Bonner Gaylord | Candidate Questionnaires - Wake County | Indy Week

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Bonner Gaylord

Raleigh City Council (District E)

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Bonner Gaylord
www.bonnergaylord.com
Occupation: Managing Director, Kane Realty br> Phone Number: Email Address: bgaylord@bonnergaylord.com
Years Lived in Durham: I’ve lived in Raleigh my whole life.

1) Between gentrification in historic neighborhoods and expensive rentals downtown, Raleigh has struggled with questions of affordable and workforce housing. In June, the city council set a goal of fifty-seven hundred more affordable units over the next decade. With burgeoning growth and rising housing prices, what additional steps should Raleigh take to create more affordable housing?

Affordable housing is one of the most important issues our community faces. Housing costs, in conjunction with transportation costs, represent the majority of most individual and family expenditures. So, we need to continue to increase funds available to directly fund affordable housing, continue to support transit and multi-modal transportation investments, and allow more housing in general to provide a pipeline of naturally occurring affordable housing to lower all costs for our residents. Further, we as a Council need to stop rejecting affordable housing proposals under the guise of neighborhood protection.


2) Related to affordable housing (and affordability in general) is viable public transportation. What steps can the city take to improve mass transit throughout the city? County voters approved a transit referendum last fall that will eventually create a bus rapid transit system and commuter rail line. What more should be done?

The City must meet the County’s transit investments with its own transit infrastructure improvements. We need to put our money where our mouth is. Additionally, the City must encourage dense, walkable, mixed-use transit-supportive built environments in order to decrease costs overall and create a more livable city that meets the economic, environmental, social, and cultural values our city represents.


3.) Given the inflamed racial tensions after the recent events in Charlottesville, what steps should Raleigh take to position itself as a guardian of social justice? How would you characterize city leaders’ relationship with Raleigh’s communities of color, and what should be done to improve that relationship going forward?

Unfortunately, the KKK, Neo-Nazis, and other hate groups have been and will continue to attempt to promote their evil agendas through rallies and marches. It is the City’s responsibility to protect individuals and property while also protecting free speech. The Raleigh Police Department stands ready with area partners to deal with any potential threat of a Charlottesville-type event. In addition, elected officials have an affirmative role in promoting the values of our city, and I would personally be engaged in any and all opposition to these hate organizations.
With respect to our relationship with communities of color; just as leaders are responsible for speaking out against what is evil, we are also responsible for speaking up for those in need. Our relationship needs to improve. While there have been efforts to further community policing, direct outreach through listening sessions with the community, and increased investments into historically disadvantaged communities, we need to continue to push towards a more equitable city. Our cities should reflect our highest ideals of inclusion and equality, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability or any other factor outside of one’s control. /p>
4.) Given the recent creation of the community engagement board, what do you believe the role of citizens advisory councils should be? What features and levels of involvement do you want to see incorporated into the new structure?

The citizen engagement task force was formed with the charge of investigating international best practice for citizen engagement. The recommendations which they put forward were the first step down a long road of investigation and self-reflection for our community. I don’t have any specific tactical outcomes in mind but my deepest hope and desire is this: At the end of this road, Raleigh’s citizen engagement will be held up as a national model that allows the equitable enfranchisement of the most citizens into the decision-making process of their city.


5) Thinking about the current direction of Raleigh city government, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what specific changes you will advocate if elected?

The majority of national news publications that track the overall direction of a city have extraordinarily high appraisal of our current direction. While I largely agree with the many “best of” lists, we absolutely have room for improvement. As with any high growth, highly successful city, we must continually strive to remain a city accessible for all. In order to remain accessible for all, we must put our genuine focus towards jobs, transportation and affordable housing. My track record shows my focus in these areas has been unwavering despite political consequences.


6) If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for improvements in the district if you’re elected. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces and how you will address them.

I am running for re-election for District E. The needs of District E are similar to the needs across the city. District E needs additional transit and transportation infrastructure. It needs to continue to focus on and allow for job opportunities. And it needs to focus on affordable housing.


7) What in your public or professional career shows your ability to be an effective member of the city council? If you’ve identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to deal with them?

My eight years of experience on City Council notwithstanding, I have a background that provides me with particular technical expertise as well as passion for the people of the City of Raleigh. I’ve worked on affordable housing issues since 2008 when I was on the Board of Habitat of Wake Co and then Habitat for Humanity NC. I’ve worked on the Wake County Transit Advisory Committee and traveled the United States with Transportation for America to help pass Wake County’s transportation referendum. For economic development, I have a professional track record of bringing thousands of jobs to Raleigh through my work as managing director of operations at Kane Realty Corporation.


8) Please give an example of an action by the city council in the past year that went wrong or should have been handled differently. Also, what was the city’s biggest accomplishment during that period?

The City Council had an opportunity to provide additional affordable housing in the Northeast section of our city which, like all of Raleigh, is in dire need of additional affordable housing. Unfortunately, neighbor objections pushed some councilors to vote against this affordable housing project. Our city cannot pass up such opportunities when there is such need.
Our biggest accomplishment was dedicating a penny of our property tax rate to fund affordable housing in perpetuity. This funding source is the most significant additional affordable housing funding in the past decade.


9) How do you identify yourself to others in terms of your political philosophy? For example, do you tell people you’re a conservative, a moderate, a progressive, a libertarian?

I tell people I am an urban progressive. I believe deeply in the power of cities to improve lives and I want our city to provide the most opportunity to the most people and be as broadly inclusive as any city in the world. There are very specific things we must do to achieve these goal for the betterment of all and we cannot allow pockets of dissent to prevent us from being the absolute best city we can be for all.


10) Now that the city is moving ahead with plans for the 306-acre Dorothea Dix Park, what are some specific features or focuses you’d work to see as part of final design?

While I would love to see a combination of natural features, active recreation opportunities, performance venues, and more; my main goal is to provide the community with what it wants. We have designed an extensive process to learn what the community desires in order to most closely meet those needs.


11) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.

I would just like to use this space to underscore one last time the reality that job opportunities, affordable housing, and public transit are the keys to our future. If we don’t allow affordable housing production, if we fight transit improvements, if we act inconsistent with our economic development goals, then the least, the lost, and the last will be the most injured.

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