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?
I hold a deep affection for Carrboro, a wonderfully unique town with an abundance of offerings. Yet, pressing issues demand our attention. Upon moving here, we were dismayed to find our yard flooding one to two times annually, with water levels reaching three feet, in our front yard. Regrettably, the town hesitated to address this problem. Adding to our concerns, the town council and planning advisory board sanctioned a new neighborhood construction upstream, leading to five flooding incidents in our yard and others, this past year alone. The absence of a stormwater retention pond worsened the situation, affecting upstream areas.
Our residence lies on a sub-collector street, according to the 37-year-old Connector Roads policy, resulting in speeding vehicles and safety concerns for our children. This was somewhat ameliorated by our community activism and the subsequent installation of traffic calming devices. Safer streets are paramount, but town leaders are advocating the removal of bollards, which we vehemently oppose.
Carrboro’s beauty, shade, and permeable surfaces are undeniable. However, the endorsement of tree felling, and distant housing developments contradicts environmental claims. It risks urban sprawl, higher density, increased flooding, and car dependency, contrary to responsible development and environmental ideals.
I am committed to preserving Carrboro’s unique character and appeal through long-term, sustainable initiatives, while welcoming new residents in new neighborhoods. I have knowledge of the stormwater issues and ideas about keeping our community safe for all.
2) Please identify the three of the most pressing issues Carrboro currently faces and how you believe the town should address them.
The most pressing concern in our town is stormwater and flooding. It’s evident that these issues are escalating due to factors like urban expansion and the effects of climate change. To address this, we must hold developers accountable for installing stormwater management systems before handing developments over to homeowners’ associations. Additionally, we should collaborate with developers who share our commitment to the community’s well-being. This necessitates a proactive approach from our town council, embracing climate action best practices, and ensuring developers adhere to these standards when proposing new projects.
Furthermore, it’s imperative that we strengthen our existing public transportation infrastructure, particularly our bus system. Public transportation plays a pivotal role in resolving multiple challenges, including affordable housing, climate change mitigation, and fostering a more equitable Carrboro. We should foster collaborative efforts with Chapel Hill to enhance our regional transit network.
Lastly, we must prioritize the fundamental principle of safe streets for our community. Carrboro’s Planning Board has proposed diverting traffic away from major roads through our neighborhoods, aligning with the outdated 37-year-old Connector Roads Policy. However, this policy encourages car use and conflicts with our current Community Climate Action Plan. Another issue pertains to the removal of existing bollards around town. These bollards promote non-motorized modes of transportation, such as biking and walking between neighborhoods, and offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional traffic-calming measures. Importantly, their removal could lead to increased traffic in our neighborhoods, jeopardizing the safety of children, pedestrians, and cyclists.
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.
Carrboro has done a great job of promoting diversity and a welcoming environment for all people, especially the LBGTQ community. The Town is also on the right track by recognizing our housing challenges, but we can’t put the cart before the horse.
Carrboro has long ignored stormwater and flooding issues in the community. In the recent Carrboro Connects project, many citizens voiced their concerns about how stormwater and flooding affect them and their communities. Yet the town council has not advanced significant policies or actions that will meaningfully address this problem; especially amongst the most vulnerable in our community who live in floodplains and who are disproportionately affected by this issue. One of my first actions in office would be to meet with the stormwater advisory board and identify actionable steps we can take to reduce the impact of flooding in our community.
Public transportation is an invaluable service that allows citizens to travel within Carrboro and surrounding communities. It reduces traffic, our reliance on cars and our carbon footprint. We must ensure that we invest in public transportation and continue to make improvements in technology (ex. real time bus tracking) investments in infrastructure (ex. Covered bus shelters). I believe we should continue to ensure all public transit options remain affordable to the community, that they remain accessible to the community and that we continue to speak with riders and operators about ways we can continue improving the service.
Finally, I value community engagement and feel that the current council is not always open to input from all community members. One example of this is from our last town meeting before summer 2023 where I witnessed several speakers unable to voice their concerns. They were told, “I see some people on this list I’ve heard from before. I’d like to hear from people who I haven’t heard from”. I believe it’s important we honor all Carrboro citizens who sign up to speak at town meetings, no matter the subject or how often they attend meetings. They took time out of their busy lives to speak about something important to them. I would make sure everyone had their three minutes to speak. That is what a representative democracy looks like, listening to multiple points of view and internalizing all feedback. This community wants to feel part of our town’s planning process and I believe this is a missing component of our current town council.
4) What prior experience makes you qualified for and passionate about the town council and its duties? What made you seek this position?
I have 30 years of working for Educational and Governmental institutions from Elon University to the Federal Government, City University of NY, and UNC. I believe strongly in education for the future. With most of my working career as an IT Analyst, I have a strong understanding of interpersonal relations and problem solving under pressure while working in a time sensitive academic environment.
I’ve been President and Vice President of different HOA’s which has helped me learn the nuances of working on a very local level, listening to people I live near and advocating for our neighborhood safety on a governmental level as well as planning for community activities and social gatherings. I am committed to our community.
I currently volunteer for Meals on Wheels, an organization which I adore and has connected me to many of our older residents.
I have a degree in Sociology which gives me a unique perspective on social constructs.
Lastly, I dedicated over a year going through the process of making our neighborhood’s route to school safer by getting dozens of signatures needed to petition the town to perform a traffic study which ultimately resulted in less and slower traffic allowing kids from several neighborhoods to bike to school safely. It is not an easy process, but by working my way through it, I have learned how I can help provide safety to other areas of town as well.
I know people are busy and don’t have time to address the council about stormwater, about safe streets, or speeding, or other issues they encounter. I want to do this work for the community. I am available and I have time to listen to each resident of Carrboro. I hope to be able to identify these pressing issues that I have referred to above before people need to come to the council. This is how I see my job.
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?
The narrative of this conversation needs to change from affordable housing to affordable living, and how we as a community foster that attitude will lay the foundation for our growth as a complete community.
Affordable living isn’t only about mortgage payments or rent factors, it is also about access to public and private services, such as the ability to get to work without a car, childcare services, a pool to learn to swim, or to the park or grocery store. Simple things we take for granted in life have a serious cost and often become cost prohibitive.
We need a robust and regular public-transit system. This is vital to maintain connectivity for all residents.
I do believe we can build affordable dwellings that better suit everyone’s needs.
However, just because we build more duplexes and triplexes doesn’t mean that they will be affordable. As we have seen with recent residential buildings in Carrboro and Chapel Hill, most new developments have limited affordable housing options and are marketed for luxury (high rent) living, even for duplexes, triplexes, and apartments.
Many families want to live in their own single-family home with a yard. These too can be more affordable. I believe as a town, we can work for better solutions.
Within this conversation I would also like to see more integration of neighborhood playground equipment and parks or splash pads. Perhaps a public swimming pool for all of Carrboro residents would be appropriate since 95% of child deaths under the age of 5 are due to drowning. Swimming lessons for all Carrboro residents would be very progressive, inclusive, and equitable.
Circling back to public transportation, Carrboro cannot have equitable and affordable housing without an adequate public-transit system to ensure that they can remain connected to all parts of the town.
6) What should the Town of Carrboro do to increase the community’s engagement with local government?
Let’s start with language. I put a Spanish version of my platform on my website because I recognize the Hispanic community, whether they can vote or not is a significant part of our community. I would like to see our town website presented in Spanish. I would also like specific services to be presented in other languages that may need access to our services.
Currently town council meetings are held at 7pm on Tuesday evenings and can be up to 4 hours in length. This is not always conducive to engagement from the entire community. People can watch town council meetings live, but not engage unless they are able to get to the Carrboro town hall in person. I believe we have the technology to allow people to not only watch remotely, but also engage from afar. This could help bring in more community members that work later hours, are commuting or cannot find childcare or public transportation to the in-person meetings.
I believe the job of Carrboro Council members is to listen. Part of my current campaign is going to publicly announce meet and greets in different neighborhoods where I am invited to engage with and listen to community members. If elected, I would continue to ask people to invite me to their communities where I can stay on top of what is most important to our residents.
The town of Carrboro has advisory boards made up of volunteer community members. I would like to see this continue, as well as encourage more turnover so we can include more voices and segments of our community to address our evolving and changing needs.
Where some of my opponents seem to prefer a more limited framework of communication with community members, I think we need to be more inclusive and to open more lines of communication. I would support a booth at the Farmer’s Market where the community could actively engage with Council members or a representative of the Town, for example.
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?
We could start by implementing a long-term plan to create a sustainable housing ecosystem that considers the needs of low-income residents, rather than just reacting to the immediate crises.
We could offer incentives to property developers and landlords who commit to providing affordable housing units or keeping rents below market rates.
Emergency rental assistance is something we could consider.
Literacy training…did you know that 43 million Americans are functionally illiterate?
Another option is to collaborate with non-profit organizations that specialize in affordable housing, like Habitat for Humanity.
8) Should Carrboro move forward with plans to develop a greenway running alongside Bolin Creek? Please explain your answer.
I think that it is unfortunate that our town has been polarized and divided on something that is supposed to be a place to gather, commute and recreate. This is due to the narrative that has been presented by our Town leaders and on social media by outside groups.
Greenways could be a vital component of our community, and we need to be purposeful as to where we put them and how they best serve the community.
I am a strong believer in science, and I feel that the data is currently lacking that would enable me to take a strong position on this issue.
Now that the Council has decided to move forward on the Creekside Alignment, I look forward to reviewing further information that will be gathered when the town conducts updated feasibility assessments, engages with property owners along the alignment, performs environmental, stormwater and water quality assessments and considers costs and funding options.
9) How should the Town of Carrboro encourage more walking, biking, and public transit use?
We need more crosswalks with lights on our main roads in Carrboro. We need more sidewalks and multi-use paths that are constructed where they will see the most use and be cost-effective. We also need short bike-and-pedestrian connections between neighborhoods.
A great example of this is the connection between Barrington Hills and Sunset Creek Circle. It’s very inexpensive to build and maintain bike-and-pedestrian connections that are direct between two areas with no need for non-auto travelers to access main streets.
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 land was purchased in 1984 by Orange County, the Town of Chapel Hill and the Town of Carrboro and was originally intended to be used for a landfill. The land is still jointly owned and managed by the three jurisdictions. 104 acres are split between Orange County, Chapel Hill and Carrboro. 60 acres are designated as the “Headwaters Preserve” by Orange County.
The Greene Tract is the headwaters of 3 creeks that lead to our drinking water, it is a wetland almost all the time, and we would have to be very careful and responsible in how we develop it so we are not creating flooding issues for our future neighbors. We should take into account what the neighbors on Roger’s Road want while we make sure to educate all parties on the potential stormwater issue the land may have, and the ongoing cost it could incur and to make sure to plan accordingly. It’s vital to balance the need for development with the protection of the wetland and the interests of the local community. Responsible and informed decision-making, as well as open communication with all stakeholders, are essential to ensure the sustainability and well-being of the ecosystem and the community.
Again, it is essential that we look for Long-Term sustainable solutions to affordable living and affordable housing.
I would encourage everyone to read: https://townofcarrboro.org/DocumentCenter/View/8688/Greene-Tract-Environmental-Assessment–Suitability-Analysis-July-2020.
11) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.
I believe that diversity starts with diversity of thought. Being on a slate and stating that 3 people will always vote alike, is not diverse. It is exclusionary and this attitude ensures that more of the same will happen.
I am an independent thinker. This is a very important character trait in someone who is going to represent a community. I’m going to make decisions based on information, science, and data. I will also continue to discourage the overt bullying that has happened by supporters of our opponents. I think anyone who wants to serve the Town through volunteer work or through Council work should be afforded the opportunity to do so without fear of being bullied. It is sad to see REAL diversity being discouraged by lying bullies.
Support independent local journalism.
Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.