Elections » Candidate Questionnaires

Joe Bryan

Wake County Commissioner


Name as it appears on the ballot: Joe Bryan

Full legal name, if different: James Joseph Bryan

Date of birth: March 5, 1953

Home address: 206 Maplewood Drive Knightdale NC 27545

Campaign website: joebryan.org

Occupation & employer: Financial Advisor- one of the largest brokerage firms in the country

Spouse’s name: Jennifer

Spouse’s occupation & employer: Executive Director-Knightdale Chamber of Commerce

Years lived in Wake County: 32 years

Home phone: 919-266-3903

Work phone: 919-413-8284

Email: joe@joebryan.org

1. What are the three most important issues facing Wake County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

...Educated, globally prepared young people.

...Providing a multi-modal transportation system that ensures transportation choices

...Strengthen partnerships with the State and Federal governments to meet our citizens needs, especially with a focus on private sector jobs

Address: ...Education. It is unacceptable for high school graduation rates to be in the mid 70 percent area. In a unified manner we need to refocus on academics. We had great success with Goal 2003 where 95 percent of young people would be at grade level in the 3rd and 8th grade. Our community met this challenge moving from 81 percent to approximately 91 percent. I propose the establishment of a new Community Education Goal. As an example, if Algebra is the important gateway course that leads to high school graduation, acceptance in college, and life success let's focus on 80 percent of our eighth graders completing Algebra and the remaining 20 percent in the 9th grade. A SAS technical report depicts that more students could successfully complete Algebra if given the opportunity and challenge.

...Transportation. Transportation is a difficult infrastructure issue to solve. Without significant congestion, an unsustainable funding steam, and so many other important priorities we have not kept up with this critical infrastructure. Wake County recently became the most populous County in North Carolina and our Region will add 1 million people over the next 25 years. We must plan long term for this expected growth and at least make incremental progress. As Chair of CAMPO, Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, for transportation I see many pressing issues from improving I40, completing the Triangle Connector to I85, building the entire I540 loop to completing our transit plan. To implement our long range transportation plan to ensure mobility will require and additional $6 billion. Short term we must partner with the Federal government, Governor, Legislature and NCDOT to receive a better return of our Region's gas tax revenues. We send the State approximately $200 million and receive approximately $120 million per year. We can not continue to be such a large donor to the State and transportation money must be prioritized and invested where congestion exists.

...Partnerships One of the largest challenges facing all 100 Counties is the Federal Governments growing debt and the State of North Carolina's $3 billion expected budget shortfall. County and municipal governments are not in the financial position to make up these shortfalls so it will be imperative that we make our citizens hard-earned tax dollars go as far as possible through stronger more coordinated partnerships. Our economic challenge will most likely last several years and government will need to be more efficient as we balance increasing service requests along with declining revenues due to 1 out of ten hard working North Carolinians being unemployed and many more being underemployed. Wake County is fortunate to still be attracting good high paying jobs such as those offered at Novartis. The RTP,NCSU,our crown jewel Wake Tech, and a good K-12 public school system are a few of our assets that keep Wake County as one of the best places to live in America. Our best days are ahead of us.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Wake County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

As Mayor of Knightdale I recruited 100 volunteers including myself and we volunteered in the local schools for one hour/week for three years. Teachers appreciated this community support. For 19 years I along with a lot of other people pressed to expedite the US64/264 bypass so Eastern NC travelers could spend less time in traffic and more time with their families. With the bypass opening commuters save 3 hours/week. Working with Poe Center we got funding and started a "Drugs Uncovered" program to help families. Led and reached across party lines to increase operating funding for the WCPSS thus ensuring funding for important education programs for our children. During my 23 years of public service I have tried to find solutions to improve the quality of life for our citizens. Please see my website for more detail of leadership positions. I now have the ability to impact not only Wake County issues but was recently elected as the President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

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

Thoughtful and pragmatic.

4. The Commissioners board is often termed the school board’s banker, and the school board’s performance is the biggest issue in Wake County by far. What’s your take on the new Wake school board majority’s direction, including its opposition to using diversity as a factor in school assignments? If elected, what steps will you take, if any, to support or oppose the new majority?

Our community is divided and it is incumbent on all of us to seek unity. All value diversity and community schools. Bringing about change is difficult and the school board is enacting the policies they see as best for the Community. We could all do a better job of communicating our vision and building trust. I support this school board and I have supported prior school boards. I am running for County Commissioner, not the school board or Raleigh City Council. In the next 4 years I will continue to focus on academics. Let me give some background. Knightdale High School has an average SAT score of 919, many teachers want to move,AP courses are few, there is significant discipline issues, something like 87 our of 365 graduates went on to college. The eastern part of Wake County is not as affluent as other parts and there is not even a magnet school in Knightdale. We live in an urban County. The State average SAT is over 1000 and Wake County's is approximately 1070. The knightdale HS situation is not unique to just Knightdale HS and existed under the old school system. I believe it is appalling to having failed our children. There is room for significant improvement. Eastern Wake County children are just as bright as others. Through a community led effort of the K100, the principal and the leadership of the current board of education together have implemented more AP classes, an environmental academy, a 9th grade leadership program and a program to keep more children in school versus suspensions. At the end of the day the larger question our public will face is are they willing to make a larger investment in public education to ensure our children are globally competitive. I believe our role is to be more than banker for not only education but also human services, public safety and many, many more County services such as paramedics, libraries, open space, mental health services, fire fighters, water supply resources, public health care, jails, veteran services and many more. Teachers and educators such as the Wake NCAE have endorsed my candidacy each time for Wake County Commissioner.

5. If elected, will you vote to put the ½-cent sales tax for transit on the ballot in 2011?

Once there is a vetted plan in which the public has actively participated, the 12 municipalities have signed an inter-local agreement with the County and our economy has improved--YES.

6. The closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital is making a bad situation worse for mental health patients in Wake County. The commissioners have taken some steps to address the problems? Are they enough? If not, what else is needed?

In 2005 when I was Chairman of our Board we held a mental health summit to focus on mental health. Since 2005 the Commissioners have kept mental health as a priority goal. The County has taken many proactive steps knowing that the State's plan for mental health reform included the closing of Dix. These steps include, but are not limited to, an agreement with Holly Hill Hospital for 44 beds and the construction of two facilities to serve persons with mental illness and substance abuse addictions. Early 2011 first patients will be seen. Other iniatives such as the law enforcement CIT training and most importantly the volunteer groups such as NAMI have been and continue to be great partners.

I do not think anyone believes that mental health reform has been successful in NC and we are seeing the impact, not only in the need for the facilities we have and are building but also in the hospitals and jails. Need funding for a state-wide system and focus must also be on the State legislators. We will continue to work with advocacy groups and stakeholders to meet the needs of the mentally ill. One of my goals for the NC Association of County Commissioners is building Human Capital for all 100 Counties. As part of this focus I am hopeful Counties will focus more on Human Services.

7. A woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy is once again a major issue in politics at every level. Please state your position on the question of abortion, choice and women’s rights.

The US Supreme Court has already settled the issue of a woman's choice to have an abortion. The recent Wake County issue has been whether taxpayers should have to pay for someone to have an elective abortion. So, while I recognize the legal right of a woman to elect such a procedure, I do not believe the taxpayer should have to pay for the procedure, unless it is medically necessary. I voted against taxpayer funded elective abortions.

8. Do you support equal rights for gay and straight citizens, including equal protection from workplace discrimination and equal marriage rights?

I believe all organizations should provide equal protection from workplace discrimination and I think our Triangle area businesses and organizations reflect this principle. In North Carolina, state law has defined marriage so the equal marriage rights question is a State law issue not a County issue.

9. 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 attempt to be actively involved and seek input from all sides prior to thoughtfully making a decision. Try to be civil, even though our nation seems to have lost a significant amount of civility. I love public service and trust people value my leadership in improving their quality of life.

Counties ensure a just community. County government impacts peoples lives daily. In all 100 North Carolina Counties , County Government works solving problems.

10. Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.

Let's reflect on some prior principled votes.

Additional funding for schools

The difficult decision to build a needed landfill in Holly Springs

My first budget when the prior board had spent one time money, being fiscally irresponsible. I made the motion to raise taxes to meet our County services and maintain our AAA rating.

In the next few years the Commissioners will ask the voters to make additional investments in Wake Tech, Transit, a public school bond issue and perhaps even open space bonds. While we will continue to make a high priority being a good steward of taxpayer dollars through prioritization of services and our Wake Accountability Watch these voter approved referendum most likely will require additional revenue.

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