Michael D. Page
Pastor/Antioch Baptist Church
37 years Residency
1. In your view, what are the most important issues currently facing Durham County? If elected, what would be your top three priorities?
The most important issues facing Durham County are Economic Development, Education, Transportation and Maintaining a Healthy Environment. My three most important issues facing Durham County is Job creation, Education and Maintaining a Healthy Environment.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Durham County Board of Commissioners? (This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.)
My sixteen year record of serving as a public official has brought a wealth of experience in listening, passionate about community and our citizens, working as a team player, researching the facts and getting the job done. I have experience in the human service field working with Social Services, Mental Health and closely with Cooperative Extension. I possess a wealth of community service working in communities to improve the quality of life and focusing on issues such as reentry, violence prevention, homelessness, early childcare and education.
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 politically as a team player who will work on behalf of the citizens and constituents I am fortunate to serve. I firmly believe as a philosophy that I must do all I can to help all that I can. My philosophy will show itself through my unique ability to bring together a diverse citizenry to work together for the common good of the community. I share a sense of pride when I realized how many employment opportunities I have been able to advocate for especially when I realized this has become a major setback for members of our community. I served as a volunteer in our educational system therefore helping young people to achieve to their fullest potential is important to my commitment to education and our children. I am committed to ending homelessness and eliminating poverty in our community as this area of interest is important as we continue to find solutions to this problems through job creation, promotion of educational attainment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
4. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election help further that goal?
My mission to build a just community in the Triangle is to be inclusive of our entire community, finding common ground for solutions, developing and promoting affordable housing throughout Durham, finding opportunities for equality through living wage, education and safety. Furthering that goal will promote opportunities for cultural exchange, community development and enhancement and preservation of a safe and secure community.
5. What is your vision for development in Durham County? What sorts of development do you believe the county should encourage? What steps do you think the county should take to reduce sprawl? What should the county do to create more affordable housing?
First of all, I applaud the city for its affordable housing initiatives and particularly creating a penny on the tax rate for this opportunity. Durham County has not traditionally been in the affordable housing business however, as we look at options such as light rail we will must be advocates for affordable housing in this community. Historically, we have supported non-profits in this community and teaming up with non-profit agencies that focus on housing will assist us as we deliver on our strategic plan. My vision of development in Durham County is to use a smart growth approach as we know this community is growing by leaps and bounds. We must be supportive of development that supports strong communities, environmental health and economic growth in our community. Smart growth is defined as building urban and suburban and rural communities with housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools. We would be prudent if we followed this approach as we look to develop affordable housing, major infrastructure continuing to protect our environment. I believe using this approach will assist us as a county to reduce sprawl in our communities.
6. Parts of Durham’s future development plans are closely tied to the updated comprehensive plan. What changes to the comp plan do you believe the city and county need to make?
The changes to the comp plan that must be address is updating the Comprehensive Plan to better align with the Compact Neighborhood Tier boundaries with the planned Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit. While this change is in process due to the progressive amount of work that has evolved from the new system, it will be necessary to make changes to ensure compatibility to the proposed make up of these areas. Durham is experiencing tremendous growth and will continue to do so in the next decade therefore elected officials and staff must focused its effort in providing for communities an environment that is conducive for recreation, livability, dining and commuting to and fro work. AS the light rail stations evolved, these areas must be consistent with the guidelines and procedures of the Compact Neighborhood Tier. Durham will have to move away from traditional and unconventional patterns of growth but develop an opportunity that will support a diverse set of transportation options with higher densities and a mix of uses. These are necessary as the county continue to address this light rail system in our community.
7. At a meeting in January, the DPS Board of Education discovered that it needed to cut as much as $16 million from the 2016–17 budget. Do you believe the county commission needs to find additional revenue to fund public schools? If so, how would you go about doing so?
I do believe the County is in a place to assist DPS with assistance in this deficit they are encountering for the 2016-2017 budget. Along with other resources the school system may obtain, the county is able to leverage itself through additional revenues to fund public school and I agree that we have a responsibility in helping to support this effort. I would continue to ask the school system to trim its budget with eliminating as much “fat” as possible particularly without interfering with the classroom. I do believe with citizen support we could look at tax increase but also finding other solutions to funding our educational system appropriately. We are limited in obtaining funding for this budget shortfall but working with our school system and citizens in weighing what options we have to fund this issue. I believe this is a community problem therefore coming together to look at options would make sense when the commissioners hands are tied when it comes to finding additional funding.
8. Last year the legislature ended a waiver to the federal food-stamp program, limiting the ability of able-bodied adults without dependents to access food assistance. This change will affect as many as 2,700 people in Durham County. What do you believe the county should be doing to help this population?
This is a serious problem for many citizens who are unable to obtain food assistance therefore we must look at options such as creating partnerships with our business community, faith community etc. in providing food vouchers for these families. Again, poverty is an issue in our community and determining how we move these able-bodied adults away from dependency to self-sufficiency. Education is key to helping many of the adults refocus with the current resources they have and using its buying power to maximize its opportunities. Developing a special one- time fund through local resources could be an option to immediately satisfy the problem but then further looking at long –term solutions to access food assistance would beneficial as clients move forward.
9. Over the past year, there have been frequent protests outside of the Durham County Detention Center over allegations of unsanitary conditions, lackluster health and mental-health care, and gouging by jail contractors. In December, Chairman Michael Page told the INDY he would propose an independent investigation into the jail. Do you believe such an investigation is necessary and should move forward? What changes, if any, do you believe the sheriff’s office should make regarding the jail?
I supported an independent investigation for our jail by professionals and experts who specialize in this type of investigation on a regular basis. This investigation would provide transparency for our jail however, I emphasized it MUST be done by those who are professionals in this arena. I believe the sheriff should continue to address these allegations and regularly setting up opportunities to ensure that our facilities are safe, adequate and sanitary. The regular monitoring of such conditions are critical to ensure that these problems do not exist. We desire to have facilities that are clean, adequate and sanitary therefore increasing our staffing patterns to do so may support these concerns.
10. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
One principled stand that I would be willing to stand for if elected would be the management of smart growth in our community. While resources are needed especially many that you have mentioned in this questionnaire, how do we leverage our resources in using growth to produce jobs, fund educational system, safe and secure communities and then still protect our environment through watershed, protecting our water supply , clean air etc. I want to see these things happen but it must be done through careful and sensitive planning and working through areas that will not harm our community.