It’s been less than a month since being sworn in on December 5, 2022. I intend to write monthly updates from my viewpoint as a District D councilor to keep y’all informed on our activities. Hope this is helpful!
Swearing in Ceremony 12/5/22
Our new council of eight was sworn in at Raleigh Union Station. Hamilton the Pig (lives in District D) was in attendance as were hundreds of Raleigh residents. Raleigh’s elected officials include four incumbents (Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, At-Large Councilor Stormie Forte, At-Large Councilor Jonathan Melton, District C Councilor Corey Branch) and four newcomers (District A Councilor Mary Black, District B Councilor Megan Patton, District D Councilor Jane Harrison, District E Council Christina Jones). We are all thrilled to have the opportunity to serve our city. Read about the new guard HERE.
First public meetings 12/6/22
We quickly got to work with two meetings the next day. On the first Tuesday of each month, we have a meeting at 1 pm and 7 pm. Public comments take place at 7 pm with public hearings for rezoning cases and other business afterwards. At the 1 pm meeting, each councilor has the opportunity to mention needs and present motions for their districts and across the city. A few items of note:
- Community Engagement: Councilor Jones made a motion to provide immediate and long term solutions for robust community engagement. Short term the intent is to provide free access to community centers for long standing groups like CACs (citizen advisory committees), and in the long term to provide city support for resident-led neighborhood-based organizations so that neighbors can convene, share information, and meet with city staff and councilors on local issues of import. We expect to receive guidance from the Office of Community Engagement’s resident board on next steps at our council retreat in late January. Several councilors are working behind the scenes for rapid resolution on community center access.
- Resources for the Unhoused: We need a permanent location for white flag shelters. These are shelters that operate when it’s 35 degrees or less or during other inclement weather like hurricanes. Currently churches in District D are offering this space but this is a temporary solution. A taskforce on homelessness was initiated (led by Councilor Forte) and will tackle topics like this. We appropriated $25,000 in council contingency funds to help people stay in hotels and another $500,000 in ARPA funds to keep families sheltered and safe in these temporary hotel arrangements. Ultimately we prioritize universal access to stable housing and will be looking for every opportunity to make this possible. City staff have compiled recent research on affordable housing models for the Triangle to guide our discussions moving forward. Check those out HERE.
- Safe Streets: There has been a dramatic increase of pedestrians being hit by cars with several tragic incidents in District D in just the past few months. Councilor Melton asked for an update from Vision Zero – the program’s goal is no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic, as well as consideration of an e-bike rebate program to encourage alternative transit options.
View the 1 pm meeting HERE. View the 7 pm meeting HERE.
City Council Work Session on Transportation 12/13/22
This session provided updates on NCDOT passenger rail initiatives, GoTriangle commuter rail, and GoRaleigh transit management contract. There are several exciting opportunities to expand passenger and commuter rail in the region but cost challenges still remain. The City of Raleigh has selected a new management company for our GoRaleigh transit services which covers our bus routes and paratransit services. City staff are optimistic that this new contract will result in improved service.
View the meeting HERE.
Community Meetings in District D
These are great opportunities to stay in touch with neighborhood leaders and hear about issues directly impacting your area. I attend these meetings when possible.
Southwest Raleigh Community Engagement meeting – 12/12/22. This group meets virtually once/month on the 2nd Monday at 7 pm. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/gT5uY9 to get on their listserv.
Hillsborough-Wade CAC meeting – 12/13/22. This group meets virtually once/month on the 4th Tuesday at 7 pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on their listserv.
District D Neighborhood Alliance meeting – 12/17/22. This group is newly formed and meets in person once/month on the 3rd Saturday at 9:30 am at the Thomas Crowder Woodland Center. Meeting structure is informal with the intent to provide a forum for open conversation on issues relevant to District D. Pop in to say hello and provide insights from your neighborhood. This is an opportunity for neighbors to help neighbors. I answer questions as directed but rely on the knowledge of those who show up to also share resources and insights. Sign up at http://eepurl.com/gT5uY9 to get on their listserv.
West Raleigh CAC – There was no meeting in December but mark your calendar for Wednesday, January 25 at 7 pm. This group meets virtually once/month on the 4th Wednesday at 7 pm. Because of the holiday break, the group met earlier in the month for a holiday social event, bringing cookies and treats to Raleigh firefighters at Station #8 on Western Blvd., as well as raising $300 to support the Wake County Holiday Cheer program. Email email@example.com to get on their listserv.
Behind the Scenes – Ongoing
You might be surprised how much work goes on after hours! Meetings on rezoning cases, check-ins with city staff and departments, responding to constituent emails and messages – This is the bulk of the work. This month I met with neighbors in Glenwood-Brooklyn to discuss rezoning case Z-54-22 Peace and West, Caraleigh Mills on case Z-72-21 Maywood Ave, Caraleigh on case Z-53-22 Wilmington St, Forest Park on case Z-55-22 Johnson St, and Mordecai on case Z-43-22 Clover Lane, as well as discussing cases with each applicant. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with city leaders from the Transportation Department, Office of Community Engagement, Sustainability Office, Planning and Development, Stormwater Management and Housing and Neighborhoods. City staff manage Raleigh’s everyday operations and I greatly value their perspective and judgment. Policies can be advanced from the council table but also through direct conversations with staff.
I have a wonderful policy analyst Melissa Johnson who schedules my meetings and directs constituent needs to the appropriate city department. Have an issue with leaf pick up, a traffic concern, or public safety need? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will figure how to resolve the issue.
Until next month, take care!