Name as it appears on the ballot: Renee Price
Full legal name, if different: Renee Ann Price
Date of birth: 28 November 1953
Home address: 1701 Riverside Drive, Hillsborough NC 27278
Mailing address, if different from home: PO Box 1486, Hillsborough NC 27278
Campaign website: www.reneeprice2010.com
Occupation & employer: Consultant
Spouse's occupation & employer:
Years lived in Orange County: 20
1, What are the three most important issues facing Orange County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
Sustainability, fiscal responsibility and building community are the three major issues currently challenging Orange County and its residents. Over the past two decades, Orange County has seen significant growth in population and change from development, and this growth has had major impacts on our livelihood, our community and our environment.
People in Orange County strive for economic viability, a sound environment and social justice. In these times of financial uncertainty, sensible use of our tax dollars is crucial while providing needed services. Furthermore, the people of Orange County come from all walks of life, cultures and interests, yet share a common value—quality of life.
If elected, I will focus on local economic development, environmental protection and social equity and justice.
We need real growth in locally owned businesses, small farming operations, clean industries and jobs that pay a living wage. I will support small business start-ups and expansions, while attracting businesses that provide gainful employment--and thereby increase our tax base. In our rural areas, I will advocate for small farms, value-added production and rural enterprise.
Our water, air quality and natural resources are vital to our existence. I will work to protect and steward the environment in order to have air to breath, water to drink, and plants and wildlife to balance nature. For example, we can reduce air pollution by:
encouraging bicycling with designated lanes,
promoting mass transit, and
designing walkable communities.
Third, I will stand up for affordable housing, neighborhood preservation, safe and healthy living environments, and quality public services for all. Each one of us has the right to live in dignity—regardless of income status, age, gender, ethnicity or faith. Locating unwanted land-uses such as landfills and highways in residential communities is intolerable. Failure to assure water and sewer to existing neighborhoods, while supporting new developments, is unacceptable. As Commissioner, I will fight for social justice in Orange County.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Orange County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
From 2007 to 2010, I led a community-wide battle against the proposed Elizabeth Brady Road Bypass. This project would have devastated and destroyed well-established residential neighborhoods, cultural and historical resources and the Eno River ecosystem. In addition, it would have cost taxpayers $48 million.
Victory came in January 2010, when the North Carolina Department of Transportation withdrew the project—an unprecedented achievement.
Our effort included environmentalists, area residents, NASCAR enthusiasts, historic preservationists and concerned citizens. Eventually, the dialogue involved elected officials and departmental staff.
This experience demonstrated my ability to organize various sectors of the community around an issue, and my persistence to "get the job done." In addition, it demonstrates my concern for social justice, sustainability and fiscal responsibility. Furthermore, it proves my commitment to progress; my hope was to turn an opposition scenario into a win-win situation—and we did. Local government now is moving toward mass transit, a rail station, bicycle lanes and sidewalks to relieve congestion in Hillsborough.
For over 17 years, I have been serving on various advisory boards, commissions and task forces. Being on these boards gives me countless opportunities to know what is taking shape in county, and I am listening to residents and business owners relate the issues and hot topics of importance to them.
My list of service includes: the Human Relations Commission where I participated in drafting a civil rights ordinance for the County; the Planning Board, to which I was appointed for multiple terms and served as vice-chair for 2 years; the Historic Preservation Commission, serving multiple terms with one year as vice-chair and one as chair; and the Commission for the Environment, to which I am now vice-chair.
Professionally, my background is city and regional planning, with an emphasis on environmental planning and design. I was part of the working group that drafted the definition of "sustainability" for the United States Farm Bill. Throughout my career, I have been advocating sustainable living—human resource development, rural economic development, sustainable agriculture and forestry, natural resource conservation and social equity.
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 a registered Democrat. My philosophy is to take a progressive approach to achieving a vision of quality of life, humanity and justice. I believe in the power of the people, and in "thinking outside of the box."
Years ago, in Rochester, I assisted inner-city residents in reclaiming their neighborhood by challenging city hall. More recently, we, the people of Orange County, challenged NCDOT. In both situations, we faced unlikely odds, we persevered, and we won. I will continue to do what is necessary to assure our civil and human rights.
4. Provide a candid assessment of the county's waste transfer site location process, what went well, what didn't and what can be learned from the debate? Do you agree with shipping trash to Durham? How ultimately should Orange County dispose of its trash?
The process to site a waste transfer station encountered stumbling blocks; much can be learned from previous land-use planning scenarios. Eventually, community members were allowed to voice their opinions and concerns, and received the respect they deserve. All stakeholders should be at the table from the beginning, and they should be allowed to participate in the decision-making process.
If waste disposal becomes a regional issue, then perhaps shipping trash to Durham may be feasible. Yet I would build conditions and constraints into any such agreement. Transporting trash and garbage across counties through streets where people work and live, can become unpleasant and hazardous.
Ultimately, Orange County residents, businesses and institutions should seek greater progress in efforts to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. We also should now be investigating ways to transform trash and waste into energy.
5. The county is culling, combining and eliminating some of its advisory boards and commissions because of overlap and inaction. What types of advisory boards and committees are productive and useful to the board? Which boards should be eliminated? How will you work with these groups in office?
All advisory boards and committees have served some purpose, and the time and effort of the members, past and present, have been beneficial to the County. For the sake of efficiency, however, we will need to combine boards. County Commissioners currently are in engaged in dialogue with community members and departmental staff to assess the purpose and mission of each board. The discussion also includes ideas for collaborating with non-profit organizations to fulfill the various missions.
In general, the process in progress should be completed before putting forth recommendations. I will say, however, that I disapprove the proposed consolidation of the Commission for Women with the Human Relations Commission. Women face unique circumstances and issues—pregnancy, reproduction rights and child support—which will lose priority status if consolidated with another commission.
6. What is your position on library services in Orange County? To what extent should the county pay for the Chapel Hill Public Library and how much money can the county reasonably afford to commit to this effort?
The County currently contributes to the operation of the Chapel Hill Public Library, and should continue to do so. County residents use this library, and the number of county residents that benefit from its services is increasing.
In time, many services may need to become countywide or regional because of the mobility of people in today's world. Through inter-governmental collaboration we may be able to cut unnecessary costs and produce worthwhile results.
7. Do you support the half cent regional rail tax? How do you envision regional rail working for Orange County. Where will it connect? When and how?
I do support the vision of regional rail, and I do support the half cent regional rail tax—when our economic situation improves. Any increase in taxes at this time would place a tremendous burden on County residents.
With further growth and development on the horizon, mass transit is becoming more and more the reasonable mode of travel. Potential hubs already exist—our municipal cores throughout the Triangle. I would propose reallocating some federal stimulus money from road construction to mass transit and regional rail—the sooner the better.
8. As a commissioner, how will you provide effective oversight of the many county departments, sheriff's office, etc. while in office?
To provide effective oversight as commissioner, I would request periodic strategic plans and evaluation reports from staff and managers of the various County departments. I also would listen for complaints and criticisms from the public and private citizens. Commissioners need to be aware of constraints, constituent concerns, and successes. They then can come to resolution on issues, recommend new policies and programs, and improve the quality of services.
9. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
Our society is fraught with social, economic and political injustices. I believe in fairness and equity, and I am deeply passionate about humanity and justice. My reason for seeking election to office is to further that goal.
10. Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.
Lesbian and Gay rights. Regardless of preference or persuasion, no person should be denied her or his basic human rights. Therefore, I am willing to take a stand on fairness and respect to lesbian and gay people in society.