Local Politics

Mayoral candidates talk about issues

Posted October 26, 2009
Updated November 2, 2009

Mayoral candidates across the region were asked to respond to one question: What is the most important issue you'd tackle if elected mayor? The election will be held Nov. 3.

See profiles of all the candidates.

Durham

Bill Bell: There are many important issues as Mayor that I will have to deal with, so by citing only one as you have requested, it is not my intention to diminish the importance of other important priorities that I may not cite. High on my list of priorities will be working to continue the revitalization of many of our inner city neighborhoods, especially those neighborhoods that the city has already deemed to be our top priorities. I continue to strongly believe that strong neighborhoods make strong cities and it is in the best interest of all of our citizens that our city has strong neighborhoods. I also realize that neighborhood revitalization does not occur overnight or in one of two years, especially for those neighborhoods who have seen a decline over many years. We have made a successful beginning during my term as Mayor, but it is only a beginning and the work must continue.

Fayetteville

Bob White: The most important issue to me is the issue of making Fayetteville a city for all the people. I feel that many of the citizens in the city are left out. Many believe that the city is a city that does not work for them. This was evidenced in the low voter turnout. We need to put people as our number one priority.

In Fayetteville, you have homeless people, you have children going to school hungry, you have a lack of infrastructure, you have employment problems. You have increasing drug and domestic violence problems. The list goes on and on. The one element that is left out of the city's strategy in the love that one has for his fellow human being.

I do not think you can legislate morality, but I do believe that you can create an environment where faith, trust, salvation, and love for your fellow man can be a centerpiece. When these elements are established, I believe a new attitude for accomplishment can be obtained. New attitudes to serve other will flourish. At some point, we as a city will proper together or even suffer together. Whatever happens, we do it together, knowing that there is always, a genuine love and respect for each and every citizen of the city. The city serves the people, not the other way around.

The city council has 19 issues that they have identified. I see at least 10 others that have not been addressed by the city. If you get to the heart of each issue, it is basically to make life better for the citizens of Fayetteville. If we make Fayetteville the city of love, many of our problems will improve.

It will takes some time and it will not happen overnight. Someone needs to make that move, and I propose we start it here and now, and I volunteer my skill and talents to help make it happen.

Chapel Hill

Mark Kleinschmidt: The most important challenge facing Chapel Hill in the coming years will be balancing the community's needs as we work through the current economic crisis. The national economic environment has impacted Chapel Hill just as it has every town in America. The effort to carefully balance the interests we value most will require leadership steeped in Chapel Hill history, that is respectful of how we became the wonderful Town we are, and has years of experience working with citizens through difficult budget seasons. I cannot predict what solutions we will employ, but I trust that my experience as a community leader, and a consensus builder, as well as my knowledge of how our local government works and of the important role citizen participation plays in our decision making process will help guide our Town through these difficult times.

Carrboro

Amanda Ashley: Why a Size Limit for Carrboro: The current model of urban growth is somewhat similar to that of a cancerous tumor: No limit. No size boundary. No concern for neighboring tissue. Cancerous growth is always life threatening. I believe such a model of urban planning does not suit what most people would like to see a future Carrboro resemble.

By advocating a finite limit for both physicality and population density within the Town, we present ourselves an opportunity to craft a new way of living: the working towards perfecting of the urban experience. The Town can begin this process by ceding to Orange County the EJT provisions currently in effect.

As part of the Carrboro 2060 Plan, Limits conceive the townscape as a finite and manageable place which is oriented towards the well-being of its residents; the continuous nurturing of its environment and businesses; and the more efficient and economical management of Town fiscal resources. While it is a sharp veer away from the business-as-usual way of thinking about town governance, it is in line with an understanding that global problems have local solutions.

Integral to the size definition of the Town is a concomitant covenant with Southern Orange County that the rural nature and economic orientation of itself maintain as it is. The current well-balanced synergy between Carrboro and Southern Orange residents and businesses and farms and dairies deserves whatever legal and legislative initiatives we can create to ensure that the year 2060 sees this area looking pretty much as it is now.

Size limits do not, however, mean anti-growth. Within the Town limits is room for 25% growth of the intelligent sort. And the opportunity to create a focused Carrboro style which will be world focused and world featured.

Brian Voyce: The most important issue to tackle for Carrboro governance is to engage those outside the town in a new way.

All of the Carrboro candidates in the political forums agree, 90% of a Carrboro tax burden (one that has increased 44% in the past 6 years) falling on residents is bad. Yet, no one wants to admit that those sitting on our governance board created this imbalance. For over the past decade, Carrboro officials have tried the same old tired economic development policies. The result has been to institutionalize the tax base imbalance. Few want to do business here.

The answers to our problems don’t lie with those elected officials who have tried and failed.

I believe that as a town we must engage others outside Carrboro and stop the attitude of “we know better than you”.

We must reform our economic development policy from “it’s a privilege for us to let you do business in our town” to “how can we work together to see if your business will thrive here.” Bartering vegetables and bartering home raised and slaughtered chickens among ourselves won’t solve our problems.

We must engage UNC to get our share of direct taxable benefits from Carolina North. (Carrboro gets no positive impacts from the visible phases of Carolina North.)

We must engage Chapel Hill to find municipal service cost-sharing that’s mutually beneficial to both towns. (Even Chapel Hill Councilman Mark Kleinschmidt has openly said, he couldn’t get former Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson to talk publicly about such cost-sharing.) We must put such rivalry and/or insecurity behind us.

It’s to engage others outside Carrboro and fully connect our town with them. It’s time to engage those outside government as well as those inside. It’s time to engage those we with which we differ, as well as those with which we agree.

We must connect our town to others, both locally and regionally, while keeping our character.

Fuquay-Varina

John Bryne: Growth is the most important issue facing Fuquay-Varina, as well as Wake County and North Carolina. It's important to to focus on the infrastructure, particularly roads and water and sewer service. We will continue to deal with growth in the future. We're in a fast-growing region and a region that's attractive to newcomers. You have to be prepared for the future, and stay ahead of the curve.

Rob Gray: That is a difficult thing to narrow down, due to the fact that as a candidate I have accomplished so many things.

For example, a neighborhood with a high crime rate for the area had street lights that were out, and they have been fixed finally.

I have brought the City and the six homes in the town that have a polluted well (who have been battling for water for almost 2 years) to the table for resolution talks. Also, I brought it to the forefront at the Commissioner meeting on October 5, 2009. It has not been resolved due to the fact that we still have 23 homes in the ETJ that have the same problem,  but the City wants them annexed before they can have access to clean – Why can't the town just sell them water? This is an issue that I want to get resolved for those people!!! They don't need to buy their water from the store when we have to sell!!!

I brought the fact that we need a real hospital located here in our growing town.

I keep asking why the sidewalks don't connect!

Why do the citizens of the town, ETJ, and etc. fell as if they are not being heard or understood???

So, you ask what I would fix first – I would make sure that the citizens of the town feel as if they are heard, feel important, and that they have a say in the town through their elected mayor!!! My philosophy is to actually go out to their house and sit down at the kitchen table, so the town can find out what they need to done – I will not force a citizen to come to the town meeting and plea their case. Rather have them their to follow my lead, I want to bring the customer service back to public service!!!

Holly Springs

David "BirdDawg" Austin:  The Quality of Life

Gerald Holleman: In the last 8 years the town’s population has more than doubled from 10,000 to 22,000 and in just few years will grow to 40,000 plus. The Town Council has already approved 6,000 plus additional houses. That approval means 12,000 plus more cars and traffic on our already overcrowded roads, 18,000 plus additional people, 8,000 plus more children in our already overcrowded schools, more of our children bused out of town to schools in Apex and Fuquay-Varina, and additional demands for athletic fields we don’t have.

It is our last chance, we must take the time to proactively prepare with a one year moratorium on new residential development, address the need for more roadways by talking with the N.C. Department of Transportation, bank land for additional schools for our children, secure more land for much needed athletic fields before it is too late, and reduce your taxes.

As part of my 17 years experience as Mayor I diligently worked with others for 7 years to bring about the N.C. 55 bypass and worked on average 4 years, on each, to bring about Holly Springs Elementary School, Holly Ridge Elementary School, and Holly Ridge Middle School, and to put Womble and Bass Parks in place. It takes a focused dedicated effort to bring about these much needed Quality of Life resources. We must not take our eyes off the ball ever again by putting the interests of developers before what’s in the best interest of our residents.

Dick Sears: There are many but if I had to pick just one, it would be to get a hospital in southern Wake County that would serve the 90,000 plus residents, including Johnson and Harnett counties, who are definitely under-served from a health care perspective. Apparently 15,000 letters of support did not make a difference in the past Certificate of Need hearing. We have already sent a formal request to the state for 42 acute hospital beds and are awaiting a response.

Morrisville

Jan Faulkner: As the Mayor of Morrisville I will continue to work hard to keep Morrisville moving forward and to maintain our excellent quality of life that we enjoy. I will strive to keep our taxes low as we pull out of tough economic times that have touched so many of our lives, as well as continue working for transportation improvements and resolutions to our traffic problems.

Most importantly, I will work to maintain my record of never having voted for a tax rate increase. Since taking office in 1997, I have never voted to increase the tax rate in Morrisville. It is important to focus on the candidate with a proven record of being fiscally responsible while not impacting our excellent quality of life in Morrisville. My opponent has no record. During the economic recovery of our area we will need to think of new ways to pay for some of the programs and events that we currently enjoy. I will work with our business community and regional partners to keep Morrisville moving in a positive direction while maintaining a low tax rate.

For more information please visit my website at www.FaulknerForMayor.com.

Wake Forest

David Bissette:  During the past year, our national money supplied has doubled by the unfettering printing of currency by the Federal Reserve Bank. Bankers and economists have assured me that at a minimum, we're going to experience a 1970s style economy with interest rates from 14% to 25%. At a maximum, we'll have a 1930s style economy.

I believe that all towns, not just Wake Forest, need to begin to implement plans and develop processes to prepare for a severe economic downturn in the next two years. I recommend that Wake Forest strive hard to retire its $31 million debt and get its balance sheets back in black. This will include reviewing the town's Renaissance Plan and asking, "How can we first save the money for these projects before we spend the money on these projects?"

At the same time we should look into the ordinance and code books and ask, "How is Wake Forest government a hindrance to the spirit of local entrepreneurism and free enterprise?" Then we get those stumbling blocks off the books. During a downturn, Wake Forest does not need to be the difficult place to develop business that it currently is.

Lastly we have to ask ourselves, "How can we create a self-supporting, sustainable Wake Forest?" Over the past decade, Wake Forest has become a very nice place to sleep. However, we rely far too much on support from outside our community. In the event that the support chain from those external sources starts to break down, Wake Forest is currently positioned to be on the receiving end of that collapse. My "Transition Town: Wake Forest" initiative will help lessen the impact of economic downturn and supply chain collapse on the town.

I'm sure that if we simply wait for all this to transpire, we'll be caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. Local governments have proven time and time again to be reactionary rather than proactive. As a Boy Scout back in the 1980s, I have taken the Scout Motto of "Be Prepared" to heart and will bring this message to all Wake Forest.

Zebulon

Bob Matheny: Having been mayor for the last sixteen years, I have worked on many problems and projects of the town. The current most important issue is growth management. This encompasses several areas that continue to need attention, such as utility system expansion, both in infrastructure and capacity; transportation, which includes road systems to handle additional traffic created by growth; and additional storm water management, which will be necessitated by new growth. Growth management is a multifaceted arena, and although the recent economic downturn has slowed residential growth, we continue to see commercial development interest in Zebulon, and residential growth will return in due time.

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