Founder and owner of Comer Business Brokers
In Wake County, people think about infrastructure principally in terms of population growth and increased development. In other words, people are rightly focused on whether infrastructure will keep pace with growth. Some of these concerns, like roads and bridges, are the purview of the NC Department of Transportation. On these matters, I think Commissioners should focus on collaboration with NCDOT, being transparent about development requirements. However, there are other infrastructure issues that are directly relevant to zoning and development decisions, like ensuring appropriate water and sewage access, and ensuring that developers are adequately considering electricity, natural gas, high-speed internet, and other basic considerations. Water and sewage, in particular, are important to ensuring that unincorporated areas of the county can be properly developed. Commissioners should focus resources on those efforts, rather than multi-billion-dollar commuter rail.
I want to ensure we have sufficient quality and affordable housing to accommodate Wake County’s continued growth. Housing prices are a function of supply and demand. A limited supply of housing drives up housing costs, which leads to unaffordable housing. It also incentivizes developers to develop the most profitable properties they can develop, given a finite amount of development space. Accordingly, affordable housing must be both affordable for occupants and sensible for developers and landlords. Bribing developers and landlords to offer underpriced units in a development does not create affordable housing; it creates a permanent reliance on government-sponsored wealth redistribution. To satisfy a need for missing middle housing, we need to create development space for developers in areas that makes sense, so we can develop duplexes, fourplexes, multiplexes, etc. Wake County has space, but it requires a fundamental shift in how the county views zoning and development restrictions.
The Wake County Public School System used to be one of the envies of the country. However, enrollment continues to decline and quality continues to suffer. I believe public education needs competition like any other venture. Magnet, charter, and private schools do more with less, and those options should not be reserved for the wealthiest among us. Residents should be able to use vouchers for schools that are succeeding if WPSS schools are failing. That competition is likely to spur WPSS to make much needed reforms, prioritizing in-person education, significantly reducing administrative headcount, and focusing on attracting and retaining the best educators available. Our children deserve no less.
The Wake County economy is already quite healthy, with strong population growth. Unemployment rates and future job growth projections are both well ahead of the US national average, and people are generally attracted by the great quality of life we enjoy here. However, we need to focus on preserving the desirability of Wake County, and that effort will principally involve resisting the urge to imitate the policies of those metropolitan areas from which people are relocating here. One direct way of preserving attractiveness is to maintain a competitive tax rate. Wake County property taxes rise every year, an increase that will be compounded when properties are revalued in 2024. Additionally, Wake County has a higher rate of sales tax than more than half of the counties in the country. Businesses will not continue to move to Wake County if they cannot find competent employees, and those employees will move elsewhere if we do not maintain both an attractive quality and cost of living.
There are many large metropolises whose experiences belie the notion that an ever-greater number of social services improves quality of life. Residents value quality over quantity and look to local government to provide essential social services, like public safety. Wake County residents deserve to live and work in a community that is safe for them and their families. While I believe firmly in limited government, I also believe that public safety is a core responsibility of county government through which order is enforced and individual rights are respected. A well-functioning public safety apparatus requires investment - not in bureaucratic administrative staff, but in line-level sheriff's deputies, detention officers, EMS personnel, and mental health professionals. Recruitment and management efforts need to be consistent with attracting and retaining the most capable professionals, and there needs to be adequate access for Wake County residents. Quality is paramount.
I am running for an open seat on the Wake County Board of Commissioners because I believe very strongly in public service working for the public good. I am a native of North Carolina, a psychologist, small business owner, and Apex Town Council member. I have lived in Wake County for over 30 years now (Zebulon, Raleigh, and now Apex). I am the only District 3 candidate with local government experience. I believe my professional and local government experiences have given me a strong skill set for the Commissioner role. I want to work with the current Board to help provide an equitable opportunity for a healthy and sustainable economy, community, and environment for all.
Psychologist and Co-owner, Triangle Psychoeducational Consultants
I will work with my Board colleagues and Staff to assess county-wide infrastructure needs and prioritize projects based on a thorough understanding of the needs. With that said, pubic school and health and human service facilities would receive priority attention, in addition to supporting the transportation plans (bus and commuter rail) that are underway.
We need to increase more affordable housing options so people with different incomes at different life stages can afford to live in Wake County. I will continue this work with my Board colleagues and other community and regional stakeholders to increase affordable units, preserve current affordable units, and leverage land for more development opportunities. We will also work to continue rental assistance and eviction prevention programs.
The state legislature is responsible for funding the operational expenses of public schools, while the County government is responsible for capital/infrastructure needs. I will work with my Board colleagues to address the infrastructure needs with our public school renovation and new construction projects.
Given that the state legislature has underfunded the operational expenses of our public schools for almost a decade, it is important for voters to understand this when at the ballot box (and vote for candidates who will invest in our children and public schools).
I will continue to communicate with state legislators about the needs in our schools, and how the General Assembly can do better for the sake of our children.
And finally, because of funding lapses at the state level, local governments have been asked to shoulder some of the operational expenses as well. I will work with my Board colleagues to allocate funding to our schools to the fullest extent possible.
My first campaign pillar is to work with the current Board in helping to create more equitable opportunity for a healthy and sustainable economy for the people of Wake County. We will work to attract diverse and good paying jobs to help residents with economic mobility. I would like for us to recruit renewable energy jobs when possible, given the importance of this industry to our future. Additionally, we will work to ensure access to affordable high-speed internet to homes, businesses, and schools to assist with day to day needs and operations. And finally, we will work to promote culturally diverse recreational and performing arts events (which contribute to our local economy), while also providing enjoyment, educational opportunity, and relationship building with one other.
My second campaign pillar is to work with the current Board in helping to create more equitable opportunity for a healthy and sustainable community for the residents of Wake County. We will do this by working to facilitate and support housing affordability projects and initiatives to end homelessness. Additionally, we will partner with our local stakeholders to invest in educational programs from pre-school to community college. And finally, we will work to improve accessibility and affordability for medical and mental health care.