Monday, June 1, 2009

Campaign Kick-Off Event!

A huge thanks to Joanne Casey & Brooke Berson for hosting a wonderful Re-Election Campaign Kick-Off Event! About 50 people dropped by throughout the afternoon on Sunday and I am very grateful for such a positive show of support. Thank you to each of you for the opportunity to represent you on the City Council. I have learned so much and met so many people in the past year-and-a-half that it is not only an honor to represent you, but truly a gift. I hope that you will reinvest your support in me for another two-year term!

It is important to me that my priorities as a City Councillor accurately represent those of people living in District A. So at this event we asked each person to cast three votes for the issues they think the City Council should focus on in the upcoming year. Below are the tallied results along with some expanded clarification based on my experiences, accomplishments and future goals -

  • 18 votes -Transit - The City is currently working to expand connectivity within our current bus system, such as the recent addition of a line between Raleigh & Wake Forest. We also recently welcomed the R-Line - a hybrid-electric downtown circulating bus that is free to all riders. As we look at developing a transportation system to alleviate our traffic and congestion problems it is clear that the smartest investment is a regional model (public opinion survey 3/09). This requires the cooperation of Wake, Orange and Durham counties along with the major cities on the corridor. Currently there is State Legislation (HB148, SB151) which would give voters in a county the option to approve locally-funded investments in transit in order to help determine their mobility future. The legislation seeks to balance local control and flexibility within a regional framework which is exactly what the Triangle needs to assure eventual operational success. Interested in helping transit move forward? Heres how.
  • 18 votes - Responsible Growth - There continues to be a resounding call that "growth must pay for itself." This Council strongly supported that principle by significantly raising impact fees for the first time in years. We also increased the fees for new water/sewer connections to cover a greater share of the cost of expanding the utility service. We must continue to require that the true cost of development, especially environmental, be discussed and reflected in our policies. I have continued to be an advocate for attention to stormwater runoff resulting from poorly executed developments. As Chair of the Comprehensive Planning Committee I have consistently aimed to balance the benefits of development with neighborhood concerns and protection. We welcome investments in our community as long as they are responsible, sustainable and respectful of the local landscape. For more details on Growth Issues in Wake County, check the WakeUp WakeCounty review.
  • 8 votes - Schools - Many people at the event pointed out that City does not have any explicit responsibilities in regards to WCPSS; but inevitability the quality of our public schools affects the quality of life in Raleigh. During my first term I authored a Resolution that requires our planning department to inform our schools of new projects before they are approved, and I now serve as the liaison with our schools. Therefore it is important to me that the City and WCPSS work together effectively whenever there is need or opportunity.
  • 7 votes - Comprehensive Plan Update - This is going to be our guiding document for the next 20 years and so it is important that we get it right even if it takes some extra time. The projected timeframe for adopting the CompPlan is currently July2009. Details available at
  • 7 votes - Parks & Rec & Greenways - In District A we are fortunate to have a variety of active and passive recreation facilities including the most recent gift of 157acres off Raven Ridge Road for the Annie Louise Wilkerson, MD Nature Preserve Park. While the addition of a park is great assest to any community, it is important to assure that the purpose and design of the project reflects the needs and concerns of adjacent neighborhoods. The current park planning process involves seeking input from the community, but it is important that their opinions are honored in the final design. The City is always striving to expand our current 63 miles of Greenway trails which provide interconnectedness within Raleigh and between parks. Raleigh Public Record provided this great introduction and insight into the history and beauty of our Greenway System.
  • 6 votes - Falls Lake Watershed Protection - Falls Lake, the drinking water supply for residents of Raleigh and eastern Wake County, has been declared "impaired" by the State, due to polluted runoff and wastewater from upstream. While clean up efforts in the lake are slowly underway, without improvements to current wastewater treatment and stormwater practices the lake will continue to remain impaired. We must continue to strengthen regulations which in any way affect our watershed and make its protection an unyielding priority. Since Falls Lake is shared by Wake & Durham counties, we must proactively work together to share the responsibility of protecting its health and water quality.
  • 4 votes - Road Maintenance - As all governments are re-evaluating their budgets this continues to be an area of contention between the City and the State. We must continue to work together to define responsibility for some of the major roads in need of improvement - for example Glenwood & Wade continue to be mentioned as in major need of attention but responsibility for those roads currently resides with the State.
  • 4 votes - Affordable Housing - Access to safe and affordable housing is a growing concern not only in Raleigh but in Wake County, and there are a variety of non-profits and advisory boards working on addressing this problem. I am supportive of iniatives such as Inclusionary Zoning which aims to avoid a dense concentration of low-income developments but rather integrate varying levels of housing throughout our community.
  • 4 votes - Water System/ Utility Improvements - This is an ongoing conversation about the need for improvements in our current Public Utilities Department to assure that we maintain a sustainable and modern water delivery system. I am in favor of concentrating all of the City's water related services (stormwater, drinking water, water/sewer, incentive rebate programs,etc) under one umbrella to allow for better communication, effectiveness and delivery of services. Check out some of my previous posts labeled "water issues" for more information.
  • 4 votes - DIX 306 - Mayor Meeker has stated that this is one of his major priorities during his final and fifth term as Mayor. Currently the land is owned by the State and we are working on negotiations to acquire all or some of this acreage for a park.
  • 3 votes - Public Safety - Last year we raised the salaries for Police & Firefighters, including a raise for bi-lingual ability, and also compressed the advancement scale. The Police Headquarters will be relocating within the next year to SixForks Rd in District A. I also introduced and worked to establish an Ordinance to restrict the tethering of dogs because this practice has been to known to make animals more aggressive thereby endangering neighbors and kids. This Ordinance has been well-received by the community (thanks PUP) and takes effect July 1.
  • 3 votes - Afterschool Programs for at-risk students - There are various programs currently funded or supplemented by the City and we would like to expand some of the most successful ones into areas with the most need.
  • 2 votes - Communication from the City - It is important to me that there is transparency in our municipal government and that citizens are consistently informed of our actions. The City should be aggressive in its efforts to educate neighborhoods, CACs and citizens about accessing the local government process including any changes in policies or ordinances, as well as events happening in Raleigh.
  • 2 votes - Neighborhood Protection
  • 2 votes - Bus connectivity between North Raleigh & Downtown - It is important that our bus system connects the major arteries of the City and that North Raleigh be included as such. Particularly we hope all of Raleigh's citizens are able to enjoy the revitalization of downtown. The idea has been floated of a connector between North Hills and the R-Line to alleviate the hassle over parking downtown.
  • 2 votes- Energy Efficiency Investments - Upcoming projects funded by stimulus money.
  • Other suggestions -Attracting & maintaining businesses to the Warehouse district & Glenwood South, Arts Funding
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