Name as it appears on the ballot: Peyton Holland
Campaign website: OurChathamNC.com
Phone number: 919-533-7687
Years lived in the county: 30
1. What are the three most important issues facing Chatham County today? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
The top three issues facing Chatham County are: a. Planning for Chatham County’s growth while preserving its rural character and natural resources b. Ensuring we have balanced economic development c. Investing in our education system to adequately prepare Chatham’s future workforce
Planning for Chatham County’s Future: Citizen Engagement, particularly concerning decisions that impact their land and quality of life is absolutely critical. I will involve citizens in the process of developing plans that work for their individual communities concerning zoning, services, and other issues that our citizens deserve to have a voice in. Recently, our citizens voices were ignored as a part of the R1/R5 blanket zoning that our current commissioners mandated for the county. This is not fair to those who were impacted the most. We can gain tremendous insight as to how Chatham County needs to grow by listening to all of our citizens, including those that have been here for generations and those that may have just moved here. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan, which is currently being developed, will provide significant insight into some of the best opportunities for growth in Chatham and how we can maintain the aspects of this county that our citizens love while preparing for that growth. I believe by working with our citizens and using the information gleaned from the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, we can help guide Chatham County towards a future that meets the needs of all of our residents.
Balanced Economic Development: It is going to be critical to balance economic growth and the preservation of our rural character. We have a significant disparity between income levels across the county, nearly a 300% difference between some Northeastern communities and some of our Southwestern communities. The only way we will solve this issue and be able to provide more financial stability for all citizens in our county is bring good paying jobs in that require a wide range of skill sets. I will work to create jobs for our residents by supporting the recruitment of companies that fit our county and that support the growth of local businesses. We have to stimulate small business growth by making it easier for local entrepreneurs to start their businesses. Blanket R1/R5 zoning in the western part of our county has made it more difficult for local entrepreneurs to start their own business. We need a better policy in place to support our local business people. In addition to stimulating local small business growth, we need to work to bring in large employers at the Siler City and Moncure megasites. These locations could provide thousands of good paying jobs to our residents and provide billions of dollars of economic opportunity for our county.
Education: We have to strive to help our schools continue to develop programs and partnerships that allow students to develop the skills needed to be career ready. I am a product of Chatham County schools and I know the quality of education that we can provide. It is going to be important that our education and economic development plans work hand-in-hand because the key to stimulating economic development is being able to provide a skilled workforce. I will use my experience in building partnerships between education and industry to help create an environment that bridges the gap between our schools and the workforce for our students. By building partnerships between our schools, community colleges, and the industries we recruit and local businesses that we stimulate, we can provide relevant educational opportunities that lead directly to career opportunities for our students.
2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a commissioner? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.
One of the most important skill sets I bring to the table is that of bringing people together for a common goal. I have significant experience in doing this and leading groups and organizations in both the public and private sector. Combining those experiences with my education in business management and my life-long background of living in Chatham County, I bring a unique and important set of skills and perspectives to the board of commissioners.
I grew up on my family's small farm here in Chatham County where I learned the value of hard work and skill through strong rural roots that extend from former generations. Through the skills and experiences I gained from my rural background and from working with industry, education and communities across the state and country to develop a skilled workforce and transform education, I understand the diversity that we have in Chatham County, from the rural way of life to the big business environment. I understand how both ends of this spectrum can be sustained in our county to meet the needs of our residents. My educational and occupational background is listed below.
Master's in Global Innovation Management: North Carolina State University - Raleigh, NC
Master's in Business Administration: Aix-Marseille Graduate School of Management - Aix-en-Provence, France
Bachelor's in Business Management, Marketing - Valedictorian: North Carolina State University -Raleigh, NC
High School Diploma: Northwood High School - Pittsboro, NC
Elementary & Middle School: Moncure School - Moncure, NC
SkillsUSA North Carolina, Executive Director
Through my work in SkillsUSA North Carolina, I impact our future workforce by helping students develop personal, workplace, and technical skills grounded in academics. A national association with over 360,000 members across the country, SkillsUSA is working to help close the Skills Gap that exists in our country while providing students with meaningful, relevant experiences that will help them gain the skills and credentials needed to not only be employed doing work that they enjoy, but to step forward and be a leader in the workplace. As the Executive Director of the North Carolina Association, I work to bring industry, schools and communities together to build the partnerships needed to provide students with the best educational opportunities possible and to help sustain and grow local communities and businesses.
My experience in working across these different lines gives me significant insight into key issues regarding economic development and education. These two items are linked very closely and I understand how these two areas can work together to provide the greatest benefit for individuals and communities. I have also garnered tremendous experience in all areas related to running an organization and business, ranging from managing large events with thousands of people to managing a significant budget and developing the relationships necessary to help change students lives for the better.
Leadership Development Consultant, Trainer, & Speaker
Starting at the age of 18, I began working with groups across the country to help them define and develop their leadership capabilities and to motivate to take meaningful action towards their goals. I have worked with and spoken to groups that include Fortune 500 Companies, chambers of commerce, school systems, colleges & universities, professional associations and student organizations. This breadth of experience has given me significant expertise in working with individuals from a variety of backgrounds to help groups maximize their potential. I have the ability to assess the needs of the group and create a cooperative environment as they start moving towards meeting those needs. These skills are in dire need on our Board of Commissioners. Our Chatham needs someone with experience in bringing people together for a common purpose, even over divisive issues. I have the ability to find the middle ground and help develop a sense of community in situations that would otherwise remain fragmented.
Chatham County Board of Adjustments, Chair
Chatham County Board of Equalization and Review
Sprott Youth Center Board of Directors - Moncure, NC
Chatham County Farm Bureau Board of Directors
Young Farmer and Rancher Committee, Chair
William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations
NCWorks Apprenticeship Committee
Chatham County Career and Technical Education Business Alliance
Central Carolina Community College Construction Management Advisory Committee
North Carolina Association of Career & Technical Education Board of Directors - 2011-2013
SkillsUSA State Director Association Board of Directors - 2011-2013
SkillsUSA National Alumni Coordinating Committee - 2011-2013
3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I would define myself as a moderate who is tired of seeing partisan politics divide our county. This is Our Chatham County, whether someone has been here for 6 days or 6 generations, this county belongs to all of us, and the only way we are going to be able to do what is best for the county and all of those who call it home, is to start listening to each other and understanding all of the needs we have. I believe we have to take the time to get citizen input on our actions, particularly concerning the growth of the county, and that we have to show our citizens that we take that input into account from all sides. We have got to focus on taking care of home instead of letting political agendas guide our decisions. I know we have the ability to find common ground and work together as a county, we just have to move past political affiliation to do so and consider all voices at the table.
This philosophy shows itself daily in the work that I do where I bring competing industries and companies together for the benefit of students across the state. I work with an extraordinarily diverse group of volunteers, students, educators, industry partners, and colleagues across the state in an environment where my main focus has to be bringing people together for the common good of students. I plan to do the exact same thing for Chatham County.
This philosophy has shown itself in my campaign because I don’t base who I talk to and where I go off of political party, I base it off of the fact that where there are Chatham County citizens, that is where I need to be. I am running as an unaffiliated candidate and have made it clear throughout my campaign that a person’s political affiliation is not what’s important to me; I want to know what matters to them when it comes to Chatham County. As county commissioner, I will base my decisions off of what is best for the county, not what is best for a party.
4. Countywide zoning has been a contentious issue in Chatham County over the last year. Please articulate your position on this topic, and your thoughts on the commission’s decision in August to adopt R-1 and R-5 zoning for previously unzoned parts of the county.
I believe we need a plan for growth in the county, however, I believe that the current board’s decision to blanket zone 388 square miles of the county as R-1/R-5 without taking into account citizen input was a tremendous mistake that will harm small business development in that area, put significant barriers in place for our citizens in that area and will make the area more suitable for housing developments and not agriculture (something the commissioners said zoning was supposed to protect). I don’t think zoning is bad and I don’t think most people in the unzoned areas do either. Most of the people that spoke at the public hearings expressed a desire to be protected from certain things, to preserve their way of life, to be able to create jobs, but they knew the R-1/R-5 plan was not the best fit for them. The commissioners should have taken the time to hold community meetings to find out what type of zoning policy would work best for each community. As a matter of fact, those community meetings were planned, but the current board of commissioners cancelled them and decided that R-1/R-5 would be best for the county. The fact is, the county doesn’t have enough options in its zoning ordinance to meet the needs of all of the communities that were recently zoned. The commissioners should have taken the time to hear what citizens did and didn’t want in their communities, what they thought would be best from a growth perspective, and then create the zoning options that would allow for that. Zoning rural agricultural land as R-1 (1 house per acre) does not fit the need of those communities. Zoning Jordan Lake land as R-5 (1 house per 5 acres) does not protect our natural resources. In the event that the Army Corps of Engineers sold any of the Jordan Lake land, we would see houses popping up on every 5 acres. When that land was purchased from Chatham County citizens to build the lake, those citizens who gave up their land were promised that it would always be kept as a natural area for people to enjoy and would never be developed. The current commissioners zoning plan ignores that promise. If I elected, I would immediately begin holding community meetings, create the zoning policies and ordinances that are needed to do this process right. I will make sure people have their voices heard so they protect their communities in a way that will sustain their way of life and allow them to grow as they need to.
5. Chatham is one of the fastest-growing counties in the state, with development pressure coming in from Durham, Orange, and Wake counties. What are some specific solutions you would offer as to how the county should manage this growth?
We have to develop a long-range plan for how Chatham is going to grow and for how we are going to preserve the things that we love about Chatham. We need to consider the fact that we have two separate economies in Chatham County, a more agrarian, small business and manufacturing based economy in the west and hi-tech, rapidly growing, suburban economy in the east. We have to realize that what works in one area of the county concerning zoning, economic development, and population growth planning may not be what is best for another area of the county. Utilizing the Comprehensive Land Use Plan and establishing community meetings with our citizens across the county to hear what they want, need, and see as the future in their areas, will provide us with the information we need to put plans in place to manage our growth in a way the meets the needs of our citizens and provides opportunities for economic growth moving forward.
6. The Chatham Park development, expected to dramatically increase the population of Pittsboro and surrounding areas over the next decade, continues to be a source of excitement and tension for Chatham residents. How is this project coming along, in your view?
We are starting to see the first phases of Chatham Park begin to take shape with the hospice facility being built, along with an office facility, the connector bridge over highway 64 and most recently the announcement of the development of several acres that will provide some retail and commercial opportunities in the area. Chatham Park is an extremely large project that will have a significant impact on Pittsboro and Chatham County. It is critical for our county and town leaders to be engaged in constant dialogue with Chatham Park to ensure that all of the groups are sharing the same vision as to what is best for Chatham County and that we are preparing for the infrastructure needs that will come as a result of the development. Having a long-term plan for the growth of Chatham County is going to be essential in making sure we manage the impacts of increased population and the accompanying infrastructure needs and is one of my top priorities.
7. It’s been a year since Chatham commissioners issued a two-year halt on fracking in the county. Do you agree this was the correct decision, and what do you believe is the correct path to take moving forward into next year, when the ban will either be lifted or renewed?
I agree with the moratorium on fracking and think that is the correct path moving forward. Fracking could present a significant danger to Jordan Lake and the many rivers and natural water sources that we have in the county.