1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues facing Wake County? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
The three most pressing issues are to (1) strengthen and sustain a strong economic base for business and attract good jobs especially in low income areas of our county; (2) strengthen the resilience of youth and families in vulnerable communities by improving public safety, health and wellness and a better quality of life through adequate affordable housing; and investing in our public schools and keeping our community college strong. I will continue to use my training and professional experience as a change agent to use a participatory approach to develop a logical
approach to continue to accomplish our eight strategic goals, to enhance board effectiveness and staff readiness to address change, and realize our vision.
2. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your voting record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?
A voting record of proven and effective leadership serving as Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners for two consecutive terms with a new board during a period of tumultuous change. Also, I served as Mayor Pro Tem four consecutive terms during the renaissance of downtown Raleigh.
3. The county is by most accounts prospering and growing. What do you think Wake County has done effectively? What policies would you like to see put in place to ensure growth going forward?
On most accounts, the county has made solid planning and financial policy decisions. It has made sound decisions around debt service, revenue as well operating and capital expenses. We have constantly maintained AAA rating by the three major rating agencies. We are now implementing new policies that will address income and economic inequality and increase opportunities for upward mobility while removing barriers that will raising all places.
4. With that rapid growth, of course, comes challenges related to suburban sprawl, transportation, and affordable housing, among other things. In your opinion, what
been the county’s successes in managing this growth in recent years? What about its failures? What would you do differently?
The county’s successes can be attributed to excellent forward thinking, planning and implementation of smart growth principles by updating the unified development ordinance utilizing land use and zoning tools. The development and implementing of sound transit and funding policies can help address these growth issues especially affordable housing, displacement and job opportunities along transit routes. Differently, I would build a strong and vibrant local regional citizen advisory structure for greater citizen involvement and accountability.
5. What should be the county’s role in addressing issues of economic inequality, such as gentrification and affordable housing? Do you believe the current board is doing enough to help its municipalities manage Wake County’s growth in order to prevent current residents from being priced out?
The county should be the leader for designing the planning change to address these issues. More specify to establish a basis for the planning process and developing a programmatic response to affect positive change related to these issues. In other words the county should be the convener, facilitator and catalyst in creating a shared vision for concrete outcome around these issues.
6. How would your experience―in politics or otherwise in your career―make you an asset to the county’s decision-making process? Be specific about how this experience would relate to your prospective office.
My experience as a top-level administrator as the Director of County Operations for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at NC State University with the responsibility of supervising over 1,000 Extension faculty and support staff makes me an asset to the county decision-making process.
7. Last year saw some tension between the county commission and the school board over school system funding. Ultimately, the county gave the school system less than half of the new funding it asked for. But from the county’s perspective, it has raised property several times in recent years to benefit the school system. Do you believe Wake County needs to commit more funds to its schools? If so, would you be willing to ask taxpayers for more money?
We are currently going through an in-depth joint decision making process with the school board considering factors around growth, area crowding and major renovations to determine the needed funding for the Wake County Public School System. After this ongoing assessment is completed, I would be willing to ask our taxpayers for the funding needed.
8. Wake County has raised property taxes four times in the last four years.
the county is considering three potential bond referenda in November: one for school construction, another for parks and greenways, and a third for Wake Tech. Together, these, too, would likely require a property tax increase. Do you believe the citizens of Wake County are paying too much in taxes?
Wake County is required by law to fund a capital program for the school system. Wake County has one of lowest tax rates of any major county in North Carolina. After considering the factors in question number eight above, there will be a need for some future tax increases. The seven-year plan will provide more predictability and sound planning to meet these increasing school needs. Finally, I believe our taxpayers will support our school needs if we communicate the value and demonstrate accountability.
9. The embezzlement scandal at the Register of Deeds office highlighted the fact that the county does not scrutinize the offices of elected officials, such as the Register of Deeds and the Sheriff’s Office, in the way it does other county agencies. Do you believe there are steps the county could have taken—or could implement now—that could catch theft or fraud earlier?
There are definitely additional steps the county could have taken to protect and prevent fraud in the Register of Deeds office. Hindsight is often 20/20. I think there should have been greater oversight and scrutiny to root and prevent fraud. The county has learned from this unfortunate situation and has implemented all necessary financial and accounting procuress. Our taxpayers can be assured that the county has taken this breach of trust seriously and will be very proactive in preventing and catching theft and fraud early.
10. North Carolina is a “Dillon Rule” state, meaning that the only powers municipal and county governments have are the ones granted to them by the legislature. Would you like to see this changed? How would you work with state legislators from Wake County, as well as mayors and council members from the city’s municipalities, to ensure that Wake County, its municipalities, and the state are on the same page regarding policies that affect residents of Wake?
I truly believe in local authority and that we should not have a hierarchal democracy. Power should be decentralized with checks and balances. For example, the conservative General Assembly’s’ redistricting of the Wake Board of County Commissioners was a power play and blatantly unfair. With the current veto-proof legislature, it is not the right time to address the “Dillon Rule” due to the vulnerability of large urban counties and possible repercussions of more extreme legislation. The day is not the day nor is now the time.
11. The replacement bill for HB 2 that passed last year prohibits local governments from passing living-wage or nondiscrimination ordinances until 2020. If you are in office in 2020 when the moratorium expires, what sort of nondiscrimination and/or living-wage policies will you push the county to adopt, if any? Do you favor, for instance, a nondiscrimination ordinance that would apply to public accommodations, like the one
passed in 2016 that led the legislature to pass HB 2? Would you consider raising the county’s minimum wage?
As a board, we have recently passed a living wage ordinance for our lower wage employee in county government. I would support a welcoming and nondiscriminatory ordinance for all our residents. I would have to do more research on the Charlotte discrimination ordinance related to latent and manifest consequences.
12. Give an example of a time, during your political career, when you have changed your position as a result of a discussion with someone who held an opposing view.
I will always stick to what is morally right. In this particular situation, there was a request for increasing the tonnage of the Shotwell landfill. During the break, I was provided new information after the board had voted. It required a member of the majority side to revisit the item. As a member of the majority vote, I requested that the item to be carried over to the next meeting to get a fair and equitable resolution. That did not sit well with everyone.
13. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.
My vote was the only vote against the Brunch Bill. I felt I voted on principles and reflected the values of other citizens in the county.