Name as it appears on the ballot: Randolph Voller
Full legal name, if different: Randolph Stefan Voller
Date of birth: January 8, 1969
Home address: 21 Randolph Court, Pittsboro, NC 27312
Mailing address, if different from home: N/A
Campaign Web site: pittsborotogether.org
Occupation & employer: Real estate development and brokerage/Voller Realty and Construction, Ltd. (Mayor of Pittsboro)
Home phone: 919-542-8188
Work phone: 919-545-9624
Cell phone: 919-949-1274
1. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.
Bringing local and regional government together has been an important aspect of my term. To that end I have facilitated working relationships with Orange, Chatham and Lee Counties and consistently invoked the importance of the municipalities and the counties working in harmony on infrastructure, planning, and transportation. Specifically, I have worked with the Mayors of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough as well as the county commissioners in Chatham and Orange Counties to form bi-monthly meetings between these municipalities, counties, OWSA and UNC-Chapel Hill to discussion short term and long term issues of mutual interest and concern.
I have also worked diligently on the Chatham County EDC board and currently serve as its vice-chair. The EDC is currently engaging the services of UNC to help facilitate and create a strategic plan for economic development in Chatham County.
Transportation is another area of interest. I was the first municipal leader elected as the chair of the Orange/Chatham/Lee/Moore County Rural Planning Organization. The organization has county and municipal leaders from these areas and is an advisory board to NCDOT. I have consistently expressed and interest in seeing more public transportation, use of biodiesel, investment in walk able communities, and creation of a transportation network that connects Pittsboro to Chapel Hill and the triangle.
Additionally, I serve on the Mid-Carolina Workforce Board, the Chatham County Solid Waste Advisory Board, the Fairgrounds Association Board and the Chatham County Affordable Housing Taskforce.
2. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
Pragmatism and a wiliness to listen to different ideas are hallmarks of my personal beliefs. I define myself as a progressive business owner who favors individual effort and achievement within a team framework.
A willingness to reach out and connect disparate groups has been a hallmark of achievement in the country and region. To name a few groups I have supported by board resolution and mayoral proclamation: the green energy forum, Shakori Hills, Woof-a-polooza (C.A.R.E.), the North Carolina Solar Center, Motorcycle Awareness and Safety Week, Clydefest, public art, and the Chatham County Arts Council.
A core value in our platform is cooperation. It is my firm belief that Pittsboro will not be able to solve its immediate and long-term problems without leveraging a cooperative relationship with Chatham Country and furthering regional partnerships. We deserve an interesting and vibrant downtown district connected to parks and greenways. I ran in 2005 in part on improving the downtown and recreational opportunities. To that end the downtown is more vital and the tennis courts, basketball courts, town lake park, Pittsboro Park north of town and the 3M park south of town have all received attention and grant funding-which will benefit citizens for years to come.
3. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I will offer stands and positions I have already taken. I have supported the leader of the North Carolina NAACP, Dr. Barber, and I marched with Chatham County Commissioner Tom Vanderbeck last spring in the NAACP HKOJ event in Raleigh. Furthermore, I support affordable housing and inclusionary zoning (Chatham Forest, a community my firm developed in Pittsboro is a neighborhood that accidentally has inclusionary zoning). Finally, my father, grandmother, and aunt were all immigrants from Germany; consequently, I have empathy for immigrants and first generation Americans. I marched in Siler City in 2006 in support of the Hispanic community and I have consistently supported the Hispanic Liaison including their 2007 festival at Shakori Hills.
I also worked together with four elected officials from Orange County and Chatham County Commissioner Tom Vanderbeck to urge Congressman Price to initiate a GAO investigation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the issue of fire safety at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant.
4. The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I have practiced fair and open public hearings and public meetings. I have supported the NC Justice Center and its mission, championed the cause of the less fortunate such as the physically and emotionally abused citizens who utilize the Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center (FVRC ) in Pittsboro. To that end I worked with Pittsboro Chief of Police, David Collins, to secure federal grant funding for police officers that specialize in domestic violence. I have spoken out and addressed the County Board of Commissioners when acts of racial injustice and other inequities have been committed. Furthermore, I have been a charter board member of the Affordable Housing Task Force in Chatham County, which has worked diligently on promoting and bringing high quality affordable housing to Chatham County and Pittsboro.
5. Do you support Chatham Countys proposed land-transfer tax? Why or why not?
I supported the original 1% land transfer tax and even contacted many Senators in Raleigh, but after the home builders and realtor lobbies got a hold of it, we ended up with LTT Lite, a proposal for a 0.4% tax, which is a whole different kettle of fish.
This one will not benefit our municipal governments at all; hence it should not be an issue in our municipal election. I will not take a position on it; lets let the voters decide. The 1% LTT was intended to replace the more regressive flat impact fees on new residences. It would have been a progressive and equitable tax, since your payment would be proportional to the price of your real estate sale. It was also more sustainable, since it was not totally dependent on new homes sales. And, most importantly for our election, as originally proposed some of the funds were to be shared with municipalities. This would have been significant for Pittsboro, which is facing a critical crisis with insufficient water and sewer capacity. But under LTT Lite, none of the funds will go to municipalities.
Now, instead of eliminating the regressive impact fee the, county wishes to impose the 0.4% LTT while keeping $1,900.00 of the regressive impact fee. Incumbent commissioner and Mayoral candidate Max Cotten is trying to make this an issue by forming a referendum committee opposing the LTT referendum. Max, a retired career Chatham County school administrator is actively opposing a proposal that would provide increased funds for school construction. We believe Cotton is cynically attempting to divert the voters from the real issues in this campaign: the failure of the current majority to control growth, provide clean and safe drinking water, and expand the towns' sewer capacity to accommodate high paying industries that want to locate in Pittsboro.
I also question the decision of the county commissioners to hold a countywide referendum on such an important taxation issue in an off-year election where only our small municipalities are holding elections. I believe such important countywide referendums should only be held during regular countywide elections, such as the primaries or general elections, where all people across the county would be more aware of the election and more motivated to vote. More importantly, in countywide elections, more voters would have access to convenient early-voting locations.
6. Residential and commercial growth will change Pittsboros landscape and residents way of life drastically over the next several decades. What are the pros and cons of projects like Pittsboro Place and River Oaks coming to town (or not)? Separate from individual projects; please explain your overall vision for Pittsboros future.
Pittsboro is at a crossroads and should elect to take the road less traveled. New leadership is needed on the board to work with the current mayor, myself, to plan effectively for a town that will be something other than just another stop between Raleigh and Charlotte on US-64.
An economic impact and business survey conducted by UNC Charlotte found that over 88% of businesses either strongly agreed or agreed in the importance of more planning for future growth. Additionally, over 80% of the businesses either strongly agreed or agreed that more effective local government was important. Clearly the business community realizes the value of effective planning and good leadership.
More and more I find citizens desiring something more than just a prepackaged experience that can be obtained in Everytown, USA. Better planning and better government are two methods of causing a paradigm shift. We can see the reality of low expectations and poor planning all over the New South and indeed in America. Why invest in outdated philosophy? We can imagine and create a reality that is clearly more sustainable and enjoyable.
It is time to learn from the successes and failures of our Triangle neighbors and chart a course for new, more sustainable and greener territory. Locally owned businesses generating local dollars saved and spent locally and regionally will be a major component of the overall solution. Buy locally and invest locally, but think globally---we are only constained by our imagination and creativity.
7. The departure of the previous town manager was an ugly episode in town government. Now that youve hired a new manager, what do you want him to accomplish in the next six months? How about in the next year?
As Pittsboro changes from a sleepy, small town to a vibrant center of activity and growth the Town Manager needs to be vigilant in hiring and maintaining a professional workforce and creating an environment for them to achieve and serve the citizens of Pittsboro. Furthermore, managing the recreation grants in excess of $800,000 the town received and subsequently reconciling our new land use plan with our infrastructure needs will be vital to making Pittsboro more than just another sterile, franchised bedroom community.
Finally, reaching out and working with our downtown businesses and contributing to an environment of mutual respect and support of local business in general is vital to the future well being and economic health of Pittsboro and its citizens.
8. If you are incumbent, please share some self-reflection about the pros and cons of the job the current mayor and council are doing leading the town. If you are a challenger, critique the job the incumbents are doing.
As the current Mayor I believe we can do better. I want to personally raise the bar and give our citizens better local government. We have saddled ourselves too long with the three-legged stool of low wages, low educational values, and low expectations. Pittsboro can be a force in helping to shape and change these local and regional problems.
Since my initial election, I have more experience and more local and regional contacts. This hard earned experience will translate into better planning, cooperation, and execution. Electing a new town board that is serious about regional cooperation and forgoes investing in past plot arcs and comfortable paradigms will put Pittsboro on the brink of a new age.
Failure to change the town board with new blood will be a step sideways and perhaps backwards. Max Cotten and Gene Brooks both supported the flawed concept of district voting and although he was an assistant school superintendent for many years, Mr. Cotten is leading the charge against the Land Transfer Tax-a program, which would bring necessary and badly needed funds to the Chatham County School System. A fools folly pandering for fools gold. A gracious exit at the end of this play is in order
The hallmarks of the new board will be: cooperation and teamwork.