Party affiliation: This is a non-partisan race. I am registered Republican
Campaign website: WoodhouseForRaleigh.com
Occupation & employer: Agriculture Dept. Public Affairs
Years lived in Raleigh: Lifelong Raleigh native!
Given the current direction of Raleigh city government, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what specific, major changes you will advocate if elected?
District A residents and I share these concerns:
Reduce Raleigh’s $2Billion debt. The City Council continues to accumulate debt with no plan to pay it back. The burden placed on taxpayers and our children is irresponsible. No business or family operates in this manner. Only government thinks it can engage in this sort of behavior.
Work with law enforcement to better address crime in neighborhoods and schools. District A residents tell disturbing stories of robberies from their homes and cars! I’ll work with Wake Sheriff Donnie Harrison and Raleigh Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown to end gang activity, especially in our schools. Parents have a right to be anxious. We must act immediately to stop this threat.
Promote a small business friendly atmosphere. Frustrated District A small business owners need addressed the constraints that prevent their openings and expansion. They feel government’s constant overreach when trying to cut through bureaucratic red-tape. I will push the council to become an ally to business and end excessive obstructive barriers.
If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for improvements in the district if you’re elected.
Improving neighborhood safety - District A neighborhood leaders and parents have shared their crime concerns with me. Confronting home robberies, car break-ins, and gangs in schools are a District A priority.
Cutting city’s $2 Billion debt - The City’s debt impacts North Raleigh homeowners and establishments. A city as prosperous as Raleigh should not be accumulating this debt. The burden of repaying that debt falls on citizens.
What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of Council? If you’ve identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to be an effective advocate for them?
Eliminating homelessness and creating affordable housing was my focus while at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. I helped create Raleigh’s 10 Year Plan To Eliminate Homelessness, an endeavor critical to reducing the social and fiscal costs associated with homelessness. My experience in constituent services as a US Senate staffer taught me the value of listening to and focusing on concerns of citizens.
Please give one specific example of something you think City Council has done wrong or that you would have rather done differently in the last year. Also, please tell us the single best thing the city’s done during that span.
The City mishandled the UDO rezoning process, failing to effectively communicate with affected residents and be attentive to their concerns. It was only after substantial citizen outcry that proper public hearings were scheduled, so when faced with overwhelming public outcry, the city did the right thing by holding additional meetings. An additional concern related to this issue is the potential UDO vote being held right after the October 6th election. That would circumvent the will of the people and should not happen. I challenge all the current city council members to say they will wait until after the new council takes office to decide UDO issues. The UDO rezoning is one of this election’s defining issues and the new council should be the one to cast that vote, after all voices are heard!
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?
Eliminating the city’s enormous debt, lowering taxes and stopping governmental overreach on establishments probably fall in the conservative/libertarian category. My background addressing the social and fiscal costs of homelessness with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development might be considered liberal to some. I encourage your readers to go to www.WoodhouseForRaleigh.com to learn about my positions and decide for yourselves.
The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. If elected, how will your service in office help further that goal?
I would support a Citizens Advisory and Review Board that gives neighborhoods and citizens reassurances, adding a check and balance component to keep local government accountable.
Please address, in detail, the following major issues in Raleigh:
Now that the city has acquired the 306-acre Dorothea Dix Park, what are some specific things you would like to see the city do with it?
The $52 Million purchase price is just the beginning of what will be the cost to Raleigh’s taxpayers. The City needs to immediately explore public/private partnerships to ensure a return on that investment. Dix can be a wonderful asset to our city. But we need a plan that creatively offsets the costs. A mixed/multi-use venture is a smart way to give Raleigh a beautiful jewel that won’t further break the bank and stick the citizens of District A with the tax bill.
Between gentrification in historic neighborhoods and expensive rentals downtown, the city has struggled at times with questions of affordable and workforce housing. What concrete steps can or would you take to help ensure that, for instance, hospitality workers can afford to live in Raleigh and especially its urban core? For example, there has been some talk of density bonuses to entice developers to include affordable units in their downtown developments. Do you believe this is a viable idea? Why or why not?
In my work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development I collaborated with cities throughout the southeast on their affordable housing plans and saw first-hand the positive impact government can have in this area. Raleigh can make a difference by implementing public/private partnerships and working with groups like Habitat for Humanity to revitalize vacant or dilapidated properties. By thinking creatively and working with interested parties, the city can achieve reasonable affordable housing goals without simply throwing taxpayer money at the problem.
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? Will you actively support the transit referendum that Wake County will likely put to voters next year?
An improved road system, not mass transit, works best for a growing Raleigh. The basic, short to medium term emphasis should be on roads, the main transportation system citizens choose. I support road bonds, which would provide critical funding and are fiscally responsible as they spread costs over time.
Frustrated District A small business owners say Raleigh’s bus system does not efficiently deliver employees to jobs sites. Circuitous routes and long transfer wait times disrupt work schedules. Raleigh should collaborate to find locations that allow for parking cars and coordinate those with bus routes. Finally, our transportation future should reflect a plan for growth based on what and who we are already, not some other city’s plan.
The city came under fire at Council meetings in July for the proposed remapping under the Unified Development Ordinance. It is safe to say there was a lot of uncertainty and distrust. Broadly speaking, how do you think the city should approach issues of density and neighborhood livability? And if the city had it to do over again, what about the UDO remapping do you believe should have been done differently, if anything?
As stated, the City mishandled the UDO rezoning process, failing to effectively communicate with affected residents, and be attentive to their concerns. A UDO vote right after the October 6th election shortchanges the process. The new Council should be the body to make decisions concerning UDO issues.
It was only after substantial citizen outcry that proper public hearings were scheduled.
If the city wanted input from those affected by the rezoning, they would have done more to communicate with those residents. City planners seemed oblivious to the concerns citizens expressed early. That isn’t leadership. As a member of the Raleigh City Council, I will make sure UDO opinions and views from District A citizens and businesses are heard.
Also on the subject of livability: The issue of regulating sidewalk patios hints at the difficulty this city (like other cities) faces in striking a balance between making its downtown more of a neighborhood and the needs of the businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, that currently exist. How do you think the city should go about balancing these needs? What does a successful downtown look like to you?
Raleigh overreached with the sidewalk curfew. The result? Downtown restaurant/pub owners and employees cite staggering drops in revenue and wages. It’s wrong to invite these investors and risk takers to downtown, then turn change the rules when they succeed.
Some downtown businesses have worried that the parking-deck fees scheduled to go into effect at the end of the year will adversely impact them. On the other hand, there are obviously costs associated with both building and maintaining garages, and most other cities do charge for their use. What would be your ideal solution?
Parking fees are another example of a City that can’t make up its mind. The City opened decks at night to encourage people to visit downtown, only to decide to charge in another effort to impede downtown traffic. The solution can be found by sitting down with the businesses impacted and engaging them in the process. I know a common sense solution can be found if we get everyone together.
Some recent legislative actions have seemed, to some extent, antagonistic toward the state’s cities: specifically, the repeal of business privilege taxes and the movement toward redistributing sales tax revenue. In your view, how should the city respond to these (potential and actual) revenue losses? Will the city’s property tax rate need to increase? Will services or new initiatives be curtailed? How should the city address its fiscal challenges going forward?
The city’s property tax rate should not increase. It should actually adjust down as the new valuations come in and revenues grow. Responsible organizations, businesses and citizens live within a budget! Raleigh accumulated $2 Billion in debt, with no plan to pay it back. Acting in a fiscally responsible way means the City will not bank solely on a bet that growth will eventually provide revenue. Inevitably, there will be calls for tax increases on already pressed citizens and commerce. I’ll not be one of those!
The city has about 230 employees who earn less than what is generally considered to be a living wage, about $31,000 a year. In your view, is this problematic or something the city should concern itself with?
City employees should have an opportunity to earn a higher wage. City of Raleigh employees should not be victims of a City that is looking for areas to cut in the face of a $2 Billion debt. Raleigh should look to improving the benefits provided to its workforce, which don’t add to debt.
When is the bike share program going to happen?
A bike share program is exciting and fits well into a green, dynamic city. An opportunity for public-private partnerships exist here, ensuring the program would be revenue neutral for the city. Private companies would be willing to make the investment if the city could expedite the permitting process.
What do you believe the role of Citizens Advisory Councils should be? If you are running for a district seat, how closely would you work or have you worked with local CACs?
Citizens Advisory Councils are important to District A, and can be advocates to the City Council. I will continue working with District A CACs concerning issues of rezoning and city safety.
If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.
We should give Raleigh’s CBO’s, faith community, and non-profits greater opportunities for input on how to improve the lives of Raleigh citizens.