Name as it appears on the ballot: Lori Bush
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: 7/8/64
Home address: 107 Doric Ct., Cary, NC 27519
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: LoriForCary.org
Occupation & employer: Solution Development Manager, Cisco Systems
Home phone: (919) 319-0530
1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Cary? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?
2) What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
My political philosophy is one of inclusion, commitment and participation. I believe that a democracy can thrive and be successful with a variety of opinions and discourse, coming from a diverse set of experiences and insight. Cary has a wealth of creative and innovative people and the Town should reflect those attributes.
Cary should be improving its outreach to the community, in a more active manner. Rather than posting meetings in the paper, our outreach to the citizens should be in a variety of methods, specifically through the website, and other forums such as engagement with Homeowners Associations and actively meeting citizens where they live. The Town should better heed the policy and recommendations from its volunteer boards and commissions, and utilize technology to bring more citizens into public participation.
My work on the Cary Mayor's task force for Citizen Involvement is a great example of how we can leverage our citizens to participate and have them help the town. The town has taken the first step; to create the recommended process our Task Force proposed, however, the backend support structure, for online support, has taken a lower priority. These technology improvements, once implemented, should provide more engagement, discourse and opportunity for Citizens to participate with their town government.
4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
One would certainly be in the area of annexation, a topic that will come before council as we move to more infill development, rather than expansion, as we have in the past. This idea of forced annexation troubles me, and I oppose forced annexation. In general, folks that would benefit from this principled stand are not Cary residents, and hence, would not be able to vote for me, but, should be part of the process, conversation, and have a say in what happens to their property.
5) While its growth has slowed, Cary remains one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Assess whether its rate of growth is good for the town. Should it be faster, slower or remain the same? How should Cary grow and what measures should be implemented to achieve this?
The current growth rate is the residual build out from the previous administration's rampant growth policies. Some growth and economic development in this troubled economy is a blessing; however, Cary must ensure that infrastructure is in place before growth occurs so that quality of life for new and existing residents is not negatively impacted. Cary also must stop the pendulum swings from fast growth to slower growth and the politicization of the growth policies.
There are a number of measures to achieve this that include steady and stable development impact fees, land banking for schools and other public facilities, adherence to our comprehensive plans rather than modifying them for individual developments, and above all, listening to citizens.
6) Cary's tax rate is one of the lowest in the Triangle, and its budget is 25 percent lower than last fiscal year. What do you think of this reduction? How should the town balance its tax rate with essential public services? What services and projects do you consider essential and need additional funds? What services and projects could be reduced or delayed? Evaluate, in general, the current town budget.
Cary has practiced prudent fiscal management. The current budget is an appropriate reaction to the current economic troubles. Although the tax rate remains unchanged, water/sewer fees are increasing by 8% and some levels of service (for example, trash and recycling) have been decreased. Traffic continues to remain an issue.
Essential public services that should be fully funded begin with public safety. I am disappointed that the FY 2010 budget did not include a grant to the non-profit Cary Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and my incumbent opponent voted to deny this funding; funding that was only a $5000 request. I believe that elementary School Resource Officers are another low-cost program worth funding, protecting our most precious resource, our children. My incumbent opponent voted to terminate this program and has declined to vote to reinstate its funding. Police, fire and EMS need to be fully funded to maintain our "safe city" status. Many capital projects can be deferred during economic downturns such as we are experiencing now. For example, park development can be delayed, but purchasing the land for parks and open space while prices are more reasonable is a good fiscal practice.
7) In the biennial Citizen Satisfaction Survey, focus groups indicated they were concerned about the impact of the "transient population" of Cary. There were also suggestions that those short-term residents be "screened" in terms of a visioning process for the city. How should Cary deal with its short-term residents? What value do you place on their opinions of the town? What impacts have you seen of short-term residents? What can the town do to more fully engage these residents?
All citizens of Cary should and must have a voice in Town matters. The Town can perform outreach programs to short-term residents to engage them in the community.
My work on the Mayor's Task Force for Citizen Involvement directly addressed how to get more of Cary's Citizen's -- and their wealth of innovative ideas and intellectual capital, more involved in providing solutions for the town. I could definitely see a group of residents creating an "Issue Advisory Group" around this topic, and eventually bringing it to the Town Council for consideration.
8) What should Cary do about Western Wake Partners' plans to build a sewage plant in New Hill? What are your concerns, if any, about the plan? If you have no concerns, tell us why. Where should a new sewage plant be placed?
The site selected and the process for selection for the sewer plant was wrong initially and remains wrong. This site is next to a National Register Historic District; it is environmentally unjust, impacting a largely minority neighborhood; it is more costly than alternative sites; and it is a poor reflection on Cary's efforts to be a good neighbor.
The New Hill Community has done an outstanding job of presenting the facts in opposition to the current site and also showing that nearby alternative sites, still in the same general vicinity, is preferable. Although it could slightly increase costs and delay the project, it is still possible to choose a new site and I support that effort. Cary made a mistake and should correct that mistake.
9) Evaluate Cary's sign ordinance. How would you change it? What should the ordinance accomplish?
The goals of Cary's sign ordinance are commendable and the ordinance generally achieves those goals to keep Cary a pleasant-looking community.
However, I am concerned about some facets of the sign ordinance that could be legally challenged (for example, restrictions on political signs) and I am particularly concerned that the Town government exempts itself from its own sign ordinance, allowing signs (such as the "dynamic message" pole signs and newly permitted signs at Town parks) that are illegal for private entities to have.
Several businesses that are impeded by their location are suffering declines in business due to our current sign ordinance, and in this tough economic climate, we should review what we can do to help those that provide valuable services to our town.
10) While the expansion of U.S. 64 is largely a decision of the N.C. Department of Transportation, as a town council member, what input would you give the state on this proposed project?
I have listened to, and agree with the many citizens who have spoken out asking that this corridor continue to have a "community feel" and offer local residents a much-needed transit option, rather than becoming a limited access "superhighway" that is not beneficial to our citizens.
11) On the topic of transportation, this year, a half-cent sales tax for mass transit is proposed in the legislature, requiring voters' approval. Would you support such a tax? Why or why not?
I always support a citizens referendum to decide how our tax money is spent, and I support the goals of financing regional transit, but I am concerned that a sales tax is regressive and could impact our most vulnerable citizens the most.
However, I want to answer the question you did not ask.
I think we need a vision of a comprehensive transportation plan for our area, one that includes various forms of mass transit that would be key elements of such a plan.
The passage of HB 148 provides another possible funding source for regional transportation, although the bill allows the Wake County Commissioners to hold a referendum on a tax for transit, I don't think we will see that issue on the ballot until the economy changes.
12) Are you concerned about the long-term water quantity and quality of Jordan Lake, Cary's primary source of drinking water? If so, what measures would you take to preserve or improve it? What is your assessment of Cary's water conservation ordinance?
Absolutely, I am concerned about Jordan Lake water quality. We need to carefully adhere to Cary's Southwest Area Plan, and I support the recent amendments to increase the quantity and quality of open space in that area.
We must work closely with the Chatham County Commission and listen closely to Cary's Chatham County citizens as we produce the plans that will guide development in that area. We cannot allow rampant development in the Jordan Lake watershed.
Cary's water conservation ordinance is a model for the region and we should be proud of the great work of the Town and we need to continue to find innovative ways to maintain and strengthen it. I support expanding our "gray water" program and financial incentives for installing low-flow appliances and drought-resistant plant in place of thirsty lawns. As a homeowner with a passion for water conservation, I worked with the Town of Cary to share water conservation information with my neighbors through the volunteer block leader program, and installed 2 rain barrels, as well. It is estimated that during the summer months nearly 40% of household water is used for lawn and garden maintenance. Using rain barrels potentially helps homeowners lower water bills, while also improving the vitality of plants, flowers, trees, and lawns. We have used water from our barrels to feed our plants and gardens. I'd like to see greater expansion of the rain barrel program, along with a partnership with our local extension programs for other programs supporting native plantings, drought resistance plants, and continuing the lawn buyback program.