Name as it appears on the ballot: Ray Kelley
Date of birth: 09/06/1968
Home address: 44 Johnston Street, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Mailing address, if different from home: PO Box 1209 Pittsboro, NC 27312
Occupation & employer: Self
What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.
Being a Nursing Home Administrator I am intimately familiar with regulatory agencies at all levels of government, which requires a tremendous knack for interpreting, planning, assessing, and implementation. My wife and I own Cambridge Hills Assisted Living in Pittsboro, a 90 bed facility proudly caring for the seniors of our community, regardless of payer source. The properties I have managed have had multi-million dollar budgets, and between 75 and 500 individuals. Additionally, I have 13 years of military service and currently serve in the Naval Reserve as a Command Chief with the Military Sealift Command. Within my career, I have proudly led Sailors and Soldiers in tactical and non-tactical environments.
How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I will not split hairs. I am a conservative and recognize that the majority of the readers of this publication (maybe I’m the only exception) would characterize themselves differently. Unfortunately, conservatism has lost its meaning in modern day politics. I am caring and responsible, it’s that simple. This is most noted in my business practices creating an environment that promotes the highest quality of life for our Seniors. With our industry having to experience multiple budget cuts to the Medicaid program, we still accept Chatham County’s Mothers and Fathers who cannot afford care otherwise. Yet despite our costs being significantly lower than those in comparable facilities in surrounding counties, we earned 4 Stars, the highest rating that North Carolina awards. In the community we proudly support the Friends of the Chatham Community Library, CORA, and other entities which we believe bring value to the people and our community as a whole. None of these aforementioned worthwhile callings would be possible if our business were not operated in a fiscally responsible manner. Not spending more than we brought in, watching our expenses, budgeting and forecasting, spending money when it positioned the company for success, and rewarding those that have helped accomplish our business goals, allow us to better support the community that supports us.
Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
If there is a legitimate lack of return on investment, whether that return is non-financial or financial, for the Citizens of Pittsboro, I will not support it. To be clear, I do not expect a financial return on every idea, but there must be some recognizable benefit to the people. For example, building the Library was a costly endeavor for the County, but you cannot measure the impact it will have on our community for generations to come in financial terms.
The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I strongly support Pittsboro being a positive contributor to the regional communities. I am reminded of a saying someone once told me, “A high tide floats all the boats”. Meaning if Pittsboro is successful or the Triangle is successful, the Citizens of all will reap the rewards.
Pittsboro recently was accepted into the Small Town Main Street Program, which is designed to help towns with less than 7,500 people create jobs and revitalize their downtowns. How should Pittsboro best take advantage of this program? What are your priorities in job creation and downtown revitalization?
As a proud member of the Steering Committee of this great opportunity, I believe it is the first step on the road in the right direction. Pittsborians must recognize that we survive in a globally competitive market. Meaning that companies looking to establish or move operations have a multitude of sites to choose from, incentives, infrastructure, etc. thereby giving them the upper hand. We must sell ourselves as a viable business destination. This starts with so called “cleaning out the closet”, trimming the trees, painting the curbs, fresh signage, window displays, pressure washing the sidewalks and business frontages, cutting the grass, freshening up the planting areas etc. In short, showing pride in our home. I hope the STMSP is able to encourage the business owners in the community to take an unbiased look at their property and make some positive impact changes. Doing so is good sound business practice which in turn, creates an environment that welcomes potential business investors by saying “We care about our Town and we want you to be a part of it!” We can preach it, but the devil is in the details.
With the pending closure of Townsend Chicken Plant in Pittsboro, how will the town compensate for the lost property tax and utilities revenue? What are the immediate impacts if the plant closes? What are the short- and long-term solutions to filling the economic gap left by this plant?
There is no specific answer to these questions. I do not have a chicken plant, or any other medium to large company wanting to move to Pittsboro in my back pocket that I can promise the people. We must remain competitive in the areas I outlined above. We must be fiscally responsible and we must not sell our soul for companies that utilize our resources and provide nothing in return. Basically, successful relationships are built on equal benefits. Win, Win. That is what my expectation is.
Along those revenue lines, how will the town pay for the new 3.2 MGD wastewater treatment plant? How would you keep residential water and sewer fees from sharply increasing?
How the town ultimately pays for the WWTP is yet to be seen. I have heard within the meetings I have attended, of several options which are viable. As for fees “sharply” rising or just rising, this will be determined by the fiscal experience and acuity of the Board. I will never support an increased burden on our Citizens, if we have not first exhausted all other means to fund a project or requirement. Being the Owner of a business and a Citizen of Pittsboro, this is near and dear to my heart.
What should Pittsboro’s priorities be in crafting a land use plan? What areas of town need special attention and why?
In short, Pittsboro! Just as I would expect from any other community. The land use plan must support and complement what I believe should be the 5 guiding principles of Pittsboro moving forward…
1. Business growth 2. Stewardship of the environment 3. Convenience 4. Preservation of our historical past 5. Curb appeal. Each principle can stand on their own, but together all five are vitally important to position Pittsboro for success for generations to come.
What is your position on fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing, in Pittsboro and Chatham County? Please justify your position.
I am not specifically opposed to or for fracking. It is a technology that makes possible the recovery of an energy source that is in much demand. If you are adamantly opposed to this, then I say the change begins in the habits of our daily lives, in other words, when there is no need, there will be no demand. If you are for it, be so responsibly, be the caretakers of our environment.
If you are incumbent, please share some self-reflection about the pros and cons of the job the current mayor and council are doing leading the town. If you are a challenger, critique the job the incumbents are doing.
I am a supporter of the current board. I have not agreed with all of their decisions or their individual positions. I believe in the power of change, whether that be through term limits or through the choice of the electorate. Fresh minds bring fresh ideas. Successful individuals/entities reinvent themselves regularly to remain fresh, new and ahead. An organization without new innovative ideas and goals becomes stagnant.