Meighan Lela Carmichael | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Meighan Lela Carmichael

Candidate for Hillsborough Board of Commissioners

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Meighan Lela Carmichael

Date of birth: 09/11/1975

Occupation & employer: Self-Employed

Campaign website: www.facebook.com/MeighanCarmichaelforTownBoard

Email: Meighan.carmichael@gmail.com


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing Hillsborough? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?

The most important issue facing Hillsborough in the upcoming decade is its commitment to smart growth. With several approved development projects underway, Hillsborough will continue to see residents and businesses moving into town. We have natural restrictions on our resources that limit our town's capacity, and we must be thoughtful in choosing how to invest and allocate our resources to ensure the best overall outcomes for our citizens. My goal is to be a public servant: to actively listen to the priorities and concerns of all our town's residents, to ensure the Board comprehensively understands all positive and negative consequences of each opportunity, and to act as a representative of the interests of the majority of our community. This is the best way to address all town issues- regardless of their level of importance or priority- as it ensures good decision-making.

2. If you are not currently serving on the Town Commission, what will you bring to the body that it now lacks? If you are an incumbent, what perspective have you brought that the town still needs?

As a newcomer to the Town Board of Commissioners, I hope to bring a commitment to engage the voices of more of our citizens. Through conversations with several of our current Commissioners, I am convinced that there is a general desire to listen; the Board considers the needs of engaged citizens, but there are groups and individuals whose voices are not heard. This can be detrimental to the town, as we can only make our best choices when the needs of everyone are brought forward. I hope to engage with citizens from all neighborhoods, ages and walks of life, and encourage more civic involvement and discourse.

3. In the last four years, what do you feel are the three best accomplishments of Hillsborough town government, and why? Conversely, what are three things you would have done differently?

As a former CPA, I take great interest in reviewing the business performance of organizations. I have analyzed successful, capable businesses as well as poorly managed, underperforming ones; there are commonalities to successful entities, including our town government: commitment to efficiency, learning, problem-solving and process-improvement. One major accomplishment is that the town has managed its resources wisely and thoughtfully through an economic downturn, finding ways to do more with less, to build in efficiencies to processes and ensure that the effects of the recession on our town services were as painless as possible for residents. Budget constraints are difficult to manage and negotiate, and there will always be opportunities to improve, but if we are committed to reviewing our performance and learning from it, we are on the right path. Another accomplishment is the continued development of a collaborative internal atmosphere- the fostering of healthy working relationships, mutual respect and appreciation among town staff, the Mayor and Board, and also between town and county government. Not only is this beneficial for the culture of our community, but it is also the most efficient use of our tax dollars: reducing friction increases performance and efficiency. This stands in stark contrast to the wasteful, competitive battling currently present at the federal level. Hillsborough has also been a strong advocate for our citizens in the larger triangle region, another impressive accomplishment that benefits our town and provides a positive example to others. I cannot make a judgment on what I would have done differently in any previous situations without having all the information that Board members had when making those decisions.

4. Indy Week's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

My personal life is guided by principals of justice and peace, and I move forward into the world from there. I place high value on the intent to include- to hear and to understand all needs, to balance priorities in ways that are fair. I also value pragmatism; democracy requires consensus, and strict pursuit of ideological views inhibits meaningful progress. We must find ways to negotiate, find commonalities, and continuously push forward in ways that are as practical as possible.

5. How do you define yourself politically (ie) conservative, moderate, liberal, third party, hybrid etc) and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am proudly independent, a progressive pragmatist, and pro-Hillsborough. My allegiances lie to my fellow citizens, and I am committed to seeking a path that provides the best opportunities and quality of life for all residents of Hillsborough.

6. Town commissioners continue to pursue completion of the Riverwalk greenway. Do you agree with this and what is your long-term vision for greenspace in Hillsborough?

Yes absolutely. Riverwalk is a win on so many levels for Hillsborough- it promotes the value of public green space, it provides our citizens with safe, healthy, free access to nature, it connects us to the larger community, and it increases opportunity for tourism revenue. Public green space is a long-term investment in the physical and social health of a community- it is important for the town to reflect the values of its citizens, and in general, Hillsborough is a town that supports and promotes green space in our communities. As individuals, we all have a responsibility to show our support by utilizing these spaces- the town should take a leadership role in prioritizing them, but it is imperative that this priority is supported and led by our citizens.

7. With so much development in the town's future, what is your vision for Hillsborough? How do you balance the town's small-town, local charm with the push for growth?

Balance is the key. We will certainly be growing in the upcoming decade, but our growth is restricted by resource capacity limitations. This requires town leaders to be thoughtful in choosing the best opportunities for promoting prosperity. Again, I believe it's important to take into account the needs of all our citizens when planning for growth, our needs for housing, work opportunities, places to shop and enjoy life. Our current citizens must be individual leaders in promoting our shared values in neighborliness and local connectivity- this means we are each responsible for how we engage with one another as citizens each day. We must be the kind of neighbors we want; it is the government's responsibility to reflect the values of its citizens, so I look to the people for positive guidance.

8. Following the approval of a half-cent transit tax last year, regional officials continue to pursue an expanded public transportation network. Do you support this? If so, what are your goals for regional public transit and how can they be accomplished?

Yes absolutely. Accessibility is the key to successful public transit. But we must ensure that our investment is not made strictly because of adherence to an ideal- it must make smart economic sense. My goal is successful regional transit: I define this as maximized utilization and efficient operation. Regional government must be creative and innovative in the investment of public funds to ensure that we have the best return on our investment- it is not enough to just provide a service; we need to provide services that are practical, accessible and make good economic sense for our citizens.

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

This is my first foray into public office, but I have founded groups, served on committees, and held positions on Boards for schools, churches and other non-profit groups for two decades. As a former CPA and Finance Director for Habitat for Humanity in Orange County, I bring leadership, business experience, and a connection to the needs of our community to the table. As a mother, wife, neighbor and friend, I bring a passion for our town and a desire to do my part to give my best self in service to the people of Hillsborough.

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