Name as it appears on the ballot: Ty Ziglar
Party affiliation: unaffiliated
Occupation & employer: Dental office manager, Main St Family Dentistry
Years lived in Fuquay-Varina: 13
1) In 300 words or less, please give us—and our readers—your elevator pitch: Why are you running? Why should voters entrust you with this position? What are your priorities, and what would you want to see the town council do differently or better over the course of your term?
Fuquay-Varina has grown and changed a lot in the 13 years since I moved here with my husband and family. As the town continues to grow, our water and sewer systems, roads, and other public services must be updated to accommodate both residential and commercial expansion. I’ve heard frustration from many citizens about increased traffic as more housing developments are built, and at the loss of farms and trees. I’d work to connect our growing outer subdivisions and developments with our downtown, and create a real center that unifies and defines Fuquay-Varina. We’d all like to preserve the Fuquay-Varina we’ve come to love, but we can’t ignore what’s happening around us. Experts project that our town’s population could triple by 2045—to 92,000 residents. We need to ensure that we are growing responsibly, thinking not just about today but about the future. I would like our town to focus more on facilities so that our citizens don’t have to drive elsewhere for recreation, entertainment and restaurants. I’ve had numerous conversations with entrepreneurs in our town, and they want to be a town that welcomes small businesses and works to create opportunities for those businesses to expand and provide jobs. To do that, our town needs a leader who knows how to build bridges of trust, but who’s also not afraid to have difficult conversations. Citizens have complained to me about the lack of responsiveness when it comes to our town’s officials. I promise to show up and meet with civic groups, hold “town halls,” and to return phone calls and emails. It is easy to get caught up in politics, but with the many challenges and opportunities ahead, we need a mayor who can put partisan politics aside and guide our town into the future.
2) Given the direction of Fuquay-Varina government, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
It’s been a mixed bag. We’ve seen a lot of growth, and new town facilities, but there hasn’t been a lot of transparency—things get agreed to by friends behind closed doors, and citizens don’t feel that their voices are heard. We can’t do things in that small-town way anymore. I will bring a group of citizens together who can serve as liaisons with different parts of our growing community. They can help me, and other town officials keep our fingers on the pulse of citizen concerns. I also believe great “customer service” to our citizens begins by improving employee morale and creating opportunities for the staff to discuss concerns without feeling the threat of losing their job. Finally, our town policies and procedures should be available on our website, not buried where no one can find them.
3) What are three of the most pressing issues the town currently faces? How would you propose to address them? Please be specific.
First, citizen dialogue. Although the mayor and the Board of Commissioners allow citizens to speak at meetings, they rarely respond with anything other than a “thank you.” I’d promote town halls where there’s real back-and-forth. Second, managing growth not just for today but for the future. It’s important to maintain and improve the quality of life for people who currently reside here, especially when the inevitable downturn in the economy comes. We should be a community where service personnel, teachers, and first responders can afford to live, and we must make sure our seniors can afford to remain in their homes. Third, let’s help small businesses by making downtown more attractive, improving parking, bringing events to places like our Arts Center, and other activities that will help small business here. Do we really need more big-box retailers and mattress stores? I would love to partner with Wake Tech and find ways we can work with them to help our small businesses grow. I also believe a community-based business training program like Holly Springs’s “LaunchHOLLYSPRINGS” could add value to our community.
4) What’s the best or most important thing the board has done in the past year? Alternatively, name a decision you believe the board got wrong or an issue you believe the town should have handled differently. Please explain your answer.
Transparency is really important to me, so when the Board voted to move its meetings online after the Covid outbreak, it was a good step that allowed more people to view the mayor and commissioners conducting town business. The worst decision was permitting the mayor to publicly endorse a candidate to replace himself during a Board meeting, and then putting it on town’s website, knowing that doing that was against campaign finance laws. They had to remove the statement. It’s the kind of small-town wink-and-handshake stuff that Fuquay-Varina needs less of. When you’re mayor, you don’t get to tell the people who the next mayor will be. The people vote on that.
5) What prior experience will make you an effective member of the board of commissioners and advocate of the issues listed above? Please note any endorsements you have received that you consider significant.
I’m new to politics but not new to serving the community. My civic experience has mostly been as a citizen, dealing with local government, and as a volunteer for community organizations, such as our local track club, my church, and creating opportunities for citizens to come together like the march I organized after George Floyd’s death, and the “Keep It Poppin” community service award that recognized ordinary women doing extraordinary things. I’m not accepting endorsements from political parties or interest groups, though I was happy that Wray Stephens endorsed me. He’s a longtime member of the Fuquay-Varina business community and a former owner of Stephens Hardware, and it shows that I mean it when I say I’m committed to supporting small businesses here.
6) Given the rate of growth in Fuquay-Varina, how will you ensure that growth is well managed and enhances the town rather than detracts from it? Where does density and height fit in in planning decisions, if it does? How do you intend to balance growth with sustainability? Do you have a preferred policy on clear cutting trees or other conservation efforts? How sustainable in the long term is the town’s current policy of increasing the tax base to offset raising residents’ taxes?
Fuquay’s the only town in Wake County that hasn’t signed on to “Tree City USA” commitments. I’d work to change that. Green space, preserving farmland, and avoiding needless tree-cutting are important to keeping our town’s character, even as it grows. Growth has definitely presented its share of challenges. I will work with the commissioners and planning board to keep our town attractive to entrepreneurs, families, and small business owners, which is why sprawl is a concern. I’d focus on helping small businesses and making downtown more attractive, improving parking, bringing events to our Arts Center and other facilities that attract people downtown, and be cautious about allowing uncontrolled sprawl and traffic that our infrastructure can’t handle. Denser development, if the infrastructure is there to support it, also helps with keeping housing affordable.
7) As with most places in the Triangle, Fuquay-Varina is grappling with issues related to affordable housing. How would you like to see the town approach affordability issues over the next few years? Should it promote apartment living, duplexes, and/or triplexes? Encourage density in single family housing? What do you believe the town is doing right? What could it do better?
The starting salary in Fuquay-Varina for a police officer without prior experience is presently $45,252, which works out to about $2,900 a month after federal and state taxes are taken out. According to federal guidelines for affordable housing, that officer shouldn’t pay more than $1,100 a month—30 percent of pay—in rent or mortgage. This week, according to Zillow, there were only four two-bedroom, 850-square-foot apartments available in Fuquay that a new officer could afford. That’s a problem if we want teachers, first responders, and military families to be able to live here. As I said, some denser housing is one answer, and requiring new developments to include affordable units is another. We could do like Holly Springs did recently, and work with the county to bring in mixed-use developments that include affordable housing. Right now, the only place affordable housing is mentioned in the town’s 2035 development plan is in the section where it brags that Fuquay-Varina is an affordable place to live. There’s nothing in it about doing anything to keep it that way.
8) Recent news reports have suggested a culture of racial bias within the Fuquay-Varina police department and, potentially, within the town’s government overall. Do you feel this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and if so, how should it be addressed? Do you support the board’s recent decision to suspend the Public Safety Committee? Do you support residents’ request for a cultural assessment and report from an outside consultant or do you support hiring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion personnel instead?
As you probably know, a member of my family—my son—was detained by police in an incident that made the news and raised some of those questions. It certainly doesn’t help when the Board shuts down a Public Safety Committee appointed to deal with those issues, after only one month, and chooses not to address the concerns of some in the community. But let me be clear: I am not for defunding the police, though that rumor has been spread in recent weeks. We need our officers. We just want to ensure that they are appropriately trained and that we have the right people serving. Prior to Covid, I helped facilitate the “Barbershop Rap” sessions with police and members of the community, so I truly understand where officers are coming from when they say they want to go home to their families at the end of the day. I just hope they also understand it when certain groups say that they don’t feel safe. This goes back to a town leadership that worries more about image than the concerns of the people. I do believe a “cultural assessment,” which some citizens have called for, should be conducted for the town government as a whole. We’ve had the same leaders for so long that I believe it would reveal that town employees feel the same way that other people in the town do. Our community should recognize that many of them are controlled and afraid to speak out. An assessment would disclose not only the culture, but also the backroom deals. Hiring a DEI staff member, as the town has done, will never fix a problem that leadership doesn’t admit exists. I have a great deal of respect for Chief Laura. Like so many others, though, I know her hands are tied. Our town leaders are more concerned with image than transparency.
9) Do you support the $18.5 million Parks and Recreation bond on the ballot that will primarily finance the development of the Community Center North? How should the town proceed with its development of the community center if the referendum is successful? Should the center include an active adult facility or other broadly inclusive resources for residents?
Speaking generally, a bond referendum is a good way to raise matching funds and grants to help build expensive facilities like the Community Center North without all the money having to come from the town budget, but I would like to see funding come from other sources as well. Our town is growing so quickly now that I believe we should consider increasing the tax on developers, and finding other funding sources before holding a bond referendum. As of right now, the referendum is not very detailed about what it would pay for. We also need to revisit the question of a senior facility at the new center. Right now it’s a small section on the second floor. But Apex, for example, has a dedicated senior facility. Fuquay-Varina is presently three-fifths the size of Apex. If we’re going to have 90,000 citizens in twenty-four years, do our citizens deserve less? The vote will already have been taken by the time the next mayor takes office, but the center is certainly something we should revisit, and that the public should have more of a chance to weigh in on.
10) Do you support the $20 million Transportation bond on the ballot? What proportion of the bond money should go towards enhancing and building new roadways versus financing new bike and pedestrian infrastructure?
I do support it, though this too will be decided before taking office. I want to ensure there is complete transparency with the funds and how they are being used—and which projects are chosen. Right now, I believe the funds should be spent on building roadways.
11) Fuquay-Varina was one of a handful of Wake County municipalities not to reimplement a mask mandate recently with the resurgence of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Was this the right decision? How do you feel Wake County and Wake School Board officials have handled the COVID-19 pandemic? If you don’t think the pandemic was handled well, what should have been done differently?
It’s unfortunate that protecting ourselves against this pandemic has become political. As mayor, one of the ways that I would make a decision is by looking at the data that’s out there. If we had another pandemic like Covid-19, I would talk with business owners, healthcare professionals, teachers, and the citizens of this community first, but we also have to realize that this isn’t just about us here in Fuquay-Varina. I realize business owners can’t find staff, and small businesses have lost money, so I would not want to lock down Fuquay-Varina, but I would speak with other local mayors and look at CDC and state recommendations to see what the data says. Not everyone is comfortable getting the vaccine, on the one hand, but not everyone feels safe being around people who aren’t vaccinated on the other hand. So, the middle of the road for me is this: Let’s wear a mask, but let’s also work to find solutions to the problems that exist, pay careful attention to testing results, and work to eliminate the unknowns. In the end, we all want the same thing, but this isn’t Burger King—we can’t all “have it your way.” There are more people involved. Most importantly, take politics out of it.
12) In what ways should Fuquay-Varina work to promote economic development? What are your goals for Fuquay-Varina’s downtown and what does the town need to do to achieve those goals?
We have to work with our state and regional partners to manage projects like traffic circles downtown and on Holland Road, the town’s plans for the Fuquay-Varina Parkway loop, and state plans to both widen and improve US 401 through town and build a new bypass around the southern side of town in the next ten to twenty years. I’ll work to keep our downtown vibrant and make sure that these new loops don’t cut it off from town residents. The future may include a downturn in the economy, so we have to be ready for that possibility. I’d like to see more jobs, and to encourage small business in Fuquay—the old idea that a rising tide floats all boats. That rising tide means more social justice, so they’re connected. Government has a role to play, but it shouldn’t get in the way. Targeted stimulus can help the tide rise evenly: I certainly don’t see any reason to put more money in a multi-billion-dollar corporation’s pockets; I’d rather put it in the pocket of an innovative small business startup here in Fuquay.
13) If there is anything else you would like to address please do so here.
My background in finance will help me make sure we manage our expenditures wisely. I have demonstrated the ability to work with citizens of various backgrounds to get things done, and shown that I can build bridges and trust with citizens. Our town needs a leader that can do that, and I care for others even when we don’t agree. As a mother of three, I know the challenges of raising a family in our town. It’s easy to get caught up in politics, but with the many challenges and opportunities ahead we need a mayor who can put partisan politics aside and guide our town into the future.
Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.
Comment on this story at firstname.lastname@example.org.