Thomas Stith | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Thomas Stith

Candidate for Durham Mayor


Name as it appears on the ballot: Thomas Stith
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: 9/11/63
Home address: 222 Shalimar Drive
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer: Business/Governmental Affairs Consultant
Home phone:
Work phone:
Cell phone: 919-771-6311

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

Crime and safety in the community – enhancing our relationships with federal agencies, increase the number of officers in our neighborhood, provide adequate prevention programs. Accountability in city government – conduct independent performance audits in key departments, conduct an organizational assessment to ensure proper staffing and organizational alignment. Create an environment that recognizes the benefits of creating a job/business friendly community to address issues ranging from growing poverty rate in our city to our limited tax base.

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

I have successfully sponsored efficiency efforts while on council in addition to a pilot job training effort. I have been effective in my professional career in leading teams and achieving/exceeding goals.

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

I believe in fiscal responsibility from our city administration. Citizens expect the council to utilize tax revenue in an efficient and effective manner. This has been demonstrated by my review of financial issues brought before council and my strong advocacy against increasing our tax burden. I strongly believe the city has an obligation to provide a safe and secure environment for the citizens and this belief is represented by my stance toward crime and gang activity.

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

Taking a zero tolerance approach toward crime and gang activity.

5) Last year, the city withheld testing data that showed that the city’s drinking water failed to meet federal health standards. What can the city council do to increase transparency in city administration and prevent future breaches of the public’s trust?

We must hold our city administration accountable and direct the manager to take appropriate action when the public’s health is at risk. At this point, we cannot continue to make excuses especially in cases when our children are at risk.

6) What specific policy solutions would you advocate to abate Durham’s problems with violent crime?

As mentioned earlier, stronger enforcement strategies combined with programs geared toward our youth and other at risk populations.

7) Durham’s south side is experiencing rapid growth. What impact do you expect that growth to have on the city? What are your plans for handling that development?

We are growing our city including our southern boundaries according to established plans developed over the last few years. The benefits from this growth will be an expanded tax base that if properly managed will provide additional revenue to meet our community needs.

8) Private developers are in the process of revitalizing Durham’s Tobacco District, just as city crews are putting the finishing touches on the downtown streetscape. What kinds of policies should the council implement to ensure that downtown becomes a thriving commercial and residential neighborhood?

We will have to maintain the public improvements so that we are able to continue to attract people downtown. We will have to take the proper steps to ensure safety needs are met given the resulting increase in people and investment in the sector.

9) What are Durham’s most pressing capital improvement needs? Please be specific.

Our infrastructure, specifically our streets and maintenance of streets.

10) What steps can the council take to promote strong town-gown relations, especially regarding infrastructure improvements in the neighborhoods adjacent to Duke University?

The council can work with both groups to help facilitate planning in neighboring areas around Duke. When there is a joint effort between council, community and university the resulting agreement typically is one that has ownership from all parties and has a greater potential for success.

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