Name: Leo L. Allison
Date of birth: December 28, 1932
Campaign website: www.leoallison.com
Occupation & employer: Retired
Years lived in Orange County: 36 (first 21 years; past 15 years)
1) What are the three most important issues facing Orange County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
- High Orange County Taxes: Grow commercial tax base by encouraging commercial development in Economic Development areas. This will provide local jobs; increase commercial property and sales tax revenue; and relieve pressure on the increase of residential property taxes.
- Limited water resource in times of drought. (See my response to #8 below)
- Economic Development: (See 1A above).
2) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Orange County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I have served on many Orange County Boards and task forces such as Planning Board, Social Services Board, Senior Center Design And Development, and two Bond Drives. Each of these service areas provided me with invaluable knowledge and experience in the workings of Orange County government. This experience and knowledge will afford me an easier entry into Orange County government system as a Commissioner.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Fiscally, I consider myself to be moderate, leaning conservative. I always want to be a good steward of taxpayers dollars; so, on projects that I have supported in the past (for example, Parks & Senior Centers), I tend to look at the long range need in evaluating the project and provide for the basics, while eliminating frills.
4) Approximately how many BOCC meetings have you attended in the past two years?
About 15 regular meetings; about 10 special meetings.
5) Orange County is in the almost unique position of allocating funding to two separate school districts, which together account for approximately 50 percent of the county’s budget. To make matters more complex, commissioners must balance the per-pupil allocation with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools’ district tax. How do you balance the needs of these two school systems while ensuring equity between them, at the same time considering the county’s other pressing financial needs?
I believe that each student should have equal opportunity to develop into a well rounded educated person. To accomplish this objective, equitable funding should be provided. Commissioners need to evaluate the needs of each school system and it offerings to students, and provide the necessary funds to assure that they are comparable in each system, and compatible with the student needs.
6) The Orange County Board of Education recently decided to address an imbalance of economic diversity between two elementary schools-Central Elementary and Hillsborough Elementary-by setting a cap on the number of students from a given attendance zone who can be enrolled in HES. Furthermore, the board chose to use federal Title One School Improvement money (available to the district because neither CES nor Efland-Cheeks Elementary made Adequate Yearly Progress in math last year) on pre-K programs. Both decisions have proven controversial. Do you agree with the board’s actions? What role does the BOCC have in overseeing these types of budgetary actions on the part of the school board?
I believe the money should be spent as appropriated to maintain an orderly funding process. The Commissioners in their oversight role should understand how school dollars are spent so they can make an informed decision on what is needed in the new budget. The commissioners should ask the Board of Education for their plan to replace the Title 1 Money and/or their plan to fix the issue.
7) The BOCC voted to put the land transfer tax on the ballot this spring. Do you personally support the land transfer tax as a revenue option for the county? Please explain why or why not.
The county does need another revenue source. However, I think that it is a personal matter for the voters to decide whether or not to vote in favor of the land transfer tax as that revenue source. The voters need to make their decision based on real facts and not emotion and misinformation. I applaud the commissioners for implementing a voter education process so they can make an informed decision.
8) The drought has raised awareness of the limited natural resources our region’s population relies on. Do you think Orange County has done a good job managing its water supply and encouraging conservation? What steps would you take as commissioner to manage the drought situation?
I think the County has done a good job managing the water resource but there can always be improvements made. I would
- Establish a County Water Resource manager
- Put year round water conservation measures in place
- Identify critical water levels and associated restrictions to be imposed at the different levels
- Impose the restrictions when the water level decrease to those levels
- Establish a 5-10 year growth plan that includes water supply needs based on projected growth. This would all be done utilizing community (water providers’ and citizens’) input.
9) Commissioners will soon consider the proposal for Buckhorn Village shopping center, which calls for more than a million square feet of retail, hotel and other development near the intersection of I-85 and I-40. What are your thoughts on the potential economic and environmental impact of this proposal? How should the board weigh these concerns?
I think the Board should always listen to the concerns raised by citizens and then it should do what the citizens elected them to do; and that is to make decisions that are best for all the citizens. I think economically, Buckhorn Village will be good for the community in that it will provide local jobs; commercial tax revenues; reduced travel time and distance for local shoppers; opportunities for citizens to “buy local”; and relief in the increase of residential property taxes. Environmentally, there may be more pollution generated due to local travel, but overall there should be some reduction since people wont have to travel long distances to shop. I support the proposal.
10) Orange County’s landfill is full, and the county must now decide where additional trash should go and where to put a waste-transfer station. Some citizens have raised concerns over environmental justice, saying the historically African-American Rogers Road community has already borne too much of the county’s waste and should not be considered as a waste-transfer site. What should the county do about this problem?
First, I think the waste transfer station should be placed in the general area where most of waste is generated. The Commissioners are doing the right thing by reopening the process and making sure that all options are reconsidered plus looking at new options before making a final decision on the siting. Also, I believe that the County and town should make good on any promises made to the Rogers Road community.
11) The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
The District 2 seat that I am seeking will provide a voice from the rural/urban part of Orange County to speak to the issues affecting this community. My election would provide that voice and another perspective on how to resolve the many local issues. I want to be the “go to” Commissioner to assure my constituency get the answers to their questions.
12) Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.