James Bledsoe | Candidate Questionnaires - Wake County | Indy Week

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James Bledsoe

Raleigh City Council (District C)


James G. Bledsoe
Occupation: Sergeant – United States Army Reserve/ IT Support – North Carolina Department of Public Safety
Phone Number: 319-538-7336
Email Address: james@electjamesbledsoe.com
Years Lived in Raleigh: 4

1) Between gentrification in historic neighborhoods and expensive rentals downtown, Raleigh has struggled with questions of affordable and workforce housing. In June, the city council set a goal of fifty-seven hundred more affordable units over the next decade. With burgeoning growth and rising housing prices, what additional steps should Raleigh take to create more affordable housing?

For one, stop raising taxes. Many people in this city have complained that they are being taxed out of Raleigh. So why is one hand building a wall while another tears it down. Second, open up our food truck business legislation. It is so incredibly difficult for food trucks to operate in Raleigh with some of the most backward rules I’ve seem in a long time. Once our food trucks are able to operate, they can hire more locals. More locals working means more revenue for the city. Third, I want to get the city involved in vet hiring fairs as well as with Wake County Veteran outreach. Many vets in this city have the skills needed to help this city without increasing turnover.

2) 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?

County voters approved a transit referendum last fall that will eventually create a bus rapid transit system and commuter rail line. What more should be done? Two things need to be done here. NC Dept. of Transportation needs to be worked with to repair the roads it is responsible for in Raleigh. The other item that needs to be addressed is more bus stops and more buses. I’m aware that Raleigh has a shortage of bus drivers for schools, but we can find more drivers for the city transit in the process too.

3.) Given the inflamed racial tensions after the recent events in Charlottesville, what steps should Raleigh take to position itself as a guardian of social justice?

How would you characterize city leaders’ relationship with Raleigh’s communities of color, and what should be done to improve that relationship going forward? The city should and continue to promote equality for all as well as take a stern stance on those that wish to deface or destroy property. Going forward, the city should cite examples of The Great Equalizer, the U.S. Military as well as remind everyone that we are all Americans first and that racial violence of any kind will not be tolerated by any side.

4.) Given the recent creation of the community engagement board, what do you believe the role of citizens advisory councils should be? What features and levels of involvement do you want to see incorporated into the new structure?

The CAC’s are very important and provide citizens in their area with fantastic information from the city and it’s workers. Information works both ways though, the heads of the CAC’s also send the voices of their audience to the City Council. I would like to see more open dialogue and a positive message being sent between the CAC’s and the City Council. The CAC’s are necessary for our city and the more communication between both ends of the spectrum, the better.

5) Thinking about the current direction of Raleigh city government, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what specific changes you will advocate if elected?

I will say that Raleigh is going in down some positive paths, the wrong way in some, & being down right obstructive in others. Raleigh is a great place to live and it’s being reflected by the positive routes we take, however, spending money on beautification, parks, forgetting about the city workers, RPD, & RFD for as long as they did certainly reflected the City Council’s complacency. Specifically, I will fight for the changing of food truck businesses with compromise, making sure that from top to bottom the RPD/RFD are paid a decent salary, getting the city out of debt, refusing any tax increase, and finding more sources of honest revenue.

6) If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for improvements in the district if you’re elected. If you are an at-large or mayoral candidate, please identify the three most pressing issues the city faces and how you will address them.

My priorities are: working with the RPD, Wake County Sheriff, and NCDPS to create more scared straight, boot camp, and meet the badge programs to help destroy the youth-to-prison pipeline and remove LEO stigmas, getting food truck businesses operating so they can put those in District C who need jobs to work; showing our veterans and military that the City of Raleigh cares about their sacrifice by establishing veteran and transitioning military outreach programs at no cost to the city, working with the CAC’s to get a better idea of where we need new bus stops, pushing for the same transportation standard that every other District in Raleigh has, and removing the city debt. If we cannot pay for something, we do not need to buy it!

7) 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?

I have served my country & the State of North Carolina, now I want to serve the people of Raleigh with the same Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, & Personal Courage that I have in both the U.S. Army and the NCDPS. Many people understand that leaders are created in the military and from environments of conflict, what many do not understand is how. The Army gave me the gift of traveling the world to experience other cultures and to deploy to Afghanistan for 15 months straight where everything that people argue over goes right out the window and you learn to follow then lead. It is a place where you put your absolute trust in others and learn to work together. The Army also sends it’s soldiers to leadership schools to further teach them the skills they need as a leader. I believe that if I can train and lead men & women into combat, protect the people of NC from it’s inmates and criminals, then I can represent the citizens of Raleigh.

8) 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?

The city council demonstrated that once problems become large enough, they will take care of them. It took almost an entire decade for the RPD and RFD to get a raise, not to mention the city workers that finally received a “living wage.” There are council members that have been elected and re-elected numerous times that should have taken care of this sooner. Giving out these raises was their major accomplishment, even if it did come late.

9) 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?

I tell others that I am the Vice Chairman for the Veterans Party of America. I’m a centrist with a conservative tone. I explain that I became this way from traveling the world and experiencing how other cultures exist as well as why policies do and do not work in other countries.

10) Now that the city is moving ahead with plans for the 306-acre Dorothea Dix Park, what are some specific features or focuses you’d work to see as part of final design?

I’d like to see more vendors at the park as well as keeping up with the Dix Park events like movies by moonlight. Seeing as how the city spent millions of dollars on the park, the citizens should get the most out of it that they can.

11) If there are other issues you want to discuss, please do so here.

Another issue I am going to tackle is youth advancement. It is said that Raleigh is the hardest city for people to advance in life if you are poor. My way of tackling this is to help our students and teachers by donating my pay from the city council position if elected. 50% will go directly into a grant for a student that lives in District C each year to go to a College or University in North Carolina. I will also use portions of the rest of my city council pay to donate $100 in school supplies each month to two teachers each at a minimum. This will remove some of the burden teachers and parents face when it comes to supplying students.

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