Name as it appears on the ballot: Michael Valentine
Date of birth: November 27, 1979
Campaign website: www.valentinefordurham.com
Occupation & employer: Michael Valentine & Partners / www.michaelpaulvalentine.com
Do you have a Facebook page? Valentine for Durham
Do you have a Twitter account? @theplandoctor
1. Describe your past leadership roles, both in career and community. How will these experiences help you serve on Council? Please be specific about how these roles correspond to a city council member's responsibilities.
I currently serve our community as a business consultant for early stage entrepreneurs and their businesses, seasoned small businesses seeking growth, and larger institutions looking to in-source the goods and services of small businesses in their backyard. I am also an appointed board member of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, BPAC. As Mayor, I will create more opportunities for area small businesses that will hire Durham Citizens. In turn, when we can vividly see the opportunities that surround us and have the ability to equip ourselves with knowledge from the appropriate educational channels, we will see increased enthusiasm towards learning and a reduction in crimes against fellow citizens.
2. How do you define yourself politically? How have you demonstrated this political philosophy in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I am not the typical civic leader or political figure by any measure. I have a very non-partisan viewpoint. I just believe in doing what is right, good, and fair. As Mayor, I will stay consistent with this theme.
I believe that everyone has a gift they can bring to the table to balance the global and local free enterprise system that can make Durham a more harmonious and happy city. Once a person has the right level of self-determination, resilience, ability to execute, and audacity to be a productive citizen, great things can happen.
3. List the three most important issues facing Durham, in order of priority. If elected, how will you address these issues? Please be specific.
Stronger Bonds between Neighbors- If we take better inventory of the hopes and dreams of our fellow neighbors, our communities will unite and be the engine that can take Durham to new heights.
Small Business Growth- Small business is the basis and background of our national and local economies. In Durham, if our small businesses are thriving, residents of Durham who have the capacity to perform the jobs that are needed will also win.
Making Education Practical- If elected I will be challenging educational institutions, leaders, and teachers to integrate new curricula that speak to the skills and training that is needed in both the local and global economy.
I believe if we offer recent graduates incentives they will contribute greatly to Durham and make it among the top choices to live, work, and play in the U.S. by 2020.
4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I would like to examine more closely the dollars that are being approved for city sponsored projects to ensure that each dime being spent is first being considered to be paid to capable Durham based firms and historically underutilized businesses.
5. The city's updated panhandling ordinance has been criticized for being too stringent. If you were to revisit the ordinance, how would you balance public safety with the needs of the homeless? As a follow up question, Durham is seven years into its 10-year plan to end homelessness. What are the pros and cons of the plan? What are the greatest obstacles to ending homelessness and how should the city overcome them?
I believe that the ordinance is too stringent as well. Often times people panhandling are in need of more immediate things such as food. I think that we could create a voucher program for people in need to eat at a handful of places throughout Durham. The eating establishments would have to bid on the opportunity to serve and will have to abide by guidelines. The cost of this initiative should not exceed the amount of money that is already being spent to police the situation and jail suspected panhandlers.
I am happy to know that there is a plan in place to end homelessness; however, I feel that we have much further to go. The obstacles that we face are difficult but can be overcome by bringing together cooperating organizations and champions of the cause to end homelessness.
6. Neighborhood Improvement Services has embarked on the PRIP, the Proactive Rental Inspection Program. Assess the progress of PRIP. Also, do you think PRIP can adequately address the quality of rental housing in Durham?
PRIP is good for Durham. Everyone should have access to a living experience within a dwelling that is safe and up to code.
I do think that PRIP can adequately govern the quality of rental housing in Durham and does a good job at pushing compliance which raises the bar for landlords and the living standards for renters.
7. Durham's strategic plan calls for a well-focused annexation policy. In your opinion, what should Durham's annexation policy look like? What areas and developments could be annexed and why?
When considering our strategy for a well-focused annexation policy, we should make sure that it is a win for the inhabitants for that area, the environment, and Durham as a whole.
I think that expanding along 751 would be good for Durham if we are careful to not harm the environment which includes human and wild life, nature trails, and our natural resources. Additionally, when we invest in certain parts of Durham, we should not lose sight of other areas that need improving.
8. In 2011, Durham voters approved a half-cent sales tax increase for public transit. Assess the success of the transit improvements. What should the next priorities be?
Durham voters did the right thing by increasing sales tax to increase the reach of our public transit system. I believe that residents now have an alternative to getting around more efficiently in Durham which in time will also benefit us all by reducing the amount of pollutants that are deposited into our air.
Our next priorities should be to work with the local governments of our neighboring cities to orchestrate a mutually benefitting transportation system that will also help strengthen the area's economy.
9. Over the last two-months, Durham's violent crime rate has increased nearly 8%. In July, there was a controversial incident in which a DPD officer shot and killed a man who was allegedly brandishing a knife. However, witness and police accounts of the incident are in dispute. Assess the level of professionalism and proficiency of DPD and recommend ways it can improve.
Overall I feel that the Durham police department provides a good service to the community of Durham at large. However, improvements can be made. City Council's role should be to ensure citizens and DPD have a positive relationship.
In the future, it is important that we continue to enhance our training programs to include sensitivity to training for law enforcement officers as well as training for citizens to become proficient in understanding their rights.