Name as it appears on the ballot: Barbara Foushee
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: www.barbaramfoushee.com
Occupation & employer: Senior Technologist, Molecular Oncology – Laboratory Corporation of America
Years lived in Carrboro: 32 years
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?
The magnitude of this moment is not lost on me and I am grateful for all who have paved the way for me to be able to run for the Mayor of Carrboro; it is because of those who gave so unselfishly in the past that I have a seat at the local government table today. I am a community driven, community focused candidate with 5 ½ years of elected service and a wealth of community service, engagement and activism; all of which puts me in a position to be ready on day one if I am elected as the next Mayor for the Town of Carrboro. I am running to elevate my service to the community; mine is a different voice and lived experience and representation always matters. I have lended my voice to many causes across our community and served with many organizations; all of which has allowed me to keep my finger on the pulse of the community. I understand the issues and the challenges that our community faces and am ready to continue the work with fair and transparent service. My platform has a foundation of community building about issues that matter to all of us and some of my priorities include community, housing access and affordability, the continued expansion of our local and regional transportation picture, infrastructure improvements, the implementation of our comprehensive plan where the pillars are race equity and climate action and reimagining community and public safety just to name a few. Our beloved community is still within reach and looking through a racial equity lens will continue to open up a new set of possibilities as well as help us reimagine how we approach issues and find equitable solutions that work for all of us. We must continue to recognize the value of including diverse groups in community discussions as we work with community on the issues. The goal is to not only listen but to keep the lines of communication open so that everyone is heard and we are able to work together on our shared challenges.
2) Please identify the three of the most pressing issues Carrboro currently faces and how you believe the town should address them.
Housing access and affordability, climate change mitigation/environmental justice, and working through a racial equity lens; these issues are connected to each other and can be worked on together. Dense, compact development along with thoughtful transit planning can help to make housing affordable and reduce climate impact at the same time. Affordable housing and environmental justice are also critical pieces of our racial equity strategies and the assurance of stable, high-quality, safe and affordable housing to residents of all income levels is an ideal outcome for the community. In order to reimagine how we create housing justice and stability, we must center impacted voices in decision-making processes. Inclusive community engagement can help us to reach sustainable outcomes together, both race and ethnicity continue to be critical pieces to tackling community issues. I plan to continue to advocate for education, policy and funding that will support these issues; making and sustaining progress is especially important for our black and brown communities whose voices are often not at the table when discussions are taking place and decisions are evolving.
3) 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.
The adoption of our Comprehensive Plan was completed last year and is key to continued community success. The plan will guide development and re-development in Carrboro for the future as well as address town services. Key strategic areas include: race equity initiatives, community climate action plan implementation, zoning amendments related to housing and infrastructure improvements including stormwater and connectivity (bicycle and pedestrian). There is a 3-5-year implementation plan with some “low-hanging fruit” items that can be completed within 12-18 months. The town council has begun this important work.
I believe that the community engagement work is critical to town success. I often run across people who have no idea about town resources and the local government processes. Certainly our community engagement department continues to come up with ways to do better outreach but we need to be more creative and evolve into a new normal with our community outreach and engagement. Meeting people where they are in community could bring more equitable and sustainable outcomes as more and different voices come to the table, there is room for everyone.
4) What prior experience makes you qualified for and passionate about the town council and its duties? What made you seek this position?
I am running to be the next Mayor of Carrboro to elevate my service to the community; I am passionate about reaching community, inclusive community engagement is critical to our work as a town because we need to hear from all community members on issues and make information accessible to everyone. We also continue to need diverse civic participation and leadership to evolve sustainable solutions for our shared challenges. As the only African American council member since 2017, I am running to keep a seat at the table because representation still matters and we achieve more together. I sought re-election to the Town Council in 2021 because I saw that there was a need for representation and I still see that need today as I run for Carrboro Mayor. My prior experience includes:
Elected service: Carrboro Town Council since 2017, re-elected in 2021
Organizational affiliations/membership: Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP (Executive Committee and Silver Life member), Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., OWASA Board of Directors, Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate, Community Awareness and Political Action Ministry at First Baptist Church, Chapel Hill; Town of Carrboro Human Services Advisory Board, Saint Augustine’s University Alumni Association (Life member), Orange County Transit Plan Policy Steering Committee
Awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP
Honored by Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. on numerous occasions including the Finer Womanhood and Woman of the Year awards
Featured in Chapel Hill Magazine as a Woman of Achievement
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?
We still have to keep pressing forward on this issue since housing access and affordability continue to be front and center locally and across the nation. We not only need to preserve our naturally occurring affordable housing but we need to continue to add to our housing stock and housing choices. Our comprehensive plan will help to address this issue through some proposed zoning amendments, weatherization, assessment of town-owned properties for affordable housing and the development of a scope of work for the $1M in ARPA funding that has been designated for housing affordability. We should also look to protect our community’s health and environment while also achieving a community that is economically strong and socially diverse. Finding suitable land for the housing is also a consideration, keeping in mind factors like being near public transit, affordable density and keeping environmental impacts to a minimum. To get there we should make fair and cost-effective development decisions. The town has a dedicated revenue stream for affordable housing, we continue to work with affordable housing providers when opportunities arise and policy creation that supports affordable housing through a race equity lens.
6) What should the Town of Carrboro do to increase the community’s engagement with local government?
We should meet people where they are in our community instead of the expectation of always coming to town hall. For those that have been historically underserved and pushed to the margins, this can be intimidating. We should explore the use of various community spaces as an option for listening sessions, council meetings and other town functions such as departmental events as well as strive to provide a safe and supportive atmosphere for all community members and help to foster a sense of belonging and acceptance. The world wide web is convenient and an easy way to get out a lot of information quickly but not everyone is attached to getting town news in that way. We have made progress but we certainly need to do more to keep community informed and engaged. Building strong, sustainable relationships can help to capture a complete range of values and perspectives.
7) For those who rent or own homes in Carrboro already, how should the town and county address tax revaluations that increase property taxes and rising rents, particularly for residents in public housing and those low-income residents who face displacement?
Decisions on property tax valuations occur at the county and state level. As a member of the Carrboro Town Council, I would continue to advocate for equitable tax valuations as the Carrboro Town Council has done in the past for our Northside neighbors. I do appreciate the various programs that Orange County offers to assist residents with paying property taxes. North Carolina does not have rent control laws and doesn’t appear to be poised to move on changing that position any time soon. Housing justice and policies should be rooted in equity and must be preventative and not reactionary. Investing in displacement prevention and the addition of more supportive housing could also be helpful. We have to evolve into new and more creative ways for housing issues. Housing justice involves everyone having affordable housing that promotes health, well-being and upward mobility by facing historical and ongoing harms and disparities that are caused by structural racism and other systems of oppression.
8) Should Carrboro move forward with plans to develop a greenway running alongside Bolin Creek? Please explain your answer. Connectivity and accessibility for able and disabled community members are in my larger vision for Carrboro and are focal points as I continue to think about this project. If we move forward with this project, I would like to see us come together with a solution that would benefit the community and not be environmentally taxing. The community survey results will be presented to council soon as it relates to the preferred alignment of the path and my hope is that we reach a viable and equitable solution. Keeping in mind that if a preferred alignment is agreed upon there will be further studies that will need to be done to ensure viability and sustainability of this project.
9) How should the Town of Carrboro encourage more walking, biking, and public transit use? Carrboro already has comprehensive bicycling and greenway plans and great progress on infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians. I would encourage our town to continue to work on connectivity for the benefit of the entire community and to ensure that bike-ped infrastructure is properly maintained and safe. Improving the pedestrian experience in and around bus stops is also very important since public transit is another alternative to get folks out of their cars. Our city bus service continues to recover from the pandemic since there is still a driver shortage which impacts service to the community. Developers should continue to install sidewalks and bike paths in new developments. The use of marketing and educational programs to promote alternative means of transportation is also very helpful to community.
Partnerships with larger counties and municipalities to support the idea of a future integrated mass transit system is key considering the small scale of Carrboro’s budget. Collaboration continues to be important for our local and regional transportation picture. A deep community engagement process regarding a mass transit system is important to ensure that we move towards a sustainable and equitable solution for everyone.
10) What role does Carrboro have in developing the Greene Tract in partnership with Chapel Hill and Orange County? How do you think that land should be developed? What are your priorities for the property?
The Greene Tract is a parcel of land jointly owned by Orange County and the towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill. The three entities are in the process of creating a long-range plan to guide development and preservation activities on the site. As one of the property owners for the site, I would say that we have a voice in what happens there. An environmental assessment has been completed on the property and there is joint agreement on the preservation and development of the property. Housing, mixed-use development, an elementary school, a recreational field and the promotion of cost-effective infrastructure are great uses; with affordable housing being one of the top priorities for me. Our latest action paves the way for a community engagement specialist who will be engaged with the Greene Tract Master Plan. They will also help to prioritize “marginalized and disenfranchised communities,” as well as benefit current residents living near the tract. The outcome of the master planning process will give Carrboro some clearer direction on our role with future development.
11) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.
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