes…it is called zoning. The city has turned its backs on existing residents and waived zoning regulations by allowing developers to go into single family neighborhoods and put in multi unit dwellings. Should it regulate redevelopment…Yes! That is one of the basic responsibilities of the city.
7. One way Raleigh’s city council has attempted to address the city’s housing shortage is by allowing for more flexible housing options such as duplexes, triplexes, and quadraplexes in all neighborhoods in the city, eliminating certain zoning protections, and allowing apartments for zones along bus routes. Do you support this move to bring missing middle housing to the city and do you think it will be an effective policy for managing the city’s growth?
Not in existing neighborhoods unless the current residents want it (which they most likely do not). We are going to need to put these in other areas that are zoned for it or rezone other areas that can be converted.
8. Raleigh’s city council has directed city staff to gather data on absentee investors who are buying up properties in the city. Would you support measures to limit investors from buying up homes as other U.S. cities are considering doing or further regulating whole house short-term rentals that some argue are detracting from the supply of homes available for full-time residents?
Yes…I believe we need to look into this.
9. What role should the city play in ensuring that the longtime residents of rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh and other areas of the city can continue to afford to live in those neighborhoods?
I would like to see property taxes frozen for low income people and elderly that are on fixed incomes.
10. Public servants including police officers, firefighters, and teachers can’t afford to live in the city where they work. As a result, Raleigh loses good officers and teachers to other municipalities and is grappling with a current shortage of around 60 firefighters and more than 100 police officers. What can Raleigh leaders do to attract and retain the best officers and other public servants?
Pay them top pay in the area. Raleigh is the toughest place in Wake County for these folks to work and we need to pay to get and keep the best!
11. Do you support the city council’s decision to eliminate parking minimums for developers? Why or why not?
We need to be creative inside the beltline zoning strategies where people can walk to restaurants, businesses, work etc so they don’t need a car most of the time and Uber/Lyft, taxi or bus the rest. A car costs on average well over a $1000/mo.
12. In 2019, Raleigh’s city council voted to eliminate citizen advisory councils (CACs) without public notice or input. Do you feel this was the right decision? Do you support bringing back CACs? What do you think the council is doing right or wrong when it comes to community engagement post-CACs? Could you describe your vision for community engagement in Raleigh?
I believe we need to bring CAC’s back. They are not legislative bodies and they should be limited to providing input to the city government, as to the desires of the community and as a way for the city government to communicate back to the citizens.
13. Following shooting deaths of Raleigh residents by RPD officers, the city council established a civilian-staffed police review board in 2020 that had no official power and fell apart soon after two of its members resigned. The council also established the ACORNS unit to address mental health crises, but data shows the unit rarely assists on calls related to suicides and involuntary mental health commitments, leaving most of those calls to police officers. Do you feel that the council has done enough, in partnership with the police chief, to reform the police force and address officer violence? Would you support cutting the department’s $124.5 million police budget?
If we want to have policemen that are going to handle the stressful situations they are going to run into in Raleigh, we need to pay top dollar locally to get the best officers. Crime is going up and our best officers are leaving the force…why would we cut the budget????
14. Raleigh has made strides on transit in the last several years. Bus fare is free and construction of new Bus Rapid Transit routes is underway, bike lanes are expanding to areas across the city, and commuter rail will eventually connect Raleigh to Durham and Johnston Counties. Is the city doing a good job of managing its current transit systems, encouraging residents to use them, and planning for more future transit and connectivity? Should the city be investing more on bike, pedestrian, and other transit infrastructure?
We need to pull back and review what has been done so far and assess what is being used and what is not being used with regards to mass transit and bike lanes. This information can help us to proceed in the future.
15. Downtown Raleigh has struggled to rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic with foot traffic still down and many storefronts and offices sitting vacant. The council has implemented a new social district to try to bring people downtown again. What more could or should the city council do to revitalize the urban core?
Make a commitment to public safety so small business owners can feel secure that their stores are not going to be ransacked and citizens are going to feel safe downtown.
16. Do you support Raleigh’s $275 million parks bond on the ballot this fall? Why or why not?
Not sure…We are having hundreds of thousands of new tax payers moving into the area and the bond is being linked to a tax “rate” increase. Why can we not fund payments on the bond with new tax revenues coming in from new tax payers.
17. If there is anything else you would like to address, please do so here.
We need to start putting basic city services and infrastructure management at the beginning of the budgeting process, then look at the special projects at the end, funding what we can afford and stop linking things like city employee cost of living increases (which have to be done) to a tax “rate” increase. If we keep raising tax rates the middle class is going to move out of the city to outside townships.
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