Melodie Parrish | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Melodie Parrish

Candidate for Durham City Council


Name as it appears on the ballot: Melodie Parrish
Full legal name, if different: Melodie A Parrish
Date of birth: 06/21/1948
Home address: 503 Vivaldi Dr
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer: retired
Home phone: (919) 477-4120
Work phone:
Cell phone: (919) 949-4155

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

I am committed to bring about reform in several areas that I believe are priorities and the most important issues facing Durham. These are: (1) To provide a Safe Environment, with respect to crime and to hazardous events; (2) To provide accountability in the management of all resources: human, monetary and physical; (3) To provide a leadership style that is representative of the great positive traits of this city and its rich history. Durham deserves better.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

I have served the Durham community as an educator both as a teacher and administrator for 32+ years, served on the Board of Directors for Lebanon Volunteer Fire Department, been a candidate for NC Senate (’92 & ’98), worked with many families and individual students on a close personal basis to facilitate interaction with different agencies, provide clothes, provide counseling, and yes even some small monetary assistance. From this experience, I have a knowledge base of different areas of the city, how the agencies interact, and have personally observed priorities for some of the most critical needs.

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

I am very conservative fiscally and fairly moderate on social issues. I believe that government should serve the people but not run their lives. There are distinct roles for governments at all levels. From my observations, most folks work very hard for their money and deserve a government that will tax only as necessary and spend it very wisely. I also have an excellent record of working with people, team building, and accomplishing agreed upon goals both short term and long term. These are assets that would be very desirable of a city council representative.

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

If it were absolutely shown that a tax hike might be necessary to fund necessary services even after all the waste had been cut in the budget, I would do so to prevent Durham from being cast in a more negative perception. This, while I’m not for any tax increases, might be a situation that could cost me popularity points with the voters.

5) Last year, the city withheld testing data that showed that the city’s drinking water failed to meet federal health standards. What can the city council do to increase transparency in city administration and prevent future breaches of the public’s trust?

I believe that each department should present check-off lists of accomplishments and legally required tasks to the city manager each month and that copies of these documents also be presented to the city council in its agenda packet. This is the type of oversight that is needed in Durham. Hopefully, this is done now but it doesn’t seem to be the case. I would not support any other oversight agencies/committees except the city manager and city council.

6) What specific policy solutions would you advocate to abate Durham’s problems with violent crime?

I would like to see: rewards both monetary and recognition for experience and merit, a system in place as above to allow for the city council to monitor the management of the police department and any grievances registered, officers who live in the city to take their patrol cars home with them (with the agreement that they would be on-call somewhat) as the visibility in communities definitely prevents crime and an effort by the city council to promote appreciation for our service professionals. This would go far in improving the safety of our community and of our public image.

7) Durham’s south side is experiencing rapid growth. What impact do you expect that growth to have on the city? What are your plans for handling that development?

While I am very excited to see economic development, there has to be infrastructure in place to support the growth. Until the infrastructure is in place to support new growth, proper planning according to the UDO should be the norm for managed growth.

8) Private developers are in the process of revitalizing Durham’s Tobacco District, just as city crews are putting the finishing touches on the downtown streetscape. What kinds of policies should the council implement to ensure that downtown becomes a thriving commercial and residential neighborhood?

Policies should encourage downtown development but not at the risk of denying funds for programs that are so badly needed in the surrounding deprived neighborhoods. Hopefully, with businesses being so close geographically, the citizens in the surrounding areas could get jobs to help them subsist.

9) What are Durham’s most pressing capital improvement needs? Please be specific.

Durham’s streets and even some major thoroughfares are in awful condition. This affects every citizen and visitor who comes to our city. While we are renovating downtown (very good project) getting to it is not a pleasant ride. The water supply has to be maintained in a safe manner. The landfill has to be maintained safely and yet meet the needs of the growing community.

10) What steps can the council take to promote strong town-gown relations, especially regarding infrastructure improvements in the neighborhoods adjacent to Duke University?

Duke University, from my observations, tends to work with the city to facilitate growth, safety and good community relations. I’m not sure that the city has been so willing to work with Duke in the same areas. We need to build more positive relations with both of our esteemed collegiate institutions for Durham to offer its best to the community. Some of the improvements around the colleges can be done with student assistance that would not cost a great deal but really impact the community.

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