Campaign website: electbeasley.com
Occupation and employer: President, Durham Regional Financial Center
Years in Durham: 42
Phone number: 919.973.9561
1. In your view, what are the most important issues currently facing Durham County? If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
I believe the most important issues confronting Durham County are:
2- Increased funding for Education
3- Crime and Resident Safety
My top three priorities reflect those top issues facing the county residents. If elected I would focus my efforts on initiatives that create jobs for Durham residents and establish training programs to develop our local workforce. As a county commissioner I would support the recruitment and retention of companies to the area that offer livable wage jobs to our low and moderate income families. Establishing these efforts as a priority provides better financial options for our residents and invests in a long term strategy for developing a stronger Durham.
Funding for education is a top priority for me as well. If elected I would make it a priority to identify alternative and additional revenue streams that would support proper funding of our school systems and increase teacher retention.
Crime and resident safety is a concern for all of Durham’s residents and is thereby a top priority for our community. If elected, I would work closely with community leaders, Durham residents and the youth to establish trust in our communities by developing channels of communication that bridge the gap between our law enforcement officers and our neighborhoods. Establishing such networks will help re-establish trust amongst community residents by creating an open door policy that encourages engagement, transparency, and openness between law enforcement, public officials and community residents.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Durham County Board of Commissioners? (This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.)
I have acquired skills through both my professional work as well as through my community service that have enabled me to acquire the skills needed to effectively and successfully serve as Durham County Commissioner.
As President and CEO for Durham Regional Financial Center (non-profit HUD approved agency) I have served the public of Durham County for the past 25 years. I have an extensive background in human relations and organizational planning, supervising and budgeting. I have provided financial literacy and counseling, and homeownership education and counseling for critical human service needs. This position afforded me the opportunity to serve as an advocate at the local, state and federal level for the citizens of Durham. As the CEO of a non-profit I have not only successfully demonstrated my ability to receive federal and state funding but have also proven I am able to appropriate resource, allocate and account for federal funds. As CEO of a non-profit that serves this community I have also shown my ability to engage with the public, access individual needs and successfully advocate for resources on behalf of the greater Durham community.
Over the course of my 42 years in Durham county served on a number of boards and participated in a number of organizations including Durham Business and Professional Chain, Durham Workforce Development Board, The Small Business Advisory Council, and Durham Chamber of Commerce as a member of the Board of Directors. My work with these organizations over the years has demonstrated my ability to initiate and successfully lobby for economic development projects such as the establishment of Southpoint Mall where I have through such work proved my ability to participate in a project for Durham that restored jobs for local residents, and generate significant revenue back to Durham budget
3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I define myself politically as a progressive because of my ability to be an innovative thinker and support outside of the box ideas for change. This philosophy is best reflected in my present campaign platform through my support of an initiative that will examine social impact bonds as an alternative revenue source. I champion new and innovative ideas and advocate the use of social impact bonds as a means for neutralizing tax increases wherever possible.
4. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election help further that goal?
When I think of helping to build a just community in the Triangle I think of establishing a fearless environment for all working citizens. This would mean developing a community where workers even those without proper documentation are offered an opportunity to contribute to our economy as they pursue a path to citizenship. If elected I would encourage efforts to establish citizenship for existing immigrants who are undocumented and would support a provisional status program for those in our area.
Furthermore, when I think of helping to build a just community in the Triangle I think of a community without economic disparity and see a just community as being one that exist without a racial wealth gap. If elected I would propose an economic bill of rights which serves as a guiding principal for elected county officials. This document would define our intentions to help make Durham County a just and equitable place. If elected, the economic bill of rights is an oath of my commitment to make economic decisions that will create and encourage efforts for establishing a just Durham.
5. What is your vision for development in Durham County? What sorts of development do you believe the county should encourage? What steps do you think the county should take to reduce sprawl? What should the county do to create more affordable housing?
Urban sprawl is an issue affecting many communities including areas like Durham. I am a champion of smart growth and as such do not support urban sprawl in that wherever redevelopment of existing communities is an option I would support. As a supporter of economic security and affordable housing initiatives, I would minimize the effects of urban sprawl by continuing my support for revitalization and redevelopment programs in Durham County.
If elected, I would encourage a vision for development where Durham County together with the City would identify blighted areas, boarded houses, bank owned properties, and in general properties that pose a real harm and a danger to public health and safety. These properties should be offered to non-profits, and qualifying private developers who can renovate and return the properties to market for the sole purpose of creating more affordable housing.
I support smart growth development and will ensure that any development on county-owned land near transit will include affordable housing. Smart growth is a way to build and maintain towns and cities like Durham used to reduce sprawl. Smart growth means communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools. This approach supports local economies and protects the environment and is part of my vision for development in Durham County.
6. Parts of Durham’s future development plans are closely tied to the updated comprehensive plan. What changes to the comp plan do you believe the city and county need to make?
After reviewing the comprehensive plan, if I were to recommended any change it would be to include additional detail surrounding our county’s library system and the need for expanded services. Specifically, I would like to see a sketch plan or outline that addresses the need for additional staff to assist and support workforce development. I would also like to see detail surrounding the county plans to provide library facilities such that county residents are within 5 miles of a library facility.
7. At a meeting in January, the DPS Board of Education discovered that it needed to cut as much as $16 million from the 2016–17 budget. Do you believe the county commission needs to find additional revenue to fund public schools? If so, how would you go about doing so?
I do believe that the county commission with DPS board of education should work to find additional revenue streams to fund public schools. While money does not solve all problems, in this era of tight budgets and increased skepticism about government funded-programs innovative ways such as Social Impact Bonds (SIB) should be considered. The Obama Administration has already carved out funding to support pay-for-success models. At least 14 states are currently at various stages of exploring SIBs in domains including criminal justice, health care and early childhood education and I would support exploration of such Pay for Success initiatives in this case as well.
8. Last year the legislature ended a waiver to the federal food-stamp program, limiting the ability of able-bodied adults without dependents to access food assistance. This change will affect as many as 2,700 people in Durham County. What do you believe the county should be doing to help this population?
I do believe the county should embrace partnerships with private and public entities that will promote employment, professional development, and skilled vocational training specifically target the unmet needs of this population.
9. Over the past year, there have been frequent protests outside of the Durham County Detention Center over allegations of unsanitary conditions, lackluster health and mental-health care, and gouging by jail contractors. In December, Chairman Michael Page told the INDY he would propose an independent investigation into the jail. Do you believe such an investigation is necessary and should move forward? What changes, if any, do you believe the sheriff’s office should make regarding the jail?
I do support the creation of a Citizen’s Review Board to work along with a third-party firm to investigate inmate treatment and living conditions in the Durham County jail. I also believe this group should examine other complaints not only related to the management of the county jail but also of the Sheriff’s Department as well.
If I were to recommend any changes regarding the jail it would be to increase transparency and insight into jail operations as a means to foster greater openness and accountability.
10. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
One principled stand I am willing to take if elected that I suspect might cost me some popularity points with voters is my support of the county’s recommendation not to fund any new non-profits.