Name as it appears on the ballot: Darius M. Little
Full legal name, if different: N/A
Date of birth: 10-14-1979
Home address: 200 W. Woodcroft Parkway; 49-B Durham, NC 27713
Mailing address, if different from home: N/A
Campaign Web site: www.dariusforcouncil.weebly.com
Occupation & employer: Business Consult and Legal Assistant – Self-Employed
Home phone: 919-951-5983
Work phone: " "
1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Durham? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?
I believe that the most important issues facing Durham are (1) a sense of disconnect between the people of Durham and the City Council and (2) the creation of more efficient Government. I am aware of the fact that we have many, serious problems facing us here in Durham, such as our economy. Having realized that, I have selected the aforementioned issues as priorities because without addressing these two components, the City Government's foundation will not adequately be able to 'effectively' address the other concerns that our citizens face.
If elected, my top priorities in addressing these (and other) issues would be the creation of social and professional committees, that help create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation, which will enhance the working relationships between all facets of our city. Currently, we have a very corporate atmosphere and I feel given the level of energy in our community, as well as the strong desire by our citizens to have positive change (as proven by the Durham election totals), that it is imperative that we establish a "direct connection" between the people and the City Council. That can only be done by increasing the level of citizen involvement and connection, to the City Council.
2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonst rates 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.
My record of service, overall, demonstrates my ability to be effective on the council. The role of the City Council is to safeguard the health, morals, safety and general welfare and convenience of the public. In order to be an effective, safeguard, one must understand what the citizens need to be safeguarded from and how to best carry out such function. At the end of the day, to effectively carry out this obligation, it is required that an individual has a true heart for the advancement of all people, coupled with a desire to help people live better lives. My record of service reflects that for several years, no matter where I was, my heart was grounded in assisting and working to understand, connect with and better the lives of those around me, as a servant. Servitude is the foundation of an elected office and I simply love serving others and my community. My record demonstrates volunteer work, in various capacities, to help young people, both lower and upper class. It also entails mentoring, reaching into areas of society where others have no desire to, and finding a way to uplift people to a foundation by which they can see a glimpse of hope. Next, it demonstrates a love and affection for the elderly, as well as diverse and underrepresented groups.
While there is an administrative side to the job of a City Councilman/Councilwoman, what is often missed is the fact that in order to handle the administrative sector, one must have their heart and motives aligned with the people, in order to truly safeguard the public. Society has become soo consumed in everyone's "policy" that motive is often forgotten; which results in having lifetime officials, with no desire whatsoever, to actually be creative in the establishing of policy, or in community outreach, to safeguard and benefit the citizens (who are supposed to be the purpose of what is done).
Learning rules, procedure, reading evidential, discovery packets are one thing -- they can be learned rather easily. One's intellectual abilities can be gauged rather quickly, so that isn't an issue. A person's heart and love for the positive growth and development of their fellow man, is revealed by one's service to the community, outside of an elected office. I feel that my life demonstrates a sincere love for people and coupled with the intellectual abilities, which also have been proven, I have the foundation that is needed and mandatory, to be an effective City Councilman: I have the people at heart and above myself. Until this happens across the board, we will continue to have inconsistent policies established.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I define myself as a Moderate Democrat, politically. My political philosophy is revealed in my past achievements and present campaign platform by my desire to put the assisting of people first, which I believe is a fundamental, foundational, Democratic Principle. By the same token, I believe in helping people establish a foundation, not to be a continuous crutch. This is revealed in my platform, as well as past achievements by my constantly implementing an "even" approach to policy and judgment. I can draw a line rather easily, whereas some to the left and right may not as easily, draw that same line. In other words, I believe in fairness so much, I try very hard to be magnanimous. However, my thorough investigative and listening skills make it easy for me to be respectful to opposing views, so that I can always understand from where people are coming. This is an important characteristic to exude, in=2 0my opinion.
4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I am a firm believer in God. I believe that all mankind are imperfect creatures, who through their religious beliefs, become better people, by modeling an example of true moral and social justice – God. This, in turn, benefits society at-large by a positive and enriching atmosphere being created, where all men are created equal, despite race, gender, sexual preference and socioeconomic factors. Were any items to come before me, which would seek to remove "God" in word, or spirit, from the public eye, I would both, vote and speak against it, firmly. I respect freedom of speech. This entails a Christian's right to speak of the goodness of God, in a respectful fashion, as anyone can express their beliefs. The US and NC Constitutions recognize 'God' and I would not support any efforts to minimize his presence. This would definitely cost me votes with some, but I would and will not fold on this issue.
5) Recently, the N.C. General Assembly approved a nutrient clean-up strategy for Jordan Lake, which will require local municipalities, including Durham, to pay for any necessary pollution-reduction measures. How will you work with the City's Public Works Department to ensure Durham's pollution-reduction goals are met, and how will you work to prevent similar pollution—and the high cost of state-mandated clean-up efforts—in the future?
I would work with the City's Public Works Department to ensure the successful acquiring of Durham's pollution-reduction goals by making it clear that financially, we are behind them. Also, I would be very active and encourage hearings (effective communication) on the entire process and what the requirements actually are, in order to help us move forward in adequately assessing our "plan." For example: what independent contractors, if needed, would have to be hired? What are the limitations on our ability to address the concerns, with our own resources? How far bad have we gone? Which approach to 'clean-up' woul d most effectively serve the citizens best, long-term. What are the ramifications to our citizens in the immediate future and how does that affect contracting, or our own inside department? How does the current plan-of-action affect our future efforts to comply with state-mandated clean-up efforts? I believe in being thorough, especially when it relates to something as important as water (our most important resource, in my personal opinion).
6) Southern Durham Development is suing Durham County for conducting a public hearing before changing its Jordan Lake watershed maps to accommodate a proposed mixed-use project known as 751 Assemblage. Supporters of the project say it will increase Durham's tax base, and call a public hearing to change the watershed maps an unnecessary burden on property owners. However, others question the validity of the survey and say the County is bound by the state's administrative code to conduct a public hearing. Would you consider annexing the property to resolve the matter, if Southern Durham Development requests that the City do so? Why?
At the current moment, this situation is rather complicated. As was noted in the question, the matter of the validity of the survey is still in question and under the advisement and jurisdiction of the County Commissioners. At this point, I would not support, in any capacity, any effort to annex the property. That would not be a good faith effort, in my opinion, by a Councilman and would undermine our counterparts who work very hard – that being, the County Commissioners. While the prospect of jobs does have my support at all times, there are a lot of red flags that concern me, as it relates to this specific situation and as such, I'm not inclined to do anything to advance the matter at this point. There must be more information for the public to know.
7) Until recently, the City had a 25-square-mile "donut hole" in which no watershed protections existed. By closing the "donut hole"—which covered most of downtown—Durham lost an important incentive to attract downtown development and re-development, developers argued. What are your thoughts on how Durham can best attract smart growth while also protecting its watersheds?
Durham can best attract smart growth while also protecting its watersheds by aggressively communicating to developers that we are an environmental-friendly city an d enforce certain safeguards. A building project can be constructed on one day and destroyed the next. Our water quality, as well as our environment, can't, however. As such, we must make a concerted effort to have developers understand that in Durham, we will not straddle the fence when it comes to our environmental issues. There are policies in place for our well-being, not to harm us and for the future of our children and community at-large, we can't continue to nickel-and-dime our environmental integrity, for the sake of "development."
8) Fairway Outdoor Advertising has proposed amending the city-county Unified Development Ordinance to allow for electronic billboards? Are you in favor of this measure, or not? Please explain your answer.
I am an individual that loves growth. However, the growth and advancement needs to be reasonable and provide benefits for our city, which far outweigh any potential negatives. That is my formula across the board: the weighing of the pros vs. cons. Electronic Billboards would be a very nice, upgrade from our current plain billboards. However, my current understanding of these billboards is that we would have to pay large sums of money, whenever we were to terminate the agreement, under Federal Law. This would include all current and any future earnings potentially created by the billboards (making them almost impossible to get rid off, which causes more concern in the fact that there needs not be any contract where the city is simply stuck in it, mercilessly). Furthermore, in a time when we are talking about conservation and in an area where we often have water restrictions, for the sake of "responsibility," I can't reasonably support the creation and establishing, of an agreement where we'd utilize such a waste of energy. Again, the cons outweigh the positives in that these boards restrict us legally, while not guaranteeing in come which would offset potential losses.
9) Last year, Durham voters rejected a proposed half-cent "meals tax" for local projects. This year, a half-cent sales tax for transit is proposed in the legislature, also requiring voters approval. But Durham could pay for transit and other needs simply by increasing property taxes, which some consider a more progressive method than either of the alternatives. Which taxes should be increased, if any, and for which projects? Will you support the half-cent sales tax for transit if the legislature enacts it and the county puts it on the ballot?
At this current economic period, I will under no circumstances, support a tax increase, of any sort. Thus, I will not support a half-cent sales tax for transit. I am not against transit, b ut firmly opposed to increasing taxes, even down to a penny. There are other ways to generate monies and we'd simply have to spend days and weeks even, being creative. The citizens of Durham give too much, to be taxed for anything, during a recession period.
10) The FY 2009-10 budget includes cuts to many social services, while maintaining rainy-day funds necessary to maintain Durham's AAA credit rating. How can Durham maintain services for the neediest while also balancing its budget?
Durham can maintain social services for the neediest (who, unlike most, I understand and relate to, as a former Orphan and Ward of State), by seriously evaluating the job descriptions, importance of position at this current time, as well as the number of employees in every department and demanding cuts, to make the government run more efficiently.
11) One of the focus areas for economic redevelopment is northeast-central Durham. How do you propose redeveloping that area and through what measures?
I feel that the current Northeast Central Durham Initiative is the adequate method by which to move forward in redeveloping the area. The plan includes training for residents in the area of redevelopment, which will not just help "Durham," but will provide economic stimulus for that area, specifically. Also, it boosts morale amongst those who live there, by being actively involved in the growth and advancement of their neighborhood. This measure focuses mainly on commercial growth however, so I would only add the investment into appearance upgrades, such as road paving and other avenues of the like, to make the area more aesthetically pleasing.
12) Assess the health and effectiveness of the city's economic incentives fund. What improvements could be made?
At this point, I would focus on making sure that while there are going to be incentives, those incentives are given out in a reasonable way and allocated in a fashion, consistent with the purpose for which they were created: community growth. To me, that means investing and committing to companies/entities which would employ a large quantity of locals. Hiring Durham's residents greatly aides in providing economic growth to Durham neighborhoods, where those very people live.