Local Politics

Raleigh candidates

Posted September 21, 2015
Updated October 21, 2015

City Council District A

Dickie Thompson

Dickie Thompson, Raleigh council candidateAge: 61
Occupation: Executive vice president at family business, J.M. Thompson Co.
How long lived in Raleigh: Lifelong resident
Political experience: Member of Raleigh Planning Commission for seven years, including three as chairman; chairman of Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board

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

Plan for Raleigh’s growth, use taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible and maintain and improve infrastructure and quality of life to continue jobs growth and strong economic development.

With more people moving downtown, how do you strike the balance between business and residential and keep the momentum going for downtown development?

It is not an either-or choice. The vision for downtown that opened Fayetteville Street and helped bring vibrancy is part of the Livable Streets Plan. We can have a vibrant downtown while protecting public safety and maintaining a livable urban environment. The hours and rules we have currently are comparable to or less restrictive than places like Charlotte, Austin, Texas, and New York City. After the trial period, we can work to adjust to make sure the rules work for everybody. The key is open communication with a willingness to work together for solutions so that we can continue business development downtown while maintaining the area as a great place to live. We must continue to develop both housing in the area and the space and infrastructure needed to support continued business growth.

The plan to rezone about a third of Raleigh has been met with anger and frustration. How must the city grow to ensure its success?

The UDO remapping is the biggest change to our zoning code in more than 50 years. It is important that it is not rushed, that we take our time, get feedback from the community and get it right. The city could have done a better job communicating with the public. I think elected officials should make decisions based on feedback from their constituents, and especially at the local level, residents should be included in the decision-making process. I would like to see the city make it easier for people to understand these issues. We must plan for growth in a way that protects our neighborhoods while improving our quality of life and provide choices to our citizens. That means improved transit and high densities along transit corridors while paying particular attention to transitions with our neighborhoods. It means continuing to invest in our parks and greenways and making sure we have a well-thought-out master plan for the development of Dix Park. It means protecting our watersheds and ensuring we have enough clean water to meet the demands of growth. Finally, it means doing more about affordable housing so all our citizens can continue to enjoy the success of our great city.

How can Raleigh best deal with traffic congestion and mass transit as it grows?

We need an all-of-the-above approach when it comes to transit. We need to be innovative and look at all the options. We must look not just 10 years down the road, but 20 and 30 years ahead. We also need to involve the public as we explore possible solutions to the challenges of expected growth. The Wake County Transit Investment Strategy is one such effort that can help improve communication and planning. With proper planning and investment, we can capture more development around transit corridors and provide our citizens choices. One of the biggest challenges will be finding the revenue to make the needed investments. The key to that is to have a good plan that the public can give input on, understand well and believe in.

Eddie Woodhouse

Raleigh council candidate Eddie WoodhouseAge: 56
Occupation: Public affairs officer
How long lived in Raleigh: Lifelong resident
Political experience: None

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

Cut Raleigh’s $2 billion debt. The City Council continues to take on more debt with no plan to pay it back. The burden placed on our taxpayers and our children is irresponsible. No business or family operates in this manner. Only government thinks it can engage in this sort of behavior. Work with law enforcement to better address crime in neighborhoods and schools. District A residents tell distressing stories of robberies in their homes and cars. Additionally, I will work with Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown to end gang activity, especially in our schools. Parents share the anxiety their kids face in their schools. We must act now to stop this threat. Promote a business-friendly atmosphere. Minimizing the constraints that prevent businesses from opening or expanding. District A businesses feel government’s overreach and the frustration of trying to cut through the bureaucratic red tape. I will push the council to become an ally to business and end the city’s obstructive barriers.

With more people moving downtown, how do you strike the balance between business and residential and keep the momentum going for downtown development?

District A is my priority. Downtown’s success shouldn’t come at the expense of north Raleigh. A vibrant downtown is good for the entire city but shouldn’t always be the primary focus of our leadership. Raleigh is going to continue growing, but that growth needs to reflect the desires of the impacted community. Too often, it’s the government planners whose vision is being carried out, not the citizens. The result is a government overreach like we are currently seeing downtown. The same businesses which made downtown vibrant are feeling the economic impact of unnecessary laws and regulations. It’s ludicrous to ask investors to open establishments and take risks, only to have government impose rules that impede their success. The balance is struck as new businesses come into the mix.

The plan to rezone about a third of Raleigh has been met with anger and frustration. How must the city grow to ensure its success?

Raleigh citizens should be angry and frustrated. As I listened to the concerns of irate citizens at the UDO public hearings, a common thread surfaced. People didn’t know or understand the rezoning and how it was going to affect their homes and neighborhoods. As a member of the Raleigh City Council, I’ll use my experience in constituent services to ensure citizens are heard. City leaders must understand that residents have a vital role in deciding the future of their own neighborhoods. Developers and neighborhood leaders can agree on the need to slow the rezoning decision and get more input from everyone involved. We can find consensus here and move forward, but the key is communication – an area in which the city has egregiously failed. The current administration has a vision for Raleigh that is being pushed by city planners using big northern cities as a goal. That’s a mistake. People leave big northern cities and move here because Raleigh is a great place to live. We can and will continue to grow, but need to let Raleigh be Raleigh and not make growth decisions based on out of state models.

How can Raleigh best deal with traffic congestion and mass transit as it grows?

An improved road system, not mass transit, works best for Raleigh. Transit needs become more critical in a growing city. The basic, short- to medium-term emphasis should always be on roads – still the main transportation system citizens choose. I support road bonds, which would provide critical funding. It is fiscally responsible – spreading costs over time. Additionally, frustrated District A small-business owners say Raleigh’s bus system does not efficiently deliver employees to job sites. Circuitous routes and long transfer wait times disrupt work schedules. Raleigh should collaborate to find locations that allow for parking cars and coordinate those with bus routes. Finally, our transportation future should reflect a plan for growth based on what and who we are already, not some other city’s plan.