Name as it appears on the ballot: MaryAnn Baldwin
Full legal name if different:
Date of birth: 9-20-56
Home address: 614 Capital Boulevard, Raleigh, 27603
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.maryannforraleigh.com
Occupation & employer: Director of Marketing, Stewart Engineering, Inc.
Home phone: 828-5591
1. If elected, what are your top priorities?
2. What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on Council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.
I have held leadership positions professionally and I have been involved in numerous community groups. Currently I serve as Director of Marketing for Stewart Engineering, a progressive company that is involved in many civic projects. In this role, it is necessary to have vision, strong communications skills, an ability to work in a team environment, and creative problem-solving skills. I believe all these skills apply to the City Council as well. Relative to community service, I serve on the Board of Directors for Communities in Schools of Wake County and Artsplosure, and Im the immediate past chair of the Business Friends for the North Carolina Museum of Art and the City of Raleigh Economic Development Committee. Other volunteer service included work with Triangle Family Services, the Multiple Sclerosis Society and the American Lung Association, as well as several PTAs. I have successfully raised funds, chaired events and been involved in making difficult decisions when fundraising goals were not reached. While working with the Carolina Hurricanes, I was able to open Hurricanes Academy, a learning center for middle school students at the Walnut Terrace public housing community, in conjunction with WCCIS. I feel these achievements show that I do what I say Im going to do, that I know how to get things done, and I know how to work with others to achieve goals.
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I grew up in a liberal Democratic household in Pawtucket, RI. I believe I have progressive ideas but I define myself as a moderate. By that I mean I have the ability to listen to both sides and compromise, if necessary, to achieve goals. I think my campaign platform reflects my beliefs because it offers strong support for a comprehensive plan that is environmentally friendly but still supports growth. Im one of those people who believe you accomplish the most by working together. As part of my volunteer service, Ive worked for children at-risk and education because I believe these are the foundations of our community.
4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.?
Although this is really an issue for the Wake County Commissioners, I will vote for a transfer tax or sale tax option if either is placed on the ballot. It is not realistic to think that the property tax alone can continue to support school and road construction. We need to have as many tools as possible to increase revenues to support the economic success and growth we have enjoyed in Raleigh.
5. The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
As a resident of District C, I am aware of the needs and desires of the Southeast Raleigh community. I am prepared to work with Councilor James West, the district representative, to promote investment in this area of the city, with an emphasis on jobs, public safety, parks programs and affordable housing. For too long, Southeast Raleighs needs have been put on the back burner. Its time for that to change.
6. In the next two years, Raleigh will complete a revision of its comprehensive plan. If elected, will you seek to influence what it says? If so, how?
While I support growth and the economic benefits it has brought to our community, I also think it has presented challenges, especially in relation to schools and transportation. I want to see a comprehensive plan that guides growth and encourages development in areas with existing infrastructure such as downtown and our other employment centers. This will help curb sprawl and the need for additional infrastructure on the fringes of the city. Its also important for our zoning to reflect the intent of the comprehensive plan to reduce conflict between neighborhoods and developers. Id also like to see us promote the potential for transit-ready development should we develop a light rail system, which I believe is a necessity. Having traveled to Charlotte and to cities like Minneapolis and Albuquerque, I have seen first-hand that rail promotes development around stations the kind of development many of us say we want. This type of investment could also have a positive impact on our tax base, making the most of smaller areas of space.
7. The issue of tax-increment financing (TIF) is before the Council because of developer John Kanes request for a $75 million tax break in connection with his North Hills East project. Do you support or oppose Kanes request? In general, do you think TIFs are needed in Raleigh? If so, under what circumstances?
A majority of North Carolina voters passed a referendum to allow TIF funding to support infrastructure development. I support TIF as one of our funding tools and I think it could be used to support transit-ready development and projects in blighted or underdeveloped areas of the city. As far as the TIF request for North Hills East is concerned, I think it is premature. First, I believe we need a TIF process and policy. And second, I think the City Council needs to support the development at NHE from a different perspective. I would support building a parking deck at NHE (similar to what the city has done in public-private partnerships with Progress Energy and the RBC Plaza). This would accomplish several goals. It would encourage a smart growth project at North Hills that provides jobs, preserves open space and contributes to the tax base; it would direct parking revenue back to the city; and the city would benefit through an immediate return on investment because of the increased tax revenue created by the development. This step was suggested by the mayor and I think it has merit and should be revisited by all parties. As far as my stand on this particular project, I would need to see the full proposal, ask questions and have this go through a public process before making a final decision. I think it would be irresponsible to make a decision on this and other matters without having all the facts at hand. While this has become an emotional issue, the actual proposal has never been presented or discussed in a public meeting before City Council.
8. Raleighs impact fees for parks and roads were increased 72 percent last year, but they remain far below what state law allows. Do you support increasing impact fees further, and if so, by how much?
I support impact fees, I support the Council raising impact fees by 72 percent, and I support the escalator clause that raises impact fees each year. What I do not support is substantially raising impact fees at this time. There are several reasons for this. The primary one is that most of our future growth is predicted in Southeast Raleigh. This is an area of our City that needs attention and investment. I would hate to put the cost of new housing out of the reach of first-time homebuyers and people of modest means. This issue is further complicated by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market, which is already impacting potential homebuyers in the City. I support impact fees but not at the expense of working people who need every dollar they have to purchase a home.
9. CAC leaders are asking the Council to help them strengthen citizens involvement in city government matters. Should the CACs be strengthened? If so, what specific measures would you support to assist them?
The CACs serve an important purpose as they are a conduit of information from neighborhood organizations to the City Council. From my understanding, the 18 CAC districts have not been redrawn in years. First, we need to look at creating additional CACs and redrawing some districts to make the groups more manageable in size. Second, we need to find a way to get new faces involved in the political process. Some cost-effective ways to market include a prominent place about CACs on the Citys website and piggy back mailings. For instance, we could insert a mailer in a water bill, letting people know more about the CACs and how they can get involved. At one time, there was discussion about a CAC that would involve teenagers. I like this idea because it encourages activism and involvement at an early age. Plus teenagers can have some pretty creative ideas!
10. Public transit is a huge issue in Raleigh, but theres little consensus on what to do about the local bus service, or about regional rail or bus connections. What are your goals in this area?
Our local bus service is obviously lacking in terms of service and comfort. The City needs to make a review of our bus service a top priority with an eye toward additional routes, use of van services, and shelters and benches at bus stop locations. Many citizens depend on bus service and they deserve much better than they are getting. But just as important, we need to find ways to encourage bus usage. The only way this will happen is if we upgrade our systems and customer service values. I also support regional rail. I think its important for our elected officials to govern for 20 years from now and just not for today. If we dont put some type of regional rail system in place, it will show a lack of foresight and vision. I think Raleigh has to take a lead in these discussions and I support working with the TTA, the MPOs and the current study group that is taking a fresh look at transit in the Triangle.
11. Several city or county governments in the Triangle extend employee benefits to domestic partners (including gay and lesbian partners) the same as to married spouses. Raleigh does not. Should it? Is this something youd support if elected?
I would look to our worker representatives for more information on the need for this and also seek a cost breakdown before making a decision. In the interest of justice, it seems fair. Many private companies are extending employee benefits to domestic partners, which could make Raleigh more competitive in terms of recruiting workers. But again, getting back to the Kane decision, I prefer going through a public process and having all the information at hand so I can respond best to the citizens of Raleigh and our City employees.