Do you support reinstating Citizen Advisory Councils (CACs)?
Yes, Raleigh is better off when neighbors communicate, organize, and advocate to address issues of common concern. I advocate for revamping CACs and providing city resources like a place to meet, zoom or hybrid meeting technology, and help with outreach. CAC leaders would benefit from leadership training. Meeting facilitation, agenda setting, a structured process of engagement – these are key skills. I would be open to CAC boundaries changing to have more groups across the city.
I re-established the West Raleigh CAC after city support was removed, and I want other community groups that disbanded to come back to life. We have a new generation of leaders in the West Raleigh CAC that follow well designed bylaws that provide structure and consistency across meetings and with different audiences and speakers. We again hear from developers and residents, police, city staff, and external leaders to become more informed and engaged on what matters to us in our city. I want that to be possible across Raleigh. I would work with the Office of Community Engagement and their resident board to develop the next iteration of these neighborhood-led groups.
What will you do to ensure Raleigh’s working-class residents don’t get priced out of the city?
Raleigh needs a bold, comprehensive housing affordability plan that considers policies and programs like the following:
- Property tax abatement and utility relief for low-income homeowners
- Preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing
- City purchase of land along transit corridors to establish new affordable housing complexes
- Social housing in which land is owned by the City of Raleigh and permanent housing is built for mix of low income, moderate income and market rents
- Incentives for first-time homebuyers including affordable mortgage credit
- Historic federal investments to increase housing supply – build, preserve, and rehab units affordable to lower-income families
- Rent stabilization to limit year over year increases to a sustainable growth rate
- Inclusionary housing for affordability which would require and incentivize new developments of a certain scale to provide a percentage of housing below market rates
- Tenant protections to prevent evictions and provide relocation assistance
- Prohibition of housing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, veteran status, or the source of one’s income
Do you support the city’s missing middle zoning changes?
I’m in favor of thoughtful infill density along transit corridors to reduce sprawl. What’s missing though from our current missing middle policy is affordability, environmental protections, and community engagement. I recommend we add an affordable housing requirement before allowing some of the densest configurations planned, as well as a tree protection ordinance and robust community discussion to ensure this policy provides the community benefits intended. Let’s ensure new middle housing won’t exacerbate, and instead can contribute to reversing displacement trends.
PARKS, GREENSPACE & CLIMATE CHANGE
Do you support the city’s $275 million parks bond?
Yes, there are significant benefits to District D, including development of the Devereux Meadows Park, improvements to Dix Park, Lake Wheeler Road and the multiuse path, Method Community Center, and Walnut Creek greenway. If we don’t pass the bond this year, costs deferred will grow. I am also aware of concerns around the price tag of this bond. We must make greater investments in housing affordability and workforce development to ensure that everyone can benefit from park improvements.
Describe a program in another city that you want the city of Raleigh to try.
Wilmington and New Hanover County have tree preservation ordinances that protect significant species like live oaks. Raleigh should institute strong tree protections for native species of a certain size and create a tree fund when protection isn’t feasible. Replacement requirements for smaller trees cut down, and a tree mitigation fee to pay for trees to be planted elsewhere would benefit Raleigh. Trees help clean and cool the air, clean stormwater, reduce erosion and add immense value to our city. We need safeguards in place to protect our tree canopy.
What can the city do about climate change?
We have pushed the climate into unprecedented territory. For North Carolina, 2018 was the wettest year on record. We had our warmest year in 2019. The City of Raleigh has a community climate action plan but much of it is still to be implemented. The aim is to reduce city-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. We must reduce emissions from energy use, transportation, and waste. New technologies to treat wastewater, safe streets that accommodate alternative transit (e.g. commuter rail, walking, bicycling), and green infrastructure like permeable surfaces are some first steps we can take.
Converting from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources is also an economic opportunity that will stimulate emerging industries. A just transition means centering Raleigh’s low income, working class and minority communities that are most at risk. Outdoor laborers are vulnerable to heat-related illness. Workers risk the heat even after the sun goes down if they have no AC where they sleep. With the rising cost of living, for households who must relocate after a hurricane or damaging storm, where do they go? Who can afford to rebuild in the same community, to keep their kids in the same schools? Who must move away from their social networks, their livelihoods, their lives? Climate change is an issue of social and economic justice.
Describe your vision for moving to renewable energy and transitioning away from fossil fuels.
In my professional life, I assist communities with navigating the climate crisis across the state and I know that mitigation and adaptation are all hands on deck endeavors. I work for NOAAs North Carolina Sea Grant program which conducts research, outreach and education on environmental issues across the state, including climate change. I recently finished a project on how to adapt wastewater infrastructure with a changing climate.
The contribution to GHG emissions from City operations is relatively small at 2 percent of total community emissions. So we have to partner with climate justice advocates from the non profit, private, and public sectors at all levels of government (local, state, federal). Implementing the city’s community climate action plan requires funding, tracking progress, and communications and outreach. I will promote policies to preserve and grow our tree canopy, to sequester carbon. I will also advance efforts to protect vulnerable populations already experiencing the brunt of climate change. Cooling centers are needed for the unhoused during heat waves. Mold removal is needed for homes that experience flooding.
I am encouraged by the Inflation Reduction Act, the first piece of meaningful federal legislation to combat the climate crisis. Industries, utilities and individuals are incentivized to shift from burning oil, gas and coal for energy and transportation to using wind, solar and other forms of power that do not emit carbon dioxide. The bill also includes billions of dollars to make buildings more energy efficient and to replace gas-powered furnaces and appliances with electric versions, all of which Raleigh must take advantage of. There are also billions for research and development of new technologies to capture carbon dioxide from the air. The Triangle’s research workforce can contribute to turning these ideas into reality.
How will you incorporate natural landscape and green storm water protection into the rapidly urbanizing Raleigh?
As Raleigh grows, let’s protect our natural landscape and invest in green stormwater protection measures. The stormwater system is made up of storm water pipes, streams, lakes, and dams – we should maintain pipes, protect water resource and aquatic life; prevent streambank erosion; and reduce flooding impacts.
I will advance the following:
- Improved design of stormwater controls on buildings
- Consistent routine maintenance of pipes
- Funds for watershed plans and drainage studies to identify areas for improvement and projects to undertake
- Protecting trees of unique character (native species of a certain age) from development
- Requirement of native plants in city landscaping
- Prohibition of development in floodplains
- Green streets with permeable surfaces, tree cover, bioretention basins, rain gardens, and feature that help manage storm water runoff
- Equity considerations in funding priorities – first assist marginalized communities that have disproportionately experienced frequent flooding and other adverse environmental impacts
How will you protect and restore our water supplies, while maintaining habitats and ensuring water quality?
I have worked across the country on water resource protection, partnering with local planners, non-profit organizations, scientists, and management agencies. I am familiar with the latest research and management needs to protect and restore our water supplies, while maintaining habitats and ensuring water quality. We must provide safeguards to our waterways and restrict development that impairs them.
The majority of Raleigh’s drinking water comes from the Falls Lake Reservoir and Lake Benson. I support the City’s Watershed Protection Program, which helps protect water quality in critical ecological areas through land conservation and other innovative solutions. We need to fund this program adequately to preserve streams and creeks that drain into our water supply reservoirs. Streambank restoration, reforestation, and storm water improvements in urban areas are other essential investments.
Do you support curbside composting as a public service?
Yes, I’m encouraged by Durham piloting such a program earlier this year. They have the first program in the state. They started with 80 households and are now rolling it out for 500 households. I compost at home but know it takes some know-how, space and equipment, as well as trial and error to be successful. A city-wide program would help dramatically reduce food waste in our landfills, and contribute to soil building. I would also advocate for weekly recycling and moving trash service to every other week. That way, there are no additional labor costs but we would further encourage recycling.
How often do you ride a bicycle or take public transportation?
I bike to work 2-3 days/week. I bike around for fun a few times/month. I took bus 11L everyday to work when I lived in an area that was too dangerous to bike.
Should it be possible to live in Raleigh without owning a car?
Yes. It’s a priority for me to have safe streets for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as ample public transportation options. But right now, it is a challenge to not have access to a vehicle. The frequency of bus service is hourly for most routes and sidewalks, the greenway, and bike lanes are not available throughout the city. We must continue investments in alternative transit infrastructure.
Do you support Raleigh’s and Wake County’s efforts in bus rapid transit and commuter rail?
Yes, let’s continue investments in public transit infrastructure including commuter rail. At the same time, we should work to retain and recruit bus drivers so that our current routes can run more frequently. Our bus system does not have sufficient human resources for it to be a first-choice option for most residents.
Will you support keeping city buses fare-free indefinitely?
What ingredients are needed to sustain Raleigh’s economic growth?
1. Talent. Almost half of the population has a bachelor degree or higher. We are highly educated with a broad array of skills — engineering, science, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, the arts, and much more.
2. Diverse economic sectors. We should continue to grow target industries like life sciences and clean tech, help local entrepreneurs thrive and recruit companies who bring high quality jobs.
3. Education ecosystem. We have amazing public schools with dedicated educators and a fantastic higher education system with NC State, Wake Tech, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, NC Central University, Meredith College, Shaw University, St. Augustine and more. We must continue to invest in our education system to ensure the next generation benefits from our economic opportunities. Several education bonds are on the ballot to support this fall.
4. Quality of life. Our neighborhoods, parks, the environment, and our people are ultimately what makes Raleigh a place people want to stay. It is our culture and diversity that makes this a special community.
Downtown Raleigh has struggled to rebound following the COVID-19 pandemic with foot traffic still down and many storefronts and offices sitting vacant. What more can be done to revitalize the urban core?
Downtown Raleigh would benefit from a greater diversity of independent businesses that provide a wide range of needed goods and services. But rising commercial rents prevent many small businesses from considering downtown as a feasible location. Grant programs that offset commercial rents downtown should be developed and enhanced for small, minority and women-owned businesses – entrepreneurs who typically have less access to start-up capital.
Despite the passage of the ADA in 1990, employment remains around 35 percent for persons with disabilities. How will you address employment of persons with disabilities in city government in addition to policy commitments to equal employment opportunity?
We must invest in residents that are in need of living wage jobs. The city should implement on-the-job workforce training programs to fill city vacancies, helping residents who are currently un- or under-employed to increase their economic well-being. Hiring practices can be exclusionary, with requirements of certain experiences and skills that could be learned on the job. I recommend that we re-assess the city’s hiring practices from evaluation of job posts, how potential applicants are recruited, the review process of applicants, interview protocol, and decisions around hiring. My employer NC State University relies on our Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity to consult with departments on hiring practices to mitigate bias, expand our applicant pools, and ensure our workforce represents our community broadly. The city of Raleigh would benefit from a consistent review of hiring practices to ensure people with disabilities have equal opportunity and a pathway to meaningful employment.
I’d also like to initiate an employment accessibility working group that includes city staff, centers for independent living like the Alliance of Disability Advocates, private employers like 321 Coffee that have best practice models of consistent employment of people with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities who are seeking or already have employment. The working group could meet monthly and advance an agenda for Raleigh to be a true leader for accessible employment opportunities.
How would you reimagine public safety?
Let us envision a compassionate future that promises true public safety, especially for those that are most vulnerable in today’s world. Let us defund fear and instead prioritize access to healthcare, education, housing, meaningful employment and relationships. When we have what we need, desperation doesn’t come into play. I recommend the following to reimagine public safety: humanization not criminalization; conflict resolution through restorative justice; and a culture of care. Together, we must invest in a social safety net and build our capacity to relate to one another. Care-based safety means we address harms in ways that hold people accountable and bring about healing. We need holistic solutions that ensure our communities have the safety and security necessary to thrive.
Would you vote to increase the salary of the city’s first responders, including police, fire and 911 staff?
Yes, essential city services require a well-compensated labor force. I am grateful for the work of Raleigh’s first responders and want to ensure they have the pay and tools needed to be successful. I will advocate for salary increases for all essential city workers that are adjusted fairly for inflation and are on par or better than neighboring municipalities. It is a priority for me that we meet the demand for keys services – the work of first responders, sanitation workers, parks staff, etc.
What lessons should the city have learned from the George Floyd protests?
The George Floyd protests were a time of collective grief and pain. Overuse of force is a chronic issue our country has grappled with for centuries. In a protest situation related to the police, our community would be well served by ombudsmen or people that are trained in crowd control but are not associated with the police. There are first responder units separate from police in other cities, for example Denver, CO, and Eugene, OR. Let’s be proactive to keep our city safe, ensuring that officers are well trained in de-escalation and techniques to reduce violence.