Avent West Candidates Forum, Thursday September 27, 2007 7:00 PM
Please find below my notes from the Avent West Candidate’s Forum held on Thursday, September 27, 2007. Over 50 folks in attendance with all 6 At-Large candidates particiapting in the forum, plus candiates from District D (Crowder, unopposed) and District B (Koopman) where offered opening statements. If I’ve written any inaccuracies, please contact me so that I can correct them. I wrote this live during the forum and completed this post within 36 hours while the information was fresh in my head.
Candidates, City Council (At-Large). Note, they are listed in the order they were seated at the table, from left to right.
- Russ Stephenson – http://www.russforraleigh.com/
- Paul Anderson – http://www.andersonatlarge.com/
- Will Best – http://willforcitycouncil.com/
- Helen Tart – http://www.htartforcouncil.blogspot.com/
- David Williams – http://www.williamsforraleigh.com/
- Mary Ann Baldwin – http://maryannforraleigh.com
Opening Statements from other candidates
- Thomas Crowder (District D) – important city council b/c of the comprehensive plan, growth, stress on natural resources (water), leading for a sustainable future. Economically, environmentally, and culturally sustainable future.
- Roger Koopman (District B) – Increase impact fees, infill standard, park protection. Appreciated all support. Urged to tell your friends in District B to vote for Koopman.
Opening Statements from forum candidates
- Baldwin – Talked about air quality, wants to learn about the issues.
- Williams – Thanked Avent West for the invite. 11 year Raleigh resident, financial advisor. Family, active in the community. Talked about challenges and thinks a financial advisor on council would be a nice complement.
- Tart – Talked about endorsement from The Independent. Neighborhood plan. 3 years on Raleigh Transit Authority.
- Best – Wants to bring new ideas and new mind, young mind to the council. Talked about experience on the planning department and tenure in the State (Dept of Commerce).
- Anderson – Charlotte native, family (wife, 2 kids). Pastor for 22 years. Engaged with civic involvement (Urban Ministries, etc.)
- Stephenson – Incumbent At-Large councilor. Talked about working with Thomas and neighborhood leaders like Elizabeth Byrd, Ted Shear, and Jason Hibbets. Wants to continue working for neighborhoods and wants smart growth & growth to pay it’s fair share.
Question 1: What are the best mechanisms for maintaining single family neighborhood standards?
- Anderson – sit down with community team, strong CAC, define neighborhood characteristics. Make sure that zoning and planning (through comp plan) to ensure zoning is correct for the area.
- Best – Examine the zoning and have open hearings between stakeholders. Zoning invokes property rights. Communication in zoning, maintaining zoning, through comp plan.
- Tart – Agrees that the comp plan and the underlying zoning is the right method. Talked about neighborhood conservation plan being successful for her Neighborhood. Talked about neighborhood moratorium for neighborhoods that want a plan (considering the current Fallon Park rezoning), communication with key.
- Williams – Thinks that government isn’t best to handle these types of issues; handled at local level with private land use covenants.
- Baldwin – Talked about current planning director, Mitch Silver. Believes this the comp plan is the key, The current (existing) comp plan doesn’t meet our needs. New hire for infill issue (to address current concerns). Thinks the comp plan should contain tools/procedures for better communications between home owners and developers.
- Stephenson – Existing neighborhoods are key to Quality of Life to our city. Proud to be a part of getting the new-hire to come forward. Neighborhood conservation Overlay District (NCOD) – is a great tool for protection. Overburdened planning staff can not create new NCOD for neighborhoods that want one.
Question 2: Topic is the Rapid Growth of Raleigh. What is the right percentage, balance of impact fees, taxes, etc?
- Baldwin – Talked about projected growth. Balance between impact fees and taxes. Supports Transfer Tax for schools. ½ cents local sales tax option may work.
- Williams – Have infrastructure fee’s, but there is another option. Wants to stretch municipal dollar. Activity-based costing. Raleigh is not getting fair share of NCDOT / State funding for transportation.
- Tart – Frustrating the impact fees were only increased 72% during the last city council. Thinks that a ½ cent sales tax would be a good option. Besides paying for growth, this needs to be addressed in the comp plan.
- Best – Wants to increase impact fees 30-40% (would support that percentage). Thinks impact fees can support up to 30% of the city budget.
- Anderson – Combination of all of above. Fees are important. Increase of impact fees, look at tax structure. (Fees for collection of trash should be maintained / adjusted for growth).
- Stephenson – Very clear position. Supports Mayor Meekers plan, new growth pays 1/3, tax base pays 2/3rds. Have graduated impact fees.
Question 3: If you were asked to approve a rezoning request for a rezoning that doesn’t match the comp plan, what’s the criteria you would look for?
- Best – Utilize existing relationships from planning department. Important to update the comp plan. Rezoning does not comply b/c it’s 20-years old.
- Anderson – new comp plan, hear from community, professionals. etc. Currently a lot of inconsistencies. any deviation from what was the intent and why was it written + support from community.
- Stephenson – agrees with previous candidates. Talked about current band-aides over the past few years, to correct the outdated plan. Talked about interpretation . Wants the new comp plan to have a new zoning code.
- Tart – Likes the idea of the new comp plan, natural systems based. Hard to imagine what might change that would require a zoning.
- Williams – Thinks there will be inconsistencies, believe that there is an inflexible plan, that over time, comp plan becomes less and less consistent. Adapt more flexible land use controls. Push local problems to neighborhoods, with private covenants.
- Baldwin – Agrees that the comp plan. Zoning needs to match the comp plan. Makes building / growth more predictable. Can’t predict the future, but thinks the exception is a 100% community backed change (project) because there is an unforeseen plan.
Question 4: Would you support tiered pricing for water use for conserving water?
- Williams – Likes the idea of bulk re-use of waste water. Do not support tiered pricing b/c it’s price discrimination.
- Tart – Supports tiered pricing.
- Best – Supports tiered pricing. Thinks the idea is applicable for other city services. Work with Gen. Assembly to change water laws.
- Anderson – Thinks the crisis is an opportunity to looks at tiered pricing, water reuse / recycle. Look at more conservation efforts.
- Stephenson – Tiered pricing makes sense. Talked about 2 distinct tiers, basic needs for human hygiene, and then everything else. Encourage conservation and innovation in water use.
- Baldwin – Thinks there is more that we can do with water re-use. Golf courses are a huge water user. Wants to promote more water conservation education. Open to looking at tiered structure: wants a definition of the tiers, wants the impact of the users.
Question 5: Air quality. Proposal to lower smog in Raleigh?
- Tart – Basic problem is land use. When we build new houses, encourage dense development, walkable communities. Improve transit system. Supports the rail.
- Williams – Agrees with land use issues. Look at a more flexible land use market. Thinks this would encourage more mixed-use development. Mayors conference on climate change – trading in pollution credits for pollution rights. Go away from big buses that waste gas and go towards vans.
- Baldwin – Air quality is a huge issue. Go back to the comp plan, this is a land use issue. Need more walkable communities, support transit, wants to look at commuter rail. Has been working (actively) with an organization called Triangle Tomorrow, who has been working on this issue.
- Stephenson – Talked again about Mayors conference on climate change. More efficiently in city vehicles, building use (green buildings). Better quality, more sustainable development patterns.
- Anderson – How are we efficiently using are vehicles, using better, cleaner fuels. Regionally directed and strategically placed
- Best – Support more trees, requires more base area in land use. Look at Charlotte, how they did rail and acquired funding.
Question 6: Would you support local public financing?
- Tart – Spent the least of any candidate, supports public financing. Is running because she listens to people.
Question 7: Position on PROP, would you add a criminal activity component to the PROP?
- Stephenson – Strong supporter of neighborhoods. Lives in a neighborhood near the university (NSCU) which has a a higher renter ratio. Supports adding criminal elements to the PROP and making the PROP stronger for neighborhoods.
Question 8: There has been some recent criticism of CAC’s (Citizen Advisory Council), should the CAC’s mission be changed, if so, what ways?
- Anderson – Thinks CAC’s are wonderful assets to communities. Wants to continue CAC. Change the weight of the communities voice.
Question 9: Do you believe the city should have a student housing code?
- Baldwin – Doesn’t have an answer, but is willing to research it and get an answer to the group.
Question 10: What compels you to run for public office? What are your drivers?
- Best – His age group is not represented on City Council. Knows what it’s like to be on city staff.
Question 11: You talked about local communities using private land use plans, what about all the homes owned by non-local owners?
- Williams – Wants to avoid using the power of government for private land use governance, thinks private covenants are the corrective measure.
- Stephenson – Thanks citizens of AW. Proud to currently serve, will continue to serve with your vote. PROP, traffic calming, growth paying for quality growth. Conserving natural resources. Has a proven record, Sierra club endorsed.
- Anderson – Thanks group for organizing the event. Can build bridges with people, ideas, and resources.
- Best – Thanks for event, invitation, and thanks for attending. Brings experience with land-use planning, credits, etc. Fresh mind, fresh face with new ideas. Energy. Will be seen, will be active. Make the Best choice for Raleigh city council.
- Tart – Reason she is here is the audience (citizens). Likes Raleighwoods, maybe even Raleigh walks. Will listen to the citizens.
- Williams – Thanks for inviting, thanked for attending. Thinks he’s the best candidate for At-Large. Wants to exercise strong financial prudence. No special interest. Only endorsement in the race from the Wake County Tax Payers Association.
- Baldwin – Tonight proves that she doesn’t know everything, but is eager to learn. AFL-CIO endorsed. She would like to be everyone’s second choice. (There was a previous typo here that listed Anderson, this is supposed to be Baldwin. My Apologies.)