Name as it appears on the ballot: Norman Clark
Full legal name, if different: Norman V. Clark
Date of birth: August 25, 1962
Occupation and employer: Firefighter Chapel Hill Fire Department Retired
Spouse’s name: Lyndolyn Clark
Spouse’s occupation and employer: Nurse Duke University Medical
Years lived in Chatham County: 51.5
Home phone: 919-542-5469
Cell phone: 919-265-7049
1.What are the three most important issues facing Chatham County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
A)Economic Development and Jobs: 1. Support the Chatham Economic Development Corporation and its ongoing efforts to recruit and support new business. 2. Support efforts to develop and certify the two Megasites in Chatham County. 3. Diligently pursue bringing Broadband Wireless to needed parts of the county. This will aid in recruiting new business.
B)Growth and Development: 1. Establish and strengthen relationships with all the Municipalities in Chatham County. This will encourage collaboration between the governing parties and enable resource sharing and facilitate planning for growth. 2. Continue developing the Strategic Plan and Land Use Plan to develop growth in a strategic planned manner. 3. Communicate with the citizens and developers to increase awareness and understanding of the impacts of impending projects. This will aid the transparency of the approval process.
C)Jordan Lake and Protecting Water and Natural Resources: 1. Chatham County should be very proactive in lobbying for implementation of the “Jordan Lake Rules” and lobbying the legislature for upstream protection for the Haw River. 2. Attention has to be given to the Coal Ash ponds and Duke Power and their facilities in Chatham County. Their protocols on Hazardous Materials need to be reviewed and the County needs to be aware of what materials are stored and where 3. The County should establish a policy for Mining and Fracking in Chatham County and not allow any processes to begin until protections of the water supply and the environment can be guaranteed to the satisfaction of the Board of Commissioners and a review committee made up of environmental and advisors and citizens.
2.What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Chatham County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I have been a resident of Chatham County my entire life. The relevance of this is that my sense of community and values has been shaped by growing up in rural Chatham County in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I learned at an early age to share with and help your neighbors. I saw my paternal grandmother and a maternal uncle become community activists. This taught me to be active in trying to improve my community and is part of my decision to serve as county commissioner. I have served on many committees and boards in the community. This has developed the ability to work in groups, the ability to reach a consensus. I also learned problem solving techniques and conflict resolution. These skills are essential to being an effective commissioner. A few of the countywide boards I have served on are the Chatham County Human Relations Commission, The Boys and Girls Club of the Eastern Piedmont, the Chatham County YMCA and Raising Achievement Closing the Gap Committee of Chatham County Schools.
My career in Emergency Services will make me an asset as a commissioner. Emergency Services is one of the major expenditures in the County Budget. I will bring an understanding of the operations of Law Enforcement, Fire Service and Emergency Medical Services to the board. As a Public Safety Officer for the Town of Chapel Hill I was trained and certified in all three disciplines. I became a Captain in the Chapel Hill Fire Department and was assigned to the Fire Prevention Division. I became an Assistant Fire Marshal. I was certified as an Arson Investigator and Inspector. I developed critical thinking and problem solving skills that will be a valuable as a commissioner. My Inspection duties gave me the opportunity to develop skills in reviewing plans of major developments in Chapel Hill. The plans review process required me to interact with the planning department, architects, project managers and developers. I will bring an understanding of the processes and procedures used. I will also bring the ability to establish relationships with the Sheriff, Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs and their personnel. I will understand their equipment and how they function and more importantly, if the equipment is needed.
My service on the Chatham County Board of Education is valuable and relevant because I know how to be effective. I have proven that I can be a productive team member. I know how to communicate with the public. I understand the processes of government. I understand the budgeting process and have approved major budgets. I understand the needs of Chatham County Schools. The budget for the school system is the biggest expenditure in the Chatham County budget. I will bring an established relationship with the Board of Education and Chatham County Schools administration. This will aid in continuing the collaboration between the BOE and BOC. My service on the Chatham County Board of Education afforded me the opportunity to work with the governing bodies of the Municipalities within the county. I bring established positive relationships with members of the town councils of Pittsboro, Siler City and Goldston. I would encourage joint meetings and collaboration with these boards.
3.How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I see myself as politically moderate. I tend to listen to all sides of an issue before I render an opinion. This is partly due to my police and investigator training. The truth of an issue or resolution to a problem tends to be found in the middle between the two perspectives. This helps in building consensus and reaching compromise. When on the Chatham County Board of Education, I was viewed as an effective leader because of this. When presented with an issue, all sides would be considered, all voices heard, and then a resolution that was acceptable and beneficial to the parties involved was reached. It is reflected in my campaign platform by focusing on Issues that affect the whole county. My desire is to have government that addresses issues in a way that benefit the majority of Chatham’s citizens. Addressing the three issues identified in question one would accomplish that goal.
4.Do you support adding a fifth school district representative to the Chatham County Board of Education? What are the biggest challenges facing Chatham County public schools and what steps, if any, will you take to address them if elected?
I support appointing the fifth school district representative to the Chatham County Board of Education. The Board is designed to be a 5 person board that the business can be conducted with approval of the majority. With only 4 representatives there is no vote to break ties. This can potentially render the Board ineffective.
The three biggest challenges to the BOE in my opinion and from my experience from serving on the BOE are Teacher Recruitment and Retention, Growth and Overcrowded school, and Adequate Funding.
Teacher Recruitment and Retention: In recent years the number of potential Teachers has been declining. This prompted North Carolina to create the Lateral Transfer program. This allows people from the private sector to begin teaching and earn their certification while working. This program has helped, but the pool of available teachers still does not meet the need. To compound the problem for Chatham County, we have to compete with Wake, Durham, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro, which have some of the highest teacher pay and supplement in the state. A significant number of our new teachers tend to live in these districts and we lose a number of them to these systems. The BOC has done a good job of funding teacher pay and must continue to do so. The supplement has to be increased whenever possible. The BOE must continue to develop innovative incentive packages.
Growth and Overcrowded School: Planning for growth is a challenge for Chatham County. Chatham has a proposal for a large development as well as smaller residential developments to plan for. Both of these will bring additional students for the school system. It is impossible to know accurately how many. We have to be proactive and collaborate with developers, and other municipalities to plan and acquire locations for additional schools. We must be diligent in maintaining present schools and expanding them to accommodate growth when prudent. Building a school I expensive and time intensive, proactive planning is necessary to ensure that adequate funding is going to be available to build them.
Adequate Funding: Funding for schools is becoming more challenging for all counties in North Carolina each budget year. The State has shifted more of the funding burden to the counties. Chatham County has to fund pay, maintenance, and transportation cost that previously were funded by the state. I’m proud to say that during my term on the Chatham County Board of Education, we increased collaboration with the Board of Commissioners. This resulted in the County Finance office working with the Chatham County Schools Finance office to develop the budget for the school system. The BOC and the BOE have been proactive in finding funding for the school system and that must continue as well as the positive relationship and collaboration between them.
5.What is your vision for development of Chatham County and if elected, how will you propose to fund it?
Chatham County has a fairly comprehensive Land Use Plan that encompasses existing development. There are natural development corridors such as industrial development in Moncure, residential development in Pittsboro and North Chatham, and mixed use development in Siler City. Using these as guidelines will help preserve the existing characteristics of Chatham County. The County has to particular attention to recruitment of business and industry, so the cost of growth is not paid solely through property taxes. The Economic Development Commission has done excellent work and must be supported to continue their work. The business and developers will be expected to bear a significant portion of the costs that are unique to their particular development. The County may bear the costs that will benefit greater Chatham County.
6. What is your stand on the proposed Chatham Park? What advantages or disadvantages could the park bring to the county? If elected, would you support more funding going to parks and greenways in Chatham County?
Chatham Park will be transformative for Pittsboro and Chatham County. If properly planned, it can bring economic development before unseen in Chatham County. It can elevate Chatham County and Pittsboro to the level of Wake and Durham County as an economic power in the state. If Chatham Park is not properly planned it can result in residential sprawl and a traffic nightmare. Hiring the outside consultant was a prudent decision. The Lawrence Group’s recommendations were reasonable and feasible and provided a realistic starting point for both entities to negotiate a Master Plan that will be beneficial to both parties. I support a well-planned Chatham Park. When economically feasible, I support more funding for greenways and parks. As a former coach for Chatham County Recreation department, I am an avid supporter of programs that encourages activity. I believe that communities that have good parks and greenways are more active and healthier.
7.What is your position on the ICE resolution? Do you support or oppose the decision to rescind the resolution in 2011? How has that decision affected relations between undocumented immigrants and police and what steps, if any, will you take to improve relations between undocumented immigrants and the larger community if elected?
While serving on the Chatham County Human Relations Commission, we passed a resolution supporting the ICE resolution. I supported the ICE resolution then and felt that it should not have been rescinded. I still feel that ICE was redundant for Chatham County because the Sheriff Department participates in the Secure Communities that achieves the same objectives. I think that decision increased the level of distrust between the Latino Community as a whole and all governmental agencies. To improve relations with undocumented immigrants, the larger community has to improve relations with documented immigrants and legal resident Latinos. If we can build trust with this group, they can be the bridge to building trust with undocumented immigrants. This can be achieved by recognizing and treating Latinos with respect and acceptance as residents of this county. That is the first step I am taking whether I am elected or not.
8.The state is on track to begin hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the coming years and energy companies have targeted Chatham County as a potential drilling site. What is your position on fracking and what steps, if any, would you take to ensure the Deep River and its watershed are not harmed?
My position on Fracking is that it should not be allowed until the process is safe and not harmful to the environment and the water supply. The Energy industry has not proven to be a proponent of environmental safety. As stated in my answer to question 1, I believe local governments are going to have to safeguard their citizens and the environment by establishing policies to regulate these operations. The steps I would take would be monitoring and testing of the Deep River and wells in the area to ensure that the water quality is not being compromised.
The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I would further build a just community by being a just elected official. While serving on the Chatham County Human Relations Commission, a study on poverty in Chatham County was conducted. It showed that there is a lot of room for improvement by the county in dealing with the inequality of conditions throughout the county. We have to address the needs of the whole county, not anyone particular geographical area or community. I would bring diversity and a different perspective to the BOC on many levels. I would reach out to all of Chatham diverse citizens to ensure that their voices are heard and their needs and issues are known.
9.Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it could cost you popularity points with voters.
I would vote for a moderate tax increase if it was needed and justified. When elected officials vow or promise “no tax increases”, they are going to do a disservice to either the citizens or operation of the county. As the true cost of providing needed services increases, it is the duty of a county commissioner to ensure the delivery of those services. I believe that property tax increases should be the last option considered. I would consider other sources of revenue or evaluate areas to reduce services initially. I would vote for an increase to protect public safety and delivery of essential services if warranted.