Who’s Running for Raleigh City Council?

In Buzz, Feature Stories, September 2019by Raleigh Magazine

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Mayoral Candidates

Mary-Ann Baldwin

During my 10 years on the City Council, I championed a dedicated funding source for affordable housing, the founding of Oak City Cares and Citrix’s move to the Warehouse District. I also co-founded Innovate Raleigh and was intimately involved in the Wake Transit Plan. I am running for Mayor to build on these successes.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

Please see “10 Ways Raleigh Can Encourage Housing Affordability,” my 10-point plan at http://www.maryannforraleigh.com/housing-affordability. Housing affordability is a complex issue and there is no silver bullet. I believe we need to do ALL of the items in my plan to see results. As mayor, I would encourage the construction of accessory dwelling units (also known as backyard cottages or granny flats), townhomes, condominiums, small apartment buildings, cottage courts and tiny home communities; reduce minimum lots sizes and minimum parking requirements; work collaboratively with the county and schools to identify underutilized properties that can be used for housing; allow zoning that encourages walkable, mixed-use / mixed-income communities along transit corridors; and incentivize developers and partner with land trusts to create housing choices. We should create a well-crafted affordable housing bond that supports the above policies and prioritizes housing for seniors and the disabled. Without policy changes, we’re simply throwing money at the issue.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The Wake County Transit Plan was created collaboratively by a group of people representing all areas of Wake County. With limited funds, we quickly agreed to create a system focused on 80 percent frequency vs. 20 percent coverage to encourage ridership, four Bus Rapid Transit corridors (https://www.raleighnc.gov/business/content/PlanDev/Articles/TransPlan/BRT.html) and commuter rail. This is a 10-year plan and I am committed to seeing it come to fruition. Regarding cyclists and pedestrians, the City needs to incorporate protected bike lanes into its downtown street grid and on BRT corridors, and work with the state to identify areas where cross walks are desperately needed.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

A police oversight board with subpoena powers is not legal in North Carolina without approval from the NC General Assembly. At this time, I don’t believe this is the right solution. Regarding pay and training … While I served on the city council, we conducted a wage study and raised the salaries of first responders. While we need to balance and fairly pay members of all city departments, we must also ensure that our salaries attract quality candidates. I believe the best ways to facilitate relationships between police and the communities they serve is through community policing, which builds relationships; interaction with young people, which builds trust; and community conversations with elected officials and residents.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

Raleigh’s zoning code requires developers to seek 20- or 40-stories in a rezoning request. That does not mean a 20- or 40-story structure will be built. In the instance of the Peace Street property, I live across the street and I support density in this neighborhood, as do most residents of the Glenwood South District. This is the ideal location for a mixed-use, walkable community. It sits on a proposed Bus Rapid Transit line which will offer frequent transit service, next to the proposed Harrington Avenue cycle track leading to the Warehouse District, and across from a future park and greenway system. Additionally, the City and State recently invested in the replacement of the Peace Street Bridge, creating upgraded circulation patterns for vehicles. This is an ideal place for dense development because of the myriad of transportation services that will be available in the area. It will enhance walkability in an area that is desperate for redevelopment.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

A potential MLS Soccer Stadium and entertainment complex could be one of the most exciting redevelopment projects seen in the City of Raleigh. Taking underutilized, industrial land and creating housing, offices, retail and entertainment around a new downtown stadium would bring this area to life, providing tax revenue and jobs in an area of Raleigh that has seen little investment. The developers have also agreed to include workforce housing and affordable housing. This property also sits on a proposed Bus Rapid Transit line, is located next to I-40 and provides connectivity to Dix Park. It would create a walkable community with opportunity for all. As far as funding, the Interlocal Fund uses money from hotel occupancy taxes and food / beverage taxes to pay for visitor and tourist-related structures such as PNC Arena and the Raleigh Convention Center. If money is used from this fund, it will not impact Raleigh taxpayers. In fact, interlocal funding was created to build projects like this. However, it may also be beneficial to look at using synthetic TIF to support the project, at no cost to taxpayers.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

There are many forms of density. You can create gentle density by allowing accessory dwelling units, duplexes, triplexes and quads in single family zoning districts. These already exist in many of Raleigh’s most desirable neighborhoods. This provides housing choices and doesn’t tax the infrastructure system. Density is also appropriate in Downtown and in high-use transit corridors, complementing infrastructure. One of our biggest infrastructure challenges is replacing and maintaining aging water and sewer pipes, as evidenced by the number of sanitary (or should we say unsanitary) sewer overflows reported the past 18 months. The current City Council reduced funding for replacement and maintenance. This needs to change.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

The City’s Comprehensive Plan was meant to serve as a vision for growth, encouraging walkable, mixed-use communities on high-use transit corridors and connected to job centers. This vision needs to be resurrected as we work to bring forward Bus Rapid Transit and commuter rail, and also grow our downtown.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

Raleigh’s city staff does an excellent job. I would like to see them given more latitude to bring forward big ideas, reward innovation and efficiency, and look for better ways to do things (I hate the expression, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”) Creating a culture of innovation and finding ways to say “yes” should be a top priority.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

Three years ago, Raleigh appointed a Task Force on Citizen Engagement. We should revisit their suggestions, looking at ways to supplement the work of the Citizen Advisory Councils to broaden outreach, engagement and feedback. The City staff did an excellent job on engagement with Dix Park and the Crabtree Sewer Inceptor project. The use of technology should be a priority to inform and engage residents, broadening who has a voice. I would also advocate for a Commission on Latino Affairs to learn more about the unique challenges faced by community members.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

Rules regulating scooters and short-term rentals need to be revisited. Scooters are a great way to improve access and address last-mile solutions. I believe more focus needs to be placed on enforcement as a solution. Having led committee discussions on short-term rentals, I believe the rules that are supposed to go into effect January 1, 2020 are too limiting and punitive. I would revisit the policies proposed by the short-term rental task force and ask that we make adjustments.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Housing affordability, supply and demand, and housing choices.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

Having served on the City Council for 10 years, I am the most qualified candidate for Raleigh mayor. I chaired the Law & Public Safety Committee for many years, chaired the Transportation Committee, and served on the Planning and Public Works committees. I also served on the GoTriangle Board for nine years, helping to move forward the Wake County Transit Plan. Because of this experience, I understand how government works, and I know the issues, the budget, and the staff – and most importantly, how to move things forward. I also led on controversial issues, championing a dedicated funding source for affordable housing, building consensus on solutions for homelessness (this resulted in Oak City Cares, our new multi-service center), and bringing forward a compromise on outdoor dining rules. I also championed Citrix’s move to the Warehouse District and worked with Senator Kay Hagan’s office to secure funding for Raleigh Union Station. As the co-founder of Innovate Raleigh, we helped build our entrepreneurial ecosystem to support startups and Main Street businesses, and foster innovation in government. If residents value my work on housing affordability, transit, job creation and innovation, I would ask for their vote on October 8. I have the experience and the leadership skills to build on this past success.

Zainab Baloch

Raleigh has the opportunity to be a city that invests in a sustainable future for our youth and vulnerable populations — one that supports new, people-powered solutions, now. We’ll build a transparent government that chooses to do good, despite difficulties. We’ll make sure growth happens with us, not against us. 

1. Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

Yes, we support putting an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year, but with adjustments. We must put aside a percentage of funding to build Section 8 housing alongside affordable housing. Bonds are a straightforward way for a city to get funding for affordable housing, especially when the city doesn’t receive as much federal funding, but this bond is not enough to solve the phenomenon of affordable housing. We need to work on all levels, including working with developers. We should hold developers and profiteers responsible for creating affordable housing. They are here, profiting off of our growing workforce and developing city, and they are undermining the communities who have been in downtown Raleigh for generations. Yes, a bond would hold the community responsible for the betterment of our community — but there are people here profiting off of us, and that wealth needs to be invested back into our community. So yes, I support the bond for creating funding for affordable housing, but we need to make sure that we aren’t just dealing with affordable housing, but rather raising our city out of the poverty and gentrification cycles that make affordable housing so important.

2. How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Raleigh can increase mobility along routes that don’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan by using technology to make an impact now. We could look into using Mobility as a Service (MaaS). MaaS combines mobility services from public transport, taxis, car rental and car/bicycle/scooter sharing under a single platform that is accessible from a smartphone. We, also, need to pay particular attention to infrastructure projects that will close gaps and have a positive economic impact on low-income residents. Multiple studies have shown that protected bike lanes make cities safer for all residents – not just cyclists. They offer a reliable and safe way to travel that isn’t isolated from the city. The urgency of closing infrastructure gaps means relying on private investment for financing infrastructure development. With the right leaders in place, the city can create accessible infrastructure for all residents that will lower our carbon impact.

3. Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

The number of officers in Raleigh is less than the national average. In a city of almost half a million people, we have only 19 police officers for every 10,000 residents. We have a shortage of officers to address the growing number of issues that come with a rise in poverty, mental health and crime. On top of that, officers aren’t paid well and aren’t able to afford the rising costs of housing and transportation in our city. These factors contribute to the inequitable treatment of people of color by the RPD. I’ve been working with PACT to reinforce our essential right to feel secure in our homes and exist under a government we can trust. That trust is called into question when we have a police department suffering from higher than average racial disparities. How do you build trust when Black women are 17 percent more likely to get pulled over during the day than at night in Southwest Raleigh ? A police oversight board would help build that trust — and, so would decriminalizing marijuana. We must combine oversight with other initiatives, such as reviewing how we can build our policies within a racial and equitable lens, and increase resources to better equip officers to do their job.

4. Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

We would support a rezoning once the proposal includes equitable sustainable development. John Kane should lead the way in showing how developers can build up equitably. Equitable development would be setting aside a percentage of the units for affordable housing, and another percentage for Section-8 housing. Sustainable development would be incentivizing residents who use public transportation, building on-site shared bike and scooter pods, and committing to use solar power. We encourage John Kane to reimagine this tower as one that will actually increase mobility and be accessible to everyone.

5. Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

Earlier this year, Malik and Kane asked the city and county for $330 million — $11 million a year for the next 30 years — to build a stadium and entertainment complex south of downtown. History shows us public dollars going into the stadium and arena financing are a bad deal for taxpayers. Studies have found multiple reasons public investment in stadiums and arenas is a bad idea. For example, while it’s true that the construction of arenas creates jobs those jobs are usually temporary construction positions or seasonal, low-paid positions working in concessions or cleaning the restrooms. Will workers be paid a living wage? The soccer mixed use project is in an “opportunity zone,” which are set aside for low-income areas in need of real estate investment. Basically, investors don’t have to pay taxes until 2026. How will this project invest back into a community in need of people first housing, access to healthy food, more daycare options, thriving jobs and much more? Of the 45 major stadiums built since 2000, a total of 36 were financed through tax-free municipal bonds. Their total cost to taxpayers? More than $3.2 billion. Only 2 percent of economists surveyed by the University of Chicago in 2017 agreed with the notion that stadium subsidies generate more economic benefits than costs for local taxpayers. If you’re an advocate for affordable housing, we’ve got to understand that building this stadium will only push out our residents faster.

6. Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

We want more density and we need more transportation infrastructure so that people can get where they need to go. if we don’t increase raleigh’s density and ensure affordability for a wide range of people, people will have to live outside of raleigh even if they work in the city; then, we’ll need to ensure there’s transportation for those people. As people move here, it won’t be reasonable to continue the car culture that we have. Before even considering the environmental impact that would have — can you imagine Raleigh traffic getting as bad as Atlanta or Charlotte? We can absolutely avoid this, but We need better public transport + support for alternative modes of transportation.

7. Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

In a city full of tech, creatives, artists, and educators, we have all the tools to be a historical great American city. However, we don’t currently have the leaders to put forward a vision to actually utilize our resources. Society has always been an experiment, and we can actually choose to try things in a new way. We are experiencing the same old problems that we’ve dealt with for decades, many of them even more severe now. But, things like poverty don’t have to be something we always deal with, it can be something we solve and move on from. But it takes courage, boldness and working with thinkers, doers and creators to find innovative, sustainable and functional ways to manage our city. It takes a leader willing to inspire these visions in their council and in their citizens.

8. Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

City managers and staff have been doing the best they can with the vision they’ve been given, with the limitations they’re operating within, and the situations they’ve needed to deal with. We have recruited experts from all over the country that are equipped to lay out a vision to build a city for 2050, not 2020 .

9. Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

No, I think our city government has been inaccessible to the majority of our citizens. Only 20% of people participate in the local elections, most people don’t even know there are local elections coming up. This is because City Council is not managed with the understanding that our leaders are representatives, a role that only exists because of the people we are representing. Meetings have traditionally been considered public, but they are at odd times when most people have to be at work. City Council needs to become more transparent and more engaged using contemporary methods — like social media —which would make engaging with our city easy and direct. Our median age is 32.5 and we are an educated, tech city. An engaged, civic-minded city is possible, we just have to explore contemporary ways to do it.

10. Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

Answer: No, we should have kept the scooters. If the concern was safety then we should have mandated that they improved on their safety, not just wildly fined and outright banned them. The scooters were an important way for people who couldn’t afford a car to travel in the city. We saw people coming into downtown from neighborhoods that have historically been disincluded from the area. It was a very real, convenient and cheap way for people to get to work. People who consider those scooters “just toys” obviously have not had to face the difficulty of getting to work every day, or the inefficiency of our current public transport system. We have a vibrant city and people are coming to visit, which is fantastic and Airbnb makes that more possible for people to come and visit. However, there is a very real problem happening in which Airbnb profiteers buy up housing near downtown with the sole purpose of renting it out. That takes away from a neighborhood’s opportunity to thrive. We should be focused on building enough affordable housing so that all of our citizens have a safe, happy place to live, and then also oversee that people who want to rent out their rooms are able to do so, but with regulations so that that service isn’t detrimental to our residents.

11. What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

The absolute most pressing issue in Raleigh right now is balancing development with sustainability. Our growth is exciting, but if we push people out of their homes, out of the city and further away from their jobs, we will only create more poverty, more segregation and we will be further from our vision to be a thriving city. Having a healthy home, one that you can afford and that serves your and your family’s needs, is the base for raising a happier and more active community — which creates a positive investment in our city, by our city, assuring our way forward.

12. What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

Our campaign is powered by the people and we’re not accepting any money from real estate industries. We’re aiming to take the money out of politics and ensure that our right to participate in our future doesn’t require us to have $500,000. But, we can’t do it alone. Join us @ zainab4raleigh.com!

Charles Francis

I am running for Mayor of Raleigh to realize our shared vision of a city that works — for every resident and in every neighborhood, with equity. As Mayor, I’ll bring folks together, to work to realize the promise of a great quality of life in the City of Oaks.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

Affordable housing is one of the top issues in the city, if not the top issue. I stressed it in 2017 and I’m going to be talking about it a lot in this campaign and emphasizing it as Mayor. I do support an affordable housing bond. The exact amount of the bond, I’m not sure. The important thing is what we do with the money. It costs $140, $150, $160 thousand to build an apartment so it’s not practical for the city to use the money to build apartments. Usually, the way you’re using that money is as a subsidy for private development. For example, what you want is for the private sector to have affordable units like people have talked about in some of the market rate buildings downtown, so you’re layering in different subsidies. The effective way to use that city bond money is to subsidize the private market to include affordable units. Much more than a bond is going to be required. One of the things I proposed is that, immediately, we will set up a task force of developers interested in building affordable housing, bankers, bond attorneys, tax attorneys, activists on the issue and come up with five to 10 things we can do right away that will have an impact. That includes a housing bond, it includes expanding tax credits on development, includes increasing density in areas where we need to have more density like downtown, like the places where the boulevards meet 440, but it can’t just be density, it needs to be density with diversity and density with ethics so we find a way for different people to live in these dense areas. It shouldn’t just be only density for high income people, it needs to be density that also includes affordable housing. Another thing we need to do is to remove some of the unnecessary impediments in the development process that slow it down and make it more expensive unnecessarily. I will give one example: the site plan review process is too cumbersome. The city staff very often takes too long in giving endless rounds of comments back to people developing properties which adds time and expense to development which is passed along to renters or to buyers. So we need to increase the stock of accessible housing, I won’t say affordable housing, but accessible housing both to rent and to buy. One of the things highlighted by the [recent] New York Times article about gentrification is the main problem is with the lack of ownership. Because without ownership you don’t have control. So a lot of people who own properties in the areas that are being gentrified may feel there is some cultural displacement taking place. But as owners, they can generally make a decision whether or not they’re going to sell and leave. When people don’t own a property, they’re renters and the owners decide to sell, then they’re out. So we need to focus on how we can increase homeownership. My wife and I bought our first home right when we were getting married in 1991. There was an old NCNB (a predecessor to Bank of America) an old NCNB program where we only had to come up with a $3,000 down payment. We were both young attorneys and we didn’t have $3,000 for that. We had to save for several months, each of us putting in a few hundred dollars until we got it and were able to buy our first home. We need to have more programs like that, like the one in East College Park that make homeownership more accessible for people who can afford to have a home but just may not have the money for a down payment or need other assistance. There’s not going to be one strategy that’s going to solve the whole problem. There needs to be a number of strategies. Up under the affordable housing problem is really a stagnation in the growth of wages. If people make enough money then they are able to afford housing but at the same time we’re trying to create more access to housing, we’ve got try and create and attract more jobs that pay a higher wage. If we do that, then more people will be able to afford the market rate for housing. 

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Voters approved the Raleigh Transportation Bond, which I supported, and now much traffic relief is on the way. However, the next mayor will need to maximize those resources and make sure every dollar is wisely spent. We have tremendous talent in Raleigh’s tech community. Let’s put them to work to improve our transit operations providing real-time updates on public transit routes and traffic conditions, redesigning the GoRaleigh system, and modernizing our grid to be as connected and efficient as possible. I am in favor of working on more commuter rail options in connecting Raleigh to neighboring towns to improve traffic issues across Raleigh.  In regards to pedestrians and cyclists, we should continue to study each new construction development on a case by case basis and decide what lanes are needed for the safety of our residents.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

The police have an incredibly difficult job. They are called in to some of the most violent, difficult, fraught, tense situations in human life and police need to be strongly supported by the city and its citizens. We need to pay officers well, perhaps more than what they are paid now. There is also an issue with force strength. A lot of people have told me as Raleigh has grown, the number of officers has not kept up with that and so they may be being spread too thin. So we need to look at whether we have enough officers for the job they’re being asked to do. But once we respect them as professionals and respect them in their compensation and the way we staff, then the citizens are entitled to a certain level of transparency back. We should have a body camera policy where those cameras are on all the time that they’re interacting with citizens. And some form of police oversight is necessary. I’m not sure about the exact form of it and whether it will go all the way to subpoena powers and things like that but something to increase transparency. We also should look at the training that officers are receiving to deal with people who have mental health issues, with LGBTQ people, and maybe what is needed is to have non-law enforcement people who are available to deal with some of these mental health situations so they can work to de-escalate a situation rather than have it escalating into violence. If there is a citizen review task force, I would require that the people who are on it undergo extensive training. If you’re a lawyer and you sign up to be an arbitrator, you have to take a 40 hour course, you have to really want to do it. There should be something like that for this, so that only people who are really serious about the problem will be a part of it and they’ll understand that most of the time, what the officers experience is mundane and it’s only the rare experience where you have something go sideways and there’s an allegation of excessive force. That’s not the norm and anyone who serves on this task force needs to understand something about what the daily realities of an officer are. And then they will be better able to assess that rare instance where something jumps off or goes sideways and there’s a claim of excessive force.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I support the Council’s decision to support the development of the tower upon the completion of a transit study.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

There should be a comprehensive study about the impact of existing housing, residents, and traffic before moving forward with the soccer stadium. Additionally, we have several city projects that should be fully funded first before moving forward in a large investment into the soccer stadium and complex. I am not outright opposed to it, I simply would like to make sure all voices are heard and all accountability is in place before allocating funding for this large scale project.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

There should be greater density in downtown. Ideally what you might have is sort of a wedding cake approach, where the tallest buildings are on Fayetteville Street and stepping down from 40 stories on Fayetteville Street to 20 to 15 as you go onto streets off of that. We should have more density downtown, but no, we don’t have the infrastructure to support it. So in building tall buildings and building greater density, we are going to have to improve the infrastructure. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

The current Council needs and requires and wants leadership. Why people are frustrated now, when they look at the Council, is they feel like there is a lack of leadership and lack of a leader. That’s what’s needed right now, leadership in the sense of someone who can get us to define what there is a consensus about. Not the lowest common denominator, but to set the consensus, being bold and something that’s conclusive that’s going to move us forward and then to bring a majority of the Council and a majority of the city together behind that vision to get it done. Mayor Meeker was very good at that when he was in office and that is what we need again, now. I have relationships with some of the members of Council now. The basis of any working relationship is personal relationships. I have good relationships with some of the members of the Council now and I am confident I can form good relationships with whoever is elected to the Council. There are a lot of talented people running, a lot of energy is behind those candidates and I look forward to working with whoever may be elected. 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

On the first question I need to learn more about that but I will defer until I learn more and answer the second. There have been instances where the Council defers too much to the staff and the Council cedes too much policy making authority to the staff. The job of the staff should be to execute and implement the policy adopted by the council and to advise the City Council on alternative courses of action, not to make policy themselves. Part of it is this council-manager form of governor that we have and this part-time City Council, it’s just easier to go along with the staff recommendation. I intend to go against the grain on that or push back on that because there have been too many instances where the staff has been allowed to make policy. A couple examples:

The site plan review process for certain types of site plans, bigger site plans, used to go to the Planning Commission and then the City Council. Now, a lot of it is just administered by the staff. When that change was made, people thought it would be a more streamlining change but it has not been because it results in just these endless rounds of reviews and comments by staff and a feeling by the citizens that they’re not getting a chance to be heard in a public forum. The site plan review process, certain big site plans, ought to go back to the Planning Commission and then to the Council and not just be a staff function. 

A second example: there was recently a kerfuffle about Councilman Cox and his interceding on behalf of neighbors in Brentwood on a utility pipe going through their backyard. The essence of it was a utility pipe would be run, the city had chosen a course that was going to be vey disruptive to these Brentwood residents by going through their backyard, it was going to impact property values, affect their quality of life and that had been a staff decision. Councilman Cox spoke up against that decision and said “we should consider a parallel course that will have much less impact on these property owners.” Some people criticized him for doing that but  I think it was entirely right and proper that he did that because something like that really was a policy decision that should not have been delegated to staff without any oversight or question. There needs to be a clear delineation in the way that things are run between policy and implementation and that the policy should fall to the Council even if that requires a little bit more work on the Council’s part. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The city can do more to engage citizens in several areas – voting, cultural resources, and recruiting more jobs to our area.

Voting Access is an area in which Raleigh should be a beacon for the state and a catalyst for progress and innovation, especially given the regressive policies from the state legislature in this regard. But the history of voting in Raleigh seems created to make it difficult to vote, with the intent of disenfranchisement. That’s not what democracy looks like. I believe the more people that vote, the better Raleigh will vote.

We are all too familiar with attempts to suppress voters as everything from Voter ID laws to congressional redistricting takes place on the state level. And sadly, when I ran for mayor In 2017, I saw firsthand the confusion and frustration that voters experienced in just trying to exercise their right to vote. It doesn’t have to be that way. And Raleigh should lead the way.

One specific way to improve the engagement of our citizens in voting is to increase the number of seats on the Raleigh City Council by making smaller council districts to create more representation for all people in all parts of our city.

Our city’s culture centers, our libraries and houses of knowledge raise us all up when they are prioritized. A healthy culture leads to a healthy economy. I want to expand access to the arts, making sure that every part of Raleigh has a chance to experience the incredible sights and sounds our city offers.

In recruiting and retaining more jobs, we are blessed with a great economy in the Triangle, and we should do more to ensure it stays on track. Here are a few items I would prioritize as mayor:

  • Work with local vocational organizations and institutions to push forward opportunities in high-tech advanced manufacturing
  • Work with Wake Tech Community College and ‘Tech Bootcamp’ companies to train the next generation of ‘new collar’ workers in manufacturing, health care, and tech
  • Coordinate with the Raleigh Economic Development and Innovation Committee to explore ways to scale and sustain the rapidly-growing tech sector in the RTP

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

My position on scooters is that I am pro-scooter and pro micro-mobility. We ought to have a set of rules that makes it easier and not harder for young people and all people to be able to rent a scooter. On Airbnb, we need to revisit what we are doing with that. Airbnb and those types of home sharing arrangements are ways many people like to travel and ways people are able to achieve some additional income. So I think that needs to be revisited. Scooters need to be revisited too, in order to make sure we are not over-regulating the use of scooters and regulating them out of existence. The policy ought to lean toward making it easier instead of harder for people to rent scooters. Micro-mobility is good. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Housing. Too many of our neighbors work full-time but still have difficulty affording housing. We can’t put out a ‘Welcome Mat’ to all in our city if a person has no home for which to be welcomed. Raleigh must stop talking about affordable housing and increase access to housing for more people — to rent and purchase.

Here are a few items on housing that as Mayor, I would like to tackle to ensure we can increase housing beyond a publicly supported bond package:

  • A property tax rate freeze for seniors who are long-term residents of Raleigh
  • Identify underutilized parcels owned by the City, County or State which can be repurposed to increase density and affordability
  • Expand successful homeownership programs like the one in College Park near St. Augustine’s College, which is facilitating the development of 98 single-family homes and 51 townhome units with 60% buyer income restricted homes and 40% of the homes with no buyer income restriction
  • Increase the construction of tax credit housing and build a closer partnership with affordable housing developers

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

I am a pro-development candidate and I will be a pro-development mayor. But—this is the big but—the growth that we have in the city shouldn’t be just for buildings or for the city limits. The growth should be for the benefit of the people who live here. The frustration many people have in Raleigh is that the growth has been exclusive and not inclusive. It has excluded people from neighborhoods and they have been here for a long time. It’s excluded them from gleaming towers downtown. We need to figure out a way that the city policy can help more people to be included in the growth and in the good life in Raleigh. So, I am pro growth, but a form of growth that more people who are already here now can benefit from. That’s what I’m looking forward to working with the City Council, the staff, the citizens on, coming up with that type of a model for growth, that type of model that would be more sustainable. One that includes more people, one that is environmentally friendly, one that considers more transit options. That is the type of growth we will be able to continue for decades and that people would truly benefit from. 

George Knott

I want the people of Raleigh to know they have a voice and an advocate. I am not beholden to big companies, tech firms or developers. I am not a millionaire. Every problem we face is the result of artificially driven growth, I want Raleigh to start caring about Raleigh again.

1. Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

Yes, and no. Yes, we need the bond, more than ever, and no, it is not enough. A bond is issued to fund a capital project and affordable housing should not be a capital project. We must integrate housing into the yearly budget, not take out a bond every other decade.

2. How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Bike lanes are a problem, our downtown is mainly two lane streets and the choice is between bike lanes or parking. Many small businesses depend on street parking. Bus routes can be a problem also, we need access for all our citizens but strategic bus lanes can and have triggered gentrification along the route

3. Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

An oversight board is a start but it won’t solve the problem. The relationship between police and the citizens is deeply problematic, is as old as the human condition, and unfortunately the only system we have. I support the police and I also know there is real pain, frustration, and heartbreak in the community. This is a problem no mayor can or has fixed.

4. Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

No. While housing is needed adding density to a downtown that is already overbuild will just compound problems.

5. Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

Not a cent of public money should go to private development when there are nearly 6000 homeless people in our city, an already unbearable affordable housing crisis, and hungry children in Raleigh. If a stadium was such a great idea it would not need public funding. Let’s re-direct the interlocal funds to help Raleigh citizens.

6. Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Raleigh is overbuilt, especially downtown. We have great infrastructure for a city half our size. The largest need is the water available to our city. Ten years ago Falls Lake almost ran dry and that was 100,000 citizens ago. One summer without rain is all it takes and we’ll be there again

7. Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Sadly, they are and growth is not the thing Raleigh needs. We’ve put it ahead of everything, including our own citizens. We need to focus on housing, homelessness, and attracting industry that can employ the people who live here; not chase tech firms that import their workforce to the exclusion of everyone else.

8. Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

The City manager and staff are professionals. I have the utmost respect for them, and what they do (which is having to deal with the city council).

9. Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The information is out there but you might have to dig. You can go speak to the city council but when the PACT voiced their frustrations at the city council earlier this year it showed that while you might be able to speak you won’t always be heard until you make them hear you. 

10. Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

Scooters are toys for people who can afford smart phones, they are not handicap or child friendly, and there is no place for them in a downtown. The city is trying to sell it as a last mile option because if they can convince the people it is, then they are off the hook. I approve of the Air BnB rules.

11. What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Our city subsidizes growth that displaces old Raleigh business, gentrifies neighborhoods, and supports the housing crisis we are in.   We are in a bubble that our city has funded with our tax dollars and is not sustainable. Nobody likes the boy who cried wolf but nobody is talking about the crash either.

12. What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

I know you aren’t s’posed to talk politics or religion in polite company but the Mayor race is non-partisan, so start talking about it with your circle of people. Last cycle only 7% of voters came out to the polls. Every candidate has a website and platform, read them all and get people excited about voting.

Caroline Sullivan

As former Vice Chair of the Wake County Commission, I have experience working with regional governments as well as business and nonprofit leaders to create solutions to complex problems. As Raleigh’s next Mayor, I will continue to work collaboratively on critical issues like affordable housing, transportation and economic opportunity.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

The affordable housing issue is incredibly complex. The housing bond is needed, but it is one piece to a much larger puzzle. We must ensure there are affordable housing options for everyone: for the first-year teacher, for the single mom holding down two jobs, for the seniors moving here to be close to their grandchildren, and for our most vulnerable neighbors. Raleigh needs to grow and build for the future, but it can’t come at the expense of Raleigh’s neighborhoods and longest-term residents. My first step to address affordable housing in Raleigh would be to convene an affordable housing summit to establish our shared long range housing plans. The summit would include representatives from the city, county, other municipalities, nonprofits, advocacy organizations, developers, banks, businesses, and community members. At the conclusion, a permanent affordable housing commission would be established to continuously address this issue with a long-term, collaborative plan. This plan must include strategies like working with developers to provide affordable units in new projects and increasing the availability of middle housing options, such as townhomes and duplexes, for first-time homeowners; protecting existing affordable housing units; leveraging resources for housing to support veterans and senior citizens, and help those with mental health or substance abuse disorders transition into community living; joining the Mayors Challenge to End Veterans’ Homelessness, as many other cities have done; looking at innovative ways to support financing and encourage home ownership; promoting transit-oriented communities around the new transit corridors; partnering with local communities to develop community benefits agreements to help curb gentrification and support economic development; and leveraging a bond for land banking, flexible new private development, tax credit projects, and homeowner rehabilitation programs, and down payment assistance. In the end, the challenge of affordable housing must be approached together – with city and county officials, nonprofits, developers, and community leaders – to find shared values, a shared vision, and a balanced approach to move this issue forward.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Raleigh is part of a dynamic, rapidly growing region, and leaders from across the region must work collaboratively on transit – not only on building a strong transit system for today, but in looking at and planning for the next generation of transit. During my time on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, we developed and successfully passed the Wake County Transit Plan. As we continue to implement the long-term plan, we will see more bus service and more frequent bus service, improvements to bus stops, the development of bus rapid transit corridors in the city, and the commuter rail line from Garner to Research Triangle Park. Increased bus service will involve expanding service from 17 to 83 miles, with service at least every 15 minutes. It will also operate routes every 30 or 60 minutes to provide more coverage across the county. Investments in connectivity and first and last mile infrastructure for walking and biking infrastructure are critical to making public transit a viable option for our residents. We must create a Vision Zero plan for Raleigh that uses data-driven approaches to traffic safety to build a future where there are zero deaths or serious injuries on Raleigh’s roadways through investments in sidewalks, bike lanes, speed bumps and other vehicle slowing infrastructure.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

There needs to be increased engagement and our community needs to feel heard. The city is looking at different types of boards right now and that process needs to go forward because robust citizen engagement is critically important. We also have to look at safety in a comprehensive way by expanding community policing and crime-prevention programs; ensuring that our first responders have the necessary technology, tools, and community support to do their jobs; expanding mental health first aid and crisis intervention training for all first responders; and maintaining adequate staffing and compensation as we grow to ensure the safety of all citizens.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

For Raleigh to continue to grow and thrive, increased density in certain parts of the city is needed, but more density is the not the answer in all parts of the city. Where it makes sense, including in the downtown core and along planned transit corridors increased density will help Raleigh thrive. More density in parts of town can help alleviate our affordable housing crisis. There is a supply-and-demand problem with housing because, as we grow, there are not enough places for people to live, and this pushes prices higher. Second, as we build out the planned transit corridors in the Wake County Transit Plan, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create walkable, transit-oriented communities. In one neighborhood, we can promote communities where residents can live, work, purchase groceries, go to restaurants, and enjoy time with friends and family in a dense, walkable area. The area around this project is already very dense, and the Comprehensive Plan intends for it to be a dense area. The improvements on Peace Street and Capital Boulevard, as well as the planned transit corridor, will help support a more livable urban community. 

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

The soccer stadium project in Southeast Raleigh is an exciting project, and I am looking forward to learning more about their plans. However, as we evaluate the use of Raleigh’s interlocal funds, we must be mindful of the many projects that need support.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Raleigh is growing quickly, and as we grow, we must be thoughtful and intentional in planning how we grow. Raleigh lacks sufficient affordable housing stock, and density is one piece of increasing housing stock. However, as we grow denser, infrastructure is going to continue to be a concern. We must repair and improve our aging water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure to ensure our city is equipped for our future growth. Raleigh also must keep up with road maintenance and prioritize the reduction of traffic and congestion. As the Wake County Transit plan is built, Raleigh residents will have more robust transit options, which will help as we grow. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Like many large cities, Raleigh is experiencing rapid change and growth, and this presents challenges and opportunities. We have a choice. We can choose to ignore the changes coming in our future, or we can come together to collaborate and create a shared vision to build a Raleigh for all of us. We need a Mayor who can work collaboratively with regional governments, higher education, business, nonprofits, and partners across the community to be more intentional and inclusive in planning how we grow. Our next Mayor must put people over special interests, put divisiveness and pettiness aside, and bring everyone to the table to work collaboratively to find balanced solutions. 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

In Raleigh, our elected officials are supposed to set a long-term vision, but they should also work with staff to set goals and policies for the day to day. It is important for elected officials to give staff a strong vision of where the city should be going in the future, so staff can execute what needs to be done with consistency. When I was on the County Commission, we worked on certain initiatives with the city and their staff, and the staff did a great job. Our city staff members are talented people, and they serve our community well. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

All governments can do a better job to engage the public, and Raleigh is no exception. We all need to strive to be more open and transparent. For example, I have been visiting the Citizen Advisory Council (CAC) meetings, and it has been a great experience. CAC meetings are a good way for some people to engage and learn about the city, but different people are interested in different kinds of engagement. Some of CAC live-stream their meetings, which is a step in the right direction. Meetings in the evenings, especially if you have children, can be very difficult, so we need to investigate how we can increase engagement, meet people where they are, and deploy technology to provide additional opportunities. 

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

In certain parts of the city, scooters can help provide increased first and last mile connectivity to transit, but the scooter companies have a responsibility to be good neighbors . I am glad the rules are clarified, and there is the option for residents who choose to ride the scooters.  Our residents need a variety of options that work for their individual needs. 

Airbnb rules need to be approached in a way that balances neighbor concerns around noise and disruption with homeowners who wish to rent their homes. We can look at creative solutions to achieve that balance. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

The most significant issue facing Raleigh is growth, and our growth presents the city with both challenges and opportunities. We must be thoughtful and intentional in planning how we grow to take advantage of these opportunities and make sure we do not leave anyone behind. We must protect what we love about Raleigh, while also accommodating our new residents. Specifically, as we grow, we must consider our affordable housing needs, density, transit, transportation, infrastructure, sewer and water, and quality of life.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

As Raleigh grows, we must grow in a way that does not leave anyone behind–that the opportunities provided by growth can be enjoyed by all of our residents. We need to focus on growing the talent pipeline here in Raleigh, so we can provide every young person with the opportunity to have a good job, no matter where they grew up or where they live. This is the work I do every day, as Senior Advisor to the North Carolina Business Committee for Education. I work to link businesses, both large and small, with the education and workforce systems to prepare our students for the jobs of the future. As Raleigh’s next mayor, I will continue this work by launching an Office of Diversity & Inclusion within Raleigh city government to ensure Raleigh provides opportunity for all our residents and develops a strong talent pipeline now and in our future.

Justin Sutton

I am running for Mayor to ensure our city’s long-term economic success and to improve the quality of life for all residents. I will reinvest in our human capital through effective social programs and provide growth opportunities for small, minority- and women-owned businesses to bolster our local economy.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed? 

Let’s put this into perspective. With any proposed affordable housing development, we need to ensure access to quality public services, education, healthcare facilities, recreational resources, transportation, and job opportunities. These essential amenities are often overlooked when contemplating affordable housing developments, especially for low to moderate income households. 

The city of Raleigh has nearly $1.6 billion worth of outstanding debt obligations on the books, mostly through bonds that have been issued. Passage of an “affordable” housing bond by referendum is a short-term fix that will ultimately increase the cost of living for our most economically distressed residents over time. The ability to issue more debt is not a sustainable economic or social model for the city as the financial impact of these projects will be passed down to residents through increased property taxes, higher utility bills, and fees for public services and social programs. Roughly 13.6 percent of local property taxes is allocated towards paying down existing debt. This will only increase with more debt issued over time. 

If elected, I will focus on the expansion of existing housing programs to enhance the marketability of our communities through homeowner rehabilitation services, first time homebuyer assistance funding, tougher building codes, and increased rental vouchers/subsidies. I would only support a reasonable bond measure for the construction or purchase of single-family homes with lease to own options and low-density housing units with significant input from the public. I would also implement credit counseling programs and propose amendments to our existing budget to redirect taxpayer dollars to these programs. We must reassess the city’s spending habits and budget process to achieve our intended social purpose for the greater good of all while bridging the economic gap caused by the existing housing market. 

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists? 

Inadequate transportation can be a direct barrier to employment opportunities, quality healthcare facilities, and healthy food options. Our mass transit systems should span a broad coverage area while maximizing ridership capacity. We must enhance existing bus routes by increasing the number of connection points and improve infrastructure along major corridors for greater efficiency, higher frequency, and reliability. I will work within the parameters of the recently passed Wake Transit Plan to improve transportation conditions and mobility for all residents by soliciting proposals to expand transportation options for pedestrians and cyclists through cost 

effective bike share programs with designated riding lanes, trolleys, and compact buses to provide commuter alternatives. 

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything? 

My focus is the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens. I would approve a police oversight board comprised of lay citizens and prior law enforcement to foster strategic and collaborative partnerships between RPD and surrounding communities. We need direct public engagement to ensure our safety needs are being met along with programs that promote public safety education. I believe there is a need for criminal justice reform through comprehensive officer training on laws governing police actions and departmental policies as well. However, the Raleigh Police Department is currently limited by budget cuts which may delay the hiring of new personnel, limit promotions, and stall the implementation of essential public safety programs along with the purchase of new public safety equipment to address the department’s needs. 

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not? 

I would not support this proposal as-is due to housing affordability concerns. I do not foresee this being a viable long-term affordable option for renters as neighboring market prices, competition, and the demand for housing would only drive up the cost of living for residents over time. Renters who are ill-equipped to withstanding increasing market pressures (i.e. rent/utility costs) would be forced out and left with few housing alternatives. However, I would consider an affordable housing cost share project between the city and willing developers with extensive public input provided during the planning phase of this community. The city would then be able to leverage its housing market share to stabilize rent prices based on the rental participant’s income. I believe this model truly accomplishes the desired outcome of “affordable housing.” 

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not? 

I believe in strategic development with an intended social purpose. A multi-purpose complex must benefit all residents and function year-round to maximize taxpayer dollars. We also need to consider the longterm operational costs associated with this type of development. If deemed in the best interests of our residents, we would need to source various means of funding including but not limited to private, county, and local to reduce the projected financial burden placed on our city. 

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they? 

We are certainly headed in this direction. There are limitations to growth. Increased density will only strain our infrastructure and city resources (i.e. public utilities, waste management services 

public safety responsiveness, roadways, etc.), thus creating untenable circumstances which may impair the city’s ability to effectively address the health, safety, and welfare needs of our residents over time. We experience this firsthand every day through congestive traffic patterns, increased frequency of first responder reporting, and water/utility main breaks underneath busy streets and roadways. This is a major issue. We will need to place greater emphasis on city infrastructure and asset management programs to streamline business processes, maximize public safety operations, and reduce the strain on public resources in the most densely populated areas of the city. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth? 

Our needs are constantly changing. With the passage of our city’s capital improvement & operating budgets, we will need to reassess the appropriateness of specific projects in order to allocate taxpayer dollars to the greatest areas of need. I believe we need greater transparency throughout the budget process to identify the long-term financial impacts associated with capital investments and operating costs. We can accomplish this through budget realignment efforts and greater input from the public. We need responsible and effective budgeting strategies to address the long-term vision for Raleigh’s progressive growth. 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city? 

There must be a dynamic shift in how we do business in this city, how we govern as a collective body, and how we effectively manage city resources for long term sustainability and growth. This all begins with effective budgeting and sound fiscal policy. We must also take a closer look at how effectively our city is administering public programs and come up with more efficient methods to deliver public services and streamline existing business processes. I’m tired of the status quo. I believe we need a fresh perspective on local issues and that calls for new leadership from top to bottom. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing? 

We can always do better a job of engaging our citizens throughout all functions of local government. Elected officials should regularly encourage public participation during the legislative decision-making process and seek input from community oversight boards, town hall discussions, and CACs. These public platforms generate thought provoking discussions on issues that directly impact residents at the local level. This feedback is extremely valuable to our social progress and long-term economic stability. 

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited? 

Our City Council is tasked with advancing legislation that protects the health, safety, and welfare of our residents. I believe we are making progress in terms of regulating short-term rentals like Airbnb and electric scooters. I will reserve judgment until we have enough data to assess the effect of this legislation. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now? 

The most pressing issue facing Raleigh right now is our lack of affordable housing. 

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign? 

I am running for Raleigh mayor to ensure our city’s long-term economic success and to improve the quality of life for all residents. I will reinvest in our human capital through effective social programs and provide growth opportunities for small, minority, and women owned businesses to bolster our local economy. 

We desperately need vibrant young leaders with executive level acumen who can turn civic dreams into civic reality. I was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina and maintain a vested interest in our progressive growth and diverse residents which span all walks of life. The city of Raleigh is a complex government organization. I am confident that my years of managerial experience as a local business owner and dedicated career as a procurement attorney have uniquely qualified me to excel in this elected capacity.

Raleigh At-Large

Russ Stephenson (incumbent)

My Council resumé combines qualifications not found elsewhere, including professional credentials in sustainable city design, teamwork in bringing Raleigh to the top of national rankings, leadership in environmental and sustainable growth policy and the strongest vision – with work underway – for affordable housing production and citywide equity planning.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I support putting an Affordable Housing Bond on the ballot on March 3, 2020. I began planning this initiative with the City Manager and fellow Councilors in January of 2018 and have led Council efforts to frame the comprehensive Affordable Housing Bond Program that staff has developed. Though I expect to have larger and more regularly occurring affordable housing bonds in the future, they are only part of a more comprehensive approach to increasing the supply of affordable housing at all income levels. Here are the affordable housing initiatives I am championing:

In advance of Council’s 2 July 2019 meeting, I asked staff to distribute the Department of City Planning’s draft Citywide Housing Affordability Strategy, initiated in Council’s Healthy Neighborhoods Committee. The purpose is to begin soliciting comments that will be compiled and brought forward for action at the August 20 Council meeting – leading to a citywide affordable housing conversation and plan described below and in this Strategy document.

Initiatives Already Underway

Housing affordability is obviously an important topic nationwide and many individual proposals described in this Strategy are already moving forward in Raleigh, based on recommendations of Council and the Healthy Neighborhoods Committee

(1) regulatory refinements to improve the density, affordability and compatibility of our missing middle housing, such as  Cottage Courts and Townhouses.

(2) citywide parking reductions for residential and non-residential developments, including the complete elimination of parking requirements downtown. 

Other important affordable housing initiatives already underway include: 

(3) Raleigh’s adopted Affordable Housing and Location Plans, 

(4) the dedicated ‘Penny For Housing’ property tax commitment, 

(5) the initiation of citywide voluntary affordable housing zoning conditions and guidelines, and 

(6) a substantial affordable housing bond will be placed on the March 2020 primary ballot. 

A Citywide Vision for Housing Affordability

While these initiatives have been substantial, the draft Citywide Housing Affordability Strategy seeks to engage in a broader community conversation about our values and how they will inform decisions about improving housing affordability as one key to achieving Raleigh’s “equity for all’ vision and our Comprehensive Plan’s sustainable growth goals and policies. 

Principles to Guide a Successful Outcome

In terms of achieving desired outcomes, my experience is that Council will need to come together early in the process to articulate a set of guiding principles that answer the critical question: “What will success look like?”.  Here are some ideas from the Minneapolis Planning Director, Heather Worthington, that could be adapted as guiding principles for this effort: 

1. Find the sweet spot. “If you’ve created a dialogue where some residents think we haven’t gone far enough and some think we’ve gone too far, we’re probably finding that sort of sweet spot in the middle”.

2. The scale of new multi-family housing must be in line with neighborhood character.

3. Adding missing middle density will only produce more market rate units unless affordability is required.

4. Guide the bulk of new housing to areas with reliable transit routes, such as high frequency transit corridors.

5. Racial equity is a big priority, so eliminating disparities is critical to new planning efforts.

Achieving Raleigh’s “Equity For All’ Vision

In Raleigh’s recent Citywide Survey, residents identified Housing Affordability as the #1 issue facing our city over the next five years. As the cost of living, including housing, continues to rise faster than incomes, and more affordable housing units are lost than are produced, every growing city is facing the challenge of providing an adequate supply of housing at all income levels. The proposed Citywide Housing Affordability Strategy, in addition to the many City initiatives already underway, will help us continue to make thoughtful and effective decisions toward improving housing affordability as one key to achieving Raleigh’s “equity for all’ vision.

sHow should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Because so much of Raleigh is developed in a low-density car-oriented pattern, outside of major transit corridors it makes sense to focus transit service in conjunction with the redevelopment of aging shopping centers, typically at the intersection of major thoroughfares. This process of ‘retrofitting suburbia’ has been studied in detail by the Urban Land Institute and others. With improved transit options, parking lots would be replaced with compact, walkable mixed-use and mixed-income developments. Improved bicycle and pedestrian facilities would connect surrounding neighborhoods to the new ground floor retail.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

Oversight Board: Yes, I support a Police Advisory Board. To be effective members would need to be carefully trained to understand the complex issues involved in criminal justice, community relations, crisis intervention and RPD polices. It would also be important for the membership of the board to represent a broad cross section of stakeholders.

Police Pay & Hiring: Council has created an ad-hoc Council committee to further review lingering pay discrepancies in the new pay system. I plan to participate in that committee.

Community Oriented Policing: Police policies should encourage better community relations, so that beat officers and citizens know each other’s names.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I support his project with the appropriate conditions that provide community benefits such as high quality bicycle and pedestrian streetscapes, affordable housing and a commitment to develop the project so that the traffic impacts do not create unacceptable congestion on the streets surrounding the project.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I do not support the use of taxpayer/interlocal funds to pay for the $300M soccer stadium. While the proposed project has a number of positive aspects, the interlocal funds should be used to maintain and improve major capital projects we have already invested in, such as the Convention Center. In addition, the new facilities would risk competing with other sports and entertainment investments in the area. While the site is a good one for redevelopment, it already has the benefit of being in a federally designated Opportunity Zone, and as such, is already eligible for significant revenue preferences.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

DENSITY: I was very active in the development of Raleigh’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan, which set our new citywide vision and policy framework for turning away from low-density, fossil-fuel, auto-dependent development patterns of past decades, and towards denser development. As a LEED accredited architect and urban design consultant, I took the Council lead by including policies to promote designing our city for people rather than for cars, with a more sustainable pattern of compact, walkable, mixed-use and mixed income development powered by renewable energy sources and served by transit.

INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS: Raleigh’s Comprehensive Plan reflects the community’s vision for  where and how much Raleigh is planned grow by 2030. The Plan includes a citywide projection of infrastructure availability and project improvements to support Raleigh’s growth. 

UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE: As a result of our long range infrastructure planning, construction and funding, Raleigh’s Public Utility System is one of only a handful in the nation with a Triple-A Utility Bond rating. This spring, staff reported that our excellent record of preventing sanitary sewer overflows has put Raleigh near the top of national performance rankings.

TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE: Raleigh continues to fund its transportation infrastructure. The 2016 Wake County Transit Plan referendum in 2016, produces about $100M / year for busses, bus rapid transit and commuter rail. An extensive $207M Transportation Bond in 2017 (3 times larger than any before) is focused on road, bicycle and pedestrian improvements. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Raleigh’s Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2009, has provided a strong, coherent and coordinated vision for Raleigh’s sustainable growth. Council’s success in implementing that vision is borne out in more than a decade of superior national rankings as a great place to live, work, raise a family, start a business and retire. In a recent citywide poll, 9 out of 10 residents agree: we have worked hard and created a great quality of life in Raleigh.

As the Council veteran, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many Council teams, through good times and bad, to achieve the sustained prosperity we’ve enjoyed. What I have observed over the last few years is not a weakening of our growth vision. What has weakened – surely a reflection of divisiveness in partisan politics and social media – is Council’s resolve to invest the time, patience and empathy to work as a team to find common ground among differing opinions. Without patience and empathy, working relationships are strained, positions become polarized and decision-making is stalemated. What is needed is not Councilors with a stronger vision, but rather Councilors with a stronger commitment to building durable Council working relationships of trust and mutual respect.

On this note, my advice to voters this fall is simple: There are more than enough candidates out there with strong visions for growth. Be sure you pick candidates who are committed to working as a team to bring the Council and our City together 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

The City workforce is filled with exceptional people doing great work every day. But like any large public organization without direct market competition to sharpen the organizational edge, it is up to Council to push the pace of progress and press for more accountability, empowerment and continuous improvement. Council needs to take a more active role in this area.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

At Council’s direction, staff has proposed new policies to improve public participation in Planning activities. But in Planning, other areas of structured public engagement, such as the work of appointed Boards and Commissions and Citizens Advisory Councils, and in other areas such as the city website and social media outlets, citizen engagement is rarely designed to achieve empowerment and equity. The additional policy tools and best practices are available.  All that is needed is the Council will to take up the issue and make thoughtful choices.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

Yes. In both cases, two things are true: (1) These are relatively new and evolving markets, so it is reasonable to expect that regulations will evolve with experience and development of best practices. (2) As with all new rules, they represent a good-faith effort to balance legitimate yet sometimes competing policy objectives.  Most users will find the rules reasonable and in the public interest.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

With all of Raleigh’s accolades, its not surprising that developers and financers are scrambling to take advantage of the investment opportunities we’ve created. With rising growth pressures and increasingly polarized views, it is more important than ever that listen to all sides in making balanced and often tough decisions that will keep Raleigh Growing Better and Not Just Bigger by ensuring (1) that growth pays its own way, (2) that the benefits of growth are shared equitably and (3) that we grow in ways that improve the quality of life for all of our citizens. 

Nicole Stewart (incumbent)

I’m a working mom, environmentalist and wife of a small business owner. I successfully pushed our City Council to adopt a goal to reduce our climate pollution. As our city grows, we must put people first so we can build a city that is inclusive and beneficial for everyone.

James Bledsoe

Raleigh needs a different type of councilman. Being a veteran, pragmatist and YIMBY, I plan to bring greater growth and prosperity to Raleigh, small businesses and first responders. I’m running to bring the changes and values that Raleigh has been demanding of our Council.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do not support this council’s poor attempts at solving affordable housing. The council is treating the symptoms instead of the disease. We keep throwing money at affordable housing while Raleigh and Wake become less affordable, we need to work on fixing the actual problem. The problem is taxes and fees are increasing from the Raleigh & Wake County Government. This pushes more people into applying for affordable housing our gets them out of the city. So throwing more money at a growing problem while our representatives raise the cost of living is asinine and counter intuitive. We need cures, not band aids. Raleigh citizens need to stop voting for council members that want more tax increases and vote for those want responsible spending and know how to generate revenue without spending a penny. We have to let people into this city and grow it with new housing options and a less strangling UDO. Housing options like duplexes, triplexes, cottage courts, and apartments above 3 stories are going to allow more people to live here, generate more revenue, & reduce housing costs. Housing is in high demand & supply is low, or for some unaffordable, this raises the cost of housing and rent. When supply is restricted like it is now, our revenue grows glacially slow if at all. This hurts our ability to maintain or improve our infrastructure. We have had some frivolous and emotional spenders on the council over the decade that want all these new things or major improvements all over the city, but the budget doesn’t support it, so we raise taxes and fees. This cycle keeps repeating itself until its noticeable to everyone and we’re all hurting. If we stay on this path we are going to experience an economic calamity like Detroit or New York and only the rich can afford to live here. Representatives in Wake and Raleigh are going to tax the middle class, and lower, right out of the city. That’s irresponsible and incompetent representation & an economic philosophy that hurts the very people our current incumbents pander to with platitudes. Here is the cure. Upzone Raleigh, all of it, & remove the height restrictions. More people means more revenue and less demand. Make all of Raleigh more affordable and we wont need to throw even more resources into affordable housing than we do already.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

I want the city to start putting sidewalks and protected bike lanes all over the city so we can get to these transit routes or move more safely through the city. Adding sidewalks shouldn’t be a prolonged process either. What better way is there to reduce traffic than to getting more people on bikes or walking around with the proper infrastructure? Months ago I put myself in the cyclist’s treads and started riding to work on the greenways as well as alternate routes throughout SE Raleigh. I saved money and got healthier, however, safety has been the major issue due to cars not looking out for cyclists or parking in bike lanes. In just a few months I was clipped or nearly missed several times, cyclists need protection and we need to put sidewalks now!

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I vehemently oppose any civilian police oversight outside of IA. People who have never been an officer do not need to bind Police Officers further. I want to see the RPD return to community based policing and have the infrastructure to do so put in place as an alternative to a board. Community based policing will put a familiar face in neighborhoods as the RPD is able to walk their beats in the community and establish better relations with citizens in their area. I want to see a return of the “Safe Area”. This means having a new police building east of the 401, inside the belt line to improve response times and build trust with the community. I trust Raleigh’s Finest and the people in every community should too. The RPD does need reform, but not at the hands of an oversight board. The RPD needs better pay, greater numbers, and a new Chief. Retention is a big problem when the surrounding municipalities pay better. If we want a better Raleigh Police Department, we need a local government that supports them.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I fully support the Kane proposal. This is exactly the type of density that Raleigh needs and should look to for many future developments. It includes retail, residential units, parking, & so much more all in one building. it will promote walkability and help alleviate the high pressure of demand on our housing supply crisis. This tower aligns with my density philosophy of “Build up, not out.” It will be a good start to showing how well mixed use can do with residential.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I do support using funds collected from hotel/motel taxes to support this project, but nothing beyond that. John Kane will need to help with infrastructure improvements around the development and need to make this a multi-event stadium for concerts and local events including those held by the city.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Raleigh is not dense enough. We have nearly nothing else besides single family housing and 3 story, or smaller, apartments. These limited options encourages sprawl and takes up valuable space for so few people to live in an area. We also have a council that is flip-flopping on the issue now saying they support greater density. Don’t be fooled Raleigh, these people have had years to support this type of philosophy. Having apartments over 3 stories and multifamily housing puts more people in the same amount of space and puts more funds towards infrastructure improvements. We need infrastructure improvements for cars, pedestrians, and bikes. Roads shouldn’t feel like entering orbit in a space shuttle nor should pedestrians have to walk in the streets because a sidewalk isn’t available. Protected bike lanes are still a necessary improvement that will get more people out of cars and onto bikes to alleviate traffic congestion.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

The only effort the city council is making for growth is delaying hearings continuously while maintaining an anti-growth based on their “keeping neighborhood character” agenda. Raleigh is going to keep sprawling until we run out of room and we will need to implement an aggressive upzone policy and tax increases. Upzoning requests are constantly delayed or voted against by the same council that proclaims they are helping grow Raleigh with platitudes. We need a long term plan 10 to 50 years out so future generations don’t have to worry about housing affordability or even available space. I want to see us have “soft” density with ADUs so college students to those taking care of parents can have an affordable place to stay. I want our city upzoned with new and less restrictive housing options with mixed use zones in neighborhoods to build tighter communities. We cannot remain on this path and expect Raleigh to be affordable.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

I feel that city staff are doing their jobs very well, however, they can only do so much with poor leadership at the helm.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The city is doing plenty to engage citizens, but it is lagging behind in technological implementation and it is missing most of the younger people. Text notifications to having advertising on wayfinding kiosks, social media, or music platforms are an under utilized method of engaging citizens. It all depends on the interest of the city and the citizens who want or care to be involved, so there is only so many people that can be reached and will react. 

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

Absolutely not! I want STRs/AirBnBs to exist with modest regulations, including whole home rentals. Let entrepreneurs exist in this overly taxed city/county. Have a yearly registration fee to fund code enforcement and restrict whole home rentals to being operated by landlords living in Wake County. Creating an ever expanding set of restrictions for STRs and scooters isn’t the way to proceed. Lime was a great company here, they hired locals, could be reached easier and faster, and their scooters were of higher quality. Having a regulation on quality is acceptable, but passing the highest fees in the nation per scooter and having a secondary insurance do not promote a flourishing environment for business. Considering the City Council boasts it is in favor of being environmentally friendly, it isn’t taking the easy steps to reduce carbon emissions. My plan for scooters is simple: Remove the secondary insurance, increase  the cap to 1,000 per company, & lower the fees per scooter to $100 or less. Put all the money gained each year towards upgrading and maintaining greenways and creating protected bike lanes.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Housing supply and First Responder support equally. First Responders are paid and treated horribly by the city, need to be paid more, and have greater employment numbers. We need more revenue to fund increasing First Responder numbers and pay, so we need more people to live here. Allow new types of housing to be built, remove the height restrictions on buildings, & ADUs to be built by right. Do that and we’ll see the housing/rent cost taper down a bit making it more affordable to live here along with the increased revenue to the city. There are multiple options to fund everything in my platform, none of those options are tax increases.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

There are a few major differences that makes me stand out from every candidate, one is that I am the only candidate who is a Combat Veteran. I still serve my country to this day in the Army Reserves as a Combat Engineer that clears minefields and IEDs from roadways. I’m also donating 90% of my City Council pay to teachers and students. 50% will go towards a grant for a student in Raleigh pursuing an education in the STEM field each year. 40% will be donated to teachers in the form of school supplies chosen via lottery each month. I’m certainly not doing this for the money. I’m running because I want people in this city to have a better life, more so for those that teach and protect our city. Raleigh needs accountable and pragmatic representatives that do not flip flop on their platforms once elected or go completely silent on social media. I have served in the U.S. Army since 2005 and have succeed in life due to a time tested value system which I intend to bring to the Raleigh City Council. Those values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, & Personal Courage. LDRSHIP. Raleigh needs a different type of representative on that council that is selfless with a good value system, that representative is me.

Jonathan Melton

Raleigh is at a critical moment. We can keep the status quo or choose leaders who come from a place of “yes.” As a community organizer, I have seen what happens when we greet all people with open arms. As a family law attorney, I know how to facilitate compromise.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

A bond on the ballot to address affordable housing certainly does not hurt the issue, but the city needs to be more strategic than just throwing money at the problem. Funding needs to be increased and/or redirected, yes, but just as essential is diversifying the types of housing we make affordable. Our city can zone for more multi-family zoning and prioritize building “up” instead of only building “out.”  I also think this issue would be best addressed in a collaborative effort between the county, city, and private sector.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The city can invest resources to increase the frequency of buses along routes that were not designated for frequent service in the Wake County Transit Plan; public transportation works best when it is frequent and consistent.  Of course, it would be easier to advocate for additional frequent routes if we also allowed, and planned for, more dense housing developments along those same transit corridors. We must also build more bike lanes, and begin building protected bike lanes, especially downtown, so that our citizens have more safe, diverse transportation options.  We can also help pedestrians and cyclists reclaim more space by introducing traffic calming techniques in certain areas.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

Yes, I support a police oversight board.  Police put themselves in harms way on behalf of the city, and I have immense respect for all law enforcement officials, but there have been recent incidents which suggest that law enforcement should be more accountable to the citizens they pledge to protect. The process by which police incidents are recorded and officers disciplined could be more transparent. The city should be willing to admit that the law enforcement process is not perfect, that it can be biased against certain citizens, and that there is more we can do in terms of sensitivity and conflict de-escalation training.  I believe there is a benefit to regular training and updates on best practices when it comes to city law enforcement. 

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

Yes, we should be allowing density and height downtown and along our transit corridors.  The location of that proposed project is both downtown and adjacent to a major transit corridor that was recently improved for considerable cost to make it more pedestrian friendly and to ease traffic congestion. I can think of no better spot for that type of proposed development.  Allowing density and height in these areas reduces urban sprawl, protects more suburban neighborhoods, and is better for the environment. Not to mention, the tax revenue that proposed project would generate is substantial and the infrastructure costs are very low. 

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I support the stadium project.  That said, the use of tax funds does make me pause.  However, the interlocal funds are earmarked only for tourism-generating projects, and the developers are seeking the funds to assist with on-going maintenance costs for the stadium, only.  I believe that’s a reasonable, measured request for the funds.  

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

No, we need to be zoning for more multi-family housing and allowing taller, denser projects downtown and along transit corridors.  The most recent capital improvement plan prioritized spending on public utilities and transportation, and I believe the infrastructure will support more density, so long as future City Councils prioritize planning for growth rather than hoping they can stop it from happening.   The most pressing infrastructure needs are better funding our sewer and water infrastructure and making sure every bus stop has a shelter and lighting. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

The current city council campaigns on a message of growth but in the past two years, a very regressive majority has emerged. It is one thing to talk about inclusivity and crafting policies which are fair to all in Raleigh, but actions speak louder than words, and this city council has prioritized the input of certain property owners over the voices of people who depend on city resources most.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

The city managers and staff do a fine job of using data and professional input to put proposals before the city council and manage the city day-to-day. But it seems this city council does not always want to consider the well-researched input of the city staff and instead puts more weight behind the perspective and wishes of a minority group of citizens who do not reflect the circumstances of the whole.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

At a recent public meeting, the current city council amended public comment rules so that citizens could not address councilors individually. This is the opposite of engaging with citizens, and this reflexive reaction speaks volumes about how the current council handles criticism and views citizens who disagree with them. The city council should offer public hearings not exclusively in chambers, which excludes people without easy access to downtown, but in every area of the city where issues and citizen concerns are bound to differ.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

The handling of electric scooters and decisions regarding short term and whole house rentals are alarmingly indicative of the future Raleigh might be denied unless leadership changes. Short term and whole house rentals are in many instances a vital source of income for Raleigh residents. Denying this option to citizens across the board because of the concerns of a small minority is unfair to those who perhaps don’t have the same access to city council. In the instance of electric scooters, the council’s refusal to sit down at a negotiating table and attempt to compromise will undoubtedly affect whether new companies approach us in the future at all. The scooters absolutely presented a challenge to the city as well as legitimate safety concerns, but how the discussions with companies like Bird and Lime were handled by the current city council essentially eliminated an opportunity for an accessible transit option, a way to reduce traffic congestion, and the chance to embrace a new shared technology which many cities have managed to successfully adopt. We can right these wrongs if we act quickly, which will mean treating Raleigh like the rapidly growing major city it is, rather than the town it used to be.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Leaders in Raleigh need to make well-reasoned decisions on the long term responsible growth plan for our city. The policies we put in place will affect everything from affordable housing to business, transit to green spaces, accessibility to equity – the decisions we make now will determine if Raleigh continues to be a top destination in the country.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

As a community organizer and nonprofit leader, I have seen firsthand what happens when we greet all people with open arms. And as a family law attorney, I spend every day finding compromise solutions between parties who disagree with one another. On City Council, I will use those same skills to facilitate discussions between local government, new and existing businesses and ventures, and concerned citizens.  As your city councilor I pledge to be accessible, open-minded, and fair in my consideration of citizen and city staff input on every issue that affects our city. 

Portia Rochelle

Thirty years in NC State Government overseeing rules/policy development have prepared me to be an asset to the Council. I received the Order of The Long Leaf Pine Award for outstanding service. I served 10 years as President of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP. Signature issues are more affordable housing and adequate transportation for citizens.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

Yes!  Raleigh is in a crisis.  A bond will help only if enough people vote favorably. The City needs a long range plan to develop incentives for builders and realtors to invest in affordable housing for low income families.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

I believe the City should collaborate with routes outside Wake county where citizens live that commute to Wake county.

Infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists has improved over the years.  As Raleigh continues to grow, we must increase access to and safety of sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.  We must consider accommodations for blind or deaf pedestrians and bikers.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

Yes!  I support the establishment of a police oversight board. For the most part we have a great police department.  However, some police do not treat all citizens with respect and equity when confronted on the highway or when they enter homes. The board would facilitate more effective communication and greater trust between law enforcement and the citizens.

Law enforcement like many other workers need a pay raise to keep up with cost of living increase. They are well trained; however, better pay will increase employee morale and eliminate stress on the job.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

No! It is my understanding that the 40-story tower will not include affordable housing.  I do not want Raleigh to create a city of the HAVES and the HAVES NOT.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

No. I support using interlocal funds to help improve current parks in the City of Raleigh that have been overlooked for a number of years. I have received calls from citizens asking when are we going to improve and update the Chavis Heights Park. The City needs to complete Chavis Heights and other areas before bringing in such an undertaking.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

I will need to do more research before responding to this question.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

No. Low income citizens are continuously being pushed further outside of town.  The City needs to look after the welfare of all citizens.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city? Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The City sometimes ignores citizens when changes they make cause problems for property owners.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I support rules which protect the business owners and rights of citizens.  

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Affordable housing for low income citizens. We need to stop discussing affordable housing and develop a plan to decrease displaced citizens due to growth and to help citizens struggling to afford a decent place to live. We need a better plan to decrease the number of homeless individuals.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

I strongly support a living wage of at least $15 an hour for our citizens. Raising the minimum wage helps workers find affordable housing and also affords citizens the opportunity to support local businesses.    

Carlie Allison Spencer

Raleigh is my home. I hope to bring a fresh perspective, a new voice and strong leadership to Raleigh’s City Council. I’m running because I feel the majority of those living [here] don’t have their interests adequately represented. I believe I am the candidate to do just that. Signature issues: infrastructure, public safety, smart growth.

1. Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do not support a bond being added to the ballot next year. That is not the solution. City Council has been unable to take the necessary steps to fix the affordable housing shortage, a bond will not change that fact. I believe the private sector can do that better than anybody.

2. How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The city spends millions on bus transit annually; however, that money is doing nothing to reduce buses riding empty in the city, which is not only a waste of money, but also the opposite of environmentally friendly. Would like to explore the idea of reducing busses and partnering with private companies for those in need of transit. There should be across-the-board infrastructure improvements, not just for pedestrians and cyclists.

3. Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

No, that’s what the SBI and internal affairs were established to handle. No, they deserve a higher paycheck. Yes, considering the resources the city is giving them. No, the police force should be around 1,100 officers versus the 800 we are currently idling at. There should be more city-supported community engagement events throughout Raleigh to bolster relationships with police and the public. Additionally, City Council members should be vocally and strongly supporting all our first responders.

4. Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I support growth. It’s an opportunity to create more housing for people in this area, it will create business opportunities in the retail space, and it will add additional parking. I support the proposal and hope to see its success.

5. Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

No. This would be an expensive endeavor and we do not even have a team at this point. I’d prefer some research on potentially updating a portion of Carter-Finley to build retractable stadium seating allowing for a major league sized-field. The cost would be significantly less and we could utilize the stadium we already have. The interlocal funds could then be used for other more practical projects.

6. Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Density downtown is going in the right direction, but the outskirts could stand to catch up. The city is facing an infrastructure crisis as sewage pipes are continually bursting in the streets. Our traffic is also increasing daily as our population grows. We are not keeping up with the exponential growth our city is experiencing.

7. Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

No. There has been division among this City Council that makes a cohesive and strong vision of growth nearly impossible. For example, Raleigh has been talking about creating affordable housing for years, and nothing has been done. We still have a shortage.

8. Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

I’m going to assume for the sake of this questionnaire, the writer of this question has never tried to get a construction permit from the city. If you haven’t tried getting a construction permit in this city before, try doing that and see how long it takes.

9. Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

No. The best benchmark to consider is the last municipal election. Less than 15% of all Raleigh voters showed up at the polls. People, especially the younger generations, are apathetic towards local politics and need a strong and motivational leader to engage with them in a relatable and authentic way.

10. Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

No. Regarding the scooters, the tax placed on the scooters was excessive and drove out an alternate form of transportation that was affordable and environmentally friendly. Related to the Airbnb controversy, the regulation is unlawful. They should be revisited.

11. What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Public safety. In my opinion, the government’s top and most important job should be to keep its citizens safe. There are around 625 firefighters, which is about 60-70 short of what is needed. We have around 800 police officers, which is about 400 short of what is needed in this city. Our citizens’ safety should be a top priority and it has been ignored for too long.

12. What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

I aim to bring a reasonable and responsible voice to Raleigh City Council. Our needs are always changing and we must change with them. Innovative ideas and common sense solutions seem to be a missing component of the current Council, something I hope to change. I plan to be a councilwoman who takes into account renters and homeowners, students and professionals, the Millenials and the Baby Boomers, the born and bred Raleighites and the transplants, the big companies and small businesses, the citizens that vote on October 8 and those who do not. I plan to make choices that are in the best interest of the most people.

District A

Joshua Bradley

I am running to give voice to the workers of Raleigh. While the availability of affordable housing is declining and there is downward pressure on wages, the people deserve someone who will resist the rising costs of residing in their city. I also support civilian oversight of the police department. 

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I support an affordable housing bond, although I feel that it will require more than just that. I think developers should be convinced to incorporate affordable housing in all future development projects. Employers should be encouraged to pay a living wage, and the city should only offer contracts to businesses that do. NC law prohibits raising the minimum wage, but if it becomes possible, it should be done. The city should provide housing assistance for communities that have been victims of longstanding institutional racism, which has had an adverse effect on communities of color. Raleigh also needs to establish a “housing first” model of outreach to our unhoused population. It is cheaper to provide housing without preconditions than jailing folks for being homeless (which is not a crime).

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The Wake County Transit Plan is not clear at this point since the central light rail component faces ongoing acceptance battles. However, given the scarcity of bus routes in much of the city, which means a lack of connection from many neighborhoods to the transit plan’s Frequent Network (FN) routes, the city must fill the gap between the plan routes and neighborhoods. This can be done by a combination of park and ride sites to allow people to reach the FN routes, extending bus service, possibly with smaller and more fuel efficient vehicles, into the neighborhoods, and increasing service frequency on existing routes. A main complaint about the existing bus service is infrequency. Necessarily, people who are homeless, economically disadvantaged, and do not wish to own cars should have free access to the bus system. Another point about the use of public transit is that we allow personal vehicles to determine the time to destination of public transportation. The use of dedicated bus lanes in the plan should be expanded.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I most definitely support a civilian police oversight board that is independent. It should have investigative and prosecutorial authority. If the police are here to protect and serve, they should have no issue with civilian oversight. Police training should emphasize de-escalation and non lethal use of force. Further, an independent liaison board should be established to help facilitate the needs of those who are often most marginalized by policing, including people of color, undocumented immigrants, and the LGBT community. Police should be paid more if they choose to carry non-lethal implements instead of guns, but must always make a good faith effort to de-escalate any situation. In order to facilitate a better relationship with the community, it is important that we vet all police officers and candidates to make sure none are affiliated with any white supremacist or other racist group. Their social media accounts should be subject to oversight by the public. Whenever possible, police should live in the area where they are assigned.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

Only if 25% or more of the units are affordable to all Raleigh workers. Building housing unaffordable to workers below median income levels means they will be forced to look outside of the city for housing, adding to their living costs in the process since they have to travel. This further exacerbates inequality and leads to the perception that only the economic elite are good enough to live in Raleigh.. We, as a city and community, need to put the needs of people over profit, especially in these times of worsening income inequality and gentrification.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

No. The resultant gentrification would make it harder for people to afford to live there. At the recent Southeast Raleigh meeting, the attendees noted that they were not consulted about the stadium, and so the decision to locate the stadium was less than democratic. Financially, the money would be better spent tackling the issue of affordable housing.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Development sprawl in Raleigh has mandated an increase in housing density, because cities are now crowding each other, and less land is available to exploit. Increased housing density will keep environmental damage as low as possible and provide housing for people of all income levels. The city will need to develop more infrastructure to meet the influx of people. Public transportation needs to be improved and expanded, as said above. The more folks that use public transit, the better for the environment (and traffic congestion). Raleigh’s infrastructure needs are the same as the needs facing the rest of the nation. The American Society of Civil Engineers published in 2013 a report on North Carolina infrastructure showing that in the areas of drinking water, roads, storm water and wastewater, North Carolina at best is maintaining average standards. According to the US Census Bureau, Raleigh’s population has changed by roughly 66,000 people since 2010 (through 2018). That influx on average of 7300 people per year shows no sign of slowing, so Raleigh’s infrastructure will continue to be pressured. Currently, in water projects alone, Raleigh has 15 projects in either planning design or construction at a cost of at least $340 million dollars.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Growth is understood to be synonymous with expansion, and that is always expansion of population and the addition of housing, preferably high end housing for developer profits. We need growth in affordable housing, growth in living wage jobs, growth in including marginalized community participation in government. Much of what is defined as growth, as currently used in discussions with developers and community leaders, is predicated on largely dedicated to the growth of private profit, when the challenges the city faces require a more mature and overarching idea of what it means to create a vibrant and sustainable future. Private profit must be assigned a lesser role in our conversations than it currently occupies.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

From a purely administrative point of view, the city managers and staff are doing as well as possible, given the financial constraints and general hostility to government that dominates in our political environment. The vision of the Council is a moving target, with each new incarnation of the council and the mayor creating an altered set of requirements for staff and workers. It is my hope that the City can develop a set of principles that prioritize the economic well-being of the working class and use that principle as the underlying guide for the city manager and staff.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The city is not doing enough to publicize the existence of the Citizens Advisory Councils (CACs) and their role in the democratic development of public policy. I would recommend rotating council meetings to different areas to give communities a chance to participate without the burden of traveling downtown, which is becoming significant as the cities boundaries expand.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I believe the biggest concern with Airbnb is caused when speculators buy up housing in order to rent on Airbnb. I am not really concerned with folks who rent rooms in their primary residences as long as they pay the occupancy tax. I would support a ban on Airbnb rentals outside of one’s primary residence. The effects of short term rentals outside of primary residences has been devastating to cities by driving up the cost and driving down the availability of affordable housing. Short of a ban on Airbnb-like services outside of primary  residences, I would favor a vacancy tax, equal to the average occupancy tax, for every day that such a rental was vacant. The proceeds of this tax would be used to fund low income housing. It is sensible for municipalities to regulate private businesses, especially in regards to the safety of its citizens. I would much rather have a bike sharing program integrated with the city public transportation plan. Bicycles have longer lives and it could be offered at no cost to low wage workers.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Gentrification, which is the displacement of poor and economically-disadvantaged communities from their land. This is a transfer of wealth from these communities to the rich and well-financed, and it must be stopped.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

It would be of benefit to the city and county to use Ranked-Choice voting in multi-candidate races. Other issues the city should lend their weight to, statewide, is the return of the election to donate to publicly-financed campaigns, and also to the banning of the felony or misdemeanor boxes on employment applications. The city should impose a buffer zone around reproductive health clinics.

Patrick Buffkin

I am running for City Council because I want to keep Raleigh moving forward. Raleigh is a wonderful place to call home, but I am concerned about how we are managing the challenges that come with rapid growth and change.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I support an affordable housing bond referendum next year as part of a strategic effort to make a transformational impact on the housing affordability crisis. In addition to funding through a bond, I support reforms to our zoning laws that provide more opportunities for more people to move to Raleigh and efforts to establish an appropriate process for voluntary agreements with developers to support for affordability.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The City should continue to be guided by the work of the Wake Transit Plan and pursue many of the features of the plan along routes that are not near term priorities under the Plan. For example, more comfortable bus stops, off-bus fare payment, free wifi on buses, moving stops out of the lanes of traffic, and more frequent service are all opportunities to improve transit options and make traffic flow more efficiently. These features of improved bus service can be accomplished outside of the bus rapid transit (BRT) corridors (where buses have dedicated lanes). In addition, the City needs to redesign its streets to be more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists, and to coordinate better between greenway planning and deployment of on-street facilities.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I prioritize efforts to improve relations between RPD and our community before considering a police oversight board (which would require a change in state law). Raleigh can also do more to support its police officers, for example, hiring more officers, increasing officer salaries, revisiting the car take-home policy, and improving other benefits. Support for our police officers will help improve morale, retain talent, and attract qualified applicants. The City has made improvements in this area through its coffee with a cop program and national night out participation, and I would like to see these efforts continue.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

Yes. In February 2015, the City adopted the downtown plan, setting out a 10-year vision for our city center. That plan identified Peace St. as a key opportunity to connect Glenwood South to Seaboard Station and the Mordecai and Oakwood neighborhoods. At the same time, NCDOT and Raleigh are working to implement major repairs and replacements to Capital Blvd. between Wade and Peace Street. Kane’s project is a mixed-use development that will support public transit and increase density in the downtown district. It is an example of the type of revitalization that the City intended to incentivize through investment in redesigning the street network.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

Yes, I support this proposed project, but I believe that interlocal funds should be one part of a strategic approach to ensuring that the project has a substantial public benefit. For example, I would also like to explore the use of a special tax district to ensure that the local community and the city as a whole benefit from the increased value that the soccer stadium and the surrounding downtown south project would create.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Raleigh has reached an inflection point on density as growth is moving further from our city center and even outside of Wake County. If this pattern continues, we will experience the kind of traffic congestion that happens everyday in Austin and Atlanta. Meanwhile, young people and senior citizens are asking for the same thing: walkable urban environments where they can live, work, and play without having to make a trip in a car. Raleigh has an opportunity to grow in a better way, and I support pursuing opportunities for Raleigh to increasing its density, especially in the downtown core. 

Raleigh is falling behind on maintaining its infrastructure. We need the City to make incremental investments in its water, sewer, stormwater, and road infrastructure as we grow so that we are prepared to welcome our new neighbors. We also need to do a better job replacing aging infrastructure in a way that is guided by a long-term plan.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

As a group our City Council is not getting the job done when it comes to a long-term vision for growth and change in Raleigh. The challenges of traffic congestion, aging infrastructure, and housing affordability demand urgent action.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

As a member of our City parks board, an active participant in transit planning, and a member of the Dix Parks planning workgroups, I have worked with a number of City staff. I have utmost respect for these public servants and believe that Council should empower them to help guide decisions in their areas of expertise.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

In general, I think the City does a good job engaging citizens, however, I want to pursue opportunities to engage citizens online and to improve the City’s website. I also want to seek a community consensus on improving our citizen advisory councils (CACs) in ways that ensure all voices will be heard when the decisions are being made.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

We should reconsider these rules because they are too restrictive and will harm our City’s efforts to recruit businesses, festivals, and conventions. New regulations should better balance the interests of participating in the new age economy, keeping our streets safe, and protecting neighborhoods.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

The most important issue facing Raleigh is how do we better manage growth and change, including, the most urgent challenges like traffic congestion, maintaining our infrastructure, and the housing affordability crisis.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

As a member of our City Parks Board, I have the experience that it takes to start making positive contributions as a City Councilor on day one. I am ready to listen to the community, work with the city staff, and make the decisions that we need to make to keep Raleigh moving forward.

Sam Hershey

I want my son to grow up in a Raleigh that doesn’t leave anyone behind. We need responsive, forward-thinking leadership that brings all the stakeholders to the table before making a decision. We can also be doing more on big issues like fighting climate change.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do support the bond being on the ballot and think it’s a good start. Unfortunately, the bond will not be enough by itself. We need to take a more expansive view to addressing affordable housing and the range of factors that impact it. Until we begin to adequately address all of these factors (things like access to public transportation, rising healthcare costs, job opportunities and wage stagnation, and actual housing prices), we can’t expect to effect comprehensive change on the issue.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Raleigh’s long term plan absolutely needs to focus on plugging those gaps. It will take time and money, but our vision for the city should be one where eventually all of Raleigh is covered by quality public transportation options. Raleigh has not done a great job in the past of emphasizing pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure as it has been a car-centric focus. Programs like bikeshare options are great ways to make cycling an option for more people, and bike lanes can extend beyond just our downtown areas, which will ultimately help alleviate traffic congestion. We can also push NCDOT to be more proactive in considering pedestrian and cycling options in its current and future projects.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I do support police oversight boards, but I think it’s crucial to ensure that the composition of the board reflect all the stakeholders in the community and affected parties, including people like retired law enforcement and community activists. Our law enforcement pay needs to be competitive, because we’re a growing city and we need to be able to recruit and retain officers in order to meet the demands that entails. I also think anything we can do to foster good communication and transparency goes a long way toward helping build the trust and respect that law enforcement needs to adequately serve the communities they’re responsible for.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

Generally I do support developing density in downtown areas. Raleigh needs to update its zoning to focus on areas that are best suited for density, and pushing for projects in those areas. However, a key component of this is ensuring that there are plans to address the increase in traffic and congestion that would come along with structures like that. At the end of the day, I’m not opposed to this project, although I wish it wasn’t quite as tall. More importantly, I’d much rather see our city and developers focus on building more affordable housing rather than yet another luxury condo/apartment building.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I don’t support spending interlocal funds on private development of any kind. I do support the idea of having a stadium of some sort in downtown Raleigh, but I have questions about the impact of the project on the Southeast Raleigh community in terms of gentrification, affordable housing, and the environmental impact from a stormwater and runoff perspective. I also have questions about the long term effects of the project with respect to jobs and economic growth and who will benefit from those. As with all decisions, it’s important to be fully informed on these issues so we make the right decisions for all of Raleigh. 

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

We have room for more density projects in certain areas of downtown and outside the beltline, but it’s absolutely critical that we upgrade our infrastructure accordingly, so it can handle the increased usage. We shouldn’t under any circumstances be approving projects that our infrastructure can’t handle. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

We need to be more forward thinking in how we handle growth as a city than the current council has been. It’s critical that we protect the things we love about Raleigh that make it such a great place to live, work, and play, but we also have to understand that the city is growing and has needs that come along with that. We can protect our environment, preserve our parks and greenways, and maintain our values, while still allowing for development to keep pace with Raleigh’s growing population.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

City staff works hard and is doing a great job with the resources they have. It’s critical that we support them and ensure that they have all the resources they need to keep up as our city grows.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

We definitely have room to grow when it comes to how our city communicates with citizens. Raleigh has so many amazing programs that people living here aren’t even aware of. I want everyone who lives here to be able to participate in any program that can be helpful to them. We should work to promote our programs as much as possible, whether than means trying to find money for advertising, or just looking at ways we can make these options more visible to citizens with the existing tools that we have.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

We should revisit the governing rules for both to make some modifications. For scooters, we need to encourage competition from different companies, we should have a dynamic cap based on usage to calculate how many scooters should be in the city and we should designate parking areas or corrals for scooters on every block. Per Airbnb and pending rules on whole house short term rentals, the primary restriction should be permitting short term rentals only at primary residences. We don’t want to encourage companies to buy housing stock for the purpose of renting short term. Beyond that, we shouldn’t spend a lot of time restricting the ability of someone to make extra money through Airbnb. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

How we approach growth is 100% the most important issue facing the city right now, because it has an impact on almost everything else. As we grow, our needs change. We need to be smart about where we develop and what types of development projects we approve. We need more affordable housing. We need to protect our environment. We need more law enforcement and first responder personnel. We need to upgrade our infrastructure to handle the increase in traffic and congestion and the larger volume of stormwater runoff. All of these things are inseparably tied to growth.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

I care very deeply about the environment and it is important that we be more aggressive at the local level fighting climate change. I want to launch a program to encourage solar energy throughout the city and utilize renewable energy wherever possible, as well as upgrade existing city government buildings to be more energy efficient and place robust guidelines on new ones to ensure they’re built with an eye on our environmental impact. Instead of transitioning our bus fleet to compressed natural gas, we should immediately go all electric. Also, I want to make sure we protect our parks and greenways and protect this city and our planet for future generations.

District B

David Cox (incumbent)

[When I ran in 2015], many in District B were disappointed by the lack of engagement and representation [because of the previous City Councilor’s] propensity to support developers and failure to support citizens. I won on a promise to be engaged and provide support. I run again as the best choice for representing and supporting citizens.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year?

Yes, I support the proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year.

Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housingshortage? If not, what more is needed?

I think that an affordable housing bond will address some of the shortage. However, more needs to be done. The problem we face is as much about income disparity as it is about housing supply. We have reached a point in our society where those with higher education earn significantly more money than those who have obtained less. In 2018 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that those with a high school diploma have a median weekly salary of $730 while those with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree earn a median weekly salary of $1,198 and $1,434 respectively.A family with two working adults with high school diplomas might earn $1500 a week while those with a college education earn $2400 to $2900 a week. In a community such as Raleigh with even higher paid tech work workers, many families have significantly higher disposable incomes which drive up prices. The result is that those with high school or less education simply cannot compete. State, County, and local governments need to work together with our schools, trade schools, colleges, and universities to find ways to close the income gap. This is not an easy fix. And while adding more affordable housing will provide some help, I do believe it will fall short of what is needed.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in tothe Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructureimprovements for pedestrians and cyclists?

I have always supported providing infrastructure such as sidewalks, greenways, bike lanes, pedestrian bridges, etc. Accommodating pedestrians and cyclistsshould be one of our highest priorities. In some cases, providing thatinfrastructure will be difficult. The city simply evolved over the past hundred totwo hundred years without providing that infrastructure or envisioning it. Also, we have limited financial resources. We will continue to have more demand for sidewalks and bike lanes than money. We will have to continue to prioritize these projects based on need (such as proximity to schools) and the desirability for them within neighborhoods.

Do you support a police oversight board?

Yes, I think it is appropriate for the City to select citizens to provide oversight. Coming from industry, I am a believer in continuous improvement. First and foremost, at the end of the day both citizens and police officers want to be alive and healthy. Having a separate set of eyes to review specific incidents as well as policies and procedures with the goal of making law enforcement safer should be a community goal. Oversight should be viewed through the lens of improving policing and community relations with the goal of making our community safer for everyone.

Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population?

Our officers and fire fighters lost ground economically after the economic downturn more than a decade ago. In the last couple of years we have addressed that stagnation but I believe that there is more to do. Our current policy is to pay “market rate” for officers and fire fighters. However, we don’t take into account our local cost of living or our own aspirations to train and field first class public safety for a first class city.Continuous training must be pursued. Policing is hard work. We need police that understand mental illness, how to recognize it, and how to handle it. Being a police officer isn’t just about law enforcement. It is also part social worker, part health care worker, and always community leader. My definition of Raleigh having first class public safety is to go above and beyond and to compensate appropriately for it.

Regarding the size of our police force, Raleigh has grown very quickly in a short period of time. The number of officers (and fire fighters) has lagged behind that growth. We don’t even have enough officers to enforce our traffic laws. The lack of growth in public safety puts greater pressure on our current officers. I would like us to focus on public safety this coming term, determine where we need to be, and budget accordingly.

What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I believe that we need to continually improve communications between police officers and the community. Good communications is essential and finding ways for citizens and police to continuously interact in positive, constructive ways is always helpful. Importantly, good communications must happen in both directions. We all need to understand how policing is done, why it is done, and why it is a benefit. And, in turn, we need to understand how policing affects the community and the individuals in the community.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Streetto build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

What I support is a democratic process that involves all citizens to guide development. The City has created a Comprehensive Plan to guide development that was based on the inputs of thousands of citizens. PeaceStreet is on the edge of what is considered to be downtown. The Comp Plan is very clear that 40-story structures should be located in the downtown core with heights tapering down towards the edges where downtown transitions to neighborhoods. I personally could support 40 stories on Peace Street provided we have theinfrastructure to support it. But even with the infrastructure, is this the appropriate location for such tall structures? My reading of the Comp Plan is that heights between the current entitlement of 12 stories and 20 stories would be appropriate. Despite my personal preference, I give tremendous weight to thedemocratic process and the Comp Plan that it produced.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadiumentertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/whynot?

I would love for Raleigh to have a soccer stadium, more entertainment venues, restaurants, and shopping. However, the interlocal funds are tax dollars that are generated by current businesses and facilities such as the Convention Center and the PNC Arena. The needs of those businesses and facilities need to be addressed first. As for the soccer stadium and entertainment complex, we need to examine any financial arrangement very carefully. I am not comfortable risking public tax dollars by investing them in a private venture with no guarantee of return. At this time, there needs to be much more discussion both within City government and also with the community before proceeding with such an approach.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure tosupport more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructureneeds? If so, what are they?

There is no absolute answer about whether Raleigh is or isn’t dense enough. The answer is largely a value judgement. The ultimate result will be determined by those on Council who will set policies and make decisions about development. I am a big believer in democracy and understanding what the community supports. Several years ago the City went through an extensive process todevelop a Comprehensive Plan for growth and development. That plan envisions increasing density in the downtown core, in designated growth centers, and along transit corridors. In also envisions lower density neighborhoods and transitions between those neighborhoods and areas of higher density. Growth and resulting density are happening. I support the community process – a democratic process – for getting us there. However, one area where I think our community efforts at planning could be improved is in planning for future infrastructure needs. I find that more thought could go into future transportation needs, and the long term impacts from expanding water and sewer infrastructure to accommodate future growth.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enoughvision for growth?

A huge community effort went into the City’s Comprehensive plan to plan forgrowth for the next few decades. That plan embodies a community vision for how Raleigh grows and anticipates growth in the downtown core, in designated growth centers, and along transit corridors. Some people have very strong opinions about growth and development. Somehave vested interests in growth and development. The vast majority of citizens who are not developers but love Raleigh for its neighborhoods, entertainment, education, health care, restaurants, shopping, etc also have a vision for the city. My goal on Council is not to force upon the community my vision but to continuously engage citizens to understand and support the community’s vision. Where we go as a city should be decided democratically rather than imposed bypeople who believe they know what is best for everyone else.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing theCouncil’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of thecity?

With a growing city there are challenges that do affect day-to-day operations. We have a good manager and staff that need to balance priorities. On the one hand there is the need to keep up with demands for resources such as water, sewer, roads, police, and fire. On the other hand, meeting those demands creates conflict with homeowners, business owners, and citizens by the impacts created. As City Councils change with each election, so do priorities. If 2019 continues the trend of the past several years, the priorities will continue to shift to neighborhoods and quality of life. We need to guide the manager and staff toensure that we are clear about these shifting priorities.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should itbe doing?

Citizens engagement is always evolving. People tend to attend meetings andwrite to Council about issues that concern them. But citizens are increasingly signing up for routine email notifications and using social media to stay informed about issues. I am a particularly strong advocate of Raleigh’s Citizens Advisory Councils. Our CACs really do set a model for citizen engagement. They are organic organizations staffed by committed volunteers. We need to build on ourCACs and do everything we can to empower them and make them moreeffective.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electricscooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governingeither/both need to be revisited?

What Council has passed are rules for the short term rentals of rooms in a home.At the time I write this, Council is still completing rules for whole house short termrentals. There are some aspects of the rules that could change. For example, the limit to two unrelated adults could be increased or lifted. Despite this, I supported the new rules because we needed to set some initial expectations. Frankly, previous councils were unable to compromise and establish rules. With this council, a majority was able to compromise and come to an agreement. I expect further discussion and compromise will amend the rules in the future. But we will only get there when people are willing to compromise and work together.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

In my opinion the most important issue facing Raleigh is educational and incomedisparity. There is a wide gap in educational achievements. The evidence isclear that society values the college educated through the higher incomes thatare provided to them. We simply do not pay those with high school diplomas oran education in the trades to the same levels as those with Bachelors, Masters, or PhD degrees. This, in turn, leads to two classes of people with those at thelower income levels priced out of housing. The result is a growing number of people living in substandard conditions with literally hundreds of registered school children living in hotels.Sadly, we much prefer to talk about the number of housing units we build rather than the number of people we rescue from poverty.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to knowabout you or your campaign?

I care about people. I care about our neighborhoods. I care about our city. These past four years I have worked to stay engaged with ordinary citizens to hear what is important to them and what their hopes are for Raleigh and its future. Raleigh is not a city where a few wealthy people get to move buildings around like pieces on a large, elaborate chess board. Growth and development have impacts and consequences on all of us. Over the past four years I have attended about 200 Citizens Advisory Council meetings. I have attended every Council meeting and every Committee meeting where I serve. I have met with innumerable citizen and neighborhood groups aswell as with countless individuals. I have stayed in touch almost in real-time with citizens through social media. I pledge to continue to stay engaged. My pledge is that my voice at the Council table will continue to be your voice at that table.

Brian Fitzsimmons

I am running to bring a proactive voice back to Hargett Street on behalf of District B, ending the reactive past few years we have had. I will fight to curb our affordable housing crisis, fix our crumbling infrastructure and be a voice for all of District B’s citizens.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed? 

I absolutely support a comprehensive affordable housing bond. I’m not entirely sure we would be able to do anything next year that would be “enough” but it would certainly be a start. I did not support putting it on the ballot this fall. We would have rushed it and had very little plan to put to voters on how we would spend it. We need a long-term plan to address our affordable housing crisis. This bond, or another bond 5 years after that, won’t solve our problems. We need to foster an open dialogue with all of our stakeholders, and bring everyone to the table to pool our resources. We need to cultivate a culture of collaboration with the development community, instead of an adversarial one. 

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists? 

Each and every change that is made to update or maintain any street within the city’s jurisdiction should face a review that measures the changes against a predetermined standard for alternative forms of transportation. If locations end up being miles away from the nearest bus stop, every effort should be made to bridge that gap with protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and other non-vehicular forms of transportation. Our first attempt should always be to figure out a way to incorporate protected bike lanes into every street update or maintenance project. This is arguably the most important right here in District B, where we have seen far too many cases of people being injured or killed while making their way across Capital Blvd. 

Do you support a police oversight board? 

Yes. Before we do anything, we need to seek to understand. Why is there a public outcry for police oversight? What has led to people feeling less protected, or even in danger, when around police? I have a 10-year-old son who, when asked to respond to a police office, probably wouldn’t say a word. That leads to a fear no parent wants to face. But our son has a built-in advantage: he’s white. Black and brown citizens face a much higher rate of being questioned by police. So much of this can, and should, be talked about openly and honestly. It comes down to ignorance for so many, but ignorance is only a bad thing if it goes unchecked or challenged. That’s where communication comes into play. Let’s be willing to have the tough conversations about race in today’s Raleigh. Let’s be willing to challenge that narrative that a desire for any sort of a police oversight board means a lack of respect for police. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Any police oversight board must contain several things, including a well trained and knowledgeable membership. Each member must go through a comprehensive training exercise that educates them on all aspects of the Raleigh Police Department. They must also participate in a ride-along twice a year while serving on the board. All of this is meant to combat the ignorance anyone might have about police and their role. The fact of the matter is, for every failed de-escalation we hear about, there are thousands that occur where we don’t. Since so much of the struggle between the community and police is based on implicit bias, it’s imperative that any oversight board be willing to combat their own. 

Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population?

Absolutely not. For far too long we have relied on various national standards to determine how best to pay our police and fire departments, instead of seeking to set that standard. If we want to create the best city possible, we must recruit the best employees possible. That job becomes exponentially harder when we’re trying to do it with limited resources. We need to be willing to be a leader in how we recruit, train, and pay our police officers. We currently have one of the best police academy’s in the country, so we’re off to a good start. We just need to keep it going. On the subject of officer pay, so many other issues find themselves sneaking into the debate, with affordable housing being near the top of the list. Far too many of our officers live outside of the city limits because they can’t afford to live within them. 

What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything? 

I attended a “Coffee with a Cop” session a few weeks ago and thought it was a great first step in trying to build a strong relationship with the community. Events like those go a long way. 

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not? 

I do. Density is a must, especially along transit corridors. This is a perfect opportunity to do just that. 

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not? 

I do. It can be hard to stomach the idea of allocating funds to these types of projects, especially with the examples folks bring up of previous failures. Juxtapose that with the very real and valid desire to spend any type of extra funds on pressing issues like affordable housing and infrastructure, and all of the sudden you’re faced with a real uphill battle. But we must remember the statutory goal of the interlocal funds: put heads in beds. Any dollar we spend must go towards that goal, with facilities like the Convention Center being towards the top of that list. That said, there is nothing preventing us from putting our own standard on top of that. What projects have the ability to cross the typical boundaries of interlocal-funded items? Where can we use IL funds to address the “heads in beds” requirement, but also make a dent in our affordable housing and infrastructure needs? Projects like this stand out when we consider it that way. We have the opportunity to work with a development partner to address so many of the cities needs while using funds that are typically not apart of these conversations. When elected, I intend on being a strong advocate for this project to help us address our biggest needs. It can happen, but only if we’re willing to try. 

Is Raleigh dense enough?

No. Our housing crisis demands of us a new vision for housing types in Raleigh. We have to be willing to embrace concentrated density around transit corridors, and different kinds of multi-family dwellings in typically single-family neighborhoods. 

Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs?  If so, what are they? 

Yes and no. I don’t think we have the infrastructure to achieve the kind of density we need, but we certainly have the infrastructure to achieve more density than we have. We need to continue to invest in public and other forms of transportation, with a strong bike and pedestrian focus. We also need to pay particular attention to our aging water and sewer system, which has for far too long been overlooked by the City, particularly this current council. We have seen an increase in burst pipes across District B, and the urgency to address the problem doesn’t seem to be there. We have to provide our public utilities department all of the tools it needs to provide a world-class system. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth? 

Absolutely not. What’s more, they seem to be advocating against it. 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city? 

I think staff is in a very tough spot. There is an almost palpable fear coming from staff members at city hall, worried that they might do or say something to draw the ire of various council members. We have to be willing to trust the professionals we hire to do their job. Council’s job is to set the vision, staff’s job is to implement it. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing? 

Our commitment to citizen engagement can’t be limited to CAC’s and Facebook. We need to be willing to not only invest in those, but invest heavily in tools like RTN, our overall communications office, and other forms of social media to create a better dialogue back and forth between the city and its citizens. 

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited? 

No to both. In both cases, council asked outside groups (staff and a committee, respectively) to come up with reasonable regulations covering scooters and short-term rentals. They chose to listen to neither group and come up with their own, draconian “compromise.” Raleigh’s future is by no means dependent upon scooters or STR’s. In fact, I find myself begrudgingly apart of the debate, if only because I feel like it’s indicative of a bigger problem: an unwillingness to be proactive. Times are changing, and we need to be willing to change with the times. Being a progressive, proactive city will go a long way towards giving us the resources to address our most pressing issues, like affordable housing, gentrification, and infrastructure. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now? 

Apathy. “If it doesn’t affect me, why should I care?” We will be lucky to hit 20% turnout in this fall’s election. Far too many people don’t realize the extent to which the city has an effect on their everyday life, or their neighbors. We need to do what we can to set an example of empathy and commitment for all of Raleigh’s citizens. 

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign? 

I am focused on bringing a proactive voice to Hargett Street on behalf of District B, ending the reactive past few years we have had. The issues facing us are far too important. We can’t afford to wait for the ideas to come to us. I will work harder than anyone, and will be a voice for all of District B’s citizens. Not just the ones who agree with me.

District C

Corey Branch (incumbent)

Raleigh’s growth creates opportunities for inclusivity and diverse viewpoints to merge to develop a world-class city. Opportunities for all citizens to participate in addressing affordable housing, transportation and economic development must improve. I am running for re-election to Raleigh City Council District C to facilitate this engagement.

1. Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

We need to look at all possible options to pay for affordable housing needs in order to address our shortage. A housing bond is just one approach to a complex matter to help in addressing housing needs. This bond will include provisions for public-private partnerships to incentivize private development to participate in addressing our housing shortage for those of all incomes.

2. How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Increasing sidewalk infrastructure, adding bike lanes on streets with capacity handle bike infrastructure and partnering with community and other governmental agencies are ways to address improving pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure.

3. Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

The General Assembly of NC would have to approve a board with the powers requested. In the meantime, I am willing to work with ensuring we have a Civil Service Board that reflects our city. I am interested in a board that can investigate and provide recommendations back to our police chief. A Civil Service board is currently established in Raleigh and any decision made by the chief can be appealed to this board. Changes would have to be made to the Civil Service board, which has citizens representation, and this would have to be modified as well to work with another board. Pay and training for officers has increased over the years and is designed to adjust to ensure our officers provide the best service and are the best trained. Retention of officers after 3-4 years of service has been a problem in the past and must be addressed. As a city, we must work to build and improve community and police relationships.

4. Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I support the changes that have been made to the project which includes: federally defined affordable housing and traffic improvement measures. This project will be along a transit corridor for bus rapid transit, which can reduce the need for a car. As a city we are growing, and this is an opportunity to place growth within an area which can support it.

5. Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

Additional conversation on the community benefits are needed before deciding on the use of interlocal funds for this project is needed. I believe there is potential to improve economic opportunities for this area of Raleigh, if the local community is included in the process and afforded the opportunities.

6. Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

The city does have the infrastructure to support more density with proper planning. Proper planning includes funding to replace aged infrastructure and continuing to conserve water while improving water resources.

7. Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

As a current city council member, the vision to address growth is in the forefront of our decisions. We have different opinions on how some items should be addressed, but the vision is on how we can make Raleigh even better.

8. Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

The city managers and staff are doing a good job at implementing the vision which the council agrees. As a council we have made requests for error free customer service and that has caused some delays. The new city council will have to work to ensure we give clear direction and expectations to improve overall customer service.

9. Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

Different engagement methods have been added via face to face meetings, walk-in presentations, surveys and website improvements. With these methods and changes, some residents still are not being engaged and we have to explore other methods which are cost neutral.

10. Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I do not support the short-term rentals policy for an overlay recently passed. As far as electric scooters I support the use of them within bike lanes. I look forward to working with the new council on who we can find win/win situations and that is done via community engagement.

11. What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Opportunity to affordable housing, opportunity to economic development resources, and infrastructure improvements are the issues we have to plan for now to have a city for all citizens.

12. What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

Job training for young adults and the youth are critical. Youth employment programs addresses a variety of vocational and soft skills that contributes to developing both professional and social skills. These programs are intentional and assist with gaining the ability to become successful in transitioning into adulthood and careers. Technology, particularly, is changing at a rapid pace and is important for me especially to be invested in our future which requires attention to new trends and integrating tech materials into these programs/community.

Shelia Alamin-Khashoggi

Having lived in District C for 10 years, I see the effects gentrification has on families and individuals. I am community based and, thus, interested in issues affecting the community. And as such, I am interested in the building and planning of District C’s infrastructure.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year?

A housing bond – on next year’s ballot?!!? That’s an insult to all of the citizens of Raleigh. I think we all know a bond is political-speak for a five to ten year delay before anything happens. This is an election year ploy to get them re-elected.

Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed? 

We have a housing shortage today. By the time the bond takes effect it’ll be a housing crisis! What is needed is for the Council to redirect HUD money to build low and very low income housing – now – and to reverse that 60:40 ratio, which they can do.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan?

Raleigh should see that citizens can have at least two modes of transportation available that will connect them with the County transit system: 1) the light rail and, 2) Go Raleigh buses must adhere to their schedules, which likely means additional buses and drivers.

How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The BRT’s are going to address this issue. But I must add that there are some streets that are unsafe for cyclists such as, a curve on Creech Road where drivers are blind to an approaching cyclist until drivers are on them. Therefore, bike lanes have to be well planned.

Do you support a police oversight board? 

Yes. I wrote and presented a citizens advisory board proposal to Council in November 2018 that included holding the community and the police accountable; required more extensively effective training for officers to recognize when they are engaging with mentally ill persons. Additionally, the Board members will need extensive training.

Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough? 

No, when you consider their duties and some of the people they encounter on a daily basis. Add to that the need for them to receive ongoing training because of the growth and changes in the community, particularly knowing how to properly engage with mentally ill citizens.  

Do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population?

No. I don’t think enough officers are hired who have already been properly trained and have a passion for community engagement especially in high crime neighborhoods. There needs to be two officers assigned to a community where one of them looks like the community and the other does not. 

What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything? 

“Community leaders and activists could sponsor periodic sharing and listening forums. Discussions in which both citizens and police are receptive to each other’s perspectives pertaining to both hypothetical situations and real-life occurrences can be very constructive.” (Proposal for The Citizens Advisory Board, Nov. 20, 2018, p. 6)

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

No. It’s too much for the area. As Bob Geary said before the City Council “…it fails to address a number of city policies that are important.” And echoing Courtney Slater’s sentiments, “Go where people in actual need of affordable housing are. Ask what they would do with this highrise project.”

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

No. If the city is going to use city-county funds it needs to be to finance housing, particularly affordable low and very low income housing. There is no good reason why the city has not partnered with the county to build affordable and low income housing before now. 

Is Raleigh dense enough

If by “dense” you mean building more high priced housing, then yes it’s dense enough. District C has borne the brunt of gentrification’s adverse effects. Too many families that have been pushed out of their homes live in hotels. Now the city is responsible for finding them permanent housing.

Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density?

No.  

Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?  

Yes. All of its infrastructures – streets, gas lines, water system, etc. – needs to be updated to handle the sheer volume and demand because the city’s population is daily growing.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

No because it is more exclusive than inclusive.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city? 

No. They’re running the city. They are making policy for Council to “rubber stamp,” which is not their job. The Council is charged with the responsibility of making policies and the managers and staff are to see that those policies are implemented. The city is simply out of order.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

No. Transparency is a farce. Evidence of that is the city’s website. Citizens are forced to hunt to for information and they still may not find what they’re searching for. All of the City Council minutes are no longer on the website. And, the live Council meetings and videos constantly buffer.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? 

Safe, affordable permanent housing for all income levels is my primary focus at present.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now? 

Housing for all income levels especially low and very low incomes.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign? 

I want District C to hold me accountable. I want to represent the needs of our community, which are low and very low income housing, economic development particularly for small businesses to get good, profitable contracts with the city and not be pushed out by the BRT.

Wanda Hunter

The most underrated and valuable demographic, the black woman has never been represented on the Raleigh City Council. I am a candidate who is open minded yet bold enough to stand up for the constituents of District C. The time for change is now. Let’s make history! Someone, just like you! 

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

The bond is not enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage. We need to evaluate the decisions that we have made thus far to get us here. We also need to research new innovative ideas that other cities are using to combat the issue and create a piecemeal solution that fits Raleigh.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The city should address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan by reviewing the ridership data and interviewing frequent riders to see what the needs are. The city should address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists by including off-street multi-use path networks, wide shoulders, buffered bicycle lanes, better facilities and promoting safety and awareness. Bicycle networks that connect multiple land uses and destinations is important. Connectivity to the downtown area, office centers, and existing greenways and parks is particularly needed.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I support the police oversight board, every entity should have unbiased accountability. Average $37k a year is well below the national average. Training is lacking.  The city should mandate a dismantling racism training in an effort to repair strained relationships between officers and communities they serve. Annual updates should be required to further understand societal growths.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I do not support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40 story tower because of the traffic congestion that will be created and the safety issues for pedestrians and cyclists that will increase. Our city has far more pressing issues with parts of our city not have bare necessities and other parts of the city operating on their wants.  

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I do not support anything regarding the soccer stadium until we address equal pay for the Women’s team. Race and Gender equity is a big issue that is not being addressed.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

The city is dense enough in certain areas. Certain areas have the infrastructure to support more density.  Some of the infrastructure issues may not be pressing right now, so at our current rate of growth we need to keep a watchful eye on our water supply, roads, bridges, and electrical grids.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

The current City Council members are not putting forth a strong enough vision for growth.  Our current leadership is at a stalemate and we new innovative ideas and leaders who are not afraid of thinking outside of the box.  

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

City managers and staff are not doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated because the vision is not strong enough. Day to day operations of the city are also lacking because the current leadership can not keep up with the city’s growth. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The city is not doing enough to engage citizens. The city should be more inclusive by meeting people where they are. Offer to take city council meetings outside of City Hall, offer child care during city council meetings, and being more transparent in all decision making.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I do not support recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals. I think some of the rules governing both need to be revisited.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Housing is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now. Housing is a human right and should be treated as such. If you can’t be housed how can one live, work, and play?

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

Intergenerational leadership is important to me because it is one thing that can bridge some of our gaps.Intergenerational leadership can help us avoid repeated pitfalls by extracting lessons learned and bring our history and future to the table to be visionary together.

Ricky Scott

I run for City Council because I possess community involvement experience and skills needed to build relations with City Council members and community leaders to address issues facing our community. My signature issue is affordable housing. With faith and vision, we can create an inclusive community to meet our challenges. 

1. Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Yes.

Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? No.

If not, what more is needed?

In addition to an affordable housing bond, an affordable housing task force, consisting of city officials and staffers, nonprofit and for-profit organizations, faith-based organizations, developers, bankers  and concerned individuals must convene to develop a comprehensive set of  short term and long term strategies to address the affordable housing crisis in our city. Once adopted by the task force and submitted to City Council, then immediate action toward implementation of these recommendations must be undertaken.  

 2. How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan?

To address transit not included in the Wake Transit plan, in addition to a transportation bond that includes transit not included in the Wake Transit plan for voter consideration in 2020, the City needs to engage all stakeholders including city transit staff, nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations, the citizen advisory councils and individuals through collaborative dialogue that result in meaningful actionable recommendations with short term and longterm solutions that can be undertaken by the City. 

How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The City should address improvement in infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists by having a transportation bond included on the 2020 ballot that allocates a portion of the revenue toward such for voter approval.

 3. Do you support a police oversight board? Yes.

Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough? No.

Do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? No.

What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

To facilitate relations between law enforcement and communities they serve, the City needs to improve recruitment and training of officers, increased diversity of officers, improve compensation and benefits, and improve community relations by working to develop relations between officers and those living in the community. For example, outreach efforts may consist of officers siting and talking to those in the neighborhood for the purpose of establishing trust and respect. In short, come to the community for the purpose of building trust not just for investigating a crime or reacting to a call involving the possible commission of a crime.   

4. Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

As part of rezoning proposals, the City should require an affordable housing component. It is essential that developers become fully committed to participating in addressing this crisis in a significant way. 

 5. Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

Yes, interlocal funds should be used to support the soccer stadium and entertainment  complex  because it can bring needed economic growth to the area resulting in employment opportunities for those living in the community. Additionally, new property tax revenue will be realized and a significant portion of that revenue should be used to support the ongoing efforts to address the affordable housing crisis in our city.

 6. Is Raleigh dense enough? No.

Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density?

Where infrastructure is inadequate to support more density, then, the City needs to improve the infrastructure to support more density. 

Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? Yes.

If so, what are they? Sidewalks, roads, water and sewer systems etc.

 7. Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

I believe that the City Council can do better with putting forth a vision for growth that is more inclusive of our entire city. 

8. Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

Yes, they are doing a good job but there is always room for improvement.

9. Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The City has boards, commissions and citizen advisory councils for the purpose of engaging the community. There are instances where the City staffers make the decision without real input from these groups on those decisions. In short, these groups need to play more of a role in the decision-making process when drafting recommendations to City Council.

10. Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

Generally, yes, rules regulating both should periodically be revisited. It is important that the process remains in a state of renewal reviewing issues and concerns that continue to arise.

11. What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Several issues face the City of Raleigh. They include the affordable housing crisis resulting in part from problems of gentrification, lack of economic growth in parts of the city, and the lack of comprehensive public transportation that covers the entire city.

12. What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

My campaign is rooted in faith and hope in our City and our fellow citizens and in a vision that is rooted in creating an inclusive community where together we work to create affordable housing for all, economic opportunity, reliable and comprehensive public transportation and a safe community in which to live, work and play.

District D

Kay Crowder (incumbent)

I am running for re-election to continue important initiatives underway! The complexities of running our growing city are daunting but not insurmountable. In District D, I am the only candidate with both business and public sector experience. I want Raleigh to remain a top choice for our residents and businesses!

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year?

Yes. 

Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? 

We don’t yet know how much funding will be requested. But it would have to be a huge number to even be close to enough. Bonds are just one of many strategies that need to be used for affordable housing. 

If not, what more is needed? 

Inclusionary zoning and other incentives that encourage developers to include affordable housing in new projects, public-private partnerships, transit-oriented affordable residential site acquisition, federal grant monies, and low income housing tax credit gap financing, among others. 

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The Wake Transit Plan will triple countywide bus service, but that doesn’t mean that local transit goes away. The City of Raleigh will continue to expand the GoRaleigh service. The City has also been trying out dedicated bike lanes like cycle tracks. The first permanent cycle track is planned between NCSU and Meredith College. It’s short but it’s a start! It will demonstrate to all of us how dedicated bicycle infrastructure functions. 

Perhaps the most important change in sidewalk policy occurred in 2011. Prior to that, the residents abutting new sidewalks in existing developments were charged for a major portion of the construction. Now, the City pays the total cost. This has encouraged neighborhoods to petition the City for new sidewalks. The problem now is that the request list is very long. Voters approved additional funds for sidewalks in the last transportation bond referendum. We must continue to fund sidewalks in future bond packages. 

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything? 

I support an oversight board. Several recommendations for a board have been presented to the council and the city staff is currently analyzing them. When that analysis is complete, it will be vital to get citizen input from across the city.

Law enforcement officers are never trained enough or paid well enough for the service we ask of them. However, our police academy provides stellar training. All new police officers are trained in crisis intervention. We are not hiring enough because it has become difficult to recruit new officers. 

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not? 

I support increases in density. The impacts of this development on infrastructure, including all modes of transportation, water and sewer, need to be determined before an informed decision can be made. The social benefits and costs should also be examined. 

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I support the idea of expanding the uses of the interlocal funds. It has not yet been determined how much public funding is actually needed to make a private entertainment complex viable, and what the actual returns to the community from the public investment will be, both in dollars and community benefits. 

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Raleigh was built as a low-density southern city. As a result, the current infrastructure is inadequate to support a large increase in density. Transit systems (from roads to buses to bike lanes), water and sewer lines, schools, hospitals, parks, and all the rest of the infrastructure need to be improved and expanded. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Yes. That’s why the city is growing so rapidly! We are consistently rated as one of the most desirable places to live and work. 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

Yes. The city is well-managed. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing? 

It’s never enough. But we have a robust system of citizen engagement, for example, our Citizens Advisory Councils and numerous citizen-led boards and commissions. 

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)?

Yes. 

Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

All of our rules and regulations should be revisited periodically. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Right now, there are thousands of children living in budget hotels throughout Raleigh. Becoming the best place to live and work for every citizen is far and away our greatest challenge. 

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

The City is growing rapidly and for the first time the city budget has exceeded one billion dollars. The complexities and nuance of running such a large social structure are daunting, but not insurmountable. I am the only candidate for District D that has both the business and public sector experience needed to tackle the big issues that rapid growth brings to a diverse community.

Brittany Bryan

I’m running for City Council to help Raleigh grow in a way that supports our residents. I’ll be a resource with an open ear and will work hard to make Raleigh ready for the future. I’ve been committed to this community for years and am ready to serve. 

1. Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do support the proposal for an affordable housing bond, and think it is a first step in the right direction. However, more needs to be done. Realtor.com notes that the median list price for a home in Raleigh is now at $299,000 and Rent Jungle notes that a one-bedroom apartment is $1122 a month on average (which is a 8.11% increase from last year). Meanwhile the median income in Raleigh is around $53,000. Financial experts recommend spending no more than 30% of your monthly income on housing. Many Raleighites are struggling due to our housing costs.

Addressing the affordable housing problem is not something that has a quick fix or a single solution. We can look to cities like Denver, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Minnenapolis, and Durham for examples of approaches that are working. Those approaches include more than just funding. They include looking at land-use policies, building regulations, and stronger community partnerships as a few examples.

Additionally, we need policy that makes it easier for people to access services and navigate the city. We need to also be looking at livability and overall affordability in a range of areas such as work-force housing, middle-income housing, and senior housing to name a few.

2. How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Creating a robust transportation plan needs to be a top priority for Raleigh. As the city grows, so does congestion. In surveys that both Raleigh and Wake County have done, residents responded that walkable communities are where they want to live. A strong transportation system helps with that.

We should focus on providing more regular and frequent bus service, especially in areas that are connecting corridors to our upcoming Bus Rapid Transit lines. We need to provide options for people to take the bus if they choose and it should not take hours to get to a destination that is only two miles away like it currently does for many residents. For transportation systems to be successful, they need to fit into the day to day life of riders and potential riders.

Additionally, infrastructure needs to support transportation. All bus stops must be accessible and safe, which means shelters and sidewalks for them all. We need to make sure that crossing the road to get to a destination is safe, which means better and more crosswalks. Finally we need to provide separate and protected bike lanes throughout the city so that people have additional safe options for navigating the city.

3. Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

The city should study options for an oversight board and should take a serious look at the recommendations the Human Relations Commission released earlier this year. Once again, we can also look to other cities for lessons learned on this front. We need to proceed very carefully when it comes to an oversight board to ensure that it is effective and a good vehicle for also educating the public on how to interact with the police. Any board of this nature needs to have experts included, be transparent, and should be committed to creating safe environments and working with the police to promote that.

As the city grows, the need for more first responders (including fire fighters and all emergency response professionals) will grow. I fully support pay parity for all first responders meaning that the same job and location are paid fairly relative to one another. We need to include more training opportunities and make sure that we are supporting first responders with safe and up to date equipment and resources as well.

I am an advocate of community policing and more foot patrol so that police can be a true part of the community and problem solvers, not just there to respond to reports of crime. We need a forward-thinking approach to engagement, education, and information sharing.

4. Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

In areas of town that can support more density, such as Downtown and Glenwood South, taller mixed-use buildings make sense. Having more residents live close to where they work helps alleviate congestion. I support making changes to the current code to allow for this type of development. I am also committed to policy that encourages more green infrastructure to protect and restore our waterways and natural areas.

5. Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

The area currently being looked at for a soccer stadium is an area that has great potential for economic growth for our community. However, that economic growth must be balanced in a way that does not harm the people living in close proximity. I support a mixed-use development in this area that includes affordable housing, green space, food options (including a grocery store or small market), and walkability. I believe we need to look long and hard at the impacts a sports facility would bring. Many studies have shown that using government funds for sports stadiums are detrimental to communities. However, I would be open to use of interlocal funds here IF, and ONLY IF, there was a strong Community Benefit Agreement in place that would support the surrounding areas and was created with input from those communities and if there is a public transportation included.

6. Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Raleigh has areas that can support more density but we need to fast-track our infrastructure improvements. We are years behind in safety for walking and biking and our water system is in need of repairs so that we do not end up like other cities where major water main breaks have left people without clean water for months. Wake County and Raleigh have seen increases in pedestrian injuries and deaths – this is unacceptable and something that we must address immediately. Our focus should always be on the safety of the people of Raleigh first and foremost.

7. Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

No they are not. We are years behind on transportation. Years behind on innovation. We are often noted as a great place to live, but we are quickly moving to the point where our too little too late approaches will be highlighted instead if we do not change direction. Raleigh needs a fresh, innovative perspective and vision for our future.

8. Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

I believe our city staff is made up of talented experts that City Council needs to listen to more. We are fortunate to have such an amazing team of professionals on staff and they are diligent in their studies and recommendations. When we ask these experts to give their professional, well-researched thoughts on an issue, then we should listen to them and show them respect.

9. Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

The city has a variety of ways that citizens are able to engage, but it’s time to re—evaluate those. I believe there are ways to better utilize technology to complement our existing Citizen Advisory Councils and Boards and Commissions. We need to provide more opportunities for input to those who are not always able to make meetings in person. We also need to remove barriers to participation by communicating with all residents, not just homeowners, hosting meetings along transit lines, providing child-care options during meetings, and live-streaming all meetings. Additionally, there are thoughtful case studies on using online tools for better civic engagement, such as systems implemented in cities like Savannah and Fayetteville, Arkansas. We should look to those successes for ideas for better engagement.

10. Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I do not. I believe these decisions were made without enough community input and without thorough research. These both need to be revisited.

11. What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

What Raleigh needs most right now is a vision for our future that is innovative, inclusive, and sustainable. To have that we must be willing to listen to all residents, create a safe and vibrant community, and commit to investing in our best asset – the people of Raleigh. That means providing a variety of housing options that encourage walkability and community, giving people safe options for navigating the city, supporting local business and first responders, creating healthy green spaces, and encouraging public art.

12. What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

It’s important to be able to hit the ground running from day one, especially since City Council terms are only two years. I will be able to do that. I have been following city policy decisions for years, active in each election, serving on boards and committees for local organizations that have been focusing on many of the issues discussed above, and have participated in the Raleigh Neighborhood College and Raleigh Citizen Leadership Academy. I’ve been working hard for this community for years and have a clear understanding of how we got to where we are and how to move Raleigh forward. I am committed to being a resource for all residents of District D and listening to, respecting, and working for them all.

Saige Martin

With experience in diplomacy, public policy and community organizing, I’ll bring bold reforms and proposals forward that will move us forward. Growing up homeless, I’m prepared to tackle the affordable housing crisis head-on. District D deserves a better leader who will be bold in the face of our many challenges.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do not support the proposal to rush an affordable housing bond. I do, however, support a bond that is crafted intelligently and with all partners and stakeholders present who are responsible for implementing the bond so that it is not created in a vacuum. Furthermore, the City Council has many options to increase affordability before ever touching a housing bond. We should be proactively upzoning for gentle density increases along our busiest roads and where we expect public transit investments, we should allow ADU’s by right, and allow affordable housing developers expedited and fee-free rezoning and permitting requests. Those are just a few ideas I am proposing as part of a larger “kitchen sink” style proposal for addressing our affordable housing crisis. City Council has sat on their hands for the last four years while prices sky-rocketed. A $30 million dollar housing bond would not even put a dent into solving the issue. We have to look more holistically at our zoning, internal approval processes and incentives that Council has control over to build a comprehensive and long-term solution that involves multiple answers. A bond is not enough.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

My goal and focus will be on investing in and supporting, an integrated transit system across the city of Raleigh. No one should have to worry about whether they can make it the last mile to their destination if they’ve opted to use a city bus. The Wake County Transit Plan needs effective facilitators at the table to enact it quickly. But we can’t stop with the plan, we must look at how the rest of the city’s routes and opportunities play into creating a holistic and efficient transit system for everyone. 

I want Raleigh to be ranked the best place in the country for walkability and rideability. We need to take bold steps towards de-incentivizing driving and make the infrastructure investments other cities made decades ago to provide protected cycle lanes and a safe and enjoyable walking experience for those looking to leave their car keys at home. This includes restricting on-street parking when possible, upgrading existing bike lanes to be protected lanes and to think critically about the overall experience we are providing to those who would use these pieces of infrastructure. I will work with the community to ensure that the experience of riding your bike or walking to your destination, is more enjoyable than had you been in your vehicle. 

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I do support a police oversight board and have spent time with those in the community who have been victims to police brutality or whose relative was murdered by police. I believe that there are many models around the country that provide us with examples of what works well and what does not, and we would be foolish to not look at our options to make sure that everyone benefits from the board. 

Raleigh is having a hard time retaining existing police officers and hiring replacements which puts the rest of the force at risk of being overworked. I would work to understand the needs of the department overall and ensure that all officers are paid a liveable wage. I would also support further training opportunities for our officers and to provide them with experiences that will make them more effective in their jobs. 

The first thing that the city can do to strengthen the relationship between residents and the police is to establish an oversight board. Second, I would work to understand how we can better integrate the police into our communities so that they know the names and stories of the people they are protecting and so that mutual trust can begin to be built. But we must start by hearing the cries of those who have suffered and ensure an oversight board is established. 

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I do support the proposed rezoning by Kane Realty along Peace Street but would work to ensure that the project adds to the experience of walking along Peace Street which is currently not a positive experience. This project is important because it begins to add living options along a busy transportation corridor.  

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I support the idea of the proposed development but as it’s currently laid out I would not vote to use interlocal funds to finance the development. However, if developers can provide clarity in regards to the ways in which the development will increase economic opportunity and upward mobility for southeast Raleigh then I would support the use of interlocal funds. I see a great deal of potential with the project overall but I need specifics before using taxpayer dollars on such an investment.   

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Under current City Council “leadership” many residents are opting to move outside of the city limits to find more affordable housing, a recent heat map that circulated online showed surrounding cities far outpacing Raleigh in regards to growth. Raleigh could be dense enough to begin to support some of our transit investments but we need councilors at the table who don’t dig into fear but build on the hope of what our city could become if we make the right decisions today. One area where the current council has done a disservice to residents of Raleigh is by voting to not increase the proposed funding for our water and sewer infrastructure as requested by the city staff. With their lack of foresight, they have put our crumbling water and sewer pipeline system into an even more dire situation which has catastrophic consequences as untreated sewage has spilled over into our water-ways and our water mains burst regularly. We can do better, and we deserve better.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

The only vision I’ve heard articulated by the current council is one of backward momentum. Their vision is to stifle small business growth. Their vision is to push our affordable housing crisis under the rug unless they can use it for political expediency. And their vision that a “Raleigh for all” really just means those who are your friends or who run a Citizen Advisory Council that you attend. So, no, I do not believe the incumbent is putting forth a strong enough vision for our city. I believe that we can lead the southeast and the country on so many issues that are not only challenging us but are challenging cities and communities across the country. We have the best universities, the best businesses, and the most creative minds right here in Raleigh. On October 8, we have the opportunity to either invest in our people and in a bold future and ensure we rise or we can continue to watch Raleigh be a follower. The choice is ours. 

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

Our city staff is incredibly talented and we are lucky as residents to have them. Unfortunately, the current council has stopped providing a vision for the city staff to work towards and have instead made every decision a major obstacle for city staff to navigate, increasing frustration for city staff and residents alike. We owe it to the people who are choosing to invest their careers with the city to listen to them, follow their advice and realize that no one running for City Council has a Ph.D. in urban planning, but we have city staff who do. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

No. We continue to see the same people engaged with over, and over again while the city misses the mark to invest in technology platforms that could be leveraged to expand access to residents and engage them in decision-making processes. When I worked for the United Nations, there were a number of countries that did this very well and I would look to other cities in the USA as well to understand how we can utilize digital sources to increase engagement and information sharing with residents.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

No. The council’s decision on both issues is embarrassing and yet another example of their lack of progressive thinking. If elected I’ll work to expand mobility options throughout the city and not restrict usage to just one monopoly. In addition, I will vote to ease the restrictions placed on short-term rentals. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Lack of leadership. We lack the visionary leadership necessary to meet the challenges of our times. Our city is facing serious problems and we don’t have a representative from District D who knows how to build consensus, who knows how to think pragmatically and who is a true champion of building a progressive city. We need a leader who will make bold choices, who will push for solutions instead of digging for problems, and who will fight every day to tackle our toughest problems. By electing true leaders we can begin to solve major issues like affordable housing, a crumbling infrastructure, environmental justice, and more.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

Please go to my website, www.saige4raleigh.com/priorities and then look at the other candidates in District D. You will quickly understand my depth of experience working in public policy, and how seriously I take my policy proposals. There are a number of initiatives that I look forward to championing when elected but I’m most excited to address our housing affordability crisis. As someone who grew up homeless, I know what it’s like not to have a safe place to call home and right now we’re failing our residents by not fighting day in and day out to get a handle on the problem. I’ve laid out an initial list of ideas and programs that I believe can help move the needle on the affordability issue. 

April Parker

I’m running for City Council because we need an honest, fearless and effective leader – I am that leader. I am focused on upgrading our city’s infrastructure because every city needs a strong foundation in order to be able to maintain a sustainable, thriving metropolis.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the City’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed? 

Although the City Council’s bond proposal has good intentions, raising taxes is an inefficient solution for the affordable housing crisis in Raleigh. We need to make better use of the resources that the City already has. Furthermore, the City needs to be making partnerships with businesses in the private sector as the primary way of increasing affordable housing. By doing this, not only can agreements be made for the number of affordable units provided but can also ensure that the rent/mortgage for those units are not astronomical – taxpayers shouldn’t be burdened with making up the difference in costs. For this to work, there would have to be incentives, e.g. tax write-offs, for businesses to agree to participate in a partnership with the government. 

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor into the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

The City should ensure that there are safe, paved walking paths that are lit at night alongside every major road that is not on the transit route. This will allow individuals to walk more safely to the nearest points of transit access. 

As for infrastructure, there needs to be paved paths (as mentioned above) that take into account areas in which residents frequently walk. Without an increase in walking paths, individuals will continue to walk on busy roads, therefore posing a risk to themselves and drivers. 

Although bicycle lanes are great, and I have personally used them, we have to make sure that we aren’t decreasing the size of the roads/highways we currently have in order to make room for bicycle lanes. As the population of Raleigh grows, we have to keep in mind that we will likely need to expand our current roads and highways and that needs to take precedence over bicycle lanes. However, as we expand, we should try to include bicycle lanes wherever they are feasible. 

Do you support a police oversight board? 

I do not believe a police oversight board is necessary. We need to trust our officers to protect us to the best of their abilities. If we do not give them our trust, it is more difficult for them to do their job. There are already effective oversight measures that police departments perform on their own, so a police oversight board would likely impede their current efforts. 

Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough?

Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day and paying them the bare minimum is borderline barbaric – officers need to be paid more (more specifically, officers should be paid more based on their training, experience, and level of risk they encounter in their position)

Do you think law enforcement officers are trained well enough?

I believe that our officers are trained well enough, however, I also believe that there is no such thing as too much training. I support additional training to keep our best and brightest educated on the latest practices and technologies. I believe that our officers should be thoroughly prepared to deal with whatever they could potentially encounter on the streets.

Do you think the City is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the City’s growing population?

Our City is growing exponentially, and it is critical that we have a properly sized police force to keep our City safe. Because of the quick growth, it is difficult to maintain a police force with an adequate number of personnel – for this reason, I do not believe that Raleigh currently has enough officers. 

What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything? 

The City needs to actively broadcast the incredible community-police programs and interactions that are already taking place, but people rarely hear about. For example, the “Games over Gangs” program the RPD has been doing in partnership with NC State University for the past several years is a phenomenal program that rarely, if ever, gets attention. 

Although there are some great programs currently, there is always room to do more. More casual programs between the community and the police where everyone can come together to get to know each other should be pursued. The overarching barrier between communities and law enforcement is the inability to relate to one another. Once we bring down that barrier, there will be a significant increase in trust between the groups. This is vital to improving community-police relations because without trust, fear proliferates and propagates into the new norm. For communities to feel safe, and for police to be able to do their jobs, we must inspire cohesion rather than isolationism between the groups. 

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not? 

I support John Kane’s proposal because I am pro-development and pro-density. I believe that in order to move Raleigh forward, we must embrace change and development. 

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not? 

I fully support developing Southeast Raleigh, however, I’m skeptical about specifically using interlocal funds to build a large soccer stadium. An entertainment complex is an excellent idea, but I would first like to see the data that supports the ability of the soccer team(s) to sell-out tickets in a stadium of that size. It is problematic to build a stadium for such a tremendous cost without considering whether or not it will be economically smart or beneficial to the community. 

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the City have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the City currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they? 

If we want Raleigh to have the “big city feel,” then no; Raleigh is not dense enough. However, if we would like for Raleigh to keep the “small city feel,” then yes; Raleigh is currently at a great density, but this ultimately hinders growth on several fronts. Encouraging residential and corporate development is the best way to keep our city thriving. 

The City does not currently have the infrastructure to handle a significant increase in density – there would need to be a way to get a significant number of cars off the road so that traffic isn’t frequently at a standstill (the Wake County Transit Plan is a good start). Moreover, additional parking decks would be critical to handling the increase in density. As the City continues to grow, we need to appropriately upgrade our water, sewage and electrical systems to make sure they can handle the increase in the City’s population. 

The most pressing infrastructure need is an effective stormwater drainage system. Nearly every time it rains heavily in Raleigh, the streets downtown, and the back roads, flood. This is incredibly dangerous and needs to be fixed as soon as possible. 

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Some of the current City Council members have a strong vision for growth, however, there are others who do not. Regardless, even the members who publicly advocate for growth frequently vote for increased regulations, which ultimately causes businesses to leave Raleigh or to choose not to settle in Raleigh in the first place. 

Are the City managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the City? 

The City managers are doing the best they can to implement the Council’s vision. They work hard to make sure the day-to-day operations of the City run as smoothly as possible. 

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing? 

The City does a decent enough job engaging citizens by publicizing plenty of opportunities for people to attend government meetings so that they have the chance to address officials personally. 

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited? 

The government needs to let the issue of short-term rentals be decided between residential complexes/owners and their residents. Companies like Airbnb need room to be able to operate without undue regulatory burdens. If the City puts strenuous regulations on them, they will end up leaving the City and then the City will suffer an economic loss. This is what happened to the electric scooter companies that are currently leaving Raleigh. Ultimately, the government needs to stay out of  the issue of short-term rentals and should revisit the rules regulating the electric scooters so that they don’t burden companies to the point at which they decide to take their business elsewhere. 

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

There are many important issues facing Raleigh right now, however, the issue that stands out the most is the need to upgrade the City’s infrastructure to accommodate its exponential growth. 

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

I’m an advocate for rational, evidence-based policy that embodies the common sense principles of economic soundness, social progress, and community cohesion. I love our City with a fierce passion unrivaled by my opponents, which is why I know that the people of Raleigh have had their patience exhausted with our current Council’s mudslinging and lack of transparency. As Councilwoman, not only will I put a stop to the echo chamber that is the current City Council, but I will embody the voice of the silent young adult majority who hasn’t had any say in city policy for far too long.

District E

Stef Mendell (incumbent)

I want to continue managing growth to maintain Raleigh’s quality of life and protect the environment, continue building consensus with my fellow councilors to make government more effective and continue making it easier for residents to engage with the City so that together we can shape Raleigh’s future.

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do, but it will not be enough. Raleigh currently has a shortage of over 30,000 units. Each year we add about 600 units, but we lose almost twice that many. So the hole is big and continues to get bigger. This is a community-wide problem that needs a community-wide solution involving private industry, government, and nonprofits. None of us can do it alone.

I support putting an Affordable Housing Bond on the ballot next year. However, I want to be careful about putting more of a property tax burden on current homeowners, on seniors, and on renters whose rent will inevitably increase if the property taxes on the buildings they rent are increased to pay off the bond. In fairness, because private developers profit from Raleigh’s growth and development, they need to contribute some of those profits back to their community. Council recently provided a way for developers to offer voluntary conditions that include commitments to affordable housing. 

I support offering incentives to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing, including modifying zoning rules to discourage teardowns and replacement of affordable housing by more expensive properties.

I support investigating reducing the development fees charged by the City and expediting the City’s plan reviews for affordable housing developments. I want to continue working with community leaders and with affordable housing developers to understand how we can have more of an impact on this seemingly intractable problem.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

I want to continue planning for transit throughout Raleigh with an eye toward the future.  

Much as cities across the world were taken by surprise with the sudden advent of electric scooters, Raleigh must be prepared to respond to many new types of transit that might not be on our radar currently.  

I support infrastructure that promotes walkability and multi-modal transportation.

I want to investigate transit options from the past – trolleys might make sense in some parts of the city.  And, while the possibility of light rail shouldn’t be taken off the table, our emphasis should be on improved bus service – better coverage, increased frequency, improved reliability, and a more robust communication system for engaging with riders.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

Being a police officer today is an often thankless job in which you put your life on the line every day. We were reminded of that very viscerally with the tragic shooting of RPD Officer Charles Ainsworth last year. At the same time, people of color throughout our city, our state, and our nation sometimes have had very bad interactions with police officers, including fatal interactions, from Akiel Denkins in 2016 to Soheil Mojarrad in 2019. Increased communication, outreach, and engagement is a priority for building trust and RPD has continued to prioritize community engagement toward that end.

I support a police oversight board, but want to hear more from the community and the police about what kind of board they think would best help build trust. We need to think carefully about what types of representation would be appropriate on such a board – community members, mental health professionals, retired police officers, education professionals. Adequate orientation and training to understand what it is like to serve as a police officer should be a prerequisite for service on any proposed board.

We recently increased first responder pay and committed to maintain competitive wages going forward, but there were some problems implementing the new compensation system that we still need to address. Our officers receive a great deal of training and I know our department is proud of their accreditation, and there is always room for improvement.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

Not in its current form. I am concerned about the impact of more traffic in an already heavily-congested area. While our Comprehensive Plan does call for increased density along transit corridors, at least some of the density needs to be affordable so that low-income and moderate-income individuals and families are not excluded.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I do not support this. I support the recommendations of the City and County Managers, which did not include this project. After doing some research, I have concerns about a long-term commitment of tax-payer dollars to a stadium. I also have concerns about what would be done to mitigate the impact of gentrification on the area.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Our Comprehensive Plan outlines areas where more density would improve quality of life in Raleigh, specifically where infrastructure exists or is planned to support it. I support a variety of housing types ranging from single-family homes to duplexes, triplexes, quads, and high-rise multi-family units based on infrastructure availability and on environmental concerns.

The City does have pressing infrastructure needs – for more sidewalks, especially leading to schools and to bus stops (where we also need more bus shelters). I support allocating more resources to deal with storm water remediation on properties across the City.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

City residents are divided on our vision for growth. There are those at one extreme who don’t want anything to change and want to essentially stop growing. And there are those at the other extreme who champion growth everywhere without any restrictions.  

The challenge is to manage growth so that we accommodate all the new people, businesses, and opportunities that want to come here while at the same time ensuring that Raleigh maintains its charm and desirability for all of us.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

There is always room for improvement in daily operations and I support the formation of an Organizational Excellence Committee of Council to work with staff on continuous improvement. 

During my career, I have worked in nonprofit, government, and for-profit organizations. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but our strength comes from learning and adapting what is best from various operational paradigms. Government in particular moves more slowly than private endeavors, but we need to explore ways to work more quickly.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

My professional background is in communications so I know you can never do enough to engage your stakeholders. Before I was elected to Council I began compiling and circulating a weekly email listing various City meetings with agenda topics. I have continued that practice since my election and receive very positive feedback. I hold regular monthly town halls for my constituents that are open to anyone. I also regularly attend Citizen Advisory Council meetings so that I can learn first-hand about issues and concerns. I respond quickly and personally to all emails, phone calls, and meeting requests because I believe it’s important for constituents to know that they are being heard. That builds trust and fosters engagement.

I have been an advocate for more support for our Citizen Advisory Councils – to publicize them and make meetings easier to attend in a variety of ways – in person, virtually, with childcare, etc. I have been working closely with some CAC leaders on this objective and helped successfully advocate for equipment to facilitate live-streaming of meetings.

Shortly after I was elected to council, I successfully led efforts to offer free parking for meeting attendees, live televising of Council work sessions (in addition to regular Council meetings), and posting of the City Manager’s weekly report on the City website. I publicize opportunities to volunteer on our various City Boards and Commissions and recruit and nominate qualified individuals to serve. I want to meet people where they are, so I support increased use of NextDoor and other social media platforms, holding City Council meetings in various locations throughout the City, and scheduling more meetings outside of working hours. It is difficult to get through to people in this age of information overload, so let’s ask our constituents what would work for them.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I am hopeful that the new company we have contracted with to operate electric scooters will be more successful in balancing the needs of scooter riders with the safety and mobility of the general public. Council directed staff to include specific objectives in our Request for Proposals toward that end and selected a company that we believe will do a better job of partnering with us.

I am proud that I was part of a group that engineered a successful compromise on short-term rentals where previous Councils had been stalemated for years. Our short-term rental rules allow a homeowner to rent out one or two rooms in their home which helps preserve housing stock for Raleigh residents and prevents residential neighborhoods from being turned into commercial zones.  

We continue to work on options for whole house rentals that would allow some short-term rentals, but not enough to encourage investors to buy up properties for the sole purpose of renting them out on a short-term basis.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Managing our growth in a way that accommodates all the new people and businesses that want to come here while maintaining our quality of life is at the top of the list in surveys of Raleigh residents. Housing affordability and transit are also among the top three concerns and are related to managing growth.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

My top priorities are managing growth, housing affordability, protecting our environment, and constituent engagement.

The current Council has made progress on a number of issues that stalemated previous councils. With continued focus on building consensus we can accelerate progress without undermining all that is best about Raleigh. I want to make it easier for Raleigh residents to know what’s going on and how to get involved so that we can all work together to shape Raleigh’s future.

David Knight

I am running for City Council to get Raleigh back to what has made it a great city: our inclusiveness and opportunity for all. I have worked to bring the residents of North Carolina a higher quality of life my whole career and I want to bring that leadership to City Council. 

Do you support the City Council’s proposal to put an affordable housing bond on the ballot next year? Do you think this will be enough to address the city’s affordable housing shortage? If not, what more is needed?

I do support the affordable housing bond, but it’s clear it will take more work to address our affordable housing crisis. I will advocate to expand our housing stock by pushing for more housing options, especially along public transit routes. Allowing more townhouses, duplexes, backyard cottages and apartments will provide more affordable housing choices for everyone. We’ll achieve affordability by working with developers to incentivize affordable housing units as part of market-rate developments as well as partnering with nonprofits committed to affordable

housing. The city has several options for how to help all kinds of residents and I will push to effectively fund new developments for lower-income residents, while balancing the needs of others in our community.

How should the City address transit along routes that won’t factor in to the Wake County Transit Plan? How should the City address infrastructure improvements for pedestrians and cyclists?

Dedicated bus and bike lanes across more of the city will not only speed travel for bus and bike riders, but will also ease the strain on our overburdened roads. I will prioritize bus shelters and benches for all bus stops in the city. I am also committed to expanding Raleigh sidewalks and greenways for pedestrians and bike-riders.

Do you support a police oversight board? Do you think law enforcement officers are paid enough, trained well enough and do you think the city is hiring enough officers to effectively serve the city’s growing population? What else should the City do to facilitate relationships between police officers and the communities they serve, if anything?

I do support a police oversight board. It’s critical that we establish trust between the community and the police, and in recent years I think that bond has frayed. I think the number of police officers has to keep up with the growth of the citizen population. Most importantly, I believe police officers need to be paid more, and trained more in soft skills to improve relations with the public.

Do you support John Kane’s proposal to rezone an area of Peace Street to build a 40-story tower? Why/why not?

I do support the general idea, but I haven’t seen the site plan to be able to comment on the details, including exact height & square footage. The revitalization of downtown is crucial for any thriving city, and additional housing units will drive down the costs for everyone in the city. I don’t think that city council should be artificially constricting housing supply, when a developer wants to use private money to build more units.

Do you support using interlocal funds to help finance a soccer stadium entertainment complex on a parcel of land in Southeast Raleigh? Why/why not?

I would love to see a soccer stadium entertainment complex in Southeast Raleigh, for the city and for that community in particular. While I am open to using public funds for this complex, I would have to weigh that against other needs at that time. While the economic impact of the project would be significant, we need to weigh it against other potential uses for the money.

Is Raleigh dense enough? Does the city have the infrastructure to support more density? Does the city currently have pressing infrastructure needs? If so, what are they?

Density in the right places is key. Ensuring walkable urban development along transit corridors and in our city center will go a long way towards making Raleigh a more livable, environmentally sustainable city. Certainly, we have pressing infrastructure needs as well. We have seen systematic underinvestment in our roads, as well as water and sewer infrastructure. When on city council I will ensure full funding for these needs – it’s cheaper to do it now than to wait for it to break.

Are the current City Council members putting forth a strong enough vision for growth?

Growth can be good or bad – the important part is that we intentionally direct the growth to improve the quality of lives of all Raleigh residents. On that front, I would say the current council has fallen short, despite the best efforts of a minority of the members.

Are the city managers and staff doing a good job implementing the Council’s vision as stated and running the day to day operations of the city?

I think city managers and staff have not been empowered to do the best job that they can. Because of divisiveness and dysfunction, I have not seen true vision and leadership by this council. When elected to council I will listen and value to the opinions of the professionals the city employs, rather than trying to silence and disempower them.

Is the City doing enough to engage citizens? If not, what else should it be doing?

I don’t think so. The Citizen Advisory Councils (CACs) are an excellent idea, and it’s crucial that we have a conduit from city council to the people of Raleigh. With that said, I think the CACs have fallen short in some respects, and attendance seems to be low in many areas of the city. Improving citizen engagement will be a priority of mine in office. To do that, of course, citizens need to not only feel heard, but see their opinions enacted in city policy.

Do you support the recently passed sets of rules regulating electric scooters and short term rentals (Airbnb)? Do you think the rules governing either/both need to be revisited?

I think the rules regulating scooters were too stringent. It’s important, as with all new forms of transportation that we have clear and consistent guidelines to maintain safety for both the riders and others in the city. With that said, the regulations that were passed seemed deliberately aimed at chilling the scooter business in Raleigh, which is a shame – we should be trying to promote low-carbon forms of alternative transportation.

As for short-term rentals, again the council passed an incomplete set of rules that were unclear and will be hard to follow. I believe short-term rentals are another beneficial layer of property ownership that should be regulated in an equitable and transparent fashion to help keep up with rising property values.

What is the most important issue facing Raleigh right now?

Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Managing that growth in a way that is conducive to a high quality of life for all Raleigh residents will be my top priority.

What else is important to your platform or that you want voters to know about you or your campaign?

My family lives in the heart of District E, off Glenwood Avenue along the greenway by Crabtree Creek. I met my wife Avery 12 years ago in this neighborhood and we are raising our two sons, Liles and Bowen, here. When my kids finish school and decide where they want to live, I’m concerned they may not have the same opportunities in Raleigh I had, in part due to lack of leadership on city council in the last couple of years. That’s why I’m running for city council – to get Raleigh back on track to being a world-class place to live.

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