I am running for Carrboro Alderman because I believe that Carrboro is a great place to live and has an opportunity to serve as a model for other small towns that are looking to make a difference on a broader stage. Though politics at the national level may receive more attention, in our country more meaningful politics is local.
I am a 15-year resident of Carrboro and have seen the town go through significant growth and yet maintain its unique sense of place. My background is one of business, growth, and analytics and will bring a new perspective to the CBOA. My goal is that voters will elect me to not only represent their interests in our town but to advocate for their interests with larger bodies, including the General Assembly in Raleigh whose members’ views do not often align with ours.
My top three priorities are as follows:
Create a plan for communicating to, and engaging with all of the residents of Carrboro to create a more involved, active, and ultimately knowledgeable citizenship.
Create a sustainable business model for Carrboro that grows the diversity of the businesses in town to create a stronger, more sustainable economy.
Make good on the town’s ideals including that of broad inclusivity, by increasing the amount of affordable housing that our town offers. Our inventory of affordable housing can be increased through two levers; advocating for an increase in wages to provide employees who work here the opportunity to afford housing and identifying and responsibly developing available land.
First, our town is too small for the residents not to know what is going on or be closely engaged with the work that the government is doing on their behalf. To be fair, we are hampered by the fact that we don’t have a newspaper or news source dedicated to our area the way that other metropolitan areas do, so the burden of communication falls on the town’s government to proactively reach the residents. The fact that we haven’t been effective in doing this has led to our residents feeling like they are being left out of the process. The town is very effective in putting out yard signs to let us know when our trash or recycling pick up is moving because of a holiday, but is less forthcoming when there are issues of significant consequence to our neighborhoods that are being discussed in Town Hall.
My solution for addressing this is to lean on my work in communicating to a defined community (my day job is working with 550+ independent pharmacies in the Southeast) with disparate interests, yet all with the same common goal and broadly the same engagement level. To do this we can segment our residents by communication method (e.g. phone/email/text/mail), then by geography, and then finally by interest (e.g. climate change, transportation, events) where we can provide timely and accurate communication to the residents using their preferred method. This is accomplished using existing software and once established, is easy to maintain and does not place a significant burden on town staff to execute.
Second, our main businesses today are restaurants, small shops, and arts and entertainment venues which is what drives patronage in our town. In order to ensure a vibrant future for Carrboro’s business, we must look to create a diverse business environment which includes women-owned and minority businesses, as well as a broad range of businesses to create a strong ecosystem. When we bring in a small to mid-sized technology or professional services company, those employees then eat in our restaurants, purchase goods from our stores, and patronize other businesses to support their lifestyle (e.g. bike repair, dry cleaning, grocery shopping). This creates a sustainable business base for Carrboro that is not reliant on any one industry
Additionally, this effort enables two other positive outcomes. We will reduce the traffic that we see every morning as over 9,000 Carrboro residents leave town to work elsewhere. This will cut down on car miles and carbon emissions. We also create positions that pay enough so that the employees of these businesses can afford to live in our community. People will truly be able to live where they work.
Third, I want to focus on more affordable housing options, especially for those people that work in service to the town (e.g. police, public works) but cannot afford to live here. There are a number of commissions, coalitions, advisory boards, and concerned citizens working on this issue which is appropriate.
I recognize this is one of the most critical issues we face and we need to continue to seek creative options. Zoning options, working with nonprofits and developers to create a variety of housing options at all price points for our residents, homeowners, renters, single families, and the elderly. We can build on the foundation that created the Affordable Housing Task Force and Plan.
I am also a big proponent of a living wage for our town. This effort will go a long way toward helping people live where they work and providing them the means to be able to afford to live in our town. This is not only an effort that should be undertaken by the businesses in our town, but also by the town itself. I have spoken with a number of policemen and public works employees who would like to be a part of the community that they serve, and we should provide support for those who work in our town to be able to live here.