Name as it appears on the ballot: Mark Enloe
Full legal name, if different: Mark William Enloe
Date of birth: September 12, 1962
Home address: 709-C Daniels St, Raleigh, NC 27605
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.enloeforraleigh.com
Occupation & employer: Database Administrator, Family Health International
1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Raleigh? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?
As many Raleigh residents pay property taxes based on tax valuations that are above market value and while experiencing growth that has led the nation, we have still been forced to make cuts to services recently in positions that have a direct impact on quality of living including positions in Parks and Recreation and road maintenance. We have diverted money that should have gone to pay off debt and fund infrastructure in order to pay for services and we’ve failed to begin work on a rail system to ease traffic, a key factor in quality of living and important for continued growth. We need to change our focus to providing basic services. A new convention center and free bus service for a limited ridership are good ideas if we have met basic needs but not while we are cutting services and failing to aggressively pay off debt and fund infrastructure. We need to make cuts that will have a real impact on the budget without directly affecting services and we need to generate new revenue through job growth and attractions such as a sports team in an area of the city where fans attending the games can spend money on restaurants, hotels and transportation.
2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.
I don’t have experience as a public official. In the daily duties I perform in my profession, I’m responsible for the operation of databases that my entire company depends on to get their jobs done. This requires expert technical knowledge, the willingness to accept responsibility and the ability to work under pressure.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
City government’s top priority should be to provide the basic infrastructure and services that we all pay for and to help the citizens in the city who need some assistance with food, housing and transportation. My platform is about changing our focus to concentrate on creating a thriving economy and new vitality that will attract business and leisure dollars in order to fund these services and to give priority to basic services in an unfavorable economy. The money that we spend on the R-Line could be better spent on transportation for the handicapped and elderly. Those people, in all parts of the city, worry about getting to the doctor and grocery store while we operate a bus providing free transportation to anyone downtown on a regular schedule.
4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
It’s a popular idea that the Dorothea Dix Hospital property should be purchased by the city and turned into a park. No one in Raleigh would enjoy a new park more than I would, but I’ve expressed my desire to keep the hospital operating since I announced my candidacy. I also proposed using the buildings for mental health care or social services facilities and the grounds for a park should the city purchase the property.
I now believe that the Mayor of Raleigh should take a strong position on keeping the hospital running and should avoid addressing any other use of the property other than for its current use as a mental health care facility. It’s a state hospital but the people of Raleigh do have a voice on the issue. The Mayor should lead the effort to ensure that the people of Raleigh continue to have access to quality mental health care.
5) What are the two or three most important program or policy initiatives you will champion if elected to the Raleigh Council? Or, to put it another way, how will your election change anything in Raleigh?
I’ll lead an effort to seek input from new consultants and from other cities that have been more successful at creating a thriving city center and providing rapid transit and clean water and will work to incorporate the findings into our existing plans.
I’ll develop and promote a plan to bring salaries for police officers and firefighters up to regional averages within five years.
I’ll initiate an evaluation of our city administration in order to look for ways to reorganize and cut costs and will reevaluate recent cuts to services and reductions in funding for programs that are helping citizens.
6) What can you point to in your record, on the Council or in community service, to demonstrate that you’ll be an effective city leader?
I recently declined an invitation to attend a candidate’s reception hosted by the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce in Pinehurst and asked that they move their Annual Planning Conference to Raleigh at a time when Mayor Meeker has been actively promoting a “Shop Local” program. As we’re struggling to bring in the revenue to fund basic services, the leaders of Raleigh and the City’s contracted economic development agency should lead by example and host their own events here in Raleigh. A failure to recognize that this is a mistake in these economic conditions reflects on the attitude of area leaders that has lead to the decline in vitality of the city. I’ve shown that I’m going to make decisions based on what’s best for Raleigh and not based on what’s easiest or most popular.
Mayor Meeker says that he would have had something to say about this issue if public money were involved. According to the 2010 budget adopted by the City, $197,500 of taxpayer money will go to the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce this year.
7) Recent droughts have underlined Raleigh’s water problems. Growth could cause the city to run out. On the other hand, the city isn’t selling enough water to pay down the debt on its existing systems, resulting in rate increases. How should Raleigh deal with water in the coming years?
Water is a fundamental resource and shouldn’t be expected to pay for itself. We want to place a high priority on the development and maintenance of water resources while conserving as much as possible. We’ve reached the point now that drinking water in Falls Lake is unfit for swimming and our new budget reduces funding for long term infrastructure improvements. Some of our policies that have been favorable for development have been detrimental to the City and that is beginning to become evident now.
When we are able to increase revenues and reduce the cost to the taxpayer for new growth, we’ll be able to fund water system improvements. Moving ahead with funding for new water sources and taking a tougher stance on development that negatively affects water quality will ensure a good water supply which will be a positive factor in promoting growth and contributing to our high quality of living.
8) Crime and gang problems plague some parts of the city. Is there more the Council should be doing to go after them?
The Comprehensive Plan before the council designates the area of Peace Street between Glenwood Avenue and St. Mary’s Street as the Peace Street Business District and presents steps that should be taken to sanitize the area. This area has a unique feel that adds to the charm of our downtown area and doesn’t need to be changed.
We need to implement plans like that for parts of Southeast Raleigh where the citizens have been asking for assistance for years. The focus on this part of Peace Street rather than on an area that needs it is further indication of the misguided focus of the current administration. If we can revitalize parts of Southeast Raleigh we can perhaps reduce some of the problems contributing to crime there.
We also need highly motivated, dedicated Police Officers in order to deal with these problems on a daily basis. Let’s not demotivate them by paying them below average salaries.
9) Are new initiatives needed to address the city’s fast-growing Hispanic population? If so, what do you recommend?
The country was founded by people seeking freedom and prosperity. I think Raleigh should set an example in providing resources to assist the people who come here for those reasons. However, it’s a legitimate concern of many people that their taxes are being used to support people who come to the country illegally and do not pay into the system that helps support us all when we need help.
My recommendations are to make Raleigh a welcoming destination for those who have come into the country legally and are making a contribution and to step up efforts of local law enforcement to more aggressively find and deal with those who are in the country illegally and who are not making a contribution.
10) Does Raleigh need better public transit services? (A lot better?) If yes, what specific steps do you advocate, and how would you pay for them?
We need to improve the transit system to better perform in its current role. Eliminate large buses on routes with no riders and send smaller vehicles on better-planned routes with riders. When we’ve done this and when we are providing transportation to the elderly and handicapped we can then implement promotions like the R-Line which is providing free transportation in the downtown area for a small number of taxpayers who may not need transportation assistance.
We must also begin to plan and build an initial link in a rail system. The fact that we have large, empty buses running through the streets doesn’t mean we don’t need rapid transit. If you commute on I40, Capital Blvd or other major routes, then you know we need rapid transit now.
Charlotte acquired federal funding to help them get started on their rail system. We need to put together a new initiative with different leadership to secure similar funding in the Triangle.
11) Raleigh’s development fees (impact and capacity fees) are the lowest in the region, meaning that current residents shoulder the lion’s share of the cost of growth, not developers or newcomers. Should these fees be increased, and if so, by how much?
Growth should benefit the city by bringing revenue to pay for schools and roads and water. Growth should also contribute to the vitality of the city. I drive Wade Avenue to work everyday and I know we have a really bad situation in the quality of that road and others. We are resorting to toll roads and year-round schools in the region now. I believe continued efforts to attract jobs and attractions to bring visitors to Raleigh to spend money are critical so that we can fund infrastructure without having to resort to extreme increases in fees. Higher fees will result in higher costs for new homes and will further reduce the availability of affordable housing. However, until we make progress in our revitalization efforts, we must make fees high enough to pay for the infrastructure needed for new development. The citizens in Raleigh have paid more than their fair share and need a break.
12) Raleigh’s never required developers to include affordable housing (however “affordable” might be defined) as a condition for approval of tall buildings or big subdivisions? Should it? If so, what rules should apply?
I don’t recommend requiring it. I think we need a new mayor who will work with developers in a way that will show that Raleigh is interested in developing successful private-public partnerships and is eager to find a way to reach some agreements. The garbage disposal ban illustrates the attitude the city leaders have toward their constituents and this same attitude has also alienated developers. We have to cooperate with developers, and with all businesses that are willing to come into Raleigh and do or build something to help improve the city.
What’s the best thing about the proposed comprehensive plan for Raleigh? What’s the worst thing? As it stands, would you vote to adopt it or insist on changes first?
The best thing about the Plan is that it includes some common sense approaches for promoting asthetics, recreation, and bicycle and pedestrian access.
The worst part of the Plan is the Transit Oriented Development Guidelines which lay the groundwork for future development to be dictated by the location of the routes and stations of the rapid transit system. I think at this point, Raleigh should concentrate on a few critical initial phases in a rail system and work to retain our current neighborhoods and identity which are so important to our quality of living.
I would propose that the plan include details for an initial rail segment before I would support it.
13) Public schools are a county, not city function. Should the city nonetheless act to assist the schools, and if so, in what ways?
The Mayor should work hard for the people of Raleigh on the issues that the school system deals with that affect us. Some issues that come before the Board affect some communities in the county differently than others. The Mayor has to be aware of this and be willing to work to influence the Board to consider what is best for Raleigh.
14) Raleigh’s form of governmentstrong manager, weak council and mayorcombined with the fact that almost all city meetings are held during daytime hours, have the effect of limiting the extent to which average citizens can participate in government decisions. Is this a problem, in your view? If so, what changes should be made? Is this a priority for you?
It is a problem for working people. Attending a meeting during the day is many times not an option. Some may think that attending a meeting to speak out on, or learn about an issue that affects you shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you work, you know that you have to also consider the fact that you may have just taken a day off because you or a family member was sick or because you had to have some work done on your house or car. These are not good economic times and keeping a job right now is important.
This is a top priority for me and I would change as many meeting times as possible to evenings and would also look for opportunities to hold some weekend meetings.
15) Two years ago, the Indy asked every council candidate if s/he would support extending to same-sex partners the same benefits (e.g., health insurance) on the same basis that they are now offered to the spouses of city employees. Virtually everyone said yes, but to date nothing’s been done. Is it time?
We would need to look at the cost of making the change considering that we have recently been forced to make cuts in services. However, I would pursue it based on what the citizens say. My personal belief is that when it comes to helping someone have access to health care, we need to be flexible and I would use this personal opinion to influence our action on the issue.