Name as it appears on the ballot: Luther K. Brooks
Date of birth: April 21, 1955
Campaign website: www.LutherKBrooks.com
Occupation & employer: Senior Pastor, Saint James Baptist Church
Years lived in Orange County: 53
1) What are the three most important issues facing Orange County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
- Advance towards completing the Buckhorn Village Project.
- Provide the residents with the information needed to make a informed decision regarding the Land Transfer Tax.
- Establish a designated location for the waste transfer site.
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.
As a community servant for more than twenty years as Senior Pastor, President of The Waltown Neighborhood Ministries, Moderator of the New Home and Durham Missionary Baptist Association, and board member of several organizations, I have the ability to unite people. As a partner with the Duke University and Self Help Credit Union, I helped to rebuilt the Waltown Community by renovating over 75 homes from one bedroom apartments to single family owned homes. As the Founder and CEO of Visions of Tomorrow C.D C. I created programs such as: job training, job placement and scholarships to help the community get ahead. As a resident of Orange County I have assembled communities by holding tent revivals.
These are just a few of civic accomplishments that have allowed me to bond a trust within and around Orange County. Helping people by providing assistance in solving the day to day challenges is life long passion. But above all my accomplishments and experiences, I am most proud and grateful for my family; wife Kimberly, and two daughters, Sparkle and Meghan, son Ryan and grandson Kendrell.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
As a resident of Orange County, NC for more than fifty years, I consider myself knowledgeable on most of the issues as it relates to our community. I am sensitive to the needs of the people, I view the community from a broad prospective, I am fair and trustworthy and I am open to change. I am here, not only because of the residents in the community ask, but because they trust me and my opinion. They know how important communication is to me and my position. Therefore, I am able to bring the community together and achieve goals.
4) Approximately how many BOCC meetings have you attended in the past two years?
I have attended approximately five or more BOCC 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 the funds should shadow the student. I would also support a school merger because I believe that if we were to merge as one system, the issue of funding would not be so significant.
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?
My position on this issue is not clear at this time.
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.
I am not a supporter of the land transfer tax. Due to a lack of knowledge on the subject of land transfer tax, several residents in the community have expressed their desire for more information. Some feel as though they are being forced to accept the tax. I believe that those seeking more information should have the opportunity to become better educated as to:
- How the land transfer tax will work and what effect (if any) it will have on the community.
- Get a better understanding of what the only other option was (raising the sales tax).
- Explanation as to how this money is going to be used if approved and the options if not approved.
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 believe the right decisions were made by the BOCC in the past. I would suggest that future restrictions be implemented sooner.
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?
Economically, the proposed Buckhorn Village shopping center would create a substantial increase in tax revenue and as a result, sustain the property taxes in Orange County. Environmentally, carbon monoxide from increased traffic and green areas must be a concern to the board. I trust that the BOCC would weigh both the tax revenue and the environmental issues heavily before approving the Buckhorn Village project.
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?
After the completion of the feasibility study, the BOCC should examine the findings and consider which location would be appropriate for the waste transfer sites before making a final decision.
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?
By bringing the communities together to accomplish our goals, by giving the residence a sense of worth, having them participate in the process and seeing the results.
12) Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.
I would fully be in support of the Buckhorn Village Project.