Name as it appears on the ballot: Dan Berry
Party affiliation: Non-Partisan
Campaign website: http://danberry4hs.com
Occupation & employer: Finance Director, Cisco Systems
Years lived in Holly Springs: 9
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?
In 2017 I was elected to reclaim the direction of Holly Springs’ future. I’ve served on the Town Council for the last four years and have been Mayor Pro Tem since 2019. I’m a prior member of the Holly Springs Planning Board, former HOA President, and was a volunteer firefighter for 10 years before moving to North Carolina. I have been a Holly Springs resident and taxpayer for 9 years.
As a Councilman, I’ve dug into and solved inefficient town processes, instituted a rolling schedule of updates for our major growth plans which allows us to make decisions off a current vision and represent all members of our growing community. I’ve pushed the envelope to encourage non-residential growth to balance our tax base and consistently asked developers tough questions leading to better quality projects that result in a benefit for existing residents, not a detriment.
Holly Springs is thriving, and our momentum is incredible. I am passionate about this town, what we have done to get it on track, and where we are going. I have been transparent, direct, honest, accessible, involved, and fiercely engaged in my role.
I’m running for re-election as the only Council incumbent and look forward to continuing my work on responsible growth, fiscal responsibility, and taking our quality of life to the next level with more accessible and inclusive amenities, advocating for enhanced connectivity through sidewalks and greenways, and I’ll continue to seek public private partnerships for affordable housing projects that don’t result in Holly Springs taxpayer subsidies.
My track record of listening to and soliciting input from residents and town stakeholders stands for itself. I am the most qualified candidate running for the Council and am asking for your vote on November 2nd to re-elect me.
2) Given the direction of Holly Springs government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
Yes, I’ve worked incredibly hard over the last 4 years to get our local government headed in the right direction and am pleased with what’s been accomplished. The bar for development projects has been raised, growth coming to Holly Springs now is balanced and thought out, our tax base has surged, and our financial policies have been strengthened. Our residents are being heard and have more access to their government than ever before. We do need to enhance our customer service intake and make it easier to get things done from a resident perspective, and I’m committed to working on that. It’s part of our growth from a small-town community to a big, small town.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
Responsible and Balanced Growth- as we continue to grow, we need to ensure our roads, water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure keeps up. We’ve had success partnering with private developers to help expand and create roads and I’ll continue to only support projects that go above and beyond. The town is actively pursuing a multiagency partnership for the expansion of our water consumption needs and is scoping an expansion to our wastewater treatment plant to prepare for future growth.
Quality of Life- the town is growing so fast it’s often hard to keep up with the needs for new and expanded amenities and town services. I am committed to keeping property taxes level and expanding within our means. Fortunately, the town’s financial position will continue to strengthen with an expanding commercial tax base providing the necessary funding needed to grow and create new town services, invest in land preservation and parks, and ensure the highest quality public safety in the county.
Economic Prosperity and Diversity- Our recent economic development successes only fuel the fire for additional job creation and expansion from targeted industries. We need to continue to pursue a diverse set of economic development opportunities that will help take our downtown to the next level and further our business park build out. Public private partnerships are critical to the success of these efforts, and I will continue to showcase my skills in bringing parties together to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
4) 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.
Two important things that stick out to me are our formation of a Council Legislative Agenda Committee and implementing a body worn camera program for our police department.
This year the town created a Legislative Agenda Committee that I was pleased to serve on with another peer from the Council. Together we helped form a legislative agenda for the town that was endorsed by management and the full Council and then worked to advocate on the town’s behalf with our County, State, and Federal elected delegations. This proved to be a very effective policy making arm to build bipartisan relationships to further the town’s goals. The formation of this committee was directly responsible for face-to-face meetings with legislators and lobbyists about transportation impact fees and also was the conduit to help secure $8M in state funding for public infrastructure improvements to help land the Amgen project.
Holly Springs took the societal outcry for transparency and equity to heart in how to shape the town’s police efforts. This year the Council supported implementation of a body worn camera program after months of testing, evaluation, and policy creation by our police department. This investment will result in an added public transparency benefit and an added layer of protection for our officers who put their lives on the line for our citizens every day. This was a big step to show that our town values communitypolice relationships and desires to maintain our consistent ranking as one of the safest towns in North Carolina.
5) What prior experience will make you an effective member of the town council and advocate of the issues listed above? Please note any endorsements you have received that you consider significant.
I have served on the Town Council since 2017 and as Mayor Pro Tem since 2019. Prior to my election in 2017 I spent one and half years on the Holly Springs Planning Board. From 2012-2017 I was an HOA President. Prior to moving to North Carolina, I was a volunteer firefighter for 10 years and served 2 years as a fire company Vice President. I am also an Eagle Scout.
Professionally I am a global sales finance controller for a large technology company where I directly lead a global team of finance managers and analysts and am responsible for revenue and expense management of a $6B annual software business.
My professional finance background, tenure on the Town Council, proven leadership skills, emergency services experience, and familiarity with the desires and concerns of the town’s stakeholders make me the most uniquely qualified candidate to continue serving in this role.
6) Given the rate of growth in Holly Springs, how will you ensure that growth is well managed and enhances the town rather than detracts from it? Where does density and height fit in in planning decisions, if it does? How do you intend to balance growth with sustainability?
I have an established record of voting for responsible growth projects that include a focus on mixed use and non-residential growth. I have also supported a diverse set of projects for various housing types that are placed in the right place and at the right time. We’ve long been trying to get our road infrastructure to catch up and support the growth we’ve experienced.
The town is currently re-writing our UDO to implement our new land use and character plan and these regulations will focus more on character than density. However, I view density as a critical component in a development evaluation. The more density, the more infrastructure and service needs placed on the town.
7) As with most places in the Triangle, Holly Springs is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? Should it promote apartment living, duplexes, and/or triplexes? Encourage density in single family housing? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
The town has been inundated with multifamily residential project requests for the past 18 months and the number of apartments in Holly Springs has grown 300% since the beginning of 2018. We need to continue working with developers to pursue a diverse offering of product types that offer a housing solution to any interested resident.
The housing situation that we are facing is not any different than the rest of Wake County. The market determines the economics of housing and no one local government will change the forces of the market.
Holly Springs continues to listen to our residents, business owners, and other town stakeholders to help form a vision for the growth in our town. I have also been personally involved in helping to craft public private partnerships on our two latest workforce and affordable housing projects. My direct involvement helped these two development teams recognize over $750k each of fee savings by leveraging the town’s existing fee structure to support the outcome of their projects.
Continuing to find partners either for or non profit is critical to the town’s work on workforce and affordable housing. I will continue to advocate against public subsidies for housing and double down on partnerships to move the needle in Holly Springs. It’s already happened and there is no reason we can’t expand that work.
8) What infrastructure needs does Holly Springs currently have? How should the city address these needs and pay for them?
Holly Springs has about $200M of defined transportation/road infrastructure needs. Additionally, we have $78M of water/sewer infrastructure needs that have been accelerated due to two large recent economic development announcements.
We are leveraging as much of our ARP funding as possible for the water and sewer needs and will begin lobbying partners to help us fund the expansion of our capacity and ensure water resources into the future.
We continue to work with NCDOT and our state elected delegation to showcase the needs of a fast-growing community for roads. We’re also embarking on the first set of projects from our 2018 transportation bond, and I have been an active proponent of getting the next set of projects outlined for the second tranche of funding from that bond package.
I look forward to driving the next Council forward on aligning inclusive and equitable projects to benefit as many Holly Springs residents as possible.
9) Holly Springs has funds left over from a 2018 transportation bond. How should that money be spent? In your view, how can the town improve public transit and alleviate traffic? How can it improve infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians?
When the bonds were floated to voters in 2018 there were some priority projects that were highlighted as part of the package. I would like to see the town complete the promises made to residents but also look strategically at the second tranche of funding to ensure that we can get the best value for the investment in reducing congestion, enhancing pedestrian and vehicular safety, and increasing connectivity across our town.
All new road projects in Holly Springs require bike lanes and crosswalks. I have also consistently asked developers to install Rapid Reflective Flashing Beacons at critical crossings to promote pedestrian movements and ensure safety. The town has also invested in and installed about 10 of these devices at critical existing intersections that won’t be subject to development in and around the downtown area. We’ve seen a noticeable difference in safety and use since these devices have been installed.
10) Holly Springs was one of a handful of Wake County municipalities not to reimplement a mask mandate recently with the resurgence of the COVID19 Delta variant. Was this the right decision? How do you feel Wake County and Wake School Board officials have handled the COVID-19 pandemic? If you don’t think the pandemic was handled well, what should have been done differently?
I agree with and advocated for Mayor Sears’ decision to not implement a mask mandate in Holly Springs. Holly Springs has had an incredibly high rate of voluntary compliance with masks in indoor public places. Our town has also consistently had some of the lowest case counts in Wake County. Our residents are taking the precautions they feel are necessary to protect themselves, their families, and neighbors without a mandate and they should be applauded.
Mask mandates issued by local government units put undue pressure on law enforcement and business owners. I also believe that businesses should be able to make their own decisions about whether or not to require masks in their establishments.
The Governor’s office and NCDHHS have continued to push vaccination as the best solution to curb COVID spread, and I vehemently agree with this statewide guidance encouraging our citizens to get vaccinated.
The Wake County School Board chose to require masks in schools and based on the spread of the delta variant amongst the unvaccinated, I tend to believe this was the best decision to keep our children in schools. I disagree with mask requirements outside of the building or on the sidelines of sports fields, however. I am also thankful for the new statutory requirement for school boards to evaluate their mandates monthly. I am hopeful that the Wake County Board of Education will review the latest trends of decreasing spread and change course when appropriate.
11) In what ways should Holly Springs promote economic development? How should the town assist small business owners?
Holly Springs has been a model community for economic development for several years. Our town has found the formula and I have been proud to support these efforts on the Council for the past 4 years. An aggressive stance and defined strategy on what we wanted to accomplish led to landing two large life science companies for Holly Springs this year.
Holly Springs provides access to a talented, diverse, and educated workforce that is attractive to many employers. We are the envy of all Wake County towns for our economic development success.
Small Businesses, however, are the backbone of our economy. The large recruitments are great, but our town is an entrepreneurial hub spurring innovation, creativity and dream chasing which benefits all our residents. We’re fortunate to have a mix of businesses and ownership models. I was proud to support a new investment policy for businesses who are locating or expanding in Holly Springs earlier this year.
In my next four years I think the town needs to take a look at our regulations and requirements that are impeding some small businesses from growing or getting started. Sometimes the process gets in the way of dreams, and we need to find a better balance.
12) Holly Springs residents love their parks and greenways. How should the town work to preserve, improve, or expand them?
In a recent survey of residents, it’s clear that greenways and connectivity are priorities for our citizens. I’ve been a strong proponent of sidewalk and greenway connections and have been dubbed the moniker of Mr. Sidewalk by some in the development community because of my relentless pursuit of offsite sidewalk connections.
Improvements to the property frontage don’t go far enough in Holly Springs and the projects that are successful in our town are going above and beyond to provide a benefit for existing residents through additional road improvements or pedestrian connections.
With the cost of greenways crossing over $1M a mile, the town has prioritized some strategic connections and extensions that will ensure our residents get the best value for their investment with future projects. We are in the process of two large bond-funded greenway projects now, but the need is immense, and I am open to entertaining a discussion on any possible funding partnership or possibility to continue to enhance greenways and sidewalk connections.
13) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.
I appreciate the opportunity to answer these questions and share my views. As the only incumbent running for re-election to the Town Council, it’s imperative that we retain some continuity for the next term. I’m ready to continue my work and have demonstrated why I am the most qualified candidate for this role. I’m asking for your vote on November 2nd to keep Holly Springs special.
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