Name as it appears on the ballot: Mike Dasher
Campaign website: www.mikedasher.org
Years in Chatham: 12
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1. What are the three most important issues facing Chatham County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues? Please be specific.
I believe the most important issues facing our County are managing our growth while protecting our environment and character, ensuring a high-quality education for our students, and investing in the infrastructure and assets that will make Chatham County a place people want to live and invest in. My top priority in addressing our growth will be implementation of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and County-wide zoning ordinances that reflect and protect Chatham’s unique character and natural assets. To address our education needs, I will work to implement realistic school construction plans and increase funding for hiring and retaining high-quality teachers. Lastly, I will work with our towns and developers to ensure that as new residents and businesses locate here the added stresses and increased needs for infrastructure, staff, and facilities are accounted for and adequately funded.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Chatham County Board of Commissioners? (This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.)
I served on the County’s Affordable Housing Advisory Board as well as the Green Building and Sustainable Energy Advisory Board. I was 3rd Vice Chair of the Chatham County Democratic Party and Chair of my local Precinct. I own and operate a small business in Chatham County. Prior to that, most of my professional career was in the non-profit sector, managing construction for affordable housing providers. My background shows both my commitment to improving communities and my day-to-day efforts to make those improvements. My long involvement in development and building is the kind of experience that can help the Board as it faces the tremendous challenges and changes that Chatham Park and other development will bring to our county. I have degrees in Political Science and Finance which provide a foundation for understanding the complexities of governing. Finally, as a small business owner, I have learned that the most important part of my job is listening to others. As a Commissioner, I will encourage a thoughtful, deliberative approach that involves our citizen advisory boards and provides avenues for public input and involvement at every opportunity.
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 as a progressive Democrat. My guiding philosophy is that the public interest often does not align with private interests, and that government’s primary function is to ensure that in those instances the people’s interests are protected. My platform envisions a County that prioritizes our shared interest in protecting what is here and adequately plans for what is coming. My background and experience in affordable housing, sustainability, politics, and business shape my view of government as a means to achieving the common good.
4. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I want to be a force for meaningful change in the lives of people in my community and beyond. It’s remarkable to me that people seek elected office for any other reason. I believe in active, participatory government, and that begins at the ballot box by encouraging voting and not restricting it. I will encourage active public participation thru our advisory boards and ensure that our community is engaged in determining our future. I am committed to seeing that Chatham County schools are the absolute best that they can be, and provide the opportunity for all our students to achieve their best. I will work to make Chatham County a place where decent, affordable housing is readily available. We have an incredible opportunity given the growth in Chatham County to develop innovative programs in areas of education and job training, housing, food scarcity, health and wellness, and transportation. We just have to think big enough to build the community we want.
5. What is your vision for development of Chatham County?
I envision a Chatham County of vibrant, diverse communities where our natural environment and our rural character are protected. I see a Chatham where we achieve meaningful, sustainable economic development by growing our local businesses and encouraging new businesses that are compatible with what’s here. I see a Chatham where we value the uniqueness of our artisans and our small farms, and actively demonstrate our commitment to quality-of-life improvements like greenways and parks. And most importantly, I envision a Chatham County in which the benefits of our growth and development provide increased opportunities for all of Chatham’s residents.
6. Countywide zoning has been controversial in Chatham. After hearing what citizens had to say, what arguments about the zoning question made the strongest impression on you? How would you prefer Chatham to proceed with zoning, if at all?
I was among the many residents who spoke in support of Countywide zoning prior to the Board’s vote to move forward and develop a zoning plan. My position then and now is that we’ve got to decide what kind of County we’re going to be, and we’ve got to acknowledge that the tools we have now are simply not adequate to address the growth that is coming. For too long we’ve reacted to the forces and pressures on Chatham County instead of proactively planning for them. I will work to develop a zoning plan that incorporates input from our diverse communities, that protects our environment, and maintains our rural character where appropriate.
7. Tensions between Range 2A and many of its neighbors back in 2014 is credited with starting the current zoning discussion. Do you think there should be tighter regulations on future gun ranges in Chatham County?
Yes, and County-wide zoning can ensure the rights of business owners to plan and develop their businesses while protecting the rights and property values of homeowners. It is not an either/or choice, and we need a Board of Commissioners that will work to ensure that the rights of all citizens are protected as we proceed with zoning.
8. Are there any challenges ahead with the development of Chatham Park that particularly concern you? If so, what does the county government need to do to get ahead of those potential issues?
The changes in Chatham County will be profound, as are the challenges we will face. We need to acknowledge that the interests of Chatham Park and the interests of Chatham County will not always be in alignment. Acknowledging that needn’t make it an adversarial process – it simply recognizes that the County’s obligation includes the interests of those who are here now as well as our future residents. The increased demands on County services, infrastructure, schools, and facilities all require active, involved planning from County officials and staff. The environmental impact of a project of this size demands careful, thorough consideration. The County must play an active role as plans are developed. We must ensure that associated needs and costs are shouldered by the appropriate parties.
9. If elected, would you support more funding going to parks and greenways in Chatham County?
Absolutely. Parks and greenways are essential elements of well-planned and well-managed communities in attracting visitors, residents, and businesses.
10. What is your position on fracking in Chatham County? If opposed, how do you propose the county should fight it?
I am opposed to fracking in Chatham County and certainly adequate evidence exists to oppose it anywhere. There is no doubt that fracking is bad for the environment but also that the inherent boom/bust economic cycles are devastating to local communities. I was pleased that the Board of Commissioners enacted a moratorium on fracking in Chatham County, and I am committed to preventing fracking thru any possible legal avenues.