Cora Cole-McFadden | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

Elections » Candidate Questionnaires

Cora Cole-McFadden

Candidate for Durham City Council Ward I


Name as it appears on the ballot: Cora Cole-McFadden
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: 10-3-45
Home address: 5613 Old Well Street
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: CORAFORDURHAM.COM
Occupation & employer: Retired from City government
Home phone: 477-8995
Work phone: Council Office

1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Durham?

The most important issues facing Durham are public safety, sustainability/environmental stewardship, the economy/fiscal accountability. If elected, my top priorities in addressing public safety will be promoting programs designed to address and eradicate the root causes of crime. Public safety issues are often connected with other city challenges. I support addressing these challenges by focusing on economic and workforce development strategies to bring more businesses and green-collar family-supporting jobs into our community. A "systems change " approach to strengthening workforce development by identifying gaps in current programs as well as opportunities for "outside --the-box" solutions is a top priority for me. I will continue to explore opportunities for positive youth development through Youth Commission initiatives and expansion of the Durham Youth Fire Marshall program beyond its present curriculum, and continue to spearhead activities promoting positive esteem among our youth and showcasing their talent. Continued support for neighborhood revitalization initiatives in targeted areas will result in a renewal of neighborhood spirit and community building. These foci along with existing programs through our Neighborhood Improvement Services and Police departments and will help address the root causes of crime and assist in abating it.

Guiding principles for addressing sustainability/environmental stewardship challenges are outlined in our revised Comprehensive Plan, and UDO ordinance. If we follow these documents with an increased emphasis on ecologically sensitive development and watershed protection standards, we will meet pollution- reduction goals and requirements. Our Greenhouse Gas Plan is our manual for reducing emissions. Our local government targets include buildings, water and wastewater, fleet, lighting, and solid waste. I support Green buildings and retrofits, water conservation and efficiency of operations and have purchased two rain barrels (to walk the talk). I also support fuel efficiency and alternative fuels, LED streetlights and enhanced recycling efforts as outlined in the plan. In addition, I have participated in the community education arm of clean energy which is vital in changing our conservation ethic.

My continued work on the Auditing Services Oversight Committee has enabled me to kept abreast on a monthly basis of the strength of internal controls in the City through an audit plan. I am also involved in the selection of an external auditor and review of our CAFR. Our City Manager is a tremendous asset to us with a strong background in Finance.

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.

First and foremost, I love Durham. My knowledge of Durham, my work in city government and in the community has prepared me well for elected office. My passion for saving our youth is seen in my work in the community with youth and my ability to relate to them as shown through working with DeWarren Langley and the City Council to establish the Durham Youth Commission. The Office on Youth is the first in Durham as is the Youth Scene broadcast. My work with the Open Food Market at my church is a testimony to my zest and zeal to serve my people, and my work with the Neal Middle School food pantry prepares me to address the physiological needs of our children, many of whom are homeless. This work has inspired others to become a part of that ministry. I was reared in a nurturing environment, a village that shaped and molded my being. I give back to my community and instill the same values in the youth with whom I work. This value prepares me to engage in efforts to help build a community where our families are stronger, making our neighborhoods stronger, and where our children will embrace love for community and the desire to work and give back in positive ways.

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 every man, woman and child deserve a chance to realize the American dream and that we have a responsibility to build in supports to make this happen. I believe that every citizen should enjoy a safe and sanitary living environment. I believe that affordable housing and health care are basic rights. We should afford opportunities in a fair, just and equitable way for citizens to access city services without regard to socio-economic standing and other barriers that prevent families from enjoying success. My theme "Changing and Building Community through Spirit Renewal " is evidenced in awards and honors I've received from the City and Durham and from community organizations. Noteworthy is the "Keep Durham Beautiful Award" which I received for picking up litter in my neighborhood inspiring others to do the same. The award was an "Adopt A Neighborhood" sign to be erected in my neighborhood. However, with the work we are doing in the Southside Neighborhood, we chose to place the sign at the intersection of South and Enterprise Sts. The Durham Youth Commission has adopted the center located there and is involved in tutoring and clean-ups around the area. The other award I received is the Diversity Change Award, the first for the City of Durham, which is now named in my honor. My resume outlines numerous other awards and honors.

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

Increasing the number of Ward representatives. I was elected to the City Council when the reduction in council became effective. It appears that there might have been limited dialogue regarding how ward representatives would fair with the reduction. I believe we should have representation on par with cities our size and will ask the City Council's support for researching alternatives.

5) Recently, the N.C. General Assembly approved a nutrient clean-up strategy for Jordan Lake, which will require local municipalities, including Durham, to pay for any necessary pollution-reduction measures. How will you work with the City's Public Works Department to ensure Durham's pollution-reduction goals are met, and how will you work to prevent similar pollution—and the high cost of state-mandated clean-up efforts—in the future?

The City Manager is the appropriate employee for me to work with on a nutrient Cleanup strategy for Jordan Lake. Our Comprehensive Plan, UDO and Stormwater Management Plans lay the framework for pollution reduction. The promotion of low impact development is key to our goal attainment. We are members of Triangle J COG and should use the resources of its Water Quality Division to take a more proactive approach to water quality management. As the council representative for the Upper Neuse River Basin Board of Directors, I find this division to be an underutilized but valuable resource for this region with staff well versed in the watershed protection issues we face today. I will initiate action to involve them more.

6) Southern Durham Development is suing Durham County for conducting a public hearing before changing its Jordan Lake watershed maps to accommodate a proposed mixed-use project known as 751 Assemblage. Supporters of the project say it will increase Durham's tax base, and call a public hearing to change the watershed maps an unnecessary burden on property owners. However, others question the validity of the survey and say the County is bound by the state's administrative code to conduct a public hearing. Would you consider annexing the property to resolve the matter, if Southern Durham Development requests that the City do so? Why?

No. This is a county matter and it would not be fair to intervene in this way.

7) Until recently, the City had a 25-square-mile "donut hole" in which no watershed protections existed. By closing the "donut hole"—which covered most of downtown—Durham lost an important incentive to attract downtown development and re-development, developers argued. What are your thoughts on how Durham can best attract smart growth while also protecting its watersheds?

Land banking is an idea. I also believe we should encourage more ecologically sensitive development, encouraging developers to use green materials, infill development and green roofs downtown. Strategies to reduce impervious surfaces, to enhance tree cover, promote walkability and connectivity will attract smart growth and enhanced protection of our watersheds.

8) Fairway Outdoor Advertising has proposed amending the city-county Unified Development Ordinance to allow for electronic billboards? Are you in favor of this measure, or not? Please explain your answer.

The city spent well over a million dollars to defend our existing ordinance. However, Should an official come to us, I will weigh the pros and cons objectively, vote in what I believe to be in the best interest of the City of Durham and respect the public hearing process.

9) Last year, Durham voters rejected a proposed half-cent "meals tax" for local projects. This year, a half-cent sales tax for transit is proposed in the legislature, also requiring voters approval. But Durham could pay for transit and other needs simply by increasing property taxes, which some consider a more progressive method than either of the alternatives. Which taxes should be increased, if any, and for which projects? Will you support the half-cent sales tax for transit if the legislature enacts it and the county puts it on the ballot?

I do support the ½ cent transit sales tax because it is merely one of several revenue sources and excludes food, medicine, utilities and housing making it less regressive. We have authorization to increase vehicle registration

10) The FY 2009-10 budget includes cuts to many social services, while maintaining rainy-day funds necessary to maintain Durham's AAA credit rating. How can Durham maintain services for the neediest while also balancing its budget?

Our citizens have been quite involved in the budget process through our PACs and an added component this year, a citizen engagement workshop was quite beneficial. It is my hope that volunteerism will help to fill the gaps resulting from budget cuts.

11) One of the focus areas for economic redevelopment is northeast-central Durham. How do you propose redeveloping that area and through what measures?

An NECD subcommittee of four city council members was appointed to focus on Northeast Central Durham. The committee meets monthly with NECD staff and the NECD Leadership Council which helps to facilitate and promote the revitalization of NECD. In addition, a newly created division of the Neighborhood Improvement Services Department, Community Engagement, works with an inter-departmental "task" team formed to support carrying out the NECD Strategic Revitalization Plan, RKG Economic Assessment, and other initiatives. In addition, partnerships have been formed with a local bank, Glaxo Smith-Kline, UNC, NCCU and others to help with the initiative. We were recently awarded a brownfields assessment grant for the Pettigrew Street Corridor of Northeast Central Durham which will be used for public involvement, site inventory, environmental assessment, and cleanup/redevelopment planning activities to support the redevelopment of brownfields properties in Northeast Central Durham. Thirty-five NECD residents have completed environmental technology training that will allow them to become potential employees of firms that specialize in brownfields assessment and cleanup work and related fields. Twelve have already obtained jobs. Economic incentives are giving the Angier Avenue/Driver intersection a new face and the residents are excited about grocery store and internet café and other amenities. Other projects are coming on line in the near future. The Independent School which primarily serves NECD children is now ready to shape the lives of so many children in the area. Redevelopment will continue to blossom in the area with CDBG funding and other resources making it happen. This structure supports NECD redevelopment in a powerful way.

12) Assess the health and effectiveness of the city's economic incentives fund. What improvements could be made?

The economic incentives fund is still in place and appears to be effective. Job creation and neighborhood stability especially in our targeted areas are being realized. I would hope that we would focus primarily on the neighborhoods targeted for revitalization, and that incentives will be performance based and documentation is in place to show compliance. We expect great returns on investments, already the return on investments in downtown Durham has been substantial.

Add a comment