Questionnaires

Candidates for Chapel Hill Town Council

All candidates for local offices were sent the same ten questions, and were given two weeks to complete the questionnaire. These are the answers that were given by the candidates, with no editorial changes.

Robert Beasley

Did not submit a questionnaire.

Camille Berry

1. The Orange County transit plan currently identifies only $300,000 for new or expanded transit service in the coming year. This is barely enough money to run a bus that comes every 30 minutes for only 6 hours per weekday, with zero weekend service. What are your thoughts on expanded transit funding?

Orange County must prioritize expanded transit service with greater significant funding. If we agree that we are in a climate crisis and that there is a need for alternative transportation options for our residents to move about the county, then we should invest more dollars into our transit service. Call for allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funds and/or a Bond referendum.

2. The NS BRT is a vital service that Chapel Hill Transit is developing for our community. Recently, due to delays in state funding, the projected opening date has been pushed back to 2028. How will you support and champion this project?

I would appeal to my fellow municipal elected officials to join in a concerted call for the State to prioritize the NS BRT project that already had been approved. This would also entail enlisting the support of our State Legislators. 

3. What are the top three things you will do as an elected official to address climate change?

  1. Support the Town’s Climate Action & Response Plan adopted in April 2021
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate — ensure that our community is aware of this plan, how they are being supported, and how they can advance it.
  3. Be open to emerging methods so that our plan remains relevant

4. “Complete streets” are streets that provide users with multiple options for getting around by accommodating people on bicycles, walking and in cars with safe facilities such as off-street bike lanes, sidewalks, and safe roadway crossings. To provide complete streets, would you support removing a travel lane for cars? If yes, where?

Yes – I would start with the main corridors: MLK, Estes, Franklin, Rosemary, and Fordham. 

5. Aside from projects currently underway or recently completed (e.g. the Estes Road connectivity project, the Fordham Blvd. sidepath, protected bike lane on Jones Ferry Road), what accessible biking and walking facilities should be a priority? Would you support speeding their development and construction, and how would you do so?

Residents within the Kings Mill – Morgan Creek Neighborhood brought to the candidates’ attention the approved trail connector that has been delayed several years despite receiving Bond funding designation. This particular project, which is described as “small but integral”, is reminiscent of the NS BRT project that was awarded funding but was not realized before the funding was depleted. Biking and walking into public housing communities is dangerous as the roadways are narrow and poorly maintained. Often, there is only one entrance to these hidden communities. As mentioned earlier, I would support an exploration of a Bond to fund this type of development.

6. Free parking is a manifestation of white supremacy culture. Explain your understanding of this statement.

As housing units are constructed in Chapel Hill, there is the expectation for them to be accompanied by two free parking spaces. Allocating that much footprint to vehicles reduces the space that could be developed for greater housing density. Greater density would allow for the housing to be more affordable. 

7. The town recently committed to funding a $39 million parking deck with debt, even though Chapel Hill residents may be able to tell their autonomous cars to return home and pick them up 2 hours later in the timeframe that the debt on the deck will be paid. Yes or no – should the East Rosemary Parking deck be the last parking deck the town of Chapel Hill ever builds?

Yes; provided the Town makes it possible for people to access downtown via other modes of travel safely and frequently. That means we must immediately look to develop/enhance our sidewalks, bike lanes, bus lanes, etc.

8. Recently, the City of Durham engaged the community in a participatory budgeting process in which ordinary people identify, discuss and prioritize public spending projects to allocate a portion of the city’s budget  (https://www.pbdurham.org/) . If elected, would you support engaging the community in a similar process? Would you do this in the same way as Durham? 

I would support engaging in a similar process. I would need to learn more about the experiences that Durham has had through its two grant cycles before I would say that I would do it in the same way. However, I say yes to supporting a process that engages the public in a such a meaningful, impactful way! 

9. Have you taken any anti-racism training? If so, which one(s)? 

Yes – I along with my colleagues at Community Home Trust went through REI’s Phase I Two-Day Training. 

10. What are your thoughts about how budgets for law enforcement are allocated and what services should be provided by other agencies outside of law enforcement? 

I support the work of the Re-Imagining Community Safety Task Force. Other services that should be provided by agencies outside of law enforcement include:

  • Mental Health Counseling and Crisis Intervention
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction Intervention 

Andrew Creech

Did not submit a questionnaire.

Jeffrey C. Hoagland

Did not submit a questionnaire.

Paris Miller-Foushee

1. The Orange County transit plan currently identifies only $300,000 for new or expanded transit service in the coming year. This is barely enough money to run a bus that comes every 30 minutes for only 6 hours per weekday, with zero weekend service. What are your thoughts on expanded transit funding? 

Transit is essential to achieve our goals to decrease car dependency. Our budget should reflect our values, and so I will work to find ways we can increase our transit funding to meet the transit needs of our community and our goals. I will also work with our regional partners to increase public connectivity among surrounding municipalities. 

2. The NS BRT is a vital service that Chapel Hill Transit is developing for our community. Recently, due to delays in state funding, the projected opening date has been pushed back to 2028. How will you support and champion this project? 

I will support this project by working to secure state funding that will encourage adequate matching of funds locally. Another method to push the project forward is to encourage economic development and amenities along MLK to ensure economic development and strong use of the BRT. 

3. What are the top three things you will do as an elected official to address climate change? 

-I will advocate for more transit-oriented, mixed-use, infill development that will increase available amenities and decrease car dependency. 

-I will work with our regional transit partners to fully convert our transit fleet to electric buses

-Work with UNC to transition the power plant to a cleaner energy plant. We can also work to recycle the current coal ash produced by the power plant into concrete to fuel materials for construction. 

4. “Complete streets” are streets that provide users with multiple options for getting around by accommodating people on bicycles, walking and in cars with safe facilities such as off-street bike lanes, sidewalks, and safe roadway crossings. To provide complete streets, would you support removing a travel lane for cars? If yes, where? 

I would support removing a travel lane for cars on Rosemary or Franklin since both streets run parallel to each other, and both are mainly meant for cars. With the advent of the BRT and the designated lane for that bus, we can also remove a travel lane for cars on MLK that will make our biggest transit corridor less car-friendly, and more amenable to bikes and pedestrians. 

5. Aside from projects currently underway or recently completed (e.g. the Estes Road connectivity project, the Fordham Blvd. sidepath, protected bike lane on Jones Ferry Road), what accessible biking and walking facilities should be a priority? Would you support speeding their development and construction, and how would you do so? 

MLK should be a major accessible biking and walking facilities priority–I would speed development and construction here by proposing its completion in time for the BRT. I would push to add such connectivity and accessibility in the Land Use Management Ordinance and any Master Plan that the Town works to complete. I want MLK to be a walkable, bikeable transit corridor lined with community benefits and amenities.

6. Free parking is a manifestation of white supremacy culture. Explain your understanding of this statement. 

Historically, people of color lived downtown and in urban areas while white people lived in the suburbs. As a result, local governments subsidized car-centric infrastructure (paved roads, throughways, and free parking) so that white people in the suburbs could easily come downtown to work or engage in leisurely activities. This car-centric investments came at the expense of investing in public transportation that people of color relied on to accomplish day-day tasks. Additionally, we can see how racism shaped the building of our interstate highways as black and brown communities were targeted in an effort to create barriers and avoid housing integration. 

7. The town recently committed to funding a $39 million parking deck with debt, even though Chapel Hill residents may be able to tell their autonomous cars to return home and pick them up 2 hours later in the timeframe that the debt on the deck will be paid. Yes or no – should the East Rosemary Parking deck be the last parking deck the town of Chapel Hill ever builds? 

We should consolidate all the surface parking lots that exist downtown using parking decks that have EV infrastructure. We should not build more net parking. 

8. Recently, the City of Durham engaged the community in a participatory budgeting process in which ordinary people identify, discuss and prioritize public spending projects to allocate a portion of the city’s budget (https://www.pbdurham.org/) . If elected, would you support engaging the community in a similar process? Would you do this in the same way as Durham? 

Some could argue that Chapel Hill already engages in a participatory budgeting process–it’s just not equitable. I think participatory budgeting is a strong tool to have our budget directly reflect community priorities. I would work to ensure that this process is as accessible and equitable as possible by aligning this engaging process with the LUMO engagement process so that our planning and budgeting are aligned. This aspect would differ a little from Durham’s process since I believe our land-use planning is also extremely important to engage the community in, and asking the community for spending input will tell us what residents want for their community at large. 

9. Have you taken any anti-racism training? If so, which one(s)? 

I have taken anti-racism training with the Racial Equity Institute (REI) and attended several Race Realities anti-racism workshops with Dr. Deborah Stroman. I’m currently on the team of (CHOAR) Chapel-Hill Carrboro Organizing Against Racism, a newly established advocacy-activism organization to provide education and support for anti-racists. This effort is in partnership with (ROAR) Raleigh Organizing Against Racism. 

10. What are your thoughts about how budgets for law enforcement are allocated and what services should be provided by other agencies outside of law enforcement? 

As a member of the Community Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) and the Town’s Reimagining Safety Taskforce, I believe we can continue to build out our Crisis Unit and allocate funding to support (SOHRAD) Street Outreach Harm Reduction and Diversion program Mental health services and crisis de-escalation by social workers should be funded to ensure public safety and wellness. Housing is also an essential component of public safety, and this agency should be given funding as a measure to increase public safety.

Vimala Rajendran

1. The Orange County transit plan currently identifies only $300,000 for new or expanded transit service in the coming year. This is barely enough money to run a bus that comes every 30 minutes for only 6 hours per weekday, with zero weekend service. What are your thoughts on expanded transit funding?

–Expanded transit funding would help more frequent buses and run them all the days of the week; that would meet the needs of all people in general. Keeping equity in mind must be a priority, and that would mean that the communities that most depend on public transportation have a system that meets their needs. A well funded transit system will get more people out of their cars, and get them where they need to go with less carbon emissions. 

2. The NS BRT is a vital service that Chapel Hill Transit is developing for our community. Recently, due to delays in state funding, the projected opening date has been pushed back to 2028. How will you support and champion this project?

–The NS BRT project qualifies Federal Transportation Administration funds which will provide much needed economic boost to the plan, and local capital investment could take care of the remaining costs, in an ideal world. Right now, as I said above, funding is a challenge for all transit plans. To create a NS BRT project it mist be supported by free park and ride, hopefully with electric charging stations. Without any new construction of an extra bus lane, express buses may be feasible.

3. What are the top three things you will do as an elected official to address climate change?

— 1. Encourage and reward businesses and communities/neighborhoods that have a zero waste policy — (recycle, reuse, and reduce consumption, especially compost food waste)

2. In new developments insist on reduced paved surfaces/have more pervious surface areas, plant canopy trees instead of little shrubs, and stick to large and native plantings with space to grow, and develop deeper roots. Make developers accountable to the community as well as the agreements they make with the town/community legally binding.

3. Improve public transportation, make wider sidewalks, and safe and connected bike lanes to encourage people to travel without cars.

4. “Complete streets” are streets that provide users with multiple options for getting around by accommodating people on bicycles, walking and in cars with safe facilities such as off-street bike lanes, sidewalks, and safe roadway crossings. To provide complete streets, would you support removing a travel lane for cars? If yes, where?

–While “Complete Streets” are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone and to make a livable, walkable space for all, it must be done in consultation with engineers and town/city planners.  In Chapel Hill, all over Franklin Street the expansion of sidewalks to help businesses have more room for seating, and the subsequent traffic and parking rearrangement is chaotic.  This would have worked well on Franklin Street if it was better planned and thoughtfully implemented.  Now, this Covid-19 response is not safe, as signage is absent, and the temporary traffic cones, and plastic barriers are not beautiful or functional.  For example, the new “sidewalk” is overlooked by pedestrians and they walk on the old sidewalk which is an outdoor dining space for restaurants.  In short, I would support removing a travel lane, only if it is systematically and properly done, right here, on Franklin Street.

5. Aside from projects currently underway or recently completed (e.g. the Estes Road connectivity project, the Fordham Blvd. sidepath, protected bike lane on Jones Ferry Road), what accessible biking and walking facilities should be a priority? Would you support speeding their development and construction, and how would you do so?

–Protected, safe bike lanes throughout town need to be a priority. I would do so by taking the initiative to find funding from the top of the town’s budget to make it happen.  Making safe, accessible streets shows that we prioritize equitable access to our town.

6. Free parking is a manifestation of white supremacy culture. Explain your understanding of this statement.

–White supremacy culture is the ways in which the elite, ruling class use the concept of race to marginalize those who are the other. ( In the US that translates to, not “white” or of European ancestry, and devalue people of color).  I believe that the idea of free-parking-for-all encourages those who own cars, to drive more and not have to use public transportation as those not-so-privileged to own cars.  

7. The town recently committed to funding a $39 million parking deck with debt, even though Chapel Hill residents may be able to tell their autonomous cars to return home and pick them up 2 hours later in the timeframe that the debt on the deck will be paid. Yes or no – should the East Rosemary Parking deck be the last parking deck the town of Chapel Hill ever builds?

–Yes. 

The East Rosemary Parking Deck should be the last parking deck the town of Chapel Hill ever builds.

It is a waste of space and money.  A parking deck is not a good source of revenue for the town.  The cost of that parking deck could have been put towards affordable housing, parks, street improvement and public transportation.

8. Recently, the City of Durham engaged the community in a participatory budgeting process in which ordinary people identify, discuss and prioritize public spending projects to allocate a portion of the city’s budget  (https://www.pbdurham.org/) . If elected, would you support engaging the community in a similar process? Would you do this in the same way as Durham? 

–I believe in community involvement in decision making. Durham’s example of participatory Budgeting worked for Durham’s unique community structure.  Chapel Hill is very different. I would think finding the representation that covers our diverse populations would be best achieved by identifying various non-profits, and community and civic groups. Additionally, calling for voluntary applications would work too, if the steering committee is selected by a neutral agency, and the facilitation is managed by an entity/team that is trusted to be fair, just and has racial and economic equity as a focus. 

9. Have you taken any anti-racism training? If so, which one(s)?

–In the early 1990’s I was a part of the Multicultural Education Team of the Center for Peace Education, when I helped develop the manual for diversity training and co-facilitated trainings with Marion O’Malley.  In the mid 2000’s I participated in the Dismantling Racism Training facilitated by Tema Okun and Michelle Johnson. As a business leader who believes in racial justice, gender equity, and fairness, I am teaching the concepts as I practice them through my business in the community, and in the workplace. 

10. What are your thoughts about how budgets for law enforcement are allocated and what services should be provided by other agencies outside of law enforcement? 

–Law enforcement should be adequately funded to do their job, which is to maintain public safety, dealing with individuals in crisis, managing crowds in public places, e.g. Halloween Night on Franklin St.  The best thing about Chapel Hill’s Police Department is that there is a Crisis Intervention Unit that is run by Counsellors and non-uniformed officers.  I was in need of their support when I was going through a difficult divorce. Mr. Jim Huegerich and Sabrina Garcia, the Crisis Unit officers at that time, were very supportive, and counselled me to manage many situations.  I was glad to hear that the CHPD and the town of Chapel Hill decided to reduce their budget for more police officers and divert the funds towards more counselling/social services.  I know this works.  I will also be in favor of working with the UNC School of Social Work to bring on a better town-gown partnership to make more counselling services and intervention available instead of armed force at a time of personal or family crisis.

Adam Searing

1. The Orange County transit plan currently identifies only $300,000 for new or expanded  transit service in the coming year. This is barely enough money to run a bus that comes every  30 minutes for only 6 hours per weekday, with zero weekend service. What are your thoughts  on expanded transit funding? 

Chapel Hill’s budget reflects our priorities, and with 23% of our town budget devoted to public  transit, our free bus and related transit system is the single largest line item we spend money  on as a community. In addition, the pandemic has upended assumptions about our transit  system from our ability to find drivers to our ridership going forward. I think the current  expansion in funding is sufficient for the coming budget year. We also need to think about  developing additional bus rapid transit from East to West. This planning should start soon and  will require additional state funding. 

2. The NS BRT is a vital service that Chapel Hill Transit is developing for our community.  Recently, due to delays in state funding, the projected opening date has been pushed back to  2028. How will you support and champion this project? 

Moving along construction of our North/South corridor bus rapid transit route is critical during  the next Council term to improve our system. It will have a low impact on surrounding  properties and increase our transit effectiveness and efficiency. We should explore  improvements we can do given the longer timeline. For example, we could explore additional  bicycle carrying capacity to support our commitment to bicycle infrastructure and think about  end line connections to the eventual greenway we hope to be built along the railroad bed. If  there are ways to work with our partners to increase our funding for this project so it gets  completed more quickly, I would support that as well. 

3. What are the top three things you will do as an elected official to address climate change? 

A. Support and continue our commitment to our free bus service, currently the single largest  line item in our town budget. An effective and efficient bus service reduces car use, improves  mobility, and significantly contributes to reducing our automobile dependency. New  developments should also be evaluated on parking availability with transit access in mind. 

B. We need to complete more of the planned greenways and other connectors in the Town  Council’s approved bicycle and mobility plan in order to provide multiple, safer ways for  residents and families to use bicycles and other alternative forms of transportation to get to  grocery stores, school and work. We have a long priority list of projects for connectivity in that  plan and we should continue to allocate funding and implement these improvements. For  example, while we are building the multi-use Estes Drive path we need to continue bike lanes  on Elliott to make the final connection all the way to Franklin Street.

C. Reducing deforestation is a key strategy to combat climate change. As development  pressures result in more and more building on privately-owned land in town, our town must  better prioritize preservation of our forests and trees, with a special duty to property that the  town owns already. With more and more research showing the beneficial effects of forests and  tree cover for the mental and physical health of residents we should also work so that all our  residents, regardless of income, have access to our cooling forests and beautiful streams and  trails. 

4. “Complete streets” are streets that provide users with multiple options for getting around  by accommodating people on bicycles, walking and in cars with safe facilities such as off street bike lanes, sidewalks, and safe roadway crossings. To provide complete streets, would  you support removing a travel lane for cars? If yes, where? 

As someone who has commuted by bicycle in Chapel Hill since the late 1970s, I have always  supported improvement of cycling infrastructure in our town. The complete streets concept  does not require removing traffic lanes for cars – although it is an option. However, I would first  support exploring reduction in travel lane width for cars to accommodate better bicycling and  walking facilities and, second, building the recommended greenway routes that would provide  similar connections before I would support removing car travel lanes on major corridors.  Anyone who rides a bike around town wants safer infrastructure to encourage riders. But we  must recognize that for many bicyclists and especially younger riders safe infrastructure on  most roads simply doesn’t exist. That’s what we need to work on first before removing travel  lanes. 

5. Aside from projects currently underway or recently completed (e.g. the Estes Road  connectivity project, the Fordham Blvd. sidepath, protected bike lane on Jones Ferry Road),  what accessible biking and walking facilities should be a priority? Would you support  speeding their development and construction, and how would you do so? 

We should end the use of coal at UNC’s power plant. This will have two benefits. First, ending  coal use for power generation is a key part of addressing climate change. Second, since coal  transport is the sole use of the rail line through town from the North, this will allow our long planned conversion of this railroad bed into a greenway to go forward. In addition, we should  also explore the option of building a path next to the rail line even before closure. This  greenway can be transformative, opening up an easier level way into town from our northern  neighborhoods, allowing access to our beautiful public forest in the Greene Tract and the  creeks and forests of UNC’s Carolina North, and enabling new business development in the  Carrboro/Chapel Hill downtown area surrounding the line. As someone with 54 years of deep  UNC connections I would use my years of relationships to try and jumpstart this project. UNC  and Chapel Hill have already agreed in principle to make this happen. Let’s work together to  bring it to reality. 

6. Free parking is a manifestation of white supremacy culture. Explain your understanding of  this statement.

It can be argued that, especially in metropolitan areas, the very large expense of owning and  maintaining a car means that car ownership is less available to people of color. Therefore,  subsidizing parking means we are also subsidizing car owners and this has a disparate racial  impact. If we charge for parking, we recover some of the expenses we incur for automobile  infrastructure and can use that funding for alternative transportation like our free bus system  that benefits people who don’t have cars. Of course, if you are a Black business owner and the  city wishes to convert a free parking lot in front of your business to a pay lot you may have a  different view of this debate!  

7. The town recently committed to funding a $39 million parking deck with debt, even though  Chapel Hill residents may be able to tell their autonomous cars to return home and pick them  up 2 hours later in the timeframe that the debt on the deck will be paid. Yes or no – should  the East Rosemary Parking deck be the last parking deck the town of Chapel Hill ever builds? 

A fundamental principle of our system of government is that a current legislative body has a  very difficult time binding the actions of future versions of that same legislative body.  Otherwise, election of new town officials would seem an increasingly fruitless and pointless  task to voters as later officials would have their hands bound in numerous ways by their former  colleagues. In this example, suppose the promises about autonomous cars don’t work out? Do  we then abide by our commitment to never build another parking deck? Of course, if we do  have a future of increasing use of alternative modes of transport and a change in how we view  personal vehicle use through technological leaps then we can choose not to build more parking  decks! That’s the beauty of a democracy. My personal hope is that the next parking deck we  build we be one solely dedicated to bicycles. 

8. Recently, the City of Durham engaged the community in a participatory budgeting process  in which ordinary people identify, discuss and prioritize public spending projects to allocate a  portion of the city’s budget (https://www.pbdurham.org/) . If elected, would you support  engaging the community in a similar process? Would you do this in the same way as Durham?  

In our representative democracy when we elect municipal and state officials, their primary task  is to assemble a budget for the community. Elected officials have to decide both how to raise  revenue through taxes and other fees and how to allocate that revenue to meet the needs of  their community. Ideally, they hold budget hearings, listen directly to constituents, meet with  advocates and others in the community, listen to their staff and colleagues, and then hold  public meetings and discussion where the budget is proposed, changed and finalized. Unlike the  North Carolina General Assembly, which disgracefully has not produced a state budget since  2018, I am committed to our current public process in Chapel Hill of listening, learning and  making the decisions I was elected to do. That is how we invite the public in to have an impact  on the budget. 

9. Have you taken any anti-racism training? If so, which one(s)?

Yes, multiple ones. Most recent was run by the national community advocacy health group,  Community Catalyst. 

10. What are your thoughts about how budgets for law enforcement are allocated and what  services should be provided by other agencies outside of law enforcement? 

I am not an expert in law enforcement budget allocation. I look forward to learning how  advocates, staff, my colleagues and members of our community view our police department,  what services they provide, and what changes they feel need to be made. I do think the Chapel  Hill’s June 2021 Re-Imagining Community Safety Task Force Report provides a thoughtful set of  recommendations to begin to move us forward.

Karen Stegman

1. The Orange County transit plan currently identifies only $300,000 for new or expanded transit  service in the coming year. This is barely enough money to run a bus that comes every 30  minutes for only 6 hours per weekday, with zero weekend service. What are your thoughts on  expanded transit funding? 

The lack of funding for new Chapel Hill Transit service is a sobering example of the underfunding that  Chapel Hill and Orange County face. The funding available for the Orange County Transit Plan (OCTP) is  approximately $9 million annually, largely from the half cent sales tax, but also the motor vehicle  registration fees and the rental car tax. Given the statutory limits on STIP funding for non-highway  projects, little help is available through NCDOT. Currently, Chapel Hill has 42,000 people a day  commuting in and 15,000 people a day commuting out. Our current transit resources are inadequate to  meet this demand, hence the enormous number of cars coming in and out, bringing with them pollution,  greenhouse gas emissions, and traffic. 

If this challenge is to be addressed, there are three plausible solutions: 

▪ Ask the NCGA to change the regulations so that more of the NCDOT budget can be allocated to non highway projects 

▪ Ask the NCGA to allow Orange County to go back to its voters to request another half cent (or more)  sales tax to support transit and/or allow other sources of funding for transit, e.g., increased vehicle  rental tax or new vehicle registration fees 

Given the current climate, this will be difficult, but may not be impossible. At a minimum it will take Chapel  Hill’s elected leaders working with those from Orange County and the other Triangle jurisdictions to make  a compelling case to the NCGA, highlighting the benefits transit has for economic development, as well  as climate change and social justice. Longer term, we need to build more housing so that people can live  and work in town, alleviating pressure on our transit systems. 

2. The NS BRT is a vital service that Chapel Hill Transit is developing for our community. Recently,  due to delays in state funding, the projected opening date has been pushed back to 2028. How will  you support and champion this project? 

The suspension of the SPOT 6 process has been a crushing blow to our NS-BRT. The delays it will cause  will only increase the cost of the project and make it yet more difficult to fund. And there does not appear  to be sufficient funds in the OCTP to make up the shortfall (at least $25 million and possibly more). I will  work with my colleagues on Council to make sure that the Town does not abandon this vital project. And I  will work with the Chapel Hill’s, Carrboro’s, Hillsborough’s and Orange County’s representatives on the MPO to try to press NCDOT to create an exemption for the NS-BRT – or reallocate funds from other, less  critical approved projects – to find the funding needed. This is yet another example of our critical need for  more funding for transit, particularly from the State. Getting this funding will not be easy, but I am  committed to working with everyone that I can to make the NS-BRT a reality. 

3. What are the top three things you will do as an elected official to address climate change? 

We must take urgent action locally, regionally, nationally and globally to address the rapid change that is  causing severe and lasting damage to the planet. This will require phasing out fossil fuels and, as rapidly  as possible, ending GHG emissions. The Council adopted a resolution to be a 100% clean, renewable  energy community by 2050 and passed our first Climate Action and Response Plan (CARP) to chart our  path to achieving that goal.  

Moving forward, we should prioritize the following: 

1. Transportation is now the leading source of GHGs in the US. As such, careful thought about land use  and transportation planning is key to reducing our climate footprint. Investment in public transit,  including the Bus Rapid Transit currently under development, and surrounding it with transit-oriented development will ensure that our community continues to grow in a dense, compact, and sustainable  way that will minimize emissions from automobile travel.  

2. Work to reduce VMT by expediting funding for the mobility & connectivity plan. A bond seems like the  best tool we have to more rapidly fund a safe and connected mobility system that allows residents to  leave their cars at home. We can also make it easier for residents in all stages of life to make use of  the system by encouraging use of e-bikes and expediting the development of an e-bike share  program. 

3. We should use the Town’s zoning authority and conditional zoning process to require private  development to exceed current ASHRAE energy and air quality standards while we work through the  process of incorporating the CARP into our land use policies through the upcoming LUMO re-write. 

4. “Complete streets” are streets that provide users with multiple options for getting around by  accommodating people on bicycles, walking and in cars with safe facilities such as off-street bike  lanes, sidewalks, and safe roadway crossings. To provide complete streets, would you support  removing a travel lane for cars? If yes, where? 

Yes, I would support this. I would prioritize consideration of our main travel routes, including MLK, East Franklin, and Raleigh Road (climbing lane). 

5. Aside from projects currently underway or recently completed (e.g. the Estes Road connectivity  project, the Fordham Blvd. sidepath, protected bike lane on Jones Ferry Road), what accessible  biking and walking facilities should be a priority? Would you support speeding their development  and construction, and how would you do so? 

The Town’s Mobility and Connectivity Plan has an ambitious vision for a network that reduces VMT and  supports the Town’s commitment to sustainability. The proposed network of greenways, multimodal  paths, bike lanes, and other facilities connects key destinations in a way that supports safe travel for  people of all ages and backgrounds. Greenway expansion is also a top priority for residents. We need to  expedite investment in this network, starting with increasing connectivity of existing greenways. The  ESAB and TCAB held a joint meeting this Spring to identify top priorities for funding, which I support,  including: the Morgan Creek Greenway (east and west), the Bolin Creek Greenway extension, Estes  Drive Extension, and the Raleigh Road/NC 54 multiuse paths.  

When people are juggling work, kids, aging parents, community commitments, and so on, it is often not  feasible for them to rely on current multi-modal transit options. This is why I am calling for the Town to  propose a new bond to significantly accelerate investment in our multimodal infrastructure. We do not  have the luxury of waiting for synergistic development or the largess of the NCGA to provide the resources needed to help get people out of cars and able to meet their daily needs. I believe we will need  to explore a new bond to accelerate development of this critical infrastructure. 

6. Free parking is a manifestation of white supremacy culture. Explain your understanding of this  statement. 

Parking takes up significant land, and for a land-constrained town such as Chapel Hill has become, there  are far better uses of that space than storing cars. Our culture’s expectation of free and proximal parking  has resulted in significant waste of valuable resources and the continued advantaging of cars over transit and other alternate forms of transportation. When land is used for parking rather than housing,  businesses, parks, civic and green spaces, it is a net loss for all. Additionally, when that parking is  provided free of charge, the local government is actually subsidizing car culture, making it easier and  more convenient than alternative modes of transit. And, as we know, parking is not actually free. There  are production, maintenance, management and other costs that local government pays for rather than  making investments that benefit the entire community, such as public transit, greenways, affordable  housing, and other public services.  

I am glad that Chapel Hill does not offer its parking for free and has been working on a new cost structure  that will cover actual costs to the Town and also allow us to bring a shared parking model to downtown for  the first time. This means developers will build minimal if any new parking, instead buying into the new  East Rosemary Parking Deck. Not requiring developers to spend upwards of $30,000 to 40,000 per  parking space will free up funds to build more affordable housing and incentivize more public  transportation use. This is all connected to white supremacy culture in that resources are being hoarded  to support the status quo of wealth and convenience over more equitable investments in public systems  and infrastructure that serve the entire community. Furthermore, public transit and multimodal pathways  are more likely to be used by lower income residents, who particularly in Chapel Hill, are primarily people  of color, who cannot afford a car and the associated costs.  

7. The town recently committed to funding a $39 million parking deck with debt, even though  Chapel Hill residents may be able to tell their autonomous cars to return home and pick them up 2  hours later in the timeframe that the debt on the deck will be paid. Yes or no – should the East  Rosemary Parking deck be the last parking deck the town of Chapel Hill ever builds? 

Widespread use of autonomous cars is looking less and less imminent – 20 years before major adoption  seems increasingly probable — and is not an option we want to encourage. Not only have they not been  proven safe, but they will also significantly increase VMT by increasing the number of car trips. Instead, I  would like to rapidly decrease residents’ and workers’ reliance on cars, so that the demand simply doesn’t  exist for another parking deck. This will require multiple strategies to achieve this goal, including: 

• producing the critical mass our businesses need for customers and employees by increasing housing  Downtown and elsewhere in Chapel Hill for year-round residents 

• bolstering our already excellent free bus system to provide additional routes and hours and ensuring  the BRT is built 

• significantly improving our regional transit system so that even people who do not live in Chapel Hill  can use public transit to access jobs here 

• helping residents to leave their cars at home as often as possible by accelerating implementation of  our Mobility Plan. 

8. Recently, the City of Durham engaged the community in a participatory budgeting process in  which ordinary people identify, discuss and prioritize public spending projects to allocate a  portion of the city’s budget (https://www.pbdurham.org/) . If elected, would you support engaging  the community in a similar process? Would you do this in the same way as Durham? 

I have proposed to the Town Manager that Chapel Hill pilot this approach to determine the use of at least  a portion of the ARP funds that the Town is receiving. 

9. Have you taken any anti-racism training? If so, which one(s)? 

I have taken the REI groundwater and phase 1 trainings. I have also participated in many webinars and  workshops on equity and anti-racism pertaining to specific municipal topics- for example, last week I  attended a webinar called “Parks as Community Infrastructure During and Beyond the Pandemic: Building  Trust to Advance Equity”, offered by the Maryland Department of Planning and the Smart Growth  Network. I am also an active member of the EDI committee at my workplace and have participated in  several trainings and workshops on equity and anti-racism in the workplace, decolonizing global health,  and other related topics. This education and reflective practice have helped to deepen my understanding of the history of white supremacy in this country and how the legacy of slavery and white privilege  continues to impact every facet of life today. I am deeply committed to using my power as a Council  Member to raise awareness of and remedy the many ways in which local government perpetuates racial  bias through its institutions, systems, practices and policies. 

10. What are your thoughts about how budgets for law enforcement are allocated and what  services should be provided by other agencies outside of law enforcement? 

Though not new, with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and too many others this past year,  the rage and anguish over police brutality reached new heights in this country. Once again, the failures of  policing as an institution were revealed to a stunned nation and calls for change in policing spread across  the nation with new urgency. It is long overdue for local, state and federal governments to root out the  racism baked into our structures, policies, and practices – starting with policing. It’s certainly not a new  conversation for people of color in our community.  

Following impassioned public comment and Council direction last summer and building on the years of  impassioned activism and advocacy of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Town of Chapel Hill  launched the Re-imagining Community Safety Task Force to advise the Council on approaches to public  safety that intentionally and actively dismantle racism, implicit bias and discriminatory practices, and  increase safety for everyone, especially historically impacted communities and individuals. Systemic  racism and racial bias are interwoven into the fabric of our community and criminal justice system, but  Chapel Hill can serve as a model by committing to a fundamental re-imagination of how equitable public  safety services can be offered so that there is an experience of community well-being equitably shared by  all. I served as a liaison to the Re-imagining Community Safety Task Force (RICS) and fully support the  recommendations of that diverse group. Specifically, in the immediate term, I support investment in  establishment of a 24-hour non-police crisis response team and restructuring of 911; expansion of the  Street Outreach, Harm Reduction, and Deflection Program; and a reduction of armed police response.  The FY22 Town budget reduced the number of uniformed officers and shifted that funding to be used as  an initial investment in implementing the RICS recommendations. We will also need to work closely with  the county on these efforts. I am proud of the leadership role I played in these efforts, including  harnessing the power of the Town government to take quick action, drafting the resolutions and taskforce  charge and criteria, serving on the selection committee, and supporting the excellent work of the task  force as Council liaison.