Name as it appears on the ballot: Dilcy Burton
Date of birth: 06/20/73
Occupation & employer: Law Offices of Dilcy G. Burton
1. Describe your past leadership roles, both in career and community. How will these experiences help you serve on the Board of Commissioners? Please be specific about how these roles correspond to a commissioner’s responsibilities.
I have numerous leadership positions in the community and professionally. I am an attorney who owns a Durham law practice. I have several years of experience as the attorney for a municipal corporation where I analyzed government regulations, employment concerns, open records issues and contracts. I have negotiated multi-million dollar contracts between diverse stakeholders for a win-win solution.
My community activities include former President of my homeowner’s association board, past volunteer with Durham County Library, current volunteer with Durham Public Schools, Vice President of PTA, member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and member of Durham’s Citizen Advisory Council.
All of my community and professional experience have reinforced that I am an open minded and experienced individual who is able to analyze complicated issues and provide an innovative solution to complex problems.
2. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
When I graduated from Durham’s Jordan High School in 1991, I registered as a Democrat. I embrace the Democratic philosophies of prioritizing education, standing up for the rights of working class citizens & all women and minority populations. I believe in protecting the environment and making environmentally conscious and sound decisions.
3. List the three most important issues facing Durham, in order of priority. If elected, how will you address these issues? Please be specific.
The first issue is jobs. Durham needs an extremely aggressive plan for job growth and job sustainability. I advocate a plan that encourages small business ownership, tax incentives for corporations that are willing to relocate to Durham, government subsidies based on hiring unemployed workers, payroll tax cuts, creating an environment for job growth in Durham arts, and job creation through Durham construction and building projects.
The second issue is education. There are many benefits to early preparation for school. I strongly believe it is imperative to adequately fund pre-K programs in Durham. Durham must find the resources to invest in our children. Also, I am an advocate of increasing the number of qualified teachers in our classrooms. We must guarantee that our Durham students are highly educated to compete in a national and international marketplace.
The third issue is more affordable homes. Due to the number of homeless people in Durham and the increase in the number of individuals losing their homes to foreclosures and tenant evictions, I am a strong advocate of more affordable and government subsidized permanent housing.
4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected, that you know would cost you popularity points with voters.
I stand for economic empowerment and education improvement in Durham. Durham must properly fund the pre-K programs. Also, Durham needs more teachers in the classroom. Furthermore, if elected, I will recommend that the schools consider an individualized education plan for all children in grades K-8.
I am willing to speak loudly about the lack of jobs in the Durham community and the options that Durham government has to create more jobs and economic empowerment for its citizens.
I advocate construction of two museums in Downtown Durham and a study to evaluate and discuss increasing the number of recreational, arts and franchised sport projects in Durham.
5. Please describe how you handled a difficult decision in your community leadership experience or career. What were the possible consequences of the decision you made? Looking back, please explain whether you are still comfortable with how you handled the situation, or how you would change your actions.
In addressing any difficult situation, I assess the facts and analyze the alternatives. Then, I brainstorm possible solutions prior to making my final decision. I am comfortable with my decision, as long as, I go through this process.
6. Last fall, voters approved new sales taxes to generate new revenue for the Durham Public Schools and for mass transit in the county. Did you vote for or against these measures? Please explain why.
During that time, I was an active member of the DCABP. I supported the DCABP final slate.
7. The newly adopted Durham County Strategic Plan identifies the need in Durham County to expand residents’ access to technology. As a commissioner, how would you work toward this goal and how would you finance the efforts?
I would support the development of a comprehensive technology plan for the entire community of Durham. This plan would embrace some, if not all, of the components of the DPS Technology Plan. Also, I would advocate expanding wireless capabilities to all county buildings.
8. What are the pros and cons of the county’s economic incentives program? How would you amend it? What oversight mechanisms are in place to ensure companies adhere to the policy? Are those oversight mechanisms sufficient?
If elected as County Commissioner, I would explore best practices of counties in and out of NC to create and improve the county’s economic incentives. I fully embrace the current economic incentives that are available in Durham, including but not limited to, Article 3J tax credits, central office tax credits, capital investment incentives, economic development incentives, art and media incentives, investment tax credits, and research expansion tax credits.
The NC Justice Center has made important recommendations about the incentive programs in Durham. One of the recommendations I support is the creation of a database that reports the details of the incentive package and analyzes completed requirements of the incentives.
9. What incentives would be appropriate in persuading the commercial and industrial sectors to cut their greenhouse gas emissions? The residential sector? Durham County in 2007 adopted a Greenhouse Gas Emissions plan, but at what point will Durham need to take more aggressive steps in emissions reductions?
I desire to improve Durham’s air quality and reduce gas emissions. I believe it is time to assess, evaluate and update the 2007 Greenhouse Gas and Air Pollutant Emissions Local Action Plan. We need more aggressive quantifiable goals to reduce gas emissions in Durham. I fully support the use of PEVs and the strategic location of PEV charging stations in Durham to combat gas emissions.
If I am elected, I promise to work with Durham County to improve energy efficiencies in all county operations, expand energy conservation efforts, and address green building polices and incentives in new construction projects.
10. Crime and safety is a large component of county government. What are your priorities for improvements in pre- and post-conviction services, such as prisoner re-entry programs and diversion programs for juveniles? How will you fund those priorities? How will you measure the success of those programs?
Durham has programs currently in place that assist in the re-entry of former convicts into society. These programs address the mental, physical or learning disabilities of the convicts. I believe Durham has to prioritize and improve how the county identifies the mentally and physically disabled convicts, before they are released. Once identified, these individuals can receive social service disability benefits upon their release.
I am a strong advocate of providing educational, vocational, and counseling services for those who are released from incarceration. One program that I would like to expand in Durham is the NC Commerce Department’s program that trains and assist ex-convicts when they re-enter employment. This program allows employers to receive a tax benefit when they hire ex-convicts. I would increase the reach of this underutilized program.
11. Among the most controversial issues to test the commissioners in recent years is development. Please explain the philosophy that will guide your decisions on development while serving as a county commissioner, and also share your definition of smart growth.
My philosophy on development includes the following: 1) creating an environment for new business construction, growth and development, 2) providing resources to support new businesses and sustaining existing businesses, and 3) providing adequate, safe and affordable housing to the community.
I am a proponent of smart growth or mixed use developments. Mixed use developments are communities that are convenient, self sufficient and self contained with residential, commercial, and recreational developments. People can work, live and play in a centralized area. If elected, I would work with government departments to explore areas of mixed use developments in Durham.
I am pro-development and pro-transit oriented development, as long as, the environmental impact of that development is minimized.
“Working to Make Durham Better”
As an attorney, business owner, and community volunteer, I have dedicated my life to helping others and public service. My career and community service reveal that I am a multifaceted and result-driven individual with a proven ability to drive and sustain municipal growth, resolve problems, multi-task projects and improve efficiencies through broad based competencies.
If elected as Durham County Commissioner, my first priority is to work on a plan to address the pre-K and early education programs that are poorly funded in Durham. The State of North Carolina has closed the doors of opportunity to more than 2,000 Durham children who are waitlisted to attend Durham’s pre-k programs. Some of these children have been on the waitlist for more than a year. Consequently, they are at risk for starting kindergarten with no early education. This is unacceptable. It is time for government to do better for our children. I will promise that I will work diligently to make sure ALL Durham Public School students are properly educated to compete in a global market.
If elected as Durham County Commissioner, my second task is to create new jobs with a new construction project in Downtown Durham. I am a strong advocate of increasing the availability of arts in Durham. I will promote ways to partner with the City of Durham to construct two new museums.
Admittedly, I am a person who is pro-development and smart growth, as long as, the environmental implications of that growth is minimized. My third action, as an elected official, is to work for more affordable housing and to increase the number of permanent residences for the homeless. Also, I will work to develop real solutions and viable strategies to reduce the crime rate in Durham.
I care about Durham and have the best interest of Durham in my heart. So, when you vote, I am asking that you vote for me, Dilcy Burton, the one who is working to make Durham better.