Name as it appears on the ballot: Matt Czajkowski
Full legal name, if different: Matthew E Czajkowski
Date of birth: April 24, 1949
Home address: 1083 Burning Tree Drive, Chapel Hill NC 27517
Campaign website: www.mattcfortownc.org
Occupation & employer: CEO NextRay Inc.
Why are you running for office and what are your top priorities, if elected? Please include information on past public service, posts held, volunteer work completed and other examples of your leadership.
I am running for office to continue advocating for the issues that I first raised four years ago and for which I have consistently been working since my election. Those issues are: fiscal responsibility; growing the commercial (particularly retail) tax base; taking a fresh look at how we manage growth and addressing the issues downtown.
If you are not currently serving on the Town Council, what will you bring to the body that it now lacks? If you are an incumbent, what perspective have you brought that the town still needs?
There are no more easy answers to Chapel Hill’s challenges. Virtually everything involves trade-offs. There is almost always strong feeling on both sides of every major issue the Council faces now. I have proven over and over again that I have the ability to define the trade offs and weigh the pros and cons. This is going to be even more vital in the next four years as we deal with scarcer and scarcer resources. If the community and the council are not willing to compromise we will stagnate.
In the last four years, what do you feel are the three best accomplishments of Chapel Hill Town Government, and why? Conversely, what are three things you would have done differently?
The three best achievements are:
The Carolina North Development Agreement.
The substantial progress of the Economic Development effort
No increase in taxes for the last two years
Three things I would have liked to have seen done differently are:
The “Sustainable Community Visioning Task Force”. If it had been structured and implemented correctly we would have a new comprehensive plan by now.
The Council’s attempt to give itself lifetime healthcare through a consent agenda item and for which I was originally the only vote against.
Passed a broader anti panhandling ordinance
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 only way to increase our contributions to those in need is to grow the size of the pie. We have seen the town reluctantly reduce its contributions to not for profits. Given the town’s increasingly difficult fiscal constraints we MUST focus on building our commercial tax base so we have greater revenues and the ability to increase our funding for social services. Of course I have been saying this for four years. It will take us years to make up for the commercial opportunities that were squandered in the last two decades but we must pursue it relentlessly and I have proven with my record that I will do so. Otherwise most of the burden will fall on homeowners, many of whom are struggling with their current taxes. If we succeed we WILL increase our funding for social services. If not, funding will remain stagnant at best.
How do you define yourself politically (ie) conservative, moderate, liberal, third party, hybrid etc) and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Moderate. When I watch the behavior of both parties it makes me proud to be registered as an Independent as are one third of the registered voters in Orange County (coincidentally the same name as this newspaper). The press and some other advocacy groups have labeled me pro- business. I hope that we are now past those types of simplistic labels. We are facing unprecedented fiscal challenges. We will have to continue to prioritize and make hard choices. They need to be balanced and fair and cannot be ideologically based. The record shows I have consistently taken that approach and on that basis voters can fairly expect I will continue to do so when I am re-elected.
Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I have taken several principled stands since I have been in office. I voted against approving the SUP as it was structured for Community House because it didn’t have sufficient provisions that would guarantee there would be no negative impact on the community or that the IFC will move out of its current space in old town hall. I voted to delay proceeding with the library expansion at this at this time because it is irresponsible given our current fiscal situation and I voted to approve the proposal for Ayden Court because it was the best alternative available. It is an understatement to say that it cost me some popularity points with the supporters of two of those projects and the opponents of the third but I voted according to my analysis of the pros and cons and explained my reasoning in each case..
Do you support the cent sales tax referendum? Would you support future ballot initiatives such as the transit tax? What will you do to educate and involve the public not only in those decisions but in town affairs in general?
I support the cent sales tax referendum although I agree with Comissioners Foushee and McKee that it should have been put on the ballot in May when Northern Orange County voters will have several issues to draw them to the polls rather than one.
I will have to see how the 1/2 cent transit tax will be spent before I decide whether to support it or not.
In terms of educating and involving the public in town affairs I have had contact with thousands of citizens during my time on the council and my two campaigns. I have discussed the pros and cons of various issues with them even when we may have disagreed. I will continue to do so when I am re-elected
This fiscal year saw the town make cut some bus routes and reduce their frequency, the town’s July 4th celebration and Project Turnaround, among other cost saving measures? Do you agree with the choices? If not, how would you have found the funds or what different cuts would you have made?
No. Nor do I believe do many of the citizens of Chapel Hill. Sadly the decision to cancel the fireworks was made before we explored any public/private partnerships. As it turns out a coalition of business groups would have been willing to fund the fireworks. In addition many citizens have told me they would have been willing to pay a modest fee to attend. It is sad that we never explored those alternatives before making an irreversible decision. I believe that there is an untapped resource for public/private partnerships and I will advocate strongly that we explore every option when I am re-elected.
The town plans to write a new comprehensive plan this year to guide the next 20 years of development, what process should be used and what driving principles and strategies should the end result include?
We need to create a vision rather than just principles and ideologies. What do we want our town to look and feel like? We need to evaluate trade offs between what we want and the impact it will have. Since I have been on the council only one major development has been approved. The Special Use Permit process is broken. We need to have the courage to zone those areas where we believe there should be higher density and/or greater commercial space rather than having everything “down zoned”. It is unfair to neighbors and developers to leave it unspecified. If we have the courage to do so – and with significant community input – both neighbors and developers will know what can be done and what can’t. Most important though is that we involve representative of ALL of Chapel Hill communities in the discussion so that they both feel they have ownership of the outcome and their voices have been heard.
What’s your view of the recent and in-progress additions to downtown, Greenbridge and 140 West and what’s your hope for UNC’s University Square development plans? What else needs to be done to preserve and further a unique and thriving downtown?
Things will work out with Greenbridge but the units will be sold at much lower prices. While this will lower the overall property tax revenue to the town it will ultimately provide housing options that are available to more people rather than just the wealthy. As I argued at the time we still had the opportunity to change it, the council made a mistake not to take payments in lieu and use them in the existing Northside neighborhood and we should learn from that mistake.
As for 140 West, it was an abysmal deal for the town. We will get approximately the same number of parking spaces we already had but we will spend and additonal $ 8 million. In addition, we effectively gave the land to the developer – land that would have netted the town many millions of dollars that we could have used for additional social programs and in other much needed areas. That having been said I am hopeful that 140 West will be both an aesthetic and “walkability” improvement to West Franklin Street.
I am very optimistic that the University Square will significantly enhance downtown. Chapel Hill needs a gathering place downtown and it appears that the University intends to provide one. I have great faith in the ability of the University administrators who are handling this project. They understand the needs of the community and have a vested interest in achieving them.