Name as it appears on the ballot: Jack W. Smith
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: August 11, 1947
Home address: 104 Cricket Lane, Cary, NC 27518
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.jacksmith.org
Occupation and employer: Executive Search; Organizational Capability Services, LLC (owner/founder)
Home phone: 919.816.0999
Work phone: 919.816.0999
1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing Cary?
The economic recessions negative effects on the State and, in turn, Cary. The impact of reduced revenue resulting from Cary’s currently ‘less than 1%’ growth rate.
If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?
Short term — stay focused on reduced discretionary spending without sacrificing critical services. Long term – continue supporting Cary’s successful economic development efforts which, in the last 2-½ years, resulted in some 1600 new professional jobs being created by more than 25 companies that either expanded in or moved to Cary.
2) What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.
I supported Cary’s implementation of a Schools APF (Adequate Public Facilities) ordinance and ‘made it happen’ in 1999. (I strongly opposed the decision to rescind it five years later.) I successfully led efforts to increase Cary’s buffers. Similar ‘made it happen’ efforts include a new Cary Senior Center, an Open Space policy and a new public park on Walnut St. (which I pushed for as a way to curb commercial growth into an established, affordable residential area). I created a public process for funding not-for-profit community organizations that empowers Cary citizens to review and recommend the distribution of public funds. I am an active board member of the Cary Community Foundation and the NC Center for Voter Education. I am also active with the North Carolina National Kidney Foundation and serve on their advisory board. I served as Honorary Chair of this year’s RTP Kidney Walk to promote organ donor awareness and was recognized as the volunteer who raised the most individual contributions for the event.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
A plain-talking, neighborhood-friendly, business-savvy, solutions-focused, fiscally disciplined, registered Republican. In addition to the examples cited elsewhere, I’ve consistently led efforts that have lowered Cary’s tax rate without compromising our town’s nationally-recognized quality-of-life and “best-places-to-live” reputation.
4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
To push Cary to again implement a Schools Adequate Public Facilities ordinance to address the real need for more and better schools in and around Cary.
5) While its growth has slowed, Cary remains one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Assess whether its rate of growth is good for the town. Should it be faster, slower or remain the same? How should Cary grow and what measures should be implemented to achieve this?
Growth statistics are a moving target and this year’s projected forecast is for less than 1% growth. The economy has made this debate somewhat moot. Cary has a citizen-created guideline to grow at 2-4% annually and I agree with that number. If we maintain this rate we can grow in a responsible manner where our infrastructure can keep pace. We should use this period of economic downturn to determine how we can better manage the growth process when things heat up again. (Cary is expected to recover sooner and stronger than other communities because of its success in growing and attracting new jobs, and it’s demonstrated fiscal management practices.) When the economy recovers, regional cooperation will be critical as Cary’s own ‘responsible growth’ efforts will be little more than a ‘whack a mole’ exercise in the region if neighboring communities don’t cooperate.
6) Cary’s tax rate is one of the lowest in the Triangle, and its budget is 25 percent lower than last fiscal year. What do you think of this reduction?
We had no choice. Our revenues were reduced significantly from all sources and in a down economy it would only hurt our most vulnerable citizens if we raised taxes.
How should the town balance its tax rate with essential public services?
Our tax rate supports all essential services at a superior level.
What services and projects do you consider essential and need additional funds?
All those required by law — police, fire, and infrastructure — as well as our C-Tran public transportation service are currently covered. We require assistance to significantly upgrade and improve our green and environmental initiatives.
What services and projects could be reduced or delayed?
We are delaying some quality-of-life amenities such as aquatics, and I am suggesting we reduce its scope to what the voters originally approved: a municipal swimming pool.
Evaluate, in general, the current town budget.
It’s not ideal but, compared to the rest of the State we are in excellent fiscal health. Recently all our rating agencies reported our AAA ratings ‘stable’ — a testament to our fiscal discipline.
7) In the biennial Citizen Satisfaction Survey, focus groups indicated they were concerned about the impact of the “transient population” of Cary. There were also suggestions that those short-term residents be “screened” in terms of a visioning process for the city. How should Cary deal with its short-term residents?
All residents are equal in my eyes. There may be a better way to state it but I simply have no tolerance for class (or race) distinction.
What value do you place on their opinions of the town?
I value all opinions.
What impacts have you seen of short-term residents?
Cary has over 70 nationalities and this rich vibrant diversity is an integral part of what makes Cary special. Their value is priceless. Last year in Washington, DC I was inducted into the Local Government Leadership Circle for my efforts in promoting international understanding and goodwill by forging cross cultural sister city relationships around the globe.
What can the town do to more fully engage these residents?
The Town has many outreach programs and we partner closely with a host of cultural and ethnic not-for-profits. These programs deserve continued support.
8) What should Cary do about Western Wake Partners’ plans to build a sewage plant in New Hill?
What are your concerns, if any, about the plan?
We need to continue to educate the public on how critical this effort is to the vitality of the region.
If you have no concerns, tell us why.
I have none because we spent years evaluating 32 sites and this one has the least impact on the environment and nearby residents. All challenges about other sites being ‘better’ have simply not been corroborated against any and all objective measurements.
Where should a new sewage plant be placed?
9) Evaluate Cary’s sign ordinance.
Fair, balanced, common sense driven and time tested. As other communities age and take on that ‘honky tonk’ feel, Cary stands head and shoulders above all in appearance. The ordinance actually helps our business community and has been a factor in recruiting new business to Cary.
How would you change it?
Very carefully. The current ordinance is now 10 years old and council has requested it go through a complete review. I suspect their will be some fine tuning but I will not support any major overhauls.
What should the ordinance accomplish?
A symbiotic relationship between aesthetics, business needs and property rights that’s firmly grounded in common sense. (Compromise means ‘give and take’ and leaves all parties not completely satisfied, and I suspect that will be the end result.)
10) While the expansion of U.S. 64 is largely a decision of the N.C. Department of Transportation, as a town council member, what input would you give the state on this proposed project?
Leverage the power of information. Over communicate with the citizenry. Listen actively and earnestly to their concerns and ideas. Incorporate their suggestions into the master plan.
11) On the topic of transportation, this year, a half-cent sales tax for mass transit is proposed in the legislature, requiring voters’ approval. Would you support such a tax?
Why or why not?
As the region grows mass transit becomes inevitable. The debate becomes a simple one around the ‘when and how to implement’ factor. Putting the tax to a vote allows the citizens to weigh in. It also challenges the government to provide education and show leadership in the debate.
12) Are you concerned about the long-term water quantity and quality of Jordan Lake, Cary’s primary source of drinking water?
Yes, primarily because I don’t believe surrounding communities who impact the lake are doing nearly as much as we are in protecting the lake.
If so, what measures would you take to preserve or improve it?
Seek stronger environmental guidelines from the state that all those impacting Jordan Lake must adhere to.
What is your assessment of Cary’s water conservation ordinance?
Great program embraced by nearly all of our citizens.