Jim Ward | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Jim Ward

Candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council


Name as it appears on the ballot: Jim Ward
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth:
Home address: 112 Bolton Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer:
Home phone: 929-7666
Work phone:
Cell phone:
E-mail: jimward@nc.rr.com

1. 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.

  • early, strong, consistent voice demanding greater energy efficiency in Town buildings, including Town project with RAM Dev. on Lot 5
  • add requirement that buildings must be 20% more energy efficient than ASHRAE standard be added to LEED Silver requirement
  • chair of council committee which led effort to place conservation easement on Town property (~ 90 acres), which provides permanent protection to these natural area assets.
  • regularly lead Council efforts to eliminate invasive species from Town and private dev projects and plans.
  • pointed out the ‘double standard’ being expressed by other Council members with regard to demanding that UNC build high energy efficiency buildings, but giving RAM project support with much lower standards
  • several months ago I voiced my position of ‘no support’ for Orange County’s plans to create a Waste Transfer Station, which would then ship our trash to someone elses backyard. For moral and fiscal reasons, I think it is wrong. With recent input from Rogers Road residents, this point of view is building support.
  • in formative days of UNC’s Leadership Advisory Committee, I indicated the need to have the real decision makers on this committee, that is the BOT, which it’s membership eventually included.
  • Town staff recommended that cost be saved by eliminating the HS and M routes. These routes serve important public oriented destinations, the CH High School and the CH Public Library respectively. I voiced need for our public transit system to serve significant public destinations – routes remain in place.

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

Politically, I value an open process. I welcome and seek public input. I protect the independence of my decision-making process by paying my own way to Chancellor’s invitation to attend recent football game, and by limiting campaign contributions to $100, and not raising any money so far (3 Oct) this year. The quality of the public process is as important as, or more important than the final outcome. I see ‘government’ as being a critically important resource to help solve many major issues. I view myself as a public servant, not a politician who weighs impact of vote on issue, on next election.

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

Examples of principled stands that cost popularity votes:

  • support of changing name of Airport Rd to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
  • during first run for office (1999), I was willing to be seen as someone who was willing to listen to the business community, and saw that environmental protection and support of local businesses community were not mutually exclusive – a point of view not shared by many at the time.
  • the same goes for interacting with UNC leadership. I see the value in being able to have respectful dialogue with the biggest entity in Town, and this does not mean do their bidding…
  • pointing out to my Council colleagues the ‘double standard’ they were stating when they demanded that the University build more energy efficient buildings, and at the same time supported Town partner, RAM, to build less effiecient buildings.
  • I did not support the Town staff’s recommendation, which was also supported by four members of Council, to change lowest wage earners on Town staff from weekly to biweekly pay periods, a cost savings to Town but an important part of how these folks make ends meet.

4. 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 strive for a fair, open, respectful, civil, decision-making process, and am a leader who models these attributes. I work hard to make sure the Chapel Hill political process is mindful of the perspective held by the least among us. (See answer to question 2.) I speak up for users of EZ Rider transit service, I supported the NAACP’s petition to rename Airport Rd to Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. During discussions about increasing/improving Internet Services, I work hard to make sure we do not widen the ‘digital divide’. I support our affordable housing efforts, which includes the objective of having this housing spread throughout our community, not isolated on the wrong side of the tracks. I have been and will continue to be a voice speaking out against environmental racism. I am a consistent and persistent voice for publically accessible bike and greenway connections throughout Town and between neighborhoods. I lend my support to Neighborhood Night Out, and Walk to School community events. I also am an informed voice in support of greater protection for our natural environment, a voiceless, yet critical part of a just community.

5. Carolina North could transform the look of Chapel Hill, as well as set precedents in town-gown relations. What zoning regulations and building standards should the city implement on the project? Explain the optimal process by which the town could work with UNC on this and future projects.

Chapel Hill should consider supporting zoning changes for the area identified by the University as the 15 year plan for Carolina North, but no more. Building standards should reflect the national leadership position sought by the University and Town. Energy efficiency reflective of the AIA 2030 plan or greater. The Chancellor has promised a Carbon neutral campus in the near term. Let’s start here. Buildings and plans need to use a small footprint, be transit oriented, mixed-use, and include public amenities such as school sites, recreational facilities, etc. Use of potable water needs to be reduced via rainwater capture and reuse, double pipe for use of reclaimed water, etc. The optimal process is one which rewards mutual respect and understanding that the Town priorities will add long-term value to the University’s plans, and that with careful planning up front with the Town, the University is able to achieve its statewide and national/international educational, research and public service priorities. This can only be accomplished with persistent, clear, respectful dialogue with University decision makers and the activation of the Town citizens.

6. Along those development lines, growth in northwest Chapel Hill is an issue important to the town’s citizens. What is your plan for growth in that sector? How will it be achieved?

Growth in NW Chapel Hill needs to be clustered near our current and future transit resources, along major road corridors and at edge of town limits near I-40. This can be achieved by creating a clear master plan vision, in word and images as well as public forums, but not by increasing zoning density beforehand. I have seen that the clear articulation of Council priorities and expectations (e.g. 15% affordable housing…) is soon embraced by land developers.

7. While Greenbridge has been lauded as an environmentally friendly housing development, there are also concerns that it threatens adjacent lower-income neighborhoods. What do you think the town’s strategy should be in regards to gentrification?

Gentrification within Chapel Hill is a very difficult problem to address because the tools available to the Town are very limited. Some areas to work on include, greater increases in the income levels allowable to receive Homestead Act aid. We can also help by making sure Town jobs pay a ‘living wage’, as should all jobs within Greenbridge. The free bus service provided by CH Transit helps, as does the University’s Carolina Covenant program to provide a debt-free college education. Any success building the Town’s commercial tax base will ease the weight on CH residents.

8. How should the town incentivize affordable housing? As for public housing, how should the town continue to manage these developments in light of reduced federal funding?

Incentives for affordable housing include the existing clear Council vision that all projects include 15% via the Special Use Permit process. Inclusionary zoning may also provide density bonuses for additional affordable units within a residential project. Public housing – keep them a priority w/in Town’s base budget, work with residents to help move them toward workforce housing…, address younger generations needs for educational support, and social services so the need for public housing does not grow or at least grows less fast. Work with local school system and internal to Town, to provide internships. And last, hope/vote for more support at the Federal level.

9. The town’s comprehensive plan emphasizes regional planning and cooperation. What are the most important issues in regional planning? What results are you looking for? How would you achieve them?

Issues related to transportation, water, air quality, energy use, natural area protection and park and recreation facilities are the areas of greatest need of regional planning.

Results start with greater recognition by all sides of benefits of regional planning, then the identification of a process and funding sources to achieve priorities in a timely fashion. This can only be achieved by effective leadership, persistence, and dialogue at the highest policy making levels as well as at technical levels. State legislature is an important part of this effort because they control the revenue options available.

10. The council has debated obtaining contributions from developers to help pay for the operating costs of the town’s free bus system. What are the pros and cons of such a plan? What formulas should be used to assess the fee amounts? What transportation needs could be met with the additional funds generated by these fees?

Pros = funds will help pay for a more robust transit system, which reduces traffic volume, less land and money goes into parking lots, air gets dirty less fast, transit becomes a marketing advantage, Cons = can be used as reason why cost of living is higher. Development payment is equal to demands on service based on ‘rider’ population associated with development. Funds will help pay for multimodal transit infrastructure – from sidewalks to buses…

11. The 10-year plan to end homelessness began earlier this month. How will the town monitor progress on the plan? What accountability measures are or should be in place? What are the hurdles to accomplishing it? How can the town overcome those obstacles?

10-year plan has an Executive Director and board which will monitor accountability. Cost of service, number of units available, number of people moving to permanent housing, the stability of residents over time, census of chronically homeless population each year. The partners will share oversight. Federal government gives funding preference to communities which have such a plan, so it is hoped that Federal money will increase over time.

12. What important town departments or agencies have been, in your opinion, chronically underfunded? What have been the ramifications of that shortage? If elected, where would you find the money to more fairly fund these areas? Conversely, what town departments or agencies have been overfunded?

Under funded depts. – Iinspections, Plannig dept dealing with sustainability issues. This leads to rules being broken but without repercussion… and in other area it leads to a lack of coordination, and higher staff turnover rate. Funding for these areas will be a base budget funding priority for me. I am not aware of over funded depts.

13. Chapel Hill is participating in the Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project to help manage this resource, which is polluted and threatened by growth and development. What is Chapel Hill’s responsibility in mitigating these threats? What policies should Town Council enact to help protect water quality and quantity in Jordan Lake?

The Town supports the cleanup plan and is prepared to do its share. Town has several policies in place which help protect these waters including, stormwater utility, requirement that runoff after development does not exceed before dev amounts.

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