Name as it appears on the ballot: Paul M. Neebe
Full legal name, if different: Paul Michael Neebe
Date of birth: 12/11/61
Occupation & employer: Freelance Musician (Trumpeter) and Real Estate Broker
Campaign website: www.PaulNeebeforTownCouncil.com
1. 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 because I love Chapel Hill and I want to preserve the quality of life here.
Currently I’m on the Chapel Hill Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board. In the past I have been on the Board of Directors of the Durham Symphony, the North Carolina Boys Choir and have volunteered for the Habitat for humanity Bike Rides.
Top Priorities are: A. Have a goal for a platinum bike city designation from the American League of Bicyclists by 2020. B. Streamline the Advisory Boards to help the government be more efficient. C. Keep businesses in Chapel Hill and assure their success.
2. 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?
I have been a professional musician and also a real estate broker for over the past 20 years. As a musician we must think outside of the box. This is important for obtaining results as the direct approach does not always work. My Real Estate skills help me in practical maters and also envisioning how the future will look from a building perspective.
3. 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 best thing I can remember the Town of Chapel Hill Government doing well is going to the Fare Free Bus System. This obviously increased mass transit ridership immensely.
The new public library is a wonderful accomplishment which all can use.
I have also been impressed with the progress of our greenways, although we have a long way to go.
I think the government is starting to head in the right direction but needs to be more efficient. . The combining of the Advisory Boards is a good step in efficiency, but this has not yet been implemented. The seeking of alternatives to Small Area planning is also a step in the right direction. It was an egregious error to spend $230,000 for the Central West Planning. We have enough capable people in Chapel Hill to moderate citizen input without spending exorbitant money on outside consultants.
The Architecture of new developments needs to be closely watched. I think many of the new developments are lacking imagination in this respect.
While Art is important to the beauty of Chapel Hill, I think the Cheese Grater at 140 West was a mistake. I would have preferred a green space to the current art.
4. Indy Week’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I have been a part of this community for over 40 years. Continuity helps further the community. I am here for the long haul.
5. How do you define yourself politically (i.e. conservative, moderate, liberal, third party, hybrid, etc.) and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
My Republic friends think I’m too liberal and my Democratic friends think I’m too conservative. I prefer to stick to the issues and what works best, so I guess I’m a hybrid.
6. Chapel Hill has a reputation as a town that is anti-business. Is that fair or not? What would you do to change that reputation, if at all?
Yes this is the word on the street. I recently spoke to a local business owner that moved from Chapel Hill to Carrboro. The comment was about how helpful Carrboro is and how difficult the staff in Chapel Hill is for small business. We need to take some lessons from our neighbors in Carrboro and change this. If staff is not doing the job then the town manager needs to make sure that happens. If not then the council should communicate their dissatisfaction with what’s going on and take further action if necessary.
7. What is your view on the town’s recent moves to support high-density, mixed-use developments in downtown Chapel Hill? What can be done to revitalize and support downtown?
I think we need to find out how to have more affordable parking in Downtown Chapel Hill. This is one obstacle that I have observed. If there is going to be high density in the downtown then there needs to be the infrastructure to support that. For example: We need a grocery store in downtown Chapel Hill so residents don’t have to get in the car to shop.
8. What are your thoughts on the town’s panhandling ordinance and its enforcement by Chapel Hill police?
I think I’ve already been quoted about this. We should use the carrot and the stick. Yes there should not be panhandling in downtown Chapel Hill that is the stick. If there are panhandlers found then we should work to understand why they are doing this. If they are homeless, then we need to find a way to help them get back on their feet. If it is because of mental illness then we need to make sure we help them seek treatment. I hope this kind of support is written into the ordinance, but I haven’t had a chance to inspect it.
9. What do you think of the town’s comprehensive plan, Chapel Hill 2020? What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses? As a council member, how would you go about implementing the plan?
The strengths of the 2020 plan are:
1. Bike and walkable Green Community
2. Create an entrepreneurial enterprise hub in the rosemary street corridor
3. Create entertainment/dining/arts hubs
4. Increase workforce housing & plan for student housing. The big weakness I see in the 2020 plan so far is number
5. Establish support for community input. This is problematic currently. We need to have trained facilitators at every community meeting. We should join a pilot program called Open Town Hall run by http://www.peakdemocracy.com/. This is a pilot program to build trust in the government and gather constituent input. I think monthly community update meetings would also be good. This will help keep everyone up to date and give an open forum for voices to be heard.
10. Chapel Hill continues to struggle to offer affordable housing. As a council member, what would you do to push affordable housing in the town?
We need to support the successful programs already in place such as Community Home Trust, CASA and Empowerment. We can also support the DHIC rental housing programs in Chapel Hill. If we make affordable housing a priority it will happen. At some point we should have an affordable housing bond and copy Raleigh’s success in this regard.