Elections » Candidate Questionnaires

Jessie Taliaferro

Candidate for Raleigh Council District B


Name as it appears on the ballot: Jessie Taliaferro
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: 3/23/64
Home address: 4709 Pemberton Dr. Raleigh NC 27609
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.jessietaliaferro.com
Occupation & employer: Raleigh District B Councilor; public school teacher and librarian
Home phone: 872-9378
Work phone: 890-3050
Cell phone:
E-mail: Jessie.taliaferro@ci.raleigh.nc.us (work), Jessie@jessietaliaferro.com (campaign)

1. If elected, what are your top priorities?

  1. Managing growth and new development, continuing to focus on downtown and mixed-use projects
  2. Safe and livable communities, enhancing neighborhoods, public safety and transit options
  3. Environmental protection through regulation and proactive stewardship of our natural resources

2. What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on Council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

I began my public service career in Raleigh as a neighborhood advocate and CAC Chairman. I served for 6 years on the Raleigh Planning Commission and have served 4 years as the District B Representative. During my Council tenure I have been the Public Works Committee Chair and served on both the Law and Public Safety and the Comprehensive Planning Committees. I am a hands-on Councilor and spend a great deal of time on constituent service. My professional career has also been in public service as a teacher and librarian in the area’s public schools.

3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am a Democrat, a problem-solver, a consensus builder and an independent thinker. This has defined my tenure on the Council so far. As the Chair of the bipartisan Public Works Committee, I have worked to find common sense solutions to difficult problems involving our public infrastructure. I voted for the City to sign the Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement and have worked on creating policies to that end.

4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I voted for Union dues check-off for city employees. I have had a lot of complaints about that decision. I believe workers have a right to join a Union and the city should not make it arduous for employees to be members. I also led the fight to have the $1,000 set-up fee rescinded.

5. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

I have a long public service history of listening to citizens from all sides of a debate. I take a fair and balanced approach to constituent service. I am particularly aware of representing citizens who do not participate in the public process but contact me directly about issues. A just community cannot be achieved if those who cannot or will not come to public meetings are not heard.

6. In the next two years, Raleigh will complete a revision of its comprehensive plan. If elected, will you seek to influence what it says? If so, how?

As a public official, I will listen to the public dialog that occurs during the Comprehensive Plan update process. I do not have a preconceived idea of the outcome for this planning effort. I am open to new ideas and suggestions. I do not believe in top-down government decision-making.

7. The issue of tax-increment financing (TIF) is before the Council because of developer John Kane’s request for a $75 million tax break in connection with his North Hills East project. Do you support or oppose Kane’s request? In general, do you think TIFs are needed in Raleigh? If so, under what circumstances?

Kane’s request has not been presented to the city council, so I am not familiar with it. Amendment One Financing was a constitutional amendment supported by the people of North Carolina on a referendum. This type of financing should be an economic development tool available in the tool box for use in Raleigh. However, decisions should be driven by a policy, not by politics. I support a Project Development Fund (called TIF by some) policy that requires a clear public benefit, that the development could not occur without public involvement, insures little or no risk to the taxpayer, and is flexible enough to be used where the city wants to encourage positive, enhancing development.

8. Raleigh’s impact fees for parks and roads were increased 72 percent last year, but they remain far below what state law allows. Do you support increasing impact fees further, and if so, by how much?

A majority of the City Council determined that impact fees are at the right level for right now. I proposed the 72% impact fee increase, with annual adjustments thereafter, enacted by the Council in 2006. Before that increase, impact fees had not been discussed, or adjusted, since they were first set 20 years ago. I believe we should carefully and thoroughly re-evaluate these fees, along with our other revenue sources, every year when we adopt the city budget. Impact fees are an appropriate and important source of revenue that we utilize to manage certain aspects of Raleigh’s growth. But they should not be expected to finance all of our needs. Impact fees are specifically limited by the North Carolina General Assembly to pay for road and park construction, and cannot be used to finance any general government expenses such as police cars, sanitation workers’ salaries, storm water controls or schools.

9. CAC leaders are asking the Council to help them strengthen citizens’ involvement in city government matters. Should the CACs be strengthened? If so, what specific measures would you support to assist them?

CACs need to be strengthened. As the city has grown, the commitment to the CAC structure has not kept pace with the needs of the citizens. I voted to have an independent consultant come in to work with the Council on this issue. This consultant-lead process will involve a great deal of public dialog. I will listen to that public dialog before I can determine the specific measures that need to be taken to make the CACs successful.

10. Public transit is a huge issue in Raleigh, but there’s little consensus on what to do about the local bus service, or about regional rail or bus connections. What are your goals in this area?

I am a strong supporter of expanding our CAT system and also of regional service. Raleigh is the center of the region and must take a leadership role in these endeavors. We need to increase our own bus service, add benches and shelters to bus stops, and take an active role in the planning and funding of new service. For the past four years I have been a strong advocate on the Council for public transit.

11. Several city or county governments in the Triangle extend employee benefits to domestic partners (including gay and lesbian partners) the same as to married spouses. Raleigh does not. Should it? Is this something you’d support if elected?

I support extending employee benefits to domestic partners. I would need to study the other jurisdictions that have these benefits to see if and how their programs can be applied in Raleigh.

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