Name: Lindy Brown
DOB: March 10, 1956
Home Address: 1207 Silverhill Court Garner, NC 27529
Campaign Website: www.electlindybrown.com
Job/ Employer: Wake County Commissioner/ Wake County
Spouse: Clifton Brown
His Job/Employer: Driver/UPS
Yrs. In Wake Cty: 48 years
Home phone: 919/779-2296
Work phone: 919/856-5576
1. What is the three most important issues facing Wake County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
The three most important issues facing Wake County is 1) Loss of state and federal revenues 2) Transportation issues (road congestion and bus services shortage) and 3) Educational issues (school funding and low academic student's performance). The NC Legislation has passed on additional responsibilities with no increase funding to support those additional responsibilities or maintain our current county services. Wake County's sale tax and building permits revenue have declined due to our economic downturn. In other words, our current county, state and federal revenue streams do not meet the demands of needed services in Wake County. Wake County is collaborating with Durham and Orange counties to develop a regional transportation plan. Our municipal partners are supportive of implementing a daily routine bus services throughout their towns. According to the Wake County Public School System (WCPSS)'s 2009-10 student enrollment will exceed the 140,000 projection indicator. However, the State's Department of Instruction (DPI) has reduced their funding allocation to Wake County Public School System, which impacts the number of teachers and support staff hired.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Wake County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
I have been a community advocate addressing quality of life issues for twenty-nine years. During my tenure as your current County Commissioner, I have demonstrated good fiscal leadership and because of my dedication and work ethic, some citizens have named me the "hardest working County Commissioner and the People's County Commissioner." In 2009, the board elected me as the Vice Chair then Acting Chair due to the Chairman's sudden illness. Throughout my tenure, I have consistently participated in our North Carolina Association of County Commissioners as a member of the Public Education Steering Committee, Intergovernmental Relation Steering Committee and the Human Services Steering Committee. The citizens of Wake County recognize my attributes and solicit my help to solve their problems daily.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
My views and my votes would probably lead on to describe me as a "Moderate." I do not approach a vote asking what the liberal view is or what the conservative view is. I try to consider all the factors, talk to the immediate stakeholders then make my decisions based on facts and what I believe will produce the best outcome for the citizens of Wake County. I have high expectation and believe that I'm accountable to the people. My accountability includes being accessible, a listener and advocate for services that promotes Wake County as the best place to live, work and play.
4. The Commissioners board is often termed the school board's banker, and the school board's performance is the biggest issue in Wake County by far. What's your take on the new Wake school board majority's direction, including its opposition to using diversity as a factor in school assignments? If elected, what steps will you take, if any, to support or oppose the new majority?
Yes, the Wake County Board of Commissioners is considered the "banker" of the school board due to our responsibility to build and renovation schools (capital projects). Our second responsibility to the school board is to provide supplemental funding, which equate this year to 25.5% (source: DPI, Financial & Business Services, Highlights of the NC Public School Budget, Feb. 2010) of the school system total budget.
My view is the new Wake County School Board majority had a "political mandate" to carry-out in their districts. Remember, school board members are voted by districts whereas, the board of commissioners are voted countywide (At-large). I believe the school board is trying to provide "CHOICE." However, campaign promises does not always relate to state laws that govern an elected official. The recently elected school board members took an oath "to serve all Wake County students." Their campaign promise has become "ambitious or more challenging" than thought. I have already publicly pledged to work with the school board ensuring all Wake County students receive a "high-quality education in an integrated setting based solely on parental choice."
5. If elected, will you vote to put the 1/2 cent sales tax for transit on the ballot in 2011?
Yes, I would support putting 1/2 cent sales tax on a "public referendum." However, the scheduling of the public referendum is in question. I have attended several communities and township meetings; the majority public's sentiment is NOT to raise taxes during this economic climate.
6. The closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital is making a bad situation worse for mental health patients in Wake County. The commissioners have taken some steps to address the problem? Are they enough? If not, what else is needed?
First, I would like the public to know I am a Clinical Social Worker by profession. I worked at Dorothea Dix Hospital for eight years at the Forensic Unit. Addressing individuals with mental illness and substance abuse issues are "like second nature to me." Yes, closing Dorothea Dix Hospital is a bad situation for the mentally ill and their families, who may not have the transportation to visit their love ones in Central Regional Hospital in Butner. The Wake County Board of Commissioners have put this issue on the table and incorporated it into our annual goal agenda. We have secured 44 psychiatric beds at Holly Hill Hospital as a means to provide psychiatric services to the mentally ill. We have under construction the new crisis and assessment facility named WakeBrook, which the grand opening is in a couple of months. This facility will assess individuals with mental illness and substance abuse problems. No! There are never enough services for this population because their condition does not permanently go away. This population will always be in need of psychiatric beds or outreach services. Continued pro-active advocacy and lobbying our state legislatures are needed.
7. A woman' right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy is once again a major issue in politics at every level. Please state your position on the question of abortion, choice and women's rights.
The Supreme Court established a woman's right to choose many years ago. It was the correct decision then and it remains so now. My personal wish is that there would never have to be another abortion. However, my professional Clinical Social Work's Code of Ethics mandates that I do support a woman's right to choose. In a partisan political effort, a Wake County Legislator and others maneuvered our County Manager into removing the abortion rights coverage from our Wake County Employees' Health Plan based on his 1981 lawsuit against Wake County. It is important to understand the 1981 case involved Human Service clients, not Wake County employees. I certainly voted for the restoration. I did it not to promote abortion, but to ensure a "Woman's right to Choose." Let me also say, government should not be involved in a woman's personal decision that should be between her physician and family members.
8. Do you support equal rights for gay and straight citizens, including equal protection from workplace discrimination and equal marriage rights?
I do support equal rights for gay and straight citizens regarding protection from workplace discrimination. I am supportive of partnership or family rights equivalent to marriage for gay couple.
9. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
First, I need to know what does the term "just community" means. I hope the Independent sees all 12 surrounding towns/cities in Wake County as "Wholesome or a vibrant community.
10. Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.
As someone who has served on the Board of Commissioners for nearly four years now, let me cite an actual vote instead of speculating about a hypothetical future one. A recent controversial issue on which I cast the deciding vote concerned the land purchase for a new high school in northern Wake County. To briefly summarize: land had been acquired on Forestville Road (3.2 miles from Heritage High School) for the school and site preparation . Unfortunately, the cost of preparing the land (retaining walls) was going to end up costing a lot more than original estimates, providing road and sewer improvement were going to cost more, and there was much apprehension among local residents about the additional traffic that would be dumped into the area. The school board, with a new majority, stopped construction on that site and said they would not reconsider building a school there so another site had to be found. A site that came available belonged to St. Lawrence Homes and had been planned for a subdivision. The current economy had caused the company to cancel their plans after investing in some infrastructure improvements on the property. It was offered to the county at a bargain price ($28,000.00 per acre cheaper than the original site). The school board voted (with only one dissenting vote) to acquire the property. When it came to the Board of Commissioners for our approval, some people were calling on us to reject it and to force the school board to go back to the original site. The school board chairman attended our meeting specifically to remind the board that the original site would not be considered. Another noteworthy point is, the Wake County Board of Commissioners does not have the authority to determine where a school site should be. Our authority is
"Only purchasing price approval." The school board has the authority of site selection.
I studied both sites, visited both sites with county and school board real estate staff, talked to individuals favoring each site and reached the conclusion that the St. Lawrence site would be a good acquisition for the county. St. Lawrence's site has approximately 143 acres and the original site had 88 acres. The St. Lawrence site is large enough to build three schools with land left over that could be sold as commerce property.
In addition, the St. Lawrence's site is projected to be built and open by 2011-12, at least a year earlier than any other site. As it turned out I was the only Democrat to vote for the acquisition and it passed with my vote and that of the three Republicans. Yes, I have received criticism from my party but I was fiscal responsible with saving taxpayers' dollars. By approving this site, student overcrowding will be reduced at Wakefield High School, Heritage High School, Wake Forest/Rolesville High School, Knightdale High School and Millbrook High School.