Name as it appears on the ballot: Mary-Ann Baldwin
Date of birth: 9-20-56
Campaign website: maryannforraleigh.com
Occupation & employer: VP, Marketing and Business Development, Holt Brothers Construction; Executive Director, Holt Brothers Foundation
Do you have a Twitter account? @maryannbaldwin
1. What do you see as the most important issues facing Raleigh? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
Job creation, growth and transportation options. I'll continue to support entrepreneurship and innovation through the Innovate Raleigh initiative, address growth issues through the implementation of the new UDO and the comprehensive plan, and address transportation issues with passage of a referendum to support transit option.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you've identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
I co-founded the Raleigh Innovation Summit and the Innovate Raleigh initiative, which serves as a catalyst for innovation in our region. In the past 18 months, we have helped connect entrepreneurs with resources and each other, created spaces and places for co-working and interaction, and helped build the entrepreneurial network that is growing in our region. All of this translates to job growth.
3. Indy Week's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
I was very active in campaigning against Amendment One and continue to support equality for the LGBT community.
4. 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.
Speaking out against actions by the General Assembly that hurt K-12 education, funding for universities, and other issues that impact Raleigh's quality of life.
5. If these issues haven't been addressed above, would you please comment on:
a) The role of City Council members and their relationship to the manager and staff is an issue currently. Some think council members should talk only to the manager, insulating staffers from political pressure. Others think the members should also be able to question department heads and staff as part of their policy oversight role and to resolve constituents' problems. A middle course would be oversight by committee, a time-consuming job for the part-time council. What's your position on this?
City Councilors should be able to question department heads and staff, but not direct them. That is the job of the City Manager. The City Council as a whole can also provide direction by voting for (or against) an issue or directive.
b) Council members are paid little ($17,000 for the mayor; $12-13,000 for the others) and, except for the city attorney and clerk, no professional staff report to them. All staff work for the manager. Would you change this system at all, and if so, how?
Support staff and professional staff are available to assist the Council by providing information, conducting research and working with committees on Council-directed initiatives. I think the current level of staff support is adequate and financially responsible.
c) In light of the scandal unfolding at the Raleigh Business and Technical Center, supposedly a business incubator, is it time to beef up the City Council's oversight mechanisms? Are other city-sponsored agencies and city departments vulnerable to similar problems?
Processes are already being put in place to address this issue. We need to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent for their intended purpose, and in an efficient and honest manner.
d) Do you support the goals of the 2009 comprehensive plan and the brand new Unified Development Ordinance? Will these two initiatives really change the way Raleigh develops over the next several decadesand for the better? Or for the worse?
I support the comp plan and the new UDO. Years of work have gone into the effort by experts, planning staff and citizens. And yes, I believe it will be an effective guide for Raleigh's future.
e) How important is improving public transit in Raleigh and the region to the city's future prosperity, do you think?
Extremely important for two reasons. First, we need to have transportation options to move people, alleviate congestion and create a healthier, better connected community. And second, transit will guide growth and redevelopment, creating good land use decisions.
f) If elected, will you ask the Wake County Commissioners to allow a public referendum in 2014 on a ½-cent sales tax for transit, the same as Durham and Orange counties have passed?
I will continue to work to move the transit referendum forward and will make this case when the timing is right and polling indicates the public will support it. I don't think we should put a referendum on the ballot if the timing is not right.
g) Until the ½-cent sales tax is in place in Wake, what else should Raleigh do on its own, if anything, to jump-start public transit within the city?
This year, the City Council approved $4 million in the transportation bond to make improvements to the New Bern Avenue corridor, the City's most heavily-used bus line. And the Council approved $750,000 to improve bus services on several routes, including New Bern. We should continue to increase funding for bus service and look for creative ways to implement bus rapid transit in key corridors.
h) Raleigh is trying to gain control of the 325-acre Dorothea Dix Hospital tract for use as a destination park. Do you support this effort? Should Raleigh pay fair-market value for the land, via lease or purchase, as many in the General Assembly demand? Please share your thoughts on how development of the park should be financed, if at all?
Raleigh, in conjunction with the state, is conducting a Phase I and Phase II environmental study to help determine the environmental hazards on the Dix property and the potential cost of clean up. This information will help determine the actual value of the property. I support purchasing the Dix property for a park but would prefer not to discuss financing at this point since disposition of the property is under negotiation.
i) As part of a growth and economic development strategy, should Raleigh begin to use tax-increment financing (TIFs), subsidizing current developments with anticipated future property tax gains? If so, what policy limits, in any, should be adopted as part of a TIF plan?
Raleigh will need to use creative financing options to build transit and address other infrastructure needs. This can include TIF and public-private partnerships. In hiring a new city manager, I would like to see candidates who have this experience so they can provide guidance and apply best practices in developing policy.
j) For many years, it's been a point of pride for Raleigh managers and Council members that Raleigh government costs less, and the city's property tax rate is lower, than other towns in Wake County and other North Carolina cities. On the other hand, services may suffer because of inadequate funding. Are you concerned that Raleigh is investing too little to achieve the world-class status to which it aspires? Or can spending be cut further without sacrificing quality?
During the recent recession, we were able to provide excellent service despite reigning in spending. However, we have put off building and vehicles maintenance and investment in transportation and our water/sewer system. The public utilities department is developing a long-term plan for financing water/sewer, as is transportation planning. We will need to make investments to ensure adequacy of our roads, and the rebuilding of key corridors (like Capital Boulevard) to retain our quality of life.
k) Is Raleigh doing enough to serve its growing Hispanic population and help them feel a part of the city?
No. Better communication strategies are needed, as well as outreach, to fully integrate the Latino community.
l) Is Raleigh doing enough to serve its growing population of homeless and street people, many of whom suffer with mental illnesses? If not, what do you recommend?
The key to addressing this issue lies in continued support of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, and the continued collaboration of all partners (public, private, non-profit, and the faith communities). Our emphasis needs to be on housing and prioritizing efforts to work with the chronically homeless. I've worked with CASA, Builders of Hope, Passage Home and DHIC to support affordable housing throughout the city. And I serve on the Triangle Family Services Board of Advisors, an organization committed to helping people stay in their homes during times of crisis.