Name as it appears on the ballot: Randy Stagner
Full legal name, if different: Randall Kent Stagner
Date of birth: 8 January 1960
Campaign website: www.RandyStagner.com
Occupation & employer: Councilman, District A, City of Raleigh/Colonel, US Army (retired)
Do you have a Facebook page? Randy Stagner for Raleigh City Council
Do you have a Twitter account? @RandyStagner
1. What do you see as the most important issues facing Raleigh? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
Population growth and the increased stress it places on our City infrastructure.
My priorities are public safety, transit, and water quality. These are essential to our great quality of life which is the major driver of our successful economy. Our quality of life attracts and retains a quality workforce which in turn attracts a variety of business interests. These business interests underwrite our tax base in Raleigh, allowing us to have the lowest city tax rate in the Triangle and one of the lowest in the State. Specific to District A, we have several properties which are “turn key” ready for business. I would seek to encourage more sustainable communities of business, retail and residentiallike North Hills.
I have already taken action to address the infrastructure needs of our growing City. Upon my election to Council two years ago, I initiated a review of our entire water and sewer infrastructure from which a replacement schedule could be developed. Raleigh’s Public Utilities has $10.5 billion in water and sewer infrastructure, $7.5 billion of which is underground. Today the Public Utilities Department knows where every pipe and line is located, what it’s made of, and how old it is (the oldest extant water line in Raleigh1875). From this, we can conduct water and sewer replacement on a predicable schedule and have fewer expensive emergency repairs. With a water and sewer infrastructure replacement plan in place, a flatter, fairer rate system can be instituted. This way when we ask the citizens of Raleigh to conserve water, we don’t turn around and penalize that good behavior with a rate increase.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
I am a retired Army Special Operations colonel. I have led hundreds to thousands of highly-trained professionals, been responsible for multi-million dollar budgets and supervised property and equipment worth hundreds of millions of dollars. But more importantly, I’ve worked with people from disparate organizations and countries in the pursuit of common goals. I worked with the Departments of State and Defense, the US Agency for International Development and the Intelligence Community to counter ideological support for terrorism. I worked with British, French, Italian, and German militaries to implement a UN-mandated peace in Bosnia. I got Serbs, Croats and Muslims to play ‘nice’ in Bosnia and now use these same skills to work with Republicans, Democrats and Independents on the City Council.
On City Council and in Committees, I work with all concerned parties to understand and resolve issues that come before us. This is particularly true with development issues. Neighborhoods know that I will ensure their best interests and developers know that, as long as they work with neighborhoods, I will work tirelessly to bring a project into a consensus for all stakeholders. But it starts with listening to all sides of an issue.
3. Indy Week’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
I seek to serve my neighbors, my community. If we empower a few at the expense of the whole, the community is poorer for it. I will ensure that, as we grow, all of Raleigh benefits from positive growth.
By way of example, better transportation options certainly improve the lives of all of us, but especially those of moderate incomes.
4. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I requested a review of our City panhandling ordinance in the Council’s Law and Public Safety Committee. It had been a year since this ordinance had passed and I felt that a review was in order. We should never be so comfortable in our decisions that we simply forget to consider the least of us.
5. If these issues haven’t been addressed above, would you please comment on:
a) The role of City Council members and their relationship to the manager and staff is an issue currently. Some think council members should talk only to the manager, insulating staffers from political pressure. Others think the members should also be able to question department heads and staff as part of their policy oversight role and to resolve constituents’ problems. A middle course would be oversight by committee, a time-consuming job for the part-time council. What’s your position on this?
Council members should discuss Staff interaction with the City Manager. I find that the best such interaction occurs at the Department Director/Deputy Director level. Occasionally I have been further encouraged to work directly with a sub-section manager or action officer (as in the case of greenways or watershed issues). Department heads should be cc’d as a rule. The City Manager can be cc’d, if it is his or her preference to be so. Under the new staffing for the Council Office, it has been beneficial for all to have a general point of contact between Staff and Council members.
b) Council members are paid little ($17,000 for the mayor; $12-13,000 for the others) and, except for the city attorney and clerk, no professional staff report to them. All staff work for the manager. Would you change this system at all, and if so, how?
Council members are paid enough to cover their Council-related expenses. That said, some additional Council staffing would be appropriate for a city of 424,000 people with five districts of over 80,000 each. A Council Chief of Staff and a couple of researchers to augment the current staff of three executive assistants should be sufficient.
c) In light of the scandal unfolding at the Raleigh Business and Technical Center, supposedly a business incubator, is it time to beef up the City Council’s oversight mechanisms? Are other city-sponsored agencies and city departments vulnerable to similar problems?
The Raleigh Business and Technology Center was unique in its direct-report status to the Office of the City Manager. It will now follow the same procedures that any other grant-funded organization in the City of Raleigh does. The point of failure for the RBTC occurred at its inception and continued through thirteen years of poor oversight.
d) Do you support the goals of the 2009 comprehensive plan and the brand new Unified Development Ordinance? Will these two initiatives really change the way Raleigh develops over the next several decadesand for the better? Or for the worse?
I do believe that the Comprehensive Plan and UDO will provide a predicable path forward for Raleigh’s future development. With respect to development, the UDO cleans up the previous development ordinance and provides a predictable process designed to ensure fairness for all stakeholders. The new UDO helps to preserve and improve our excellent quality of life in Raleigh. The City of Oaks will continue to be a “city in a park” and our neighborhoods will still be the backbone of who we are in Raleigh.
e) How important is improving public transit in Raleigh and the region to the city’s future prosperity, do you think?
Raleigh and Wake County must join Orange and Durham Counties in a regional solution to our current and future transit needs. This means the integration of our city bus systems into a comprehensive service for the Triangle. This will allow folks who live in North Raleigh to catch a bus to see a ballgame in Durham or go to work in the Research Triangle Park without a downtown connector in the mix. Commuter rail running from Johnston County through Raleigh to Chapel Hill and Durham should be completed within the next ten years with light rail in the next twenty. The CEO of the RTP would like to expand their campus. Those plans depend on better bus and rail options. The future development of our City depends on it too.
f) If elected, will you ask the Wake County Commissioners to allow a public referendum in 2014 on a 1/2-cent sales tax for transit, the same as Durham and Orange counties have passed?
I have and will continue to do so.
g) Until the 1/2-cent sales tax is in place in Wake, what else should Raleigh do on its own, if anything, to jump-start public transit within the city?
We will continue to improve our city bus system and move forward on Raleigh’s Union Station which will be the nexus of all modes of transit in the City.
h) Raleigh is trying to gain control of the 325-acre Dorothea Dix Hospital tract for use as a destination park. Do you support this effort? Should Raleigh pay fair-market value for the land, via lease or purchase, as many in the General Assembly demand? Please share your thoughts on how development of the park should be financed, if at all?
While I appreciate the ‘pause’ presented by the NC House over the objections of the NC Senate, I voted for the current lease in good faith and with the confidence that the State of North Carolina would uphold their end of this agreement. Should our Mayor and Governor not come to an agreement for the outright purchase of Dix Hill, I will support legal remedy to this issue. Should there be a reasonable purchase agreement, a park bond should go before the voters.
i) As part of a growth and economic development strategy, should Raleigh begin to use tax-increment financing (TIFs), subsidizing current developments with anticipated future property tax gains? If so, what policy limits, in any, should be adopted as part of a TIF plan?
No. We are a highly desirable location due to our excellent quality of life in Raleigh. That’s incentive enough.
j) For many years, it’s been a point of pride for Raleigh managers and Council members that Raleigh government costs less, and the city’s property tax rate is lower, than other towns in Wake County and other North Carolina cities. On the other hand, services may suffer because of inadequate funding. Are you concerned that Raleigh is investing too little to achieve the world-class status to which it aspires? Or can spending be cut further without sacrificing quality?
I am concerned. According to the Director of Public Works, our City streets require $10 million a year for proper maintenance. This must be a regular item in our budget and not just a ‘catch up’ placed in transportation bonds. Also we are losing highly trained police officers and firefighters to surrounding communities over pay issues. It makes no sense to be penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to retaining our excellent public safety personnel.
k) Is Raleigh doing enough to serve its growing Hispanic population and help them feel a part of the city?
It would be better to ask them how the City is doing. That said, I will do so at the 20th annual La Fiesta del Pueblo on Sunday, September 8th, at Moore Square.
l) Is Raleigh doing enough to serve its growing population of homeless and street people, many of whom suffer with mental illnesses? If not, what do you recommend?
The City of Raleigh works with CASA, DHIC, and others to provide affordable housing. This effort includes the recent opening of a new complex for homeless Veterans. As I mentioned previously, we reviewed our panhandling ordinance to ensure fairness as well as public safety. In the course of that discussion, the accessibility of services brought together advocates for the homeless and the Raleigh Police Department. The RPD provides information about City and County services for our homeless population daily.