Local Politics

Chapel Hill candidates

Posted September 21, 2015

Mayor

Pam Hemminger

Pam Hemminger, Chapel Hill mayoral candidateAge: 55
Occupation: Commercial real estate developer
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 29 years
Political experience: Orange County Commissioner and Chairwoman of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools

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

There is a disconnect between what Chapel Hill citizens want and the choices the mayor and council are making. I want to repair this problem in three key areas: Chapel Hill’s college town atmosphere is its economic-development calling card. The current “any development is good” philosophy threatens what is valuable and distinctive about our town. I will champion development that builds on our strengths while it attracts new businesses and vibrancy. I will set concrete goals, incentivize affordable rentals, work with developers who want to build moderate-priced units and make the smart fiscal decisions that help keep tax increases at bay. The town is relying on short-term fixes. I have eight years of experience balancing school and county budgets. I will explore ways to move toward long-term fiscal sustainability and develop a specific plan for increasing our commercial tax base.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

The town is only scratching the surface of this issue; we have seen small successes but need a better, more coordinated approach. I have served on the Community Home Trust Board and am vice-chair of the Orange County Habitat board, so I understand how complex the problem is.I believe there are three things we can do to make real progress: The town does not have a target for affordable units or a policy on how to spend the penny for housing tax.I will develop a plan so that we know what we want and how we intend to accomplish it. The piecemeal approach we are using has organizations competing for the same funds. With comprehensive goals in place, we can do a better job of coordinating their efforts. I will seek new opportunities to partner with builders who are willing to develop affordable housing and find ways to increase our affordable housing stock as we redevelop, including building on the Green Tract.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

As a county commissioner, I voted in favor of placing the half-cent tax increase and vehicle registration fee on the ballot with the understanding that studies would be done and with the assurance that bus service throughout Orange County and Chapel Hill would improve. Now that more detailed information is available, including the environmental impact study, it is important that the town of Chapel Hill is clear about its priorities in order to evaluate whether the current proposed route addresses what is most important in terms of our long-term land use, economic development and transportation goals.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

I worked to establish the Booker Creek and Bolin Creek greenways, and my husband has ridden a bicycle to work for more than 30 years, so I really understand the issues facing our walking and bicycling community. Bike paths and pedestrian access need to be a higher priority in general. Implementing the existing bike/ped master plan. We need to make sure that as parts of town redevelop we address the needs for multi-modality. Taking active steps in creating safer walk zones and sidewalks for pedestrians, especially school-age children. The current multi-use path slated for the north side of Estes Drive is the kind of project we need to encourage. Reviewing which intersections have the highest number of bikers and walkers and considering safety measures like limiting right-turns on red, as other communities have done. Striping the bicycle travel areas on arteries like Ephesus Church Road where road width creates illegal passing issues.

Gary Kahn

Gary Kahn, Chapel Hill mayoral candidateAge: 59
Occupation: Retail merchandiser
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 4 years
Political experience: Ran for Chapel Hill Town Council in 2013 and Orange County Board of Commissioners in 2014

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

Conservative budgeting, better bus routes and buses and economic development

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

Affordable housing in Chapel Hill should be that there should be no division between rich and poor, and this can be accomplished by working with various partners in the field.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

I do not favor any of the rail routes. We should focus those monies for newer buses and new routes.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

I think more lighting would make biking and walking more safe in Chapel Hill.

Mark Kleinschmidt

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark KleinschmidtAge: 45
Occupation: Attorney
How long lived in Chapel Hill: Almost 27 years
Political experience: Mayor of Chapel Hill since 2009; Town Council member 2001-2009

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

Chapel Hill continues to face a trio of issues that for many years have been at the front of conversations regarding our community’s future: affordability, mobility and resiliency. Having policies in place to create more affordable housing is only a starting point. To be truly affordable, new housing most be located near jobs and amenities, and residents must have convenient access to transit. One of the most significant changes in Chapel Hill since my arrival decades ago is the greater role our community plays in the region. I am proud of the work I have done as Mayor and as a member of the Council to advocate for and implement policies that help bring our regional communities together. And that has meant focusing not only on the highways that connect us, but also planning for and investing in other transportation modes that will soon link our densest residential areas and employment nodes. Community resiliency means more than just growing in a sustainable manner. Social, economic and environmental sustainability remain important considerations. But, lessons learned from the great recession have taught us that operational policies, efforts to address climate change, and other efforts that help our community weather the challenges of yet unforeseen changes in our economy, climate, or even health and safety crises must be part of how we plan for our future.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

In terms of affordability, I tend to see it through this lens: If you want to live and work in Chapel Hill, there should be quality, safe, affordable options for you to do so. The market does a fine job providing for folks with higher incomes but fails to do so for those in the middle class and those with lower incomes. Our work with the Home Trust has generated 230 permanently affordable for-purchase units over the last 15 years. Over the last two years, we have developed new partnerships with developers that, for the first time, will create affordable rental units in new developments. We also recognize that the University must play a role in stabilizing housing prices, particularly in our near-in neighborhoods. That recognition is what inspired the effort, begun almost three years ago, that is now known as the Northside Initiative. In partnership with Self-Help and UNC, we have created an investment fund to stand between potential investors who would otherwise turn homes that had housed families into student residences. This effort is the first real opportunity to address the investment pressures in a gentrifying neighborhood that we have been able to implement.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

At this time, I favor the Locally Preferred Options that are currently part of GoTriangle’s light rail proposal that is now out for public comment. I have closely watched this process since its inception and advocated strongly for the half-cent sales tax increase approved by voters through referendum. To date, I have been impressed by GoTriangle’s responsiveness to community input. Nonetheless, because we are currently in the middle of the 45-day comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and because I currently serve as the chair of the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization, I believe it is best for me to keep an open mind. The MPO Board is scheduled to consider endorsement of the plan at its Nov. 11 meeting. I strongly value the contributions I know citizens are currently making right now and am looking forward to the how GoTriangle responds to those comments.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

I am anxious to begin implementing our recently adopted Bicycle Plan and beginning the creation of a town-wide pedestrian plan. Already, our Bike Plan is influencing our approach to evaluating development proposals. We are leveraging our review process to ensure that new developments incorporate complete street designs that include wide sidewalks, bike lanes and, where possible, off-road bike ways. For example, the development agreement process that led to plans for the future redevelopment of Glenn Lennox will create safer crossing for bicyclists across Fordham Blvd. The same interest was in play in our negotiations regarding Obey Creek that now promises a new bridge over U.S. 15-501 for bicycle and pedestrian access to Southern Village. In addition, I led the effort to transfer funds from delayed projects to create a fund of over $2 million to improve the bicycle and pedestrian experience along Estes Road. I am proud that Chapel Hill has earned Bronze status as Bicycle Friendly Community from the League of American Bicyclists. I look forward to doing the work necessary to reach Silver and Gold status in the coming years. It is my hope that the people of Chapel Hill will join this effort by approving a bond package for streets, sidewalks, greenways and trails that will allow for additional investment of over $19 million. These dollars, which can be borrowed without incurring a tax increase, can be leveraged with state and federal dollars to help us reach that goal.

Town Council At-Large

Jessica Anderson

Jessica Anderson, Chapel Hill council candidateAge: 36
Occupation: Senior policy research analyst, SERVE Center at UNCG
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 5 years
Political experience: None

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

The Town Council’s current direction prioritizes the development of luxury condominiums and apartments, a strategy that will inevitably raise property taxes and drive out working-class residents who no longer will be able to afford to live here. If elected, I would advocate for incentivizing development of affordable housing options. Recent decisions by the Town Council are also eroding our beauty and tradition of environmental stewardship. Newer developments, such as Village Plaza apartments, are being built in floodplains, sit too close to roadways and fail to take advantage of opportunities to add green spaces. In addition to advocating for development that includes more appropriate setbacks, I would support balancing the huge amounts of impervious surface present in the current plans for Obey Creek, Ephesus Fordham and other new developments with the creation of more publicly accessible green space. Chapel Hill’s schools have traditionally been very strong. However, we cannot expect our schools to remain excellent without a plan to accommodate population growth. In fact, some of our schools are already at or above capacity. Specifically, I would advocate not approving any more residential development without first ensuring that the Town Council, school board members and county commissioners have a joint plan in place to accommodate the children who will occupy new developments.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

The issue of affordable housing is another example of the glaring disconnect between our values and our actions. Although we are a community that says affordable housing is a priority, many requirements for affordable housing in new development agreements have either been insufficient (e.g., 500-square-foot apartments not meant for families) or entirely absent. We need to do a better job of making sure all development agreements truly reflect our values. If elected, I would advocate requiring that developers of residential construction allocate 20 percent of their units toward affordable housing, with a minimum of at least 3 bedrooms per unit. I would also explore partnerships with nonprofits that would incentivize construction of affordable housing on town-owned land. I also think it is important to look beyond simply the cost of rent when evaluating whether housing meets the “affordable” standard. We need to make sure that affordable housing units are conveniently located close to public transportation and shopping so occupants can get to work, go shopping and attend school. We also need to make sure that these units are energy efficient so utility bills do not end up making what on the surface seems affordable, in fact, unaffordable.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

A big part of my vision for Chapel Hill is to increase community involvement in decision making. As we continue our ongoing discussions on light rail, we need to integrate input from citizens, advisory boards and experts in order to make sure we are making the best decision possible. Before making any decision about the light rail project, I would need to know who would stand to benefit from it and who will be most impacted, and what they have to say about it. I believe that studies and discussion about light trail should not distract us from exploring other opportunities to improve connectivity and transportation, such as bus services, cycling routes and sidewalks. In order to improve safety and minimize congestion and noise, the city should work to minimize the number of “at grade” street crossings in its design of the light rail.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

In addition to ensuring any future light rail plans minimally disrupt walking and bike paths, I will make make sure we continue to provide cyclists with adequate bike lanes that connect to each other to make the city navigable. Certain streets that see heavy traffic, such as Franklin Street, Estes Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard may benefit from the addition of bike pathways that are completely separate from the roadway. I also would advocate starting a bike sharing system, something more than 700 cities have already done. These programs not only reduce our carbon footprint by reducing reliance on automobiles, but increase the presence of cyclists, which in turn makes drivers more cautious. Finally, I would advocate for policies that lower in-town speed limits and increase penalties for drivers who hit cyclists or drive while intoxicated. To promote safety specifically for pedestrians, every residential street in Chapel Hill should have a sidewalk on at least one side. Lowering speed limits in certain areas in town would also increase pedestrian safety. Finally, increasing penalties for motorists who hit pedestrians or drive while intoxicated would help protect pedestrians and prevent reckless driving.

Donna Bell

Chapel Hill Councilwoman Donna BellAge: 44
Occupation: Social worker
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 1989-1995; 2002-present
Political experience: Member of Chapel Hill Town Council since 2009

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

Affordable housing in Chapel Hill remains a critical policy issue. How we use our available resources most effectively will require both qualitative and quantitative information. Information on transit cost and local economic metrics, for example, offers an important lens through which to examine how we define affordable housing. I believe the next step should be creating goals for affordable housing across the spectrum using innovative tools that help show us how most effectively to meet this important need. Chapel Hill Transit has stated it would need $45 million to replace existing transit buses. Funding transit, and ensuring its sustainability, is one of the most critical elements of keeping Chapel Hill affordable. Free transit, connected to neighborhoods, the University and our commercial centers, reduces the cost of living for citizens and provides significant traffic mitigation. Although Chapel Hill's efforts to promote a living wage have been laudable, the wage index currently utilized does not meet local housing needs. I believe Chapel Hill should move away from the living wage model and towards a housing wage model. A housing wage is generated by determining what would be needed to afford average local rental costs at 30 percent of income for a full-time employee. I believe our workers should be paid a wage that allows them to live and work independently in Chapel Hill.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

As a member of the Mayor's Committee on Affordable Rental, I was able to work with staff and stakeholders from across the spectrum of housing in Chapel Hill. From the work of this committee, we were able to present a strategic plan that was accepted by the council which included long-term and short-term goals, clear objectives roles for our Affordable Housing Committee and a strong commitment to a predictable income stream for affordable housing. The "Penny for Housing" program is a success of that process. As the market has taken a shift from developing units for homeownership to rental units, we have had to create innovative programs to generate affordable rentals. The creation of these programs, within the legislative restrictions at the state level, makes their existence an even stronger indication of the council's commitment to affordable housing. I also include transportation and adequate wages in any discussion of affordable housing. Finally, I support continuing our enforcement of the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance, looking for new incentives for developers to help add affordable stock and continuing to be mindful of best practices nationwide while developing and refining the work we have set off to accomplish in our Affordable Housing Strategy.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

The 17-mile light rail project is still under review. At this point, C2 is preferred based on the information provided by GoTriangle. However, I believe it is premature at this stage commit to a route. As council is still waiting for additional information, I am open to continued dialogue with citizens and town staff to determine which route is best for Chapel Hill.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

Chapel Hill has done an excellent job developing the Comprehensive Bike Plan and the Greenways Master Plan. I support the upcoming bond referendum to ensure these plans have the resources to be actualized. Additionally, the town has shown a deep commitment to both bicycles and pedestrians in negotiations for new development at Glen Lennox, Ephesus Fordham and Obey Creek.

Adam W. Jones

Adam Jones, Chapel Hill council candidateAge: 52
Occupation: Owner, Mill House Properties (real estate sales, rentals and management)
How long lived in Chapel Hill: Nearly 30 years
Political experience: None

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

Stop the urban sprawl and concentrate on smart growth. Revitalize downtown to make it more pedestrian and family friendly. Create town driven affordable housing projects.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

Take away the mandatory 15 percent affordable housing ordinance, as it is not working. Create town-driven affordable housing through use of town-owned land or buildings. For example, the Lincoln Center (old school now used as education offices) could be razed, and a small project could be built on that site. It would be walkable to downtown and the University. Accept that Chapel Hill will always be an expensive town, but we need to do our best to offer an affordable option in condos, townhomes and single-family homes.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

None. I oppose the light rail system, as it is too expensive and the ridership is not justified. I would find ways to maximize the current bus system and look into creating HOV lanes between the Triangle towns and cities.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

The town needs to continue working on the Bolin Creek Greenway but also add more biking lanes, install dividers between traffic and the bike lanes and add speed bumps in high pedestrian areas. Offer a “borrow a bike” program with bike stations in various locations around town and campus. Install appropriate signage to communicate bike lanes, cross walks, etc. as needed.

Paul Neebe

Chapel Hill council candidate Paul NeebeAge: 53
Occupation: Musician and real estate broker
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 48 years
Political experience: Served on the Chapel Hill Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board for four years, member of the Chapel Hill Transportation & Connectivity Board, Bicycle Alliance of Chapel Hill (BACH) and the Friends of Chapel Hill Parks and Recreation Board

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

Reduce the tax burden. Chapel Hill has the highest tax rate on value in the Triangle. We can reverse this trend by an increased commercial tax base, revenue-positive development and efficiency in our government. Promote alternative transportation. The bus system in Chapel Hill needs to run more routes on Sundays and also include later hours of operation. Saturday schedules should not be run on days when people must work. We must also ensure interconnection bus service in the Triangle. Light rail will do a lot to reduce the vehicle traffic burden. Current plans have a direct route from Chapel Hill to Durham but not to Raleigh. A direct route connecting Chapel Hill to Raleigh should also be included. Chapel Hill should be a more bicycle-friendly community. We have a Bronze designation from the American League of Bicyclists; Carrboro has a Silver designation. Let us set a goal of a Gold designation for Chapel Hill in the next four years. As for walking, safe pedestrian corridors allow citizens to reach their destinations using a combination of the above forms of travel. Off-road multi-use paths should be considered as alternatives to some of the sidewalks we currently have. Preserve and expand our parks and greenways. We must secure land and easements for our greenway system and parks before we are out of options.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

Chapel Hill should partner with UNC and the private-sector builder community to explore ideas that can house their workforce close to their employment bases. I will advocate for the appointment of a task force to work on this issue. Tiny houses are working well in other communities. They are affordable and leave a small footprint. We should consider tiny houses as both a primary and accessory use within single-family zoning. The council should be commended for working with DHIC to get the affordable housing project in Chapel Hill approved. This is a positive step in the right direction for affordable housing in Chapel Hill.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

The route determinations are too numerous to go into depth here. I would choose the routes with the least environmental impact and the safest for interaction with our current roadways. Some alternative routes have already been eliminated because of environmental concerns. Our consultants should be incorporating features that increase safety along similarly developed neighborhood intersections. The light rail system is also a great opportunity to create parallel multi-use pathways for residential uses, transportation network and recreation use. We need to be sure to listen to the neighborhoods’ concerns. One problem I’ve heard repeatedly voiced is the concern about excessive noise. Where appropriate, we should incorporate sound attenuation techniques with an emphasis on “green” solutions.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

I suggest we start with safer streets. Our streets need to be as safe as possible for people walking, in cars or on bicycles. I suggest joining the plan "Vision Zero," a strategy emerging across the United States to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries, particularly focusing on those walking and bicycling, who have been traditionally overlooked. We also need to set a goal of a Gold designation as a bicycle-friendly town in the next four years. We can do this by hiring a designated town staff bicycle person, expanding our public greenways network and adding more off-road bike paths or cycle tracks to separate bicycles from auto traffic. The American Bicycle League, which gives this designation, lists the upgrades needed. Many bicycle improvements can be made at minimal costs.

Nancy Oates

Nancy Oates, Chapel Hill council candidateAge: 59
Occupation: Writer/Editor
How long lived in Chapel Hill: Nearly 20 years
Political experience: None

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

Increase the supply of workforce housing; make decisions that enable local businesses to thrive and contribute to Chapel Hill’s unique character; keep Chapel Hill leafy and livable by enforcing our environmental standards ordinances to protect homes and businesses against flooding and to safeguard our greenspace.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

Protect and encourage Neighborhood Conservation Districts in areas of modestly priced homes. Solicit proposals from builders who specialize in workforce housing and reduce obstacles to their doing business in our town. Encourage UNC to convert empty dormitories into apartments for modestly paid hospital and campus employees. Beef up Inspections Department staff to enforce ordinances that discourage the conversion of starter homes into de facto boarding houses. Pay for a business strategist to increase Empowerment’s efficacy. Recruit a real estate lawyer to the Housing Advisory Board to help that board think outside the box but inside the law.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

I am attuned to the challenges to affordability in our community. I have misgivings about burdening taxpayers with the $1 billion-plus price tag of a system that won’t mitigate our transit problems for decades. Our first step is to get people out of their cars and into a public-transit mindset. Boosting bus service now addresses our more immediate need and serves to beta-test ridership on a light rail system.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

As a cyclist, I am well aware that in any confrontation between a motor vehicle and a bike, the bike always loses. I support bike routes that reduce opportunities for those car/bike clashes. Chapel Hill has a well-thought-out bike and pedestrian plan. It will cost money to implement, but it is worth the investment. The more we can succeed in becoming a walkable, bikeable community, the less stress it puts on our roads and the environment, and it improves our quality of life. If more people choose to walk, bike and take public transportation, we will have fewer traffic jams, less air pollution and fewer toxins in stormwater runoff that feeds into our drinking water supply, and we will be less reliant on fossil fuels.

Michael Parker

Michael Parker, Chapel Hill council candidateAge: 65
Occupation: Management consultant, BioAsset Advisors
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 9 (four as a student in the 1970s; five since returning in 2010)
Political experience: Member of Town Planning Commission, previously served as chairman of Transportation Advisory Board and co-chairman of Central West Steering Committee

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

Creating more and better jobs, especially for our younger and economically disadvantaged residents who are all too often underemployed. Growing and diversifying our supply of affordable housing so that it is available to a broader range of income groups. Strengthening Chapel Hill Transit and creating new and expanding regional connections to Durham, Raleigh, RTP, Mebane and other parts of the Triangle.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

In recent years, Chapel Hill has tried to address affordable housing needs by relying largely on percentage set-asides from developers. This is not enough. Due to the high cost of development in our region, building affordable housing always requires a subsidy: either the developer, the town, a nonprofit organization or a combination of those three. Collaborative arrangements will be required going forward, and the town will, probably in most cases, need to commit either money or land. We need developments that mix market rate and affordable housing built by private developers and those that may be largely affordable housing built by not-for-profit entities such as DHIC. The recently approved Legion Road project can serve as a model. UNC and UNC Health Care, as major drivers of the need for affordable housing, can, hopefully, play an important role as we search for innovative ways to address this issue. A few important concepts that should guide the town: There is no one “home run” solution to the problem; if affordable housing is a town-wide problem and priority, then the town will have to play a significant role in solving it; the town needs to have a clear understanding of the needs it is trying to address and a specific plan for addressing them; and collaborations and partnerships between the town, the university and a range of not-for-profit and for-profit entities will be needed.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

Among the routes that were recently considered by GoTriangle and its consultants, the one selected seems appropriate (I am not addressing routes that were considered several years ago). In terms of the Chapel Hill portion, it avoids, for the most part, environmentally sensitive areas in the Little Creek area. Overall, it strikes a good balance between costs, travel times and impacts on neighborhoods. However, there is one caveat. The Downing Creek area (not actually in Chapel Hill) has the potential to be adversely affected, given that there will be four closely spaced at-grade crossings. An effort should be made to address this, perhaps by elevating the route in this area. Elevation over this very limited stretch along N.C. 54 could potentially alleviate these problematic grade crossings with a limited effect on the total project cost. Needed mass transit need not come at the expense of established neighborhoods.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

As recent incidents have demonstrated, bike and pedestrian safety is an unresolved problem in Chapel Hill. We have too few bike lanes and too few sidewalks. The key to safety is separation of these modes from vehicular traffic. In terms of bikes, Chapel Hill recently approved a Bike Plan (the development of which I was involved with as chair of the Transportation Board) that, when implemented, will go a long way to addressing the issue of bike safety. It provides a list of priority biking projects, including new bike lanes and street re-striping. Other actions needed to be taken include better education for both drivers and bicyclists and better signage at commercial driveways and other places where bicycles and cars can intersect. Similarly, Chapel Hill needs an overall pedestrian plan, which it committed to developing, including standards for the safety of the visually impaired, and far more sidewalk construction. The town already requires sidewalk construction for new projects, and the proposed $16 million bond includes infrastructure improvements for both bikes and pedestrians, so things should be improving.

David Schwartz

David Schwartz, Chapel Hill council candidateAge: 50
Occupation: Freelance editor and author; previously worked as both a scientist and teacher at Duke and UNC
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 43 years
Political experience: Current precinct chair of Ridgefield precinct

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

Protect established neighborhoods and residential investments from inappropriate development that ignores traffic and environmental impacts. Encourage development that provides housing for our teachers, artists, town staff and other moderate-income households rather than simply more luxury apartments. Work with UNC to attract high-skill, high-wage light industry and commercial research enterprises to help finance town government services.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

In several other expensive North Carolina housing markets, local governments are collaborating with civic-minded financing partners to build permanently affordable housing for modestly paid public employees. For example, the Asheville city school district and Buncombe County government have teamed up with the State Employees Credit Union Foundation to build an affordable apartment complex for local schoolteachers. Buncombe County is donating the land, the SECU Foundation is providing a no-interest loan and a local charitable organization will manage the property. The rental proceeds will first go to pay off the loan and will then provide a continuing source of revenue the charity will use to support the school system. As council member, I will advocate for similar projects here in Chapel Hill. In addition, I will advocate for amending the Ephesus-Fordham zoning code to include affordable housing incentives, such that developers will be permitted to build at higher densities in exchange for making a certain percentage (e.g., 20 percent) of the units they build affordable to moderate-income households. I will emphasize the preservation of existing affordable housing, advocate for increasing the local minimum wage and work with landlords to remove barriers to the use of housing vouchers.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

For the portion of the rail project that runs through Orange County, I favor a route that uses the existing U.S. 15/501 transit corridor rather than routing the rail along N.C. 54 because it would be cheaper (the state already owns the right-of-way), would have less environmental impact, would provide rail access to one of Chapel Hill’s major commercial districts and an area of increasing residential density (Ephesus-Fordham) and would impose fewer costs on established neighborhoods.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

I will champion implementation of the Chapel Hill Bike Plan a comprehensive plan the town formally adopted in June 2014. The plan calls for the installation of buffered bike lanes, side paths, bicycle lanes, bicycle climbing lanes, priority shared lanes, shared lane marking, longitudinal pavement marking, retroreflective pavement marking, improved signage, roadway lighting, bicycle stair channels, etc.

Lee Storrow

Chapel Hill Councilman Lee StorrowAge: 26
Occupation: Executive director, North Carolina AIDS Action Network
How long lived in Chapel Hill: 9 years
Political experience: Member of Chapel Hill Town Council since 2011, member of Chapel Hill 2020 Initiating Committee, president of UNC Young Democrats in 2010

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

Building a just community. I've been fighting for the Rogers Road neighborhood since I was a student at UNC, championing a community center and sewer infrastructure. I've also been an advocate for policies that promote women's rights and the LGBT community. Listening to all voices. I've engaged residents of the community with regular open office hours and frequent town hall events. These sessions have allowed me to stay in touch with the needs and visions of our community. Developing a better Chapel Hill for all. I work with residents in support of projects that enhance our quality of life and reduce our property tax burden. I'm an advocate for tourism and visitor promotion, a sector of our local economy that saw its highest revenue growth ever in 2014.

What ideas do you propose on providing more affordable housing in Chapel Hill?

There is no silver bullet to addressing affordable housing in our community. We’ve made great strides and progress toward addressing affordable housing but have to continue innovating and exploring new ideas to address this important issue. Our Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance is recognized as a model, both statewide and nationally, for how to require affordable housing in new for-sale developments. Our nonprofit providers and advocates (Habitat for Humanity, EmPowerment Inc, Community Home Trust, CASA) fill a vital role in providing affordable housing for our community. Our partnership with DHIC to build affordable rental housing on town-owned land addresses a gap in the market that we haven’t filled through previous efforts, and the town stepped up to the plate last year to fund affordable housing during our budget process with a local allocation equivalent to a penny on the tax rate. Developing in Chapel Hill is a privilege, and we have high expectations that private developers build affordable housing in new projects.

Which route do you favor for the proposed 17-mile light rail project that would link Chapel Hill and Durham, and why?

Because of environmental concerns and feedback from Chapel Hill residents, I voted to support the C2 alternate route for the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project that runs along N.C. 54. The Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project will provide major benefits to our community. Light rail transit will increase access to many more jobs for low-income residents of Chapel Hill and Orange County, especially since many of the major employers along the corridor charge for parking or have severe parking restrictions. When the light rail line opens, Chapel Hill Transit will be able to redirect buses to other lines and parts of town in need of increased service. The light rail line allows our community to grow and develop in a more sustainable way and supports public health goals by providing more opportunities for residents to commute and move around the community on public transit, foot and bicycle. The town and county's elected representatives (through local resolutions and representation on the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization and GoTriangle Board of Trustees) have been and will continue to be part of the process of designing the system and mitigating any impacts that may exist.

What plans do you have to make sure that those who bike and walk in Chapel Hill do so in a safe environment?

This fall, voters have the opportunity to vote on a bond referendum that would direct $15.2 million toward improved bike and pedestrian safety, sidewalk construction and street infrastructure and $5 million toward greenway and trail expansions. Voters will be able to vote on these bonds because the town has budgeted responsibly over the last four years. I hope to see these bonds approved and urge all residents to vote for them. These capital funds are needed to make sure we can build the infrastructure needed to create a safer environment for bicyclists and pedestrians in Chapel Hill. Recently, the town created a WikiMap that allows residents to identify problem areas for pedestrians and cyclists so they can be addressed by town staff. (http://wikimapping.net/wikimap/chapelhill.html)

Jim Ward

No information provided