Name as it appears on the ballot: Ed Gray 

Age: 48

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign website: www.edgray4apex.com

Occupation & employer: Office of the Federal Public Defender

Years lived in Apex: Since 2005

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 am a Father, a Veteran, a former Federal Prosecutor, a Defense Attorney, an HBCU graduate, and a husband to an amazing wife. I moved to Apex after serving on Active Duty in the United States Air Force for a decade. We chose Apex because Apex had an amazing mix of small town charm, great schools and friendly people. My wife and I knew that Apex was a place we could start a family and establish a home. Whether it is in the courtroom, the combats zone, or in community organizations, service is an integral part of my life; and I want to serve the people of Apex in a new way – as a member of the Town Council. As a member of the Council, I will fight for smart growth, affordable housing, responsive and responsible government, effective law enforcement, and progressive values.

2) Given the direction of Apex government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?

I think we are moving in the right direction and my election to the Council will continue that trend. The current Town Council has done a lot in recognizing our diversity, demanding better from developers (when it comes to planning and zoning), protecting environmental assets such as trees, and growing our parks and cultural resources. I would continue to advocate for infrastructure improvements and policies that will make ease of access to Apex’s resources easier for all.

3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific. 

The most pressing issues are growth, affordable housing and ensuring we have the infrastructure in place to handle the needs of the residents of Apex into the future. As growth is a fact of life in Apex, I am pushing for a “smart growth” strategy. The goal of this strategy is to ensure that we have infrastructure in place when we grow. I would manage growth by pursuing policies that would strongly encourage developers to include infrastructure improvements such as sidewalks, greenways, park spaces and water management within their projects. Further, as many of our major roadways are maintained by NC DOT we need a better partnership and coordination to inform them of our needs. These coordination efforts will extend to working with the WCPSS to ensure we have the school capacity to allow our kids to have the best learning environment. As most everyone I know who moved to Apex has said, they moved here because the schools are great; we need to protect that resource.

We need to address these issues with multiple solutions. Addressing growth with a “one-size-fits-all” solution will miss the mark; further, it will create more problems down the road. I believe it will take a variety of solutions from addressing affordable housing to evaluating our water and electric infrastructure to ensure that we do not lose our small town charm.

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.

There are so many things that the Council has done right this year, but what I am most proud of is the steps made to ensure that Apex grows at a smart pace. Apex has grown almost 10% annually. In the past, we set in place policies that allowed unfettered growth – and this growth has outpaced our resources. The current council has asked developers the hard questions when it comes to our expansion. They have done this because growth must be properly managed. Further, we want to ensure that our growth does not impact those who have called Apex home for years. 

The other area that the Town has greatly improved is paying the employees and staff of Apex. I support the steps to increase their pay. The staff works incredibly hard and they perform an AMAZING service – quite frankly, as residents we get more than what we pay for. I have lived all over the country, and I can say without hesitation that the Town of Apex staff has no peers. I feel like those who work for our town deserve a wage that allows them to live in our town. That includes the fire, police, electrical, waste management and water management, and parks and cultural resources personnel. If we do not address pay disparities, we will lose the fight for talent.

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.

My experience as a federal prosecutor gives me a greater perspective of working with law enforcement and issues concerning safety within our community. My experience in the Air Force allowed me to work with civil engineers, water and sewage specialist, fire fights, medical personnel and contractors. My experience working with small businesses gives me knowledge of their concerns and (more importantly) the issues they deal with when it comes to operating a business. My time in Afghanistan and other combat zones has taught me how to deal with adversity and complex issues that you don’t see immediately on the horizon – much like the COVID-19 crisis. My time as a defense attorney has taught me how to advocate for those who do not have a voice. Being a father of a 10 year old who is in the Wake County Public School System, I know the fears and concerns parents have about the school system. Finally, my values are tuned towards serving others, treating everyone with dignity, looking out for those who may not be the loudest voice in the room, and always pursuing fairness. I am a fighter,and I will fight for the people of Apex.

6) Given the rate of growth in Apex, 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?

In addition to my earlier answer, I recognize that growth is a concern of most people in Apex – and the concern is not “growth” per se, rather the concern is “uncontrolled growth.” Unfortunately, a lot of the congestion and resource issues that many neighborhoods face today are products of decisions made 10 years ago. I will always look towards the question of “what do we want Apex to look like for our children and seniors?” when I make decisions on what can enhance the town. Additionally, I understand that I must be an effective steward of the tax dollar – so I will always look for ways to ensure that Town projects are completed swiftly and as efficiently as possible.

7) As with most places in the Triangle, Apex 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?

Affordable housing is an issue that we must address. It is a shame that my daughter’s favorite teacher has to commute from Sanford to teach in Apex. This teacher does this because there is a lack of affordable housing in Apex. I support the Affordable Housing earmark and will look for ways to make slight increases to this tax rate. Currently, the Town has earmarked a 1.5 cent tax to help create resources for affordable housing; it appears it is a successful program. There has been increased demand for these funds, and this is an indication that there is a need for these funds. As we grow, I anticipate there will be a greater need for these affordable housing funds. This earmark ensures that we have a mechanism to assist longtime residents, seniors, and others who make Apex their home. A modest 1 – 2 cent assessment will go a long way to keeping Apex available to all who live here. I will also advocate for our newly established housing manager. This is a valuable position as it will help spearhead the effort to ensure that we can make all efforts to ensure that housing remains affordable.

8) A recent report found racial bias to be “deeply entrenched” in the Apex police culture and deep seated racial bias across the town as an organization as a whole. How has the town addressed racial bias within its police force and within its town culture? What more, if anything, should it do?

Having worked with law enforcement for over a decade prosecuting serious crimes, I can say that the report needs to be viewed in context. The men and women of Apex’s Police Department would agree that there are areas that need significant work; but they would also say that they are dedicated to doing their job with professionalism and fairness. The town has taken the report to heart and has made significant efforts to address the concerns of racial bias. Our new Chief has stated that he wants to ensure that the perception of the department is one of fairness. I want to support that effort in every way I can. This fairness would include fairness in interactions with members of the public and fairness in internal promotions and opportunities. I feel I can assist the department with this movement towards a “service” focused model from a “policing” model. I have worked with over 44 different law enforcement agencies and I can share the best practices and lessons learned from the successful programs. Further, as a person who has personally taken the work of members of the APD into federal court, I bring an understanding of the context of the report to the citizens of Apex. As a black man, I do not condone racism in law enforcement, and I can tell you that Chief Arstrong and his staff do not condone it either.

9) In your view, how can Apex be safer and more accessible using different modes of transportation? What is your vision for public transit, pedestrian and bike safety, especially following recent reports of joggers being hit by cars?

As a bike rider, I want Apex to have safer streets and easier access by other modes of transportation. I am proud to know that the Transit Plan is funded and the people of Apex will see the new bus routes soon. Further, the 2021 Bond that is on the ballot will improve pedestrian access all over Apex, starting with walkways that are access points for students walking to school. This will improve our safety, alleviate our congestion, and help with our parking problem downtown. I urge all readers to vote yes on the bond this November,

10) Apex was one of a handful of Wake County municipalities not to reimplement a mask mandate recently with the resurgence of the COVID-19 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 support masks – they work! The safety of residents is a key duty of the council, and that duty is not obviated when the risk is a virus. As a parent, I feel like wearing masks in the school is the right decision. The kids need school, being in school was very important for my 10 year old; and wearing masks makes their attendance possible – and safe. It is the low cost and most effective solution to limit transmission. I look at masks as a sign that we are looking out for our neighbors -and taking care of one another is what we do in Apex!

11) In what ways should Apex promote economic development? What are your goals for Apex’s downtown and what does the town need to do to achieve those goals? How should the town address its downtown parking issues?

Encouraging more commercial development is very important. Businesses provide an economic engine for our town. They provide a location where our residents can work. They also provide part of our Apex Charm. Whenever I have friends to visit, I take them downtown. They are always amazed at how charming it is and love to go into the shops and eat at the restaurants. As it is the focal point of the town, the commercial development of downtown is a key part of my platform. I want to see more people in downtown, and I want out downtown business to flourish – and they will. The new Downtown Development Plan refreshes our quaint setting and increases walk-ability and parking. It will also have more gathering spaces and will be a grand setting for events like the Fourth of July Parade, Patriots Day remembrances, PeakFest and the like. The current plans increase parking significantly, the question is “is it enough?” I know many have advocated for a parking deck, but the cost per space is quite exorbitant at this time. Further, with bus transportation and increased walkways, we will be able to find alternatives for parking. The bottom-line is, we are planning for a vibrant -and busy downtown.

12) Apex residents love their parks and greenways. How should the town work to preserve, improve, or expand them?

I also love the parks – all of them. I also recognize that they are part of our environmental stewardship. We had a parks bond in 2017, and we are watching the fruits of that bond grow now – Pleasant Park, teh Senior Center and Beaver Creek Greenway. The next step is ensuring that we maintain these valuable resources. That means we need to ensure that the Parks and Cultural Resources Department is funded and fully staffed. Further, as we continue to grow, we will need to look for additional greenway and park spaces; so we will need to work with our developers to ensure that we have the opportunity to increase our parks as needed.

13) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.

I bring a vast array of experience and values. Service to the community is reflected throughout my career. I have served in the United States Air Force and the NC Air National Guard. I have prosecuted some of the most serious crimes in the nation, including prosecuting international drug cartels and those who prey upon our children. I have worked with small businesses and currently, fight for those who do not have a voice. I have served on charitable boards from the Tammy Lynn Center to the North Carolina Heroes Fund. All of this experience has taught me that government must be responsive, open, and focused on serving their communities. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Apex in a new capacity. I will serve with integrity and compassion.


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