Local Politics

Cary candidates

Posted September 21, 2015
Updated October 21, 2015

Town Council District D

Maria Cervania

Maria Cervania, Cary council candidateAge: 47
Occupation: Project manager
How long lived in Cary: 1 year
Political experience: Co-precinct leader, Wake County Precinct 20-10; vice chair, Wake County Asian American/Pacific Islander Caucus

If elected, what are your top 3 priorities in office?

Intelligent growth. I believe in a coordinated approach to growth. Decisions made by the Cary Town Council will affect our schools, neighborhoods and roads. We need to avert negative impact on schools, teachers and students. It’s essential to maintain a strong relationship with decision makers and Wake County School System, so that we may communicate our children’s needs for their best education. Work done by the Town of Cary impacts our neighborhoods directly. We must care for our vital services so that Cary remains the best town in America. It is difficult to safely drive and bike on our roads due to poor planning and development. We must implement solutions and avoid problems in the future. Flourishing local economy. Let’s have a vibrant Cary by building a flourishing local economy. Supporting our local businesses invests in our neighbors and shows that we believe in them. Plus, it puts money back into our community. Lasting community engagement. It is important to have ongoing, permanent relationships with citizens so that we may identify issues, agree on solutions, evaluate success and share results. Collaborating will bring us to the truly best Cary.

What is your vision for the revitalization of downtown Cary?

Town of Cary’s vision “to make downtown a unique, vibrant, dynamic, pedestrian-friendly location that is a regional destination and place to live, work and play” is my vision of Downtown Cary. Much of the planning was finalized in 2001, so the Town of Cary and the community does need to review what was adopted to ensure it aligns with our current vision. We also need to foster a culture that values Downtown Cary – it should be the first place we think to play, work and live. Play: Make the town a classroom by motivating children to rethink the Cary they experience every day and imagine ways to make it better. We should also design recreation spaces by watching how people play and adapt the design to the way people use it. Work: We must create an environment that encourages our neighbors to start new local businesses and make it more attractive for current and prospective businesses to build and stay in Downtown Cary. Live: To truly make it vibrant, we should provide the opportunity to live downtown. It would not be consistent with Cary values to build high-rise apartments. But, we need to find ways to create living spaces that are designed for generational diversity and reflect Cary.

Over the years, Cary has shifted from rapid growth to slow growth to moderate growth depending on the mayor and makeup of the Town Council. What is the right speed for Cary on the road to growth?

We choose Cary because of its charm and neighborly hospitality; this should always be maintained. We also know that growth will occur, and with thoughtful planning, we can respect the past and build a Cary that will be prosperous in the future. As a mayor, a councilperson or a member of the Planning and Zoning Board, their primary role is to represent the people of Cary. The change in speed should have always set by the citizens. If this were the case, there would not be a connotation of rapid, slow or moderate; it would have just been called "growth." Each district in Cary has it own distinctive characteristic and potential for growth. When decisions have been made to develop an area that is not consistent or complementary to its current surroundings, it is disruptive and detrimental to the quality of life. We have the means, resources and time to make intelligent decisions about our growth. We have a responsibility to Cary to gather all the information needed from all affected parties, conduct an extensive analysis and conclude with the best final steps. Whatever time it takes to do all that needs to be done for a well-researched determination is the right speed for growth.

How can Cary move beyond its image as a bedroom community and be seen as a place where people work and play in addition to living there?

To be a place for work and play, we must focus on a sustainable future and our quality of life. Encourage vitality in Cary’s economy to reflect varying employment income levels and diversity of local employers and businesses. Many multinational corporations have located and expanded their operations in Cary because they recognize our commitment to its future growth and highest quality of life. Let’s also support our neighbors to start local businesses, which invests money back into our community. Play is an integral part of our quality of life. Greenways, parks, recreation, sports teams, art, festivals – Cary has done an incredible job to provide ways to enjoy Cary, and it has potential to increase it offerings in those same aspects and more. While campaigning, ideas such as public splash pads, a dedicated sports arena and more organized run, biking and swimming races have been shared. In an ideal vision, we would have an integrated transportation system that would move people timely, comfortably and safely. It would be accessed by walking or biking, and goes to the places we would work or play, and be part of everyday life.

Ken George

Ken George, Cary council candidateAge: 57
Occupation: Owner, NetSmart Inc., a 20-year-old IT consulting firm
How long lived in Cary: 26 years
Political experience: None

If elected, what are your top 3 priorities in office?

First and foremost, I’d like to work with the current council on future planning in three specific geographic areas: West Cary, Downtown Cary and Cary Towne Center. Another priority for Cary is customer service from our town staff and officials. Cary is the leanest town in the county, probably the state, with 8.1 employees per 1,000 residents. This has been intentional due to reduced tax revenue and the recession. There are unfilled jobs at the Town Hall right now. The major question that I have as a business owner and one who is also a consumer of town services is, when does “lean” become “under-staffed?”  We need to make sure that the town applies resources to the areas that need attention. As a homeowner in a 40+-year-old neighborhood, I’m acutely aware of the issues the town faces in keeping roads, sidewalks, curb and gutters, water lines and sewer lines maintained. We’ve been through several repaving projects and water projects that tore up the streets. In District D, we are about 97 percent developed. That means very few new neighborhoods will be built. The responsibility of the town to maintain services in these neighborhoods is extremely important for property values. The appeal of wooded, mature lots with older homes is diminished greatly when sidewalks are cracked and ugly.  Making sure priorities are properly set and money spent wisely to maintain the neighborhoods will prevent them from becoming “run-down,” losing their value.

What is your vision for the revitalization of downtown Cary?

Downtown Cary, perhaps due to its close proximity to Raleigh, has never had the activity and charm of other cities of its era. Attending Cary Elementary School as a kid, I remember that no one really shopped in Cary; they drove to downtown Raleigh or Cameron Village. The efforts of the Town Council to revitalize downtown are just now beginning to take shape. The opening of the theater and several nearby restaurants has certainly changed the landscape downtown, but it’s only a start. Private investment is now beginning to take hold, slowly, but is growing nonetheless. With the park on the way and Academy Street being transformed, I expect more private investment forthcoming. My goal is listen to proposals about pedestrian traffic, parking, streetscapes and parks, including the proposed new library, and bring common-sense principals to these plans. More activities are happening downtown, music at lunchtime, food trucks, etc. All of this being said, it’s time to wait for private investment to come to downtown without spending more taxpayer money to buy up property and renovate homes. Let’s wait for the Mayton Inn to bring guests to downtown, boosting spending in the shops and restaurants. By next year this time, we should have much more private investment announced and a better idea of what the future holds for Downtown Cary.

Over the years, Cary has shifted from rapid growth to slow growth to moderate growth depending on the mayor and makeup of the Town Council. What is the right speed for Cary on the road to growth?

The mayor and council have plotted a course for moderate growth by approving projects that come in on the low end of the density range. This course seems prudent to me. Continuing to expand greenways and open space along with the new developments makes sense for the developers as well. As I’ve visited with neighbors in my district, they continue to bring up the value of the greenways and parks for the quality of life. Cary is officially at 85 percent developed with very little areas in District D to develop. In fact, of all four districts, D is the most built-out. What I believe impacts the citizens of my district most is the traffic brought by the growth. I doubt very few people in my area of District D have ever crossed into the parts of Cary in Chatham County. There’s just no reason to venture out that way except for the baseball complex. I’m satisfied that, with the scarcity of land left to develop, there’s just no fear of moving back to fast growth. If so, then our 85 percent development would become 99 percent in just a few years. Now that the school board has finally announced a 2019 middle school in western Cary, we will have several years to wait for school capacity. Developers will be slow to build, not knowing if school caps might interfere with the children of the new homeowners being able to attend a nearby school.

How can Cary move beyond its image as a bedroom community and be seen as a place where people work and play in addition to living there?

It is already a false image to think of Cary as a bedroom community. More people work in Cary than live in Cary. We are a net-importer of jobs. People live in neighboring towns and work in Cary more than vice-versa. To overcome any misconception, it will take the news media actually doing reporting on what is in Cary, rather than perpetuating the misconceptions. The Chamber of Commerce is doing a good job with attracting businesses here. The MetLife location in Cary was a big win. More companies realize that commuting on I-40 is frustrating and a waste of time. By building more offices and shops in Cary to serve our residents, then companies will see the benefit of living and working here. There are plenty of parks and recreational facilities enjoyed by the Cary residents already. My wife, Karen, and I moved to Cary in 1988 with our six children. We live walking distance from a park and pool. Our kids grew up walking and riding bikes there. Our grandchildren are now walking and riding bikes on some of the same sidewalks. Those living outside of the town who have these misconceptions have no impact on the enjoyment of the parks and play spaces that we have. In fact, as Cary residents, maybe we should keep our recreational spaces and play spaces a secret from outsiders! After all, we pay for them. Let our citizens enjoy them.


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