DeDreana Freeman | Candidate Questionnaires - Durham County | Indy Week

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DeDreana Freeman

Durham City Council (Ward 1)

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DeDreana Freeman
Website: DeDreanaFreeman.com
Occupation: Non-Profit Administrator
Phone Number: 919-886-5448
Email Address: info@DeDreanaFreeman.com
Years Lived in Durham: 10


1) Durham residents, from the new group Durham for All to the demonstrators who tore down the Confederate monument on Main Street, are calling for more power to be placed in the hands of the people. In what ways do you think Durham can improve public participation in local government? How would you make room for that in city government?

There are many spaces to invite resident and community engagement not only into the governing process but also to lead the process. I would start with small area planning by neighborhood groups with budgeting, planning and prioritization.


2) Because of state law, municipalities have a number of restrictions placed on them by the legislature: they can’t, for instance, be a sanctuary city, impose a city-wide minimum wage, enforce inclusionary zoning, or remove Confederate monuments. Under what circumstances should elected officials push back against the legislature?

I believe that in all cases there should be meaningful pushback with a strategic response, within limits, that are not more harmful to city residents than helpful.


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

Our City Leaders have to protect our residents against civil rights violations and violence, open communication and trust are at the base of that leadership. We have to consistently support those most impacted by the injustices of institutional and systemic aggressions of racism and other forms of oppression. I want to commend Roger Echols, Charlie Reese and Jillian Johnson for their steadfast support and understanding of the complex nature of the turn of events and their swift and decisive response in support of Durham city residents’ rights.


4) Durham’s public housing stock is aging, and there is limited money to redevelop units. What are your ideas for keeping residents of public housing in quality, affordable homes?

Using a holistic approach similar to the Piedmont Equity Team, we need to engage multiple stakeholders to address the inequity of public housing. We also need to incorporate services and supports to prevent displacement and dramatic market shifts that would increase taxes on property owners.

See my equitably housing plan on-line.


5) While much of Durham has seen a renaissance during Mayor Bell’s tenure, the city’s poverty rate has also increased. What are your ideas for lowering Durham’s poverty rate, other than providing affordable housing? How can Durham’s renaissance be spread more equitably throughout the city?

Understanding the implicit bias, systemic and institutional racism inherent in all areas of disparity, including wealth inequity, we need to address the issue of poverty holistically as I previously mentioned in question 4. There are performance measures and funding sources that our city use that don’t prioritize access to jobs and capital for marginalized communities of color. We have to continue to build on the growth using an Equity lens to close the divide.


6) The Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project has moved into the engineering phase, although the Trump administration seems reticent to fund it. What are your thoughts on light rail? If completed, do you believe the project will be worth the community’s investment? Why or why not?

Yes, the project will be worth the investment once it is complete. We will be prepared as a city whose population is increasing year over year. According to the Population Reference Bureau, our state total population change from 2000 through 2010 was 18.5%. Durham beat that population growth by 3.5% (durhamnc.gov).


7) Given the current direction of Durham city government, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what specific changes you will advocate if elected?

I think we are on the right course for some residents in our city. I would like to work to bring the rest of our residents and businesses along to partake in the prosperity of our city with a more equitably inclusive priority. We should continue to have economic growth with opportunities built in for historically marginalized populations in our city.


8) Please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces and how you will address them.

The most pressing issues facing Durham in the coming years are the inequities residents face around jobs and economic growth, community health and safety, sustainable housing and transportation, and environmental justice. I have a vision for an Equitable Durham for everyone, which begins with collaboratively addressing these areas. The lack of racial equity in our city government is played out in the affordable housing conversation and reflected in the displacement of residents by gentrification. I would, in part, work with my fellow council members to engage developers around equitable development and affordable housing that incorporates sustainability in energy efficiency throughout the urban and suburban tiers across the city. I would also seek to coordinate planning efforts with workforce and economic development programs so that we can train and recruit strategically, continuing growth but with equity in mind.


9) 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 ability to work with both residents in the community and developers on the Planning Commission demonstrates my effective collaborative and strong advocating ability for city priorities within the context of planning and zoning. I have served on this Commission for three years, and I renewed my appointment in April of this year with unanimous support from Council. I have also served as president on the Inter-Neighborhood Council of Durham, facilitating and coordinating key resolutions that have gone to City Council.


10) 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?

An example of an action by the City Council that could’ve been handled differently was decision making around the tax increase for the penny for housing program. The increased tax rate will not be enough to cover the affordable housing crisis that the city is currently experiencing. Also, there is not enough transparency and community input into how the money will be used. There must be an equitable plan in place to create sustainable housing options for residents of the city with environmental justice and economic growth in mind. One of the city’s accomplishments in the past year is the purchase of the property on Fayetteville St, referred to as Fayette Place. This property provides a clear opportunity to demonstrate the ability to create a mixed income/mixed use community that incorporates heavy income based housing with density and commercial space.


11) 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?

Progressive

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