Web Exclusive: Raleigh City Council Candidates Unedited

City Council Chambers

In our September 2015 premiere issue, Raleigh Magazine published “Why Run?”–a feature about the Oct. 6 City Council race, featuring 17 of the 18 candidates. Due to print space requirements, their responses were edited. Here, we publish their full unedited responses. Also, do you know who represents you? Click here to view a council district map.

 

Nancy_McFarlane

Mayor Nancy MacFarlane (I)

Why did you decide to run?

I originally got involved with City government over storm water issues in my neighborhood.  That led me to becoming President of my homeowners association.  I then got involved with Charles Meeker’s Mayoral campaign because I knew he listened and would stand up for neighborhoods.  I hadn’t really thought of it before, but a few years later, Charles encouraged me to run for Council.  My business had become successful, and I saw Council as an opportunity to give back to the City that has meant so much to me and my family.  After a few years on Council, Charles decided not to run again for Mayor, and encouraged me to do so. I wanted to build on the outstanding work he had done making us the best place to live, work and play in America.

So after much thought, I jumped in.  It has been such a privilege serving as Mayor. Every day I am amazed about the talent of our citizens, and how much passion they have for our great city

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better?

We should have been better prepared for the overflow crowd at the recent public hearing on the UDO remapping. This is the first major change in our zoning code in 50 years that impacts people’s most important investment, their homes. All deserve to be heard, which is why we extended the hearing and moved it to a larger venue for the second date.

Robert_Weltzin

Robert Weltzin

Mayoral candidate

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run for Mayor of Raleigh because Raleigh deserves visible effective leadership for All. Raleigh is well-positioned to see an exponential increase in prosperity, and in quality of life for its citizens, if its leadership is capable of creating the conditions that will allow it to happen. However, the basics are being missed. Basic infrastructure needs an immediate and prompt response. Our Police and Fire personnel cannot afford to live in the city they protect. Leadership is a combination of knowing what to do in order to achieve a goal, and having the will to do it. I was compelled to run for office because I was and remain unsatisfied with the city government I am getting. I believe that I can offer the citizens of Raleigh the kind of leadership that this city needs if it is to maximize its gains in prosperity in the coming years, and do so in a way that raises the standard of living for everyone, not just those already in position to benefit.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

Raleigh invested a great deal of time, energy and capital to make its downtown a business-friendly environment that would attract people who wanted a world-class place to not only live and work, but also to play. Raleigh has gone to great lengths to ensure that our nightlife and evening entertainment offerings continue to drive traffic, revenue and business to areas like Glenwood South, but has more recently pushed to limit the hours during which businesses can operate on their patios, not as a result of receiving pressure from citizens, but rather because of a few influential individuals complaining about things inherent to living in a downtown area. While these sorts of restrictions might make sense in a smaller town, they have no place in a city of Raleigh’s stature and status. The business’ that have patio population restrictions are set up for failure and could lose their license as soon as our next home football game and everyone goes out to celebrate their victory. The current mayor’s decisions regarding the patios and increased parking fees is less than vibrant.

J.B. Buxton

J.B. Buxton

District A

Why did you decide to run?

In the summer of 1991, living in the midst of societal transformation in South Africa, I found my calling. I was serving as a teaching assistant at the University of the Western Cape between my junior and senior years at UNC-Chapel Hill. The wheels of change that would result in Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994 were just beginning to turn. There seemed to be a national conversation not just about political rights, but how the county could achieve fuller access to quality education, housing, and jobs. I was inspired by the commitment of people to something greater, the energy to tackle big challenges, and the power of politics that aimed to improve people’s lives. I wanted my life to reflect that commitment.

That experience fueled my interest in education and has led me to over two decades of work focused on improving public education, most of it at the state-level in North Carolina. I was privileged to be part of efforts like the Teaching Fellows Program, early college high schools, PreK, and turning around low-performing schools. As my wife and I bought a home and raised our three children in District A and sent them to the Wake County schools, I became more involved in local efforts such as soccer coaching, the PTA and service on the Raleigh Planning Commission. In all these pursuits, what I learned twenty-four years ago remains true: people who share common goals can make a major impact on the quality of people’s lives.

This is a time of growth and change in Raleigh. Our challenges in managing growth, improving transportation, maintaining quality schools, and ensuring good jobs are compounded by the reality that cities across the country are competing with Raleigh. This time calls for a politics of purpose, energy, and cooperation. I am running to represent the people and families of District A with that spirit. And I am running to work with them to maintain and improve the quality of life for the people who call Raleigh home.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? Please don’t criticize any person directly; we just want to hear about the issue or decision.

Raleigh is viewed as a leader in innovation. In that spirit, we need more creative and entrepreneurial approaches in areas that are key priorities for Raleigh. Three specific examples:

* Jobs. We are fortunate to be home to a community college and a host of universities that provide strong graduates for our economy. However, the numbers of teenagers in our community with job experience has dropped almost in half since 2000 (45% to 25%). Our teenagers need job experience to prepare them for the workforce and helps them see how education can impact their future. One approach is a stronger commitment to summer youth employment. Similar programs in Louisville and Baltimore involve 2,500 and 5,000 youth respectively. Raleigh’s program? 165.

* Teachers. Like many North Carolina communities, we are struggling with attracting and keeping good teachers in the face of contentious debates at the state level. While the city does not have responsibility for the schools, creative partnerships with county leaders would help attract teachers to our area. One possible strategy: development incentives for providing housing for teachers that makes Raleigh an affordable and desirable location.

* Environment. We are a city of great natural resources and protecting them is critical. With our growth, reducing solid waste and the pressure on landfills is a priority. Cities across the country are using innovative efforts such as alternative pricing structures that provide incentives for lower consumption, less trash and increased recycling—and reduced solid waste fees for residents. On this issue, Raleigh should be a leader.

Great cities find creative solutions to pressing problems. With the knowledge and talent in our city, there’s no reason Raleigh can’t be that kind of place.

Dickie_Thompson

Dickie Thompson

District A

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run because my friend Mayor Nancy McFarlane asked me if I would consider it. I’ve served Raleigh my whole life. I’ve been a responsible business owner, working for and helping run my family’s 94-year-old construction business. I’ve served as Chairman of the Raleigh Planning Commission and I’m currently Chairman of the RDU Airport Authority Board. Nancy called me a few weeks ago and said, “Wayne Maiorano just told me he isn’t running for re-election. How would you like to help me keep moving Raleigh in the right direction?” My wife Angie was supportive of the idea. I’ve served Raleigh in one way or another most of my life – volunteering at our church, running our family business, volunteering on the boards of the YMCA and the Raleigh Rescue Mission – so I had to say yes to Nancy and the opportunity to expand my public service.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

The city could have done a better job communicating with the public about the new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) and changes to zoning rules across Raleigh. 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. When I attended the public hearing on the UDO, it became clear to me that the city needs to do a better job explaining to people what these changes mean and how the changes will impact them. These are complicated issues, and I’d like to see the city make it easier for people to understand them.

Eddie_Woodhouse

Eddie Woodhouse

District A

Why did you decide to run?

As a Raleigh native, I fear a city government that is overreaching and too controlling. Raleigh has become less neighborhood and less business friendly. Business owners, neighborhood and community activists, dismayed at our city becoming too heavy handed, strongly urged me to run. After thoughtful prayer, I filed.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

The city’s decision to implement a ludicrous sidewalk curfew on restaurants; 2) poor responses concerning constituent services; and 3) a $2Billion debt with no plan to repay.

David_Cox

David Cox

District B

Why did you decide to run?

About two years ago my neighbors and I learned of a proposed remapping of some vacant land at the corner of Dunn and Falls of Neuse Roads to make way for a larger grocery anchored strip mall. That land was not and is not zoned for such a use and we felt that rezoning it would be inappropriate for several reasons.

First and foremost the residents of the area have spoken out in overwhelming numbers in favor of the current zoning rather than rezoning. More than 3700 signed a petition to that effect. 522 attended a Citizens Advisory Council meeting to vote against the rezoning (versus 23 in favor).

Nearly 300 attended the City Council Hearing against the rezoning.

After nearly two years the developer finally dropped their plans for the strip mall. Moreover on May 12 of this year City Council voted against any rezoning because it was not in the public interest, violated several provisions in the Comprehensive Plan, produce too much traffic for the area roads, and was inappropriate for a watershed protection area.

Despite all of this, the City Planning Department has proposed as part of the City-wide UDO remapping to still rezone the land to the same zoning designation that was denied on May 12.

Councilor John Odom stated to me as well as others that he supports such a remapping.

It was apparent to me that the overwhelming number of citizens in our area are not being served by Mr. Odom. That was the defining moment when I decided to run.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

Clearly, I believe that the rezoning and subsequent remapping of properties at Dunn and Falls of Neuse have not been handled appropriately for numerous reasons. More importantly having learned a great deal about the City’s Comprehensive Plan and the UDO, I am very concerned about shortcomings in the UDO that will lead to expansive developments that will harm neighborhoods. City policies that call for adequate buffers or transition areas between commercial and residential areas are not being followed by the UDO. The size and scale of development allow by the UDO does not implement policies for small, neighborhood scaled retail. One of my main goals as a Councilor is to explore ways to fix these shortcomings in the UDO to ensure that Raleigh continues to be one the “best” places in the country to live.

John_Odom

John Odom (I)

District B

Why did you decide to run?

As director of GRMA in 1993, owners of Krispy Kreme, CharGill and NC Equipment Co asked for my help to save their signs. Others were concerned about tax hikes and lack of parks and park land for everyone’s use. And personally I wanted Raleigh to be a place where my children could grow and seek local employment and stay close to home. These are still some of my goals for the people of Raleigh. Because of my accomplishments in 16 out of the last 22 years, many people continue to ask me to stay involved and continue to help our community.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, keeping up with infrastructure is very important. We passed a highway bond recently for $75 million. I should have voted for $150 million. When reelected I will push for another road bond.

Eugene_Weeks

Eugene Weeks (I)

District C

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run for reelection after a discussion with my wife first and  listening to a sermon at my church entitled “Being a Servant for the Lord, ” I know I am blessed because he gives me the strength to endure the long hours for this job. I want to see the Strategic Plans for the City of Raleigh that we adopted be implemented and accomplished. Specific issues- “Not enough affordable housing to accommodate the growth in Raleigh”. I want to see Homelessness for Veterans and our citizens eliminated in our city. I want to see an effective economic development policy for my District..

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better?

One city issue-We did not do a good job on educating and informing the public on the projected rezoning and remapping for the City of Raleigh.

Corey_Branch

Corey Branch

District C

Why did you decide to run?

My drive to run for Raleigh City Council started in 2011. That summer, I was at Fort Valley State University, running the Alpha South Leadership Institute when the ‘lightbulb’ came on. I was leading a discussion with the high school students about public service and giving back to your community, when I realized the message I was giving the kids was actually resonating with me. There I was, telling them they are the future and they need to be informed and engaged, but most importantly, they need to be leaders in the kind of change they wish to see.

After encouraging those kids to do more than just passively participate, I knew the time had come for me really evaluate whether I was taking my own advice. I thought about what I was doing to give back to my community and whether I was truly in a position to affect change in terms of the issues facing Raleigh. Having been born and raised here, I am truly well acquainted with the city. The blight of Tower Shopping center and lack of evening and night activities in our community centers for youth as well as the disproportionate economic growth that District C experiences are issues which are consistently on my mind.

Although I had only 90 days to launch and run my campaign, I decided that I needed to make a run for the City Council position in District C and I made a valiant effort. Though I did not receive the most votes in 2011, I wouldn’t say that I lost. Running in 2011 cemented a hunger in me to be even more deeply involved. I looked for opportunities and discovered there was a vacancy on the Raleigh Transit Authority. I applied and was excited to learn that I received a unanimous “yes” vote from the City Council. When the Kroger Grocery store left the Southeast Raleigh community, I was disappointed that no one was engaging the public on the matter. I worked to organize a Town Hall meeting for the citizens being affected. I was asked to serve on the boards of WakeUp Wake County and the Marrkens Development Group. Since the time of my initial “lightbulb” moment, I have not stopped working toward my goal of representing Raleigh as a City Council Member.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? Please don’t criticize any person directly; we just want to hear about the issue or decision.

The presentation of the 2015 remapping plan could have been carried out differently. My plan would have included community meetings similar to the ones held throughout the city to discuss the Raleigh Arts Plan as well as the Wake County Transit Plan. The meetings would have been located in or close to the impacted zoning areas in an effort to actually explain the complicated codes and jargon as well as get input and feedback from the citizens living in the area. City staff would need to be present to discuss why changes are being made and to listen to the citizens’ concerns. The role of the council is to set policy and ensure the citizens are educated on the impact of decisions being made. As a city councilor I will work with our staff to keep citizens are involved in the process before decisions are made.

Kay_Crowder

Kay Crowder (I)

District D

Why did you decide to run?

My path to political office is not a typical one. When my late husband Thomas Crowder was ill with cancer, he asked me to take over the District D City Council seat if he didn’t beat the disease. Together we had been living and breathing city politics every day for fifteen years, fully half our married life. His request was honored out of love and a sense of duty, so my appointment was made.

For the past year the support and generosity of our great community continually tell me, “Kay, you made the right decision.” I have lived in my home in the Avent West neighborhood for over 35 years. Someone had the vision to build this extraordinary community; it has been a wonderful place to raise my family and be part of a community of caring and supportive people. I want every citizen to share the same quality of life that I have enjoyed for a very long time. I want to build on Raleigh’s reputation as the top place to live in America. I decided to ask the citizens of District D to let continue to represent them because it is deeply satisfying to be part of making a positive difference for both the district and the City of Raleigh. A whole lot of work, to be sure, but very satisfying work.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

The primary city issue that has been handled terribly is our capability to self-govern. The NC General Assembly recently took away the business privilege license, which was an important revenue stream. The legislature is also working to do away with the statutory protest petition, an important zoning tool that insures citizens are heard by their government representatives. The legislature is crushing Raleigh, and all North Carolina municipalities, with meddling and micromanagement.

Ashton_Smith

Ashton Mae Smith

District D

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run for City Council because I have a vision for Raleigh’s future as a world-class city, and we’re at a cross-roads as to how we get there. The demographics in our city have changed considerably with our growth — the average age of Raleigh residents is 32 — and it’s important for the Millennial generation to have an active role in how we’re building our city. I’m already active with some of our largest areas of opportunity: transit planning, affordable housing planning, and I serve as the board chair for the City of Raleigh Museum. Add in a background in real estate and the skills I’ve learned working for a bootstrapped start-up that was acquired by Citrix.

The “moment” happened on the morning of the last day of filing. Though I had been talking about a run for some time, and always knew I would, it started to seem like this was really the right time. When I was discussing it with local Citrix leadership and heard myself say, “If not now, when?”, I knew I was in it already and so I headed to the Board of Elections with their full support.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

Generally speaking, I’m a proponent of using data in making decisions. A very current example of what should have been a data-driven decision which turned into a heated, emotional debate is the Public Use of Private Space regulations. Another example is the education around the city-wide changes through the unified development ordinance, a document designed to simplify planning and regulatory decisions while supporting the 2030 Comprehensive Plan. Rezoning 30% of the city is quite an undertaking, and education is a key component. While the city websites offer a substantial amount of information, it’s overwhelming for most, and especially for those unfamiliar with planning and zoning. What if, instead, we’d provided citizens with a Google Earth-like experience for learning about the proposed changes? In order to engage citizens, we need to find meaningful ways to show them how government decisions affect them.

DeAntony_Collins

DeAntony Collins

District E

Why did you decide to run?

It was a combination of points, I came to Raleigh in 2003 to attend the historic Shaw University. It was there that I met my future wife -Kelly – and the mother of my son, Preston. After 4 years at Shaw studying Elementary Education and making long lasting connections, I began working at a local Bright Horizons early learning center. It was at Bright Horizons that I began interacting with coworkers, children and families living and working in the Raleigh area. These interactions and conversations (over a period of 9 years) connected us, and painted a portrait of the issues and concerns my friends and neighbors had. These same friends, colleagues and neighbors encouraged me to run and after consulting my faith, my wife and my employer – I decided to run for Raleigh City Council in District E.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better?

If I had to single out one particular issue that can be handled better it would be Community Engagement. Governing can be difficult, but that level of difficulty is often exacerbated when our leaders don’t effectively educate and communicate their intentions with our citizens and small business owners. This concept affects every form and function of our government from the future of Dix Park to the highly debated UDO rezoning issue. Concerned residents and business owners, in my view, aren’t looking for government to fix all their problems – they want to be heard and consulted; to have their phone calls returned; to feel understood.

Bonner_Gaylord

Bonner Gaylord (I)

District E

Why did you decide to run?

 I was in a community service mentorship program through the Urban Land Institute when my desire for public service began to take shape. Former Mayor Smedes York was my mentor and we were sitting in his old office in the basement of Cameron Village talking about what led him to run for mayor. Hearing him talk about his process created a spark inside me. I had the same desire to give back to the city that had given me so much, but I needed to give that desire more focus. I knew I wanted to work on issues of growth management, transportation, economic development and job creation, so I found my way onto the planning commission. I enjoyed being on the planning commission, but I wanted to be able to have a greater impact on a much broader array of issues, so I decided to run for city council.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

 The main issue that I always thought the city could be better on was its use of technology, particularly when it came to using technology to be open and accessible to citizens. As soon as I was elected to city council, I started pushing the city to embrace more modern technology and communication methods. Some of my favorite projects have been co-founding CityCamp, bringing the SeeClickFix app to Raleigh and working with an app developer to create a tailor-made Downtown Raleigh app. CityCamp led to a new email subscription service that people can use to stay up to date on city government news, people tell me that SeeClickFix is the best interaction they have ever had with government and the Downtown Raleigh app will be rolling out later this year to help people find new restaurants and avoid road closures. At the end of the day, I can look back at the way Raleigh has embraced technology and know that I have made the kind of impact on my city that led me to run for council in the first place.

Edie_Jeffreys

Edie Jeffreys

District E

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run for the District E City Council seat soon after the 7Jul Z-27-14—City Wide Remapping of UDO Rezoning Districts public meeting. I was already concerned about the UDO after many years as a neighborhood activist who had participated in meeting after meeting about the vision for Raleigh instantiated in the Comprehensive Plan and in discussions with city planning staff about how that vision was going to be codified into zoning law via the Unified Development Ordinance(UDO).

After hearing the outpouring of concern from average citizens about their properties and neighborhoods at the 7Jul meeting, I started my journey towards actually filing to run.

I don’t feel that the citizens of Raleigh are going to get adequate protections for their properties and neighborhoods under the UDO as it currently stands.

I have spent many nights and weekends for the last 15 years involved in trying to protect my neighborhood and helping others protect their neighborhoods from incompatible development. I think that these efforts have been effective at times, but now I feel like I can help our neighborhoods and citizens get a better outcome if I’m on the City Council while Raleigh shakes out the issues in the UDO.

The UDO zoning code will have an impact on the city for decades to come. I want the people and small businesses of the city to flourish within the new zoning framework. I want to help wring out negative impacts in the UDO so that neighborhoods and citizens have predictability about what is being built within and on the peripheries of their neighborhoods. I want the UDO to protect the value of their properties.

As for the trip to the board of elections, it transpired after serious contemplation and conversations. Two days before the filing deadline, I woke up and checked on my computer to see if anyone new had filed to run for District E. Upon seeing the candidate pool that morning, I made a few phone calls to friends who are also neighborhood advocates I’ve worked with over the years. They encouraged me to run. I had already been talking with family members about the possibility. They were excited and had already encouraged me to join the race. I went into work and sat down with my boss to get her reaction. She said “I wondered when you were going to run.” That sealed the deal. I filed that afternoon.

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better?I know there has been outreach to the citizens of Raleigh about the Comprehensive Plan, the UDO, and the Remapping for the UDO. But for most folks I talk with can’t make heads or tails about what the UDO means to them. What has been lacking is translation from the documents, which are difficult for the average person to understand, to what they actually mean with regards to impacts on individual properties. For years, I and other neighborhood advocates attended meetings about the Comprehensive Plan and the UDO and asked for test cases where example properties from various neighborhoods could be used to measure the potential impacts of infill homes and mixed use and industrial zonings nearby. We didn’t get the opportunity to “see” what could happen under the UDO.

I would like for the City Council to step back from the rapid pace of the remapping and stop making detrimental changes like sliding in provisions allowing bars to be in Neighborhood Mixed Use zoning until there is more time for discussion and adjustments. I want to be part of a City Council that gets the UDO right.

Mary-Ann_Baldwin

Mary-Ann Baldwin (I)

At Large

Why did you decide to run?

While I was often involved in political campaigns, I never considered running for office myself. I think the decision to run is often different for women than it is for men. According to research, women have to be asked seven times to run for office before giving it serious consideration. The city issues that first prompted my interest (the Plensa art debacle and the sanitation worker’s strike) were impacted by poor communication, which is my area of expertise. Because of that, several people encouraged me to run for City Council. I thought they were crazy. But after some serious conversations with many people (yes, 50 to be exact), I had a game plan. I pulled together a platform of things I wanted to accomplish, I knew how much money I could raise, I knew I had support, and I knew who would work polls for me, walk neighborhoods with me or throw an event for me. But I didn’t pull the trigger until I got over my fear of failure. When I realized that even if I didn’t win, I would go on a true journey … well … that was the moment. It really came down to being comfortable with losing.

 What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better?

I think I was 30 days into my first term on the City Council and a proposal came before us to ban garbage disposals. Yes, the infamous garbage disposal story. I remember clearly thinking at the meeting, “This need to go to a committee for review.” But I didn’t speak up. The ban was approved and then all hell broke loose. The next morning, the conservative radio station WPTF called and asked me to be on their talk show. Oh boy. Here’s what I had to admit to myself and the public: I made a huge mistake. And real truth behind it – with only a month on Council, I simply didn’t have the confidence to speak out when no one else did. It was a great learning experience for me. It taught me to trust my gut and do what I felt was right. So this is a city issue that could have been handled better – by me. I owned it and learned from it. Mea culpa.

Craig_Ralph

Craig Ralph

At Large

Why did you decide to run?

As a lifelong resident, I am proud to live, work, raise my family and run my business in Raleigh.  However, lately, I’ve been concern about the actions of our city council.  The city is over $1 billion in debt, the council continues to place burdensome regulations on our small businesses, and our infrastructure, like water and sewer lines, and many roads are in need of immediate repair.

The city council is not listening to the people who voted them into their positions.  It was 18 months ago when I watched the city council vote in favor for specific developments within my neighborhood that were against the wishes of the majority of those residing in that area.  It was at that moment I decided to look into the behaviors of the council and compare them to the needs and wants of our citizens.  It became obvious at that time that my city council at large representatives have become out of touch with their constituents wishes and that a change in leadership was needed.

I want to bring what I believe is missing from the Raleigh City Council to the table.  I want to offer new leadership and innovative solutions that will bring businesses to Raleigh and maintain those already here through reducing burdensome regulations that encouraging growth and a fresh perspective to our problems and not passing on the financial strain onto our citizens by raising taxes.

 What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better?

The number one issue facing our city is its budget.  The city is over $1 billion in debt.  One-third of our budget goes to serving the interest on our debt.  If we continue to move in this direction, we will never be able to afford the next big thing for Raleigh or be able to offer the quality of life our citizens deserve.  The Raleigh City Council must adjust its spending habits and not pass on its irresponsible financial management through any tax increases onto our citizens.

Matt_Tomasulo

Matt Tomasulo

At Large

Why did you decide to run?

I originally moved to Raleigh to go to grad school at NC State, and nine years later, I proudly call Raleigh home. Raleigh has allowed me to build a business and career around civic innovation, while collectively working with government to solve difficult problems and realize new opportunities. It has been exciting to watch Raleigh grow and to be a part of that growth through my projects such as WalkRaleigh and The Wanderbox. With that rapid growth, however, we now face new challenges: affordable housing, fair transportation, and shared economic prosperity. I believe I can bring new energy and ideas to the table through thoughtfully representing the growing millennial voice. The moment I learned about the potential Raleigh bike share getting defeated was the tipping point for my decision to run. More about why in answer #2!

What is one specific city issue that you think was handled incorrectly or could have been handled better? 

As mentioned above, I was disappointed in how the decision around bike share was handled. As a bike rider and downtown resident, I had no idea that there was any threat to funding the bike share program (especially after the City won a sizable capital improvement grant, and the consultant’s feasibility report came back favorably). I understand that budgeting is the reason that it was left on the table, but I see projects like bike share as a much bigger opportunity than the cost of managing the service. Bike share to me represents the future of our city and an investment in an emerging culture that Raleigh is noted for and is continually trying to attract. There are creative ways to fund less traditional city investments like bike share, and there was no evidence of creative efforts to maintain the grant money and implement the program. Over the next two months, I look forward to sharing more about how I would bring creative thinking and innovative solutions to Raleigh’s emerging challenges.

Editor’s note: We contacted all 18 candidates multiple times for this story; seventeen responded.

Christa Gala

Christa Gala worked for 16 years as a newspaper columnist and freelance writer across digital and print platforms before joining Raleigh Magazine. Gala is in her fifth semester teaching Writing and Reporting at UNC-Chapel Hill’s renowned School of Media and Journalism.
Christa Gala

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Christa Gala worked for 16 years as a newspaper columnist and freelance writer across digital and print platforms before joining Raleigh Magazine. Gala is in her fifth semester teaching Writing and Reporting at UNC-Chapel Hill’s renowned School of Media and Journalism.