Harold Weinbrecht | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Harold Weinbrecht

Candidate for Cary Mayor


Name as it appears on the ballot: Harold Weinbrecht
Full legal name, if different: Harold Weinbrecht, Jr.
Date of birth: June 2, 1956
Home address: 105 Windspring Ct., Cary, NC 27518
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.ABalancedCary.org
Occupation & employer: Programmer / SAS
Home phone: 919-859-0015
Work phone: 919-531-7069
Cell phone: 919-270-7588
E-mail: augustanat@mindspring.com or Harold@ABalancedCary.org

1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Cary? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?

  • Balance growth with available infrastructure (reduce traffic congestion by strengthening or creating adequacy ordinances)

  • Protect the environment (stop encroachment on stream buffers, review policies that might improve air quality, address stormwater runoff issues, etc.)

  • Reduce school overcrowding and frequent reassignments (with policy change and partnership with Wake County School Board and Wake County Commissioners)

2) What is your philosophy regarding the pace of growth in Cary? Has it been too fast, about the right pace, or has growth been encumbered?

I think Cary has done a poor job managing growth over the past four years. It approves developments with little or no regard to school capacity, traffic congestion, and environmental impacts. Cary needs to make sure that citizen and environmental needs are paramount when considering development.

3) Please reflect on the recent developments approved by council at the intersection of Davis Drive and High House Road and explain whether you believe those development plans, and the process by which they were negotiated and approved, represent healthy growth for Cary.

I do not believe that these developments represent healthy growth for Cary. The original Sears proposal was a good example of a true mix of uses that provided value to Cary citizens with some mitigations for the impact on traffic. However, the amended proposal followed the recent pattern in Cary by adding more high-density residential development.

The Crosland proposal at this intersection was always out of character for this area, with overpowering commercial and office structures and too much high-density residential development. This development plan illustrates the current failure of Cary’s mixed use centers, which were a good concept but have been executed very poorly.

The process for approval bordered on the absurd. Real-time negotiations with Mr. Sears in front of the Town Council were unprecedented in my experience and mostly consisted of grandstanding. The eleventh-hour “adjustment” of the Crosland project’s borders was a thinly-veiled stunt by the applicant to remove the valid protest petition of the neighbors. It succeeded on the night of the vote, but now is being legally challenged, and I believe that that challenge has merit.

These two development proposals represent the worst of the current Council’s placing special interests above the interests of the people of Cary.

4) How can the Town of Cary best ensure that infrastructure needs keep pace with growth? Please cite specific examples of policies or actions that the Town Council might undertake, or has undertaken, that you believe are effective or ineffective.

Growth can pay for itself, but using Cary’s current model, it does not. When I served on Town Council, we enacted Adequate Public Facilities ordinances (APFOs) that were intended to ensure that the infrastructure was sufficient to support new development before that development was approved. Sadly, the Schools APFO was repealed by the current administration and the transportation APFO has been gutted, and the consequences of negative effects on Cary citizens are now evident.

I believe that some combination of adjusted impact fees, APFOs, transfer taxes and other methods to more equitably share the costs of growth need to be pursued in Cary. We all can benefit from growth, but the citizens are shouldering the burdens of its costs, both financial and with respect to quality of life.

5) Would you support Wake County’s Commissioners if they chose to put a land transfer-tax referendum on the ballot? Why or why not?

Yes. The NCGA gave local governments this authority. I always support citizen referenda to enable the citizens to vote on how their government is funded. Moreover, I believe that a land transfer tax is a tool that local governments should have to pay for growth.

6) What sort of relationship do you think the Town of Cary should have with the Wake County school system? Do you believe that, in the future, western Wake County municipalities should form their own school system, either by a formal breakaway or through the creation of a sub-district? In general, what can town leadership do to improve or strengthen the education system for Cary’s public school students?

Cary should have a proactive relationship with the Wake County School System. The present Cary Council has been too quick to wash its hands of our school problems. I support partnering with the Wake County School System to fix our school problems; I do not support forming separate school systems.

I believe that we should restore the Schools APFO in Cary and that we should begin aggressive land banking for schools.

7) Do you believe the Town of Cary has done a good job in recent years of involving citizens in the public process with regards to growth, education and other issues of interest? What, if anything, would you change about the way public input is incorporated into the town government’s decision making?

I have a vision of a Town Council that places all parties on an equal footing. Our Council must listen and respond to citizens (not just special interests)! Growth is important to our town, but the wants of developers should not overwhelm the voices of citizens and neighborhoods. It’s time that citizens’ opinions are truly heard and respected at Town Hall.

8) Are you concerned about the long-term water quality of Jordan Lake, Cary’s primary source of drinking water? If so, what measures would you take to preserve or improve it?

Yes, I am very concerned about our water quality. We simply cannot allow the special interests of development to pollute our drinking water. I believe that Cary’s Southwest Area Plan is a good blueprint for protecting the Jordan Lack watershed, but we must adhere to that plan and not allow shortsighted modifications that allow more intense development near the lake. Cary’s designation of “very low density residential” zoning is not, in fact, the lowest density that could or should be allowed in the watershed. Also, as Cary extends further into Chatham County, I believe that we need to repair our relationships with the Chatham County Commissioners and truly partner with them in planning the future of this critical area of our region.

9) What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.

  • Cary Town Council 1999 - 2003
  • Chairman, Cary Operations Committee 2001 - 2003
  • Cary Planning and Development Committee 1999 - 2001
  • Wake County Growth Management Task Force 1999 - 2003
  • Chairman, Cary Information Services Advisory Board 1998
  • Cary Planning and Zoning Board 1999?

10) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I consider myself a “pragmatic progressive”. I believe that we need to protect the environment for our children and their children; that citizens are at the top of the organizational chart for government; and that government exists to serve citizens. Simultaneously, I believe that an appropriate balance can be achieved for most issues that government faces and I make decisions based on facts.

I believe that my past service on Town Council, when I supported APFOs, listened to citizens and served with integrity, along with my current campaign platform that is consistent with those same principles and emphasizes growth, roads, schools, protecting the environment and listening to citizens offers ample evidence of putting my political philosophy into practice.

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

I’ll mention two: I generally oppose forced annexation, and I do not support the siting of the regional wastewater treatment facility for the Western Wake Partners, led by Cary, at its current location in New Hill. In both cases, citizens who would benefit from my principled stand would not be able to vote for me, and some Cary citizens probably would disagree with these positions. However, I believe that both of these principled stands ultimately benefit our region and, indeed, the Town of Cary.

12) The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

I believe that the summation of my previous answers to this questionnaire address this question: I will listen to citizens, support people over special interests and participate in genuine regional cooperation as a true public servant. The citizens of Cary and the Triangle deserve nothing less.

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