Name as it appears on the ballot: Mary-Ann Baldwin
Party affiliation, if any: Democrat
Campaign website: maryannforraleigh.com
Occupation & Employer: President, Baldwin Communications
Years lived in NC: 23
Given the current direction of Raleigh city government, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what are the specific, major changes you will advocate if elected?
Raleigh is ranked high on national surveys, has been named the best place for business, and is recognized nationally as an up-and-coming metro area. We are on the right course but we have to be more aggressive in supporting entrepreneurship and innovation in order to support new business growth, be stronger advocates for transit options, and establish priorities in light of our current economic climate.
If you are a candidate for a district seat, please identity your priorities for improvements in the district if you're elected.
I am running for my third term at large (city-wide).
What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of City Council? If you've identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to be an effective advocate for them?
The issues I have identified are economic development, youth excellence, and improved transit options. Evidence of my ability to be an advocate: I spearheaded the establishment of the City's Economic Development Office to attract new industry and help new businesses growth. I initiated the Collaborative Partnership for Positive Youth Development, a model program focused on student success and gang prevention. I serve as the City's representative on the Triangle Transit Authority board, and have worked to promote transit options for our region in many capacities, including the founding of the Capital Area Friends of Transit. And because of my desire to make a positive difference for Raleigh's future, I spearheaded Rise Up Raleigh, a benefit concert for victims of the April tornados that struck our City.
How do you identify yourself to others in terms of your political philosophy? For example, do you tell people you're a conservative, a progressive, a libertarian, or what?
I tell people that I want to move Raleigh forward in a positive and progressive manner. My goal is to work with everyone (Democrats, Republicans, Independents, conservatives, moderates, and progressives) to build consensus and accomplish great things for Raleigh. My record toward this end speaks for itself.
The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. If elected, how will your service in office help further that goal?
Before running for office, I served on many boards and volunteered my time with organizations that were focused on helping others. In particular, I have been committed to helping at-risk youth through my service with Communities in Schools of Wake County and my founding of the Collaborative Partnership for Positive Youth Development.
Please address the following major issues in Raleigh:
Is the city's debt load too high? Or does the fact that Raleigh retains its AAA bond rating indicate that the debt load is manageable for our city our size?
Our debt ratio is lower than other cities our size (10% of the general fund) and our AAA bond rating is secure.
Is the property tax rate too high? Too low? Or about right?
Our property tax rate is one of the lowest in the state for metro areas. I played a significant role in creating a balanced budget this year with no new taxes, protecting core services and negotiating funding for other important priorities even in tough economic times.
The proposed Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center is stalled. Should it be built? If not, what should be done to meet the city's facility needs for police, fire and emergency operations?
Yes, the Clarence Lightner Public Safety Center should be built. The City Council voted almost unanimously over a five-year periodto move forward with this much-needed project, spending almost $22 million in the process. The design is sound and well vetted. Our 911 Call Center service is degrading, and we don't have an emergency management center (during the recent tornado, operations were managed from a conference room). Currently our police and fire management teams are scattered throughout the City, creating inefficiencies and making communications more difficult. Public safety should be our top priority.
What other major capital projects, if any, do you want the city to undertake in the coming years?
Over the next few years, I'd like to see progress on Raleigh's "Central Park" at Dix Hill. This will become a major tourist attraction and an economic generator for our region and is important to Raleigh's future.
Do you support the transit plan for Raleigh and Wake County developed by Triangle Transit and the committee of Wake mayors? Do you support taking the 1/2-cent sales tax for transit to Wake County voters in the next two years? If its on the ballot, do you expect to support or oppose its passage?
Yes, I support the transit plan. Yes, I support asking the voters to approve the funding for the transit plan. And yes, I would support passage of the ballot measure.
Raleigh has two bond issues on the ballot in October, one for transportation projects and the second for affordable housing. Do you favor or oppose their passage?
I helped put this package together, voted for it, and advocate for it. We need to move forward with the projects supported, which include road repaving, new sidewalks, several transportation projects and affordable housing initiatives.
With the state hospital closing, what is your vision for the 306-acre Dorothea Dix tract? Should it all be a destination park someday? Should development be allowed on part or all of it.
Dix should be a destination park. Development around the park is appropriate and will make this area a desirable place to live and invest.
Regarding the health insurance benefit provided to city employees, should elective abortions be included or excluded for coverage? Please explain your answer.
I support a woman's right to choose and elective abortions should be included in health care coverage for City of Raleigh employees.
Regarding health insurance and other benefits provided to city employees, should the partners of LGBT employees be offered the same access to benefits as married spouses?
Yes. My sister has benefits thorough her partner, and I believe that is right and just.
To learn about other candidates' stances on the issues, read their 2011 Candidate Questionnaires.