Sammy Slade | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Sammy Slade

Candidate for Carrboro Board of Aldermen


Name as it appears on the ballot: Sammy Slade
Full legal name, if different: William Samuel Slade
Date of birth: August 30, 1974
Home address: 105 Dillard St., Carrboro, N.C. 27510
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer: Carpenter (self-employed)
Home phone:
Work phone:

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

Strengthen Carrboro's, vitality, tax base and walk-ability by continuing work on local living economy

Work to mitigate Carolina North negative impacts by pushing for creative alternatives that can benefit Carrboro

o With traffic issues looming, an opportunity exists to re-open the University railroad spur for passenger transport. Main stations would be Carrboro/Chapel Hill, Carolina North, I-85, I-40, and Hillsborough. I-40 and I-85 could have park and ride lots/ bus connectors.

'Livable scale Carrboro' Work toward a comprehensive plan that integrates future and current development within a framework that is in line with our regional carrying capacity (water, power generation, living economy, waste, food, environmental constraints) while protecting town character and assuring social justice.

o Plan would include:

• Defining growth parameters

• Identification of residential areas of town in need of walk-able community, commercial, open-space, recreational, community gardening and educational spaces.

• Rezoning/purchase/permitting/incentivizing of areas for needed identified spaces (i.e. neighborhood food shop)

• Integrated and thoughtful planning for areas of town that are scheduled for development in the future.

The downturn of the economy creates pressure to cut back on local government programs and hiring. Community managed spaces can offset the cost of maintaining some spaces, while at the same time creating opportunities for social and local business entrepreneurship.

Build off of the recently completed Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, identifying specific scientific consensus targets for local GHG emissions reduction

o Creating a year-by-year plan integrated with Carrboro's 20/20 vision for achieving the target.

o Coordinating/integrating the creation of the plan with initiatives by non-governmental community entities through Participatory Democracy process.

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

My experiences are rooted locally and have produced tangible results spanning a spectrum that includes the economic, the community, social justice, and the environment. If elected to serve on the Board of Alderman I will naturally continue the work that I am already known for.

--Chair of the Local Living Economy Task Force an advisory committee to the Board of Alderman that is researching economic development of the kind that maximizes the community's wellbeing.

-- Co-founded the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition and established the CCGC garden at Carrboro's MLK Jr. Park. This involved the collaboration and coordination with Carrboro's Parks and Rec., the Board of Aldermen, the Orange County Partnership for Young Children.

-- Co-founded the Carrborogreenspace, which has accomplished many events and projects. These include, Walk In Tributary Theatre (through the WITT brought back to the community use of Carrboro's historic Sparrow Pool), The Casa Grande Community Garden, The Farmer Appreciation Potluck, and the Urban Farm Tour.

-- Co-founder of the Carrboro 'LocalMotive' business group, a network of businesses working to further establish a healthy local economy.

-- Successfully lobbied the BOA in preventing the fulfillment of a contract by Carrboro Recreation and Park that would have filled with cement a well at the MLK Park that is now used for water by the community gardens. The plan for the well includes the installment of a solar panel for powering the pump.

-- Spearheaded the actions from the community that led to allowing artistic and personal expression on Weaver Street lawn. Relevant to BOA office as it is further demonstration of my commitment as a community member for the protection of values that Carrboro holds dear.

-- Was the Get Out the Vote coordinator of the Orange County Democratic Party during the 2004 General election and the 2006 election. Responsibilities included organizing volunteers, coordinating the organizational efforts by all the precincts, distributing campaign materials to precincts, organizing volunteers for phone banking, etc.

-- Democrat Chair of Mason Farm Precinct (2004 - 2006) and OWASA precinct (2006 -2007), during which time I lead the efforts on many resolutions including the resolution to defend the Iraq war and the resolution on climate change. I organized the large proportion of Democrat precincts and all Democrat counties (Wake, Durham, Orange) that are within the 4th Congressional district to lobby Representative David Price to discontinue his voting in support of further funding of the war in Iraq.

-- Currently coordinating with Carrboro's Recreation and Park department, the Planning Department, CCGC, the Empowerment Project and community members in opening up another community garden at Baldwin Park.

-- Member of the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Transition Town Steering Committee that is active in setting up the process for developing a community-generated action plan to mitigate and cope with the effects of Peak Oil and Climate Change.

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

To understand me politically it is important to understand the intellectual landscape from which I emerge. I am the result of a historical legacy that has been losing its momentum. The era of cheap energy and non-accountability for debts imposed upon future generations or people and living things that are out of sight is ending. The expectations and responsibilities that have been, until recently, deferred are now once again to be owned/held locally. My work toward creating community both through the Carrboro Greenspace and the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition is informed and driven by the need to re-acquaint ourselves with ways in which to do things that are human in scale and which allow for local accountability and autonomy.

The trajectory that has led me here includes my involvement in the local Democratic Party. In the Democratic Party I have been chair of two precincts and spearheaded multiple resolutions over the years that have promoted the grassroots perspective over the perspective of Washington politics. I am not interested in subscribing to self-defeatism in the shape of 'pragmatism' or 'political possibility.' Issues that are derived from the grassroots are more important to me. I believe that organizations must be true to a process that assures that the legitimate needs and demands that most people want are advanced.

By working from the grassroots and engaging the citizenry anything is possible.

Grassroots activism is by nature local and has lead me to my involvement in Carrboro town affairs and my interest in serving on the board of aldermen.

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

A generalized perception is that Climate Change mitigation and achieving a healthy economy are contradictions.

The current Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory recently published by the county and the municipalities of Orange County sets an 'aggressive' target of greenhouse gas emissions reductions that takes more account of what economic developers believe is possible than what the scientist consensus is saying is needed.

If elected, I will seek a more aggressive GHG emissions reduction target for Carrboro while further establishing a robust local living economy. A challenge of my campaign will be to debunk the myth that having a healthy economy and that dealing with climate change are antithetical.

My work in the local economy as chair of the town of Carrboro's Local Living Economy Task Force, combined with my environmental and community work through both the Carrboro Greenspace and the CCGC community garden have provided me with key complimentary perspectives and experience in dealing with both climate change and the work in creating a healthy local economy.

As an example, in Carrboro less than 5% of food that is consumed locally is grown locally. At the same time we spend $60 million annually for food in Carrboro. Localizing the production and distribution of food will not only reduce the # of food miles traveled but will also re-create a sector of the economy that is currently not here. With the Carrboro Greenspace I have 1) supported local farmers through farmer appreciation dinners 2) collaborated with the farmers market on events 3) put on the Urban Farm tour which is now in its second year.

With the community garden I have promoted the acquisition of gardening skills that are also marketable.

5) Large building projects like that under way by Main Street Partners and the Greenbridge development just across the line in Chapel Hill will change Carrboro's landscape and it character in the near future. The project at 300 Main Street also will alter the status quo. What is your vision for the town's long-range development? What are the pros and cons of commercial and residential development?

Though technically in Chapel Hill, the Greenbridge development has brought to light issues that Carrboro can learn from when approving new developments. The gentrification effects that can happen to a community with lesser means when an affluent and expensive development is placed on its front yard should be avoided. Form based code (more on this below) can be a tool for preventing negative impacts that new developments can have on communities of lesser means.

I am in favor of mixed use and high-density development as a means for maximizing the walk-ability to the places where we work, do business, enjoy, socialize, learn, and live in. I also believe that we can have a better public transportation infrastructure if we keep the higher density and mixed use developments within nodes and corridors that are already accessible to public transportation or that have the most potential for being connected to public transportation infrastructure.

At the same time, I recognize that Carrboro has a character, charm and social fabric, that should be maintained and that is intimately linked to the fact of our still being a small town. For this reason I support ordinances that are set-up to minimize the impact on Carrboro's physical and social character.

Within the conventional zoning that Carrboro currently uses I support the step back rule. The step back rule minimizes the impact on Carrboro's physical and social character. The step back rule defines a maximum height for buildings, with this height being less and less as buildings get closer to the mixed use planning zone border. This rule allows for a gradual transition between residential areas and the higher density mixed-use areas.

Form-based code is a regulatory tool that is currently being studied by the Carrboro planning committee. Form-based code is used for designating the appropriate form and scale (and therefore, character) of development. Carrboro currently uses conventional zoning which focuses on the micromanagement and segregation of land uses, and the control of development intensity through abstract and uncoordinated parameters (e.g., dwellings per acre, setbacks, parking ratios, traffic LOS). Ultimately, I am in favor of form-based code as a means to achieving a more integrated built environment.

6) How will you deal with growth in Carrboro given its limited physical boundaries? By extension, what are your viewpoints regarding high-density housing and its placement?

'Livable Scale Carrboro' Work toward a comprehensive plan that integrates future and current development within a framework that is in line with our regional carrying capacity (water, power generation, living economy, waste, food, environmental constraints) while protecting town character and assuring social justice. With the school system we already have a precedent that can serve as a guide for a possible mechanism for dealing with these limits. The Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO) is the mechanism that the Carrboro-Chapel Hill school system and the local municipalities have developed to assure that housing is not permitted unless there is adequate school capacity. Capacity-based triggers can be applied to other areas of environmental and social concern.

o Plan would include:

• Defining growth parameters

• Identification of residential areas of town in need of walk-able community, commercial, open-space, recreational, community gardening and educational spaces.

• Rezoning/purchase/permitting/incentivizing of areas for needed identified spaces (i.e. neighborhood food shop)

• Integrated and thoughtful planning for areas of town that are scheduled for development in the future.

I am for high density housing in mixed-use communities and believe that its placement must happen on public transportation corridors or within walking distance to shopping areas, areas for work, green spaces, and social gathering spaces.

7) In the midst of a difficult economic situation and a tough budget year, what's one thing that the town is cutting that you would save and what's one thing that's been saved that you would cut?

One thing that I would not 'cut' and wouldn't save is grass. The town expends a lot of energy, fuel and money cutting the grass on large tracts of land. Instead of 'cutting' grass, livestock can eat it. Experience from other municipalities can be studied and assessed for appropriateness and emulation by Carrboro. It is encouraging to see that public works has already hired the goat patrol to get rid of weeds. More money and pollution can be saved.

I am glad that the Town of Carrboro successfully lobbied the county commissioners to prevent the closing of the libraries in town.

Overall, considering the current economic climate, I have been impressed with the town staff 's competence in discerning the essentials each department needs and the funding associated with these. If elected to the BOA I will work closer with the Town Manager and heads of each department to understand each department's processes and priorities.

8) What your opinion of inclusionary zoning procedure and its intent? Are the right people being served by it? Are the right types of properties (ie) condos, single-family homes, etc) available through the program? Should payment in lieu be accepted? Is the program, as it stands now, in a position to provide long-term success for residents?

I support inclusionary zoning as a tool for assuring that affordable housing gets built and that it is available to lowest income households alongside 'market rate' housing. This mix of affordable housing and 'market rate' housing secures socio-economic diversity in the places where we live.

Currently the land trust model requires a large public subsidy for its viability. I support Alderman Coleman's proposal to lower the required # of units so that developers can sell them to the land trust at a lower price, thereby eliminating the need for a large per unit subsidy. This savings will allow the town to address other housing needs such as very low income, rental and transitional housing, housing for populations with special needs, and the needs of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Also, I am in favor of the $90,000 / unit payment in lieu.

To assure long-term success, an affordable housing program would include:

--A means for assuring that affordable housing stock is maintained for the benefit of successive generations and the community. The affordable housing stock is a shared responsibility between the homeowner and the community. I am in favor of looking into using payment in lieu money for maintenance of affordable housing stock. A balance must be struck between expanding the housing stock and maintaining its quality.

-- Methods for extending 1st time home buyer benefits to other buyers who may need financial assistance when buying a house.

-- Many potential buyers who need assistance don't qualify to receive many of the benefits available. Housing in Carrboro is expensive. Affordable housing opportunities need to be extended to those who are currently not being served.

9) What makes Carrboro unique to you? How would you preserve that while advancing it?

As a town Carrboro is unique to have spaces which function as natural community congregation centers. The Weaver Street lawn is Carrboro's de-facto town square where many gather to socialize, dance, run into someone who we haven't seen in a while, and share with others the latest on town happenings.

The new raw food fruit juice business 'Carrboro Raw' is opening across from the lawn in the old Christmas tree lot. With its proximity to Weaver Street lawn and with it's open orientation in that direction this space is becoming an extension to the social space that Weaver Street lawn already is.

This extension is happening in time as the popularity of Weaver St. continues to grow year after year. With new mixed use developments on the horizon, these social spaces will soon be more over-run then they already are. As alderman I will work to find ways in which to expand these downtown congregation spaces or find new ones, as I believe that they are a major reason for what makes Carrboro so unique --a major reason for the sense of community that we have. For areas that are too far from Weaver Street I will work to identify, protect or establish a walk-able and inherently social congregation space. What Brian Plaster has accomplished at Johnny's is an excellent model in this regard.

10) 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 department or agency budgets could be cut?

The Planning Department has been chronically under funded. Sustainability initiatives need to be focused on more. Facing the fact that we are living in times when money is scarce, the burden on staff may be mitigated, not by finding more money, but, by focusing more energy toward delegating efforts by planning department staff: allocating and distributing tasks amongst students, professionals, and non-profits --the community in general.

Already local non-governmental organizations are hard at work on plans to make our town a better place. A recent initiative by NC Powerdown is an example. This organization collaborated with a variety of town advisory committees in the creation of a sustainability resolution that was presented to the Board of Alderman and is now under review by town staff.

In this next step, to speed up the process and lessen the burden that is already carried by staff, staff can lay out the tasks that need to be resolved. It can then solicit this willing community group in helping with the execution of these tasks. Staff can review the results that it gets back from the community group, and adjust this response to the standard that is expected before submitting these to the Board of Alderman. The town will save lots of money and time by collaborating in this fashion with the community. The community will benefit in getting policies implemented that it cares enough about to do the work (not quiet for free, but rather for the benefits resulting from the implementation of the policies!).

With the community garden at MLK I have direct experience and involvement with the Parks and Recreation department in a similar kind of project. We did the research on the best practices from other communities and all the work in setting up the organization and the method in which we function. In the end the community garden provides a service by and for the community at no cost to the town.

Community solutions must be paralleled with work on making the economy healthy again. The town's economic development staff needs to be more proactively engaged with the local business community. This way town government can sooner arrive to the day when we can resume hiring, hopefully, the same community members who through passion and persistence are now helping offset the burden that is currently on staff.

11) Earlier this year, the board heard a fiscal presentation about a pay-as-you-throw trash system. What do you think of the system from a financial, environmental and practical standpoint? If you approve, how would any additional costs be covered? If you disapprove, what are some alternatives?

Many communities have achieved waste reduction and savings through pay-as-you-throw programs. Carrboro last discussed pay as you throw in 2007. It was determined that it would be very expensive for Carrboro to implement on its own and that the topic would be revisited should Chapel Hill or Orange County show an interest. I support that decision. I also support increased efforts at source reduction.

Food waste comprises nearly 25% of Orange County's waste stream, most of which can be diverted through composting. If elected I will work with the Orange County Solid Waste Department to augment the excellent compost educational work that they already provide to county residents. Creative solutions may happen by encouraging local small-scale entrepreneurship and community projects that can harness this valuable compost-able waste stream. This will not only re-direct waste away from the landfill but can also help establish local food security and growth in the local economy.

12) Carrboro emphasizes locally owned, import-substituting economic development. What is your opinion of that policy? Has it, in your view, succeeded? How can it be improved? What is the town doing and what more should it be doing to support small business during the economic recession?

As chair of the town's Local Living Economy Task Force and co-founder of the budding 'Local Motive' business group, I am naturally in favor of economic development that is rooted in import-substitution and local ownership. Though all businesses offer to a community the benefits of jobs, tax dollars, charitable contributions and local economic stimulus, locally owned, import substituting businesses do it best -- that is not my opinion, that is a fact!

Many studies have been made that identify the benefits of a local economy. One study showed that $100 dollars spent at a local store would keep roughly $45 dollars in circulation locally vs. $100 dollars spent at a chain store of which only $13 dollars would remain in the community.

For Carrboro, the food sector provides a specific example of the benefits of import substitution, locally owned economic development. In Carrboro $60 million dollars are spent a year on food (State Department of Revenue: tax revenues from grocery stores and restaurants located in Carrboro). Carrboro expends approximately 95% of 60 million dollars on food that comes from far away. This expenditure translates roughly to <$55 million dollars that the community might otherwise keep at home!

Obviously there is much further to go in achieving the re-establishment of an economy for the community. The process to get there has already begun though. The Board of Alderman created The Local Living Economy Task force, which has spun off 'Local Motive,' Carrboro's local business network. The LLETF has been developing both recommendations to the Board of alderman and resources that the local economy can benefit from such as a local business directory. In the past other actions that the town has implemented and that have encouraged an economy that maximizes benefit for the community include: the Revolving Loan Fund, the Farmer's Market space, town parking spaces available for lease for businesses, and more.

In the near future, the town will be the main organizer for a kick-off event to promote the benefits of a local economy. The town is committed to support the 'Local Motive' local business group and the celebrating of the various sectors of the local economy.

The next batch of recommendations by the Local Living Economy to the Board of Alderman will include: recommendations on how community builders can be more involved in the local economy; how to establish local financial institutions; and recommendations on policy that the town can make.

In 2008, I attended the national conference of the Business Alliance for Living Economies. There I encountered hundreds of business people and community economics activists from around the country. I learned that there are numerous initiatives that have been successful elsewhere and that would be a good fit for Carrboro.

13) Do you believe there is enough citizen participation in Carrboro? What would you do to improve it? How can leaders make government more accessible and responsive to citizen needs and concerns? How do students fit in?

Carrboro citizens are fortunate to have a local government that is doing an excellent job at facilitating transparency, accountability, and understanding. Citizens who want to express needs or concerns have a diversity of ways to approach the staff and the Board of Alderman.

The aldermen and the mayor can be reached through the town's list-serve, email, or simply because we are of a small town and are bound to run into one another when out and about. The mayor makes himself available at Johnnies once a week. Also, Board of Alderman meetings are televised, made available over the Internet and meeting minutes are posted online. Furthermore, one can go to the town hall or other town departments to request information from town staff and always expect a professional response. The town website is rich with all kinds of information (GIS Mapping, elected official and staff contacts, town documents, ordinances, etc...). Citizens can serve on advisory committees to have further input into the decision-making and priority-setting process. Visioning sessions seeking citizen input happen periodically throughout the community.

As alderman I will seek to augment the excellent opportunities for engagement that town government already provides by encouraging the establishment of a Citizen Participatory Process (CPP). With the end of the 'downturn' in the economy a constant mirage and with the looming effects of Climate change, peak oil and the need for public healthcare, and infrastructure we are entering an era in which progress is only possible if individuals, communities and public services are each able and willing to contribute to the solution.

For bold and effective progress to happen, public participation must become the core, not the counterpart, of the future of public service decision-making. In Carrboro the pressures that will motivate a majority of people to engage in governance have not been felt. Until then, I believe that the groundwork for a Citizen Participatory process can begin to get established. I will work on establishing a Citizen Participation Project for Carrboro.

Student participation

Any town of the world would envy a little town with a university like UNC in their backyard. I believe that students can be more involved in town government through research projects, internships and the like and that this would help the town achieve its goals while contributing to their education.

Students many times are not as invested in the long-term vision for the community because on average students are in the community on a 4 year cycle and leave during the summer. Yet, win-win opportunities for students to engage with the town can be identified (i.e. research project on form zoning vs. traditional zoning, compiling different models of urban development, different community gardening models, topics on the horizon taken from the 20/20 vision document, etc.).

A common research project may be a literary review of scholarly studies relating to topics that are up for consideration by the town. The town can post on the town website and/or set up a process to interface with UNC departments. Town staff can identify appropriate Board of Alderman requests and present to students as a potential research project. The student will benefit by having a research project that will have immediate real-life contribution, the town will benefit by offsetting the hours of work that staff would have needed to find, the Board of Alderman can receive a response to their request sooner, and ultimately, the larger community can benefit from action sooner.

14) The 10-year plan to end homelessness is underway. Do you think it's been effective thus far? What accountability measures are or should be in place? What are the hurdles to accomplishing it? How can the town overcome those obstacles? What is not in the plan that should be?

We are mid-way through the 10-year plan to end homelessness and headway has been made in reducing chronic homelessness, increasing employment for the homeless, increasing access to services and increasing public participation in ending homelessness.

According to James Harris, of Carrboro's department of Economic and Community development, Orange County's programs to help the homelessness have made Orange county known throughout the U.S. homeless community as a friendly place to be.

Orange County is providing a service to the homeless community, which surpasses services that are (not) found in many communities throughout the U.S. With the downturn in the economy and foreclosures still very high throughout the country, homelessness is likely to increase even if most of the targets for the 10-year plan to end homelessness continue to be on schedule.

In recognizing the reality that Orange county is permeable to an influx of people who need help, it is imperative that the town continue to lobby both the state of North Carolina and federal government to provide more assistance to our plan to help the homeless. Also we have to, as a municipality, join the many voices seeking to protect our citizens from the predatory policies of the banking, health insurance, and kindred industries over people. I believe that the 10-year plan should include a state and federal lobbying component that addresses the large-scale systemic hurdles.

15) What's your vision for Smith Level Road? Will it eventually need to be widened? How can the town move forward with adding bike lanes and sidewalks to this Carrboro High artery?

Though Carrboro could have secured the much needed bike path on Smith Level Road, by approving the plans that the DOT recently presented, the Board of Alderman made the right decision in choosing with the community to prevent the construction of an overdone road on Smith Level Road.

The road still desperately needs sidewalks and a bike lane and the town does not have the funds to build these. Choices we have are to lobby the state and the DOT to be more sensitive to alternative forms of transportation, lobbying the DOT to get rid of the regressive funding allocation mechanism that serves as a counter-incentive for policies that promote car independence (e.g. The DOT allocates funds according to a localities car-miles traveled!); in general lobbying the state and the DOT to be more sensitive to alternative forms of transportation; and finally, keeping a constant look-out for opportunities such as federal stimulus money funding.

As alderman, I will engage with the Triangle J Council of Governments and the NC League of Municipalities to achieve a coordinated strategy to reform DOT priorities.

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