Stan Norwalk | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Stan Norwalk 

Candidate for Wake County Board of Commissioners, District 4

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Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Stan Norwalk

Party: Dem

Date of Birth: 2/7/32

Campaign Web Site: www.stannorwalk.com

Occupation & Employer: retired

Years lived in Wake County: 14


For more details please visit my web site www.stannorwalk.com

1) What do you see as the most important issues facing Wake County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

I have identified the following as the most critical issues: (1) Growth management; (2) Advancing public education and (3) Funding infrastructure, i.e. the construction of schools, an effective transit system and a more drought resistant water supply infrastructure.

Wake County needs better growth management tools so the costs of the above involve all stakeholders and incoming residents. Relying solely on property tax and existing residents is unfair as a means of paying for growth. Wake needs local option revenue sources such as impact fees, Adequate Public Facility Ordinances (APFO) would allow impact fees and ensure infrastructure needs and growth are connected.

Secondly, needs have to be prioritized ahead of "wants". I question a new $30+ million dollar Wake County administrative headquarters which is planned to be piggy-backed on a needed new courthouse. The funds for the new headquarters detract from increasing funding for more critical needs.

Thirdly, Wake and its municipalities must deliver services more efficiently through consolidation of duplicate services. This includes numerous parks and road engineering departments, police and sheriff's patrols, numerous parks and recreation departments, three water and sewer utilities.

2) Are there specific needs in your district that you would add to that list? How do you propose to address them?

Wake needs to more effectively connect its far flung communities with its job centers and other major destinations such as RDU. High gas prices are causing working people to struggle with the cost of personal automobiles. Businesses are affected as well (i.e., fewer shopping trips and employee turnover). Wake County needs multi-modal (bus, rail and vans) public transit options as part of a Triangle regional system.

Water conservation must be promoted across the region. Wake's water utilities, along with others in the Triangle region, need to be interconnected as a means of managing future droughts.

All the infrastructure costs of potable water systems should be paid by growth through development and hook-up fees (i.e. impact fees) rather than in the water bill. Developers and builders should be offered off-setting conservation credits to promote reduced water consumption in new developments. Such a "sticks and carrots" approach will result in developers using their creativity to compete in conserving water.

3) What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you've identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.

My record of public service, corporate management and educational background has prepared me for the challenge of maintaining Wake as a preferred place to live and work. My business experience included building and leading teams, solving business problems around the globe, quantifying costs and benefits, prioritizing limited resources, managing multi-hundred million dollar budgets, creating new businesses and management consulting.

My fourteen years of public service in Wake County, have led to an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the County. My record includes service on: the Wake County Planning Board, Chair of the Transportation sub-committee of same, the Cary Economic Development Commission, the Friends of Wake County School Bond Task Force and the WCPSS Financial Advisory Board.

I was one of the founders of WakeUP Wake County, a citizens' organization dedicated to quality growth. I was Vice-Chair and headed up the Education Team. The Team advocated for the transfer tax in the NCGA as the fairest way of paying for growth. We had interviews with about 100 legislators across the state. Through this effort, I have developed an in-depth understanding of the legislative process, tax structure and how other communities across North Carolina and the country pay for growth. Within WakeUp, I championed efforts in water supply/conservation and transportation/transit.

I also volunteered my time to counsel over 1,500 entrepreneurs on starting their own small businesses, mostly in Wake County. I am in tune with their needs and how government can best promote this foundation of job formation.

I have degrees in Industrial Chemistry (Columbia), an MBA in Finance and Marketing (Rutgers) and, after retiring, a master's degree in political science and environmental policy (NCSU). I have also taken several post-degree courses in marketing, mergers and acquisitions and polymer science.

4) How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am a pragmatic centrist, a fiscal conservative with a progressive social agenda. I avoid the extremes of left or right. I don't want to slow growth or job formation but want growth to pay a fair share of the costs of same. Wherever possible I would like to see smaller government, but also believe regulation is needed in managing growth. I am fiscally conservative and question spending on a lavish new headquarters for county government but I am for increased funding for and advancing education and public transit.

5) The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.

I strongly support equal access to a high quality, 21st century public education to ALL children in Wake, regardless of socio-economic status, ethnic background or race. This involves maintaining diversity in individual schools.

6) 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.

See #5 above.

7) If these issues haven't been addressed above, would you please comment specifically on:

a. Growth: Is Wake County growing too fast for its available water, school and other public resources? If so, what should be done?

Job creation and market forces should and will determine the growth rate. It is up to government to determine the quality of growth, i.e., a fair distribution of the cost, regulations to ensure that infrastructure keeps up with growth (impact fees, an APFO and special assessments), managing growth to best utilize existing infrastructure and to minimize air and water pollution. An unregulated market will not result in such issues being given sufficient weight.

b. Transfer tax: One proposal to help "growth pay for growth"—authorized by the General Assembly if local voters approve—is a 0.4-cent tax on commercial and residential property sales as well as land sales. Do you support the transfer tax? Will you support asking voters to approve it?

I vigorously supported the TT, but it is politically dead for the time being. It was killed by the realtor and developer lobbies, in alliance with the anti-government far right libertarian movement, through a $2 million deceptive campaign. Under the right circumstances I would put it before the voters. The TT's value is demonstrated by the six NC counties plus numerous local governments around the U.S. who employ it to build infrastructure, moderate property taxes and support improved services, such as education.

c. A 0.25-cent sales tax increase is another alternative to higher property taxes that the General Assembly authorized—again, if voters approve. Meanwhile, transit supporters seek a 0.5-cent sales tax increase for rail and bus services. What role should higher sales taxes play, if any, in financing Wake's future growth needs?

As a general rule I am against regressive taxes that fall heavily on working and low income families. However, transit is progressive and would help such families. In that case I have proposed a portfolio of taxes including a ¼ cent sales tax coupled with assessments that would be borne by businesses that would benefit from transit. A portfolio of taxes would best serve the future needs of transit as the sales tax is not keeping up with the economy and the cost of infrastructure.

d. Do you support greater control over school construction and siting decisions by the county commissioners? If so, in what form?

The siting of schools must be considered in the County's overall approach to managing diversity while minimizing excessive busing. Siting must not be influenced by special interests groups who seek to profit from the public's investment in schools. In my opinion putting this responsibility in the hands of the County Commissioners would jeopardize these overriding goals and create more pressure from special interests.

However, I would consider working more closely with school board on the actual construction of the schools in an effort to maximize cost efficiencies, especially if this resulted in putting more money back into the classrooms. All decisions involving siting and construction should be made jointly with the school board.

e. Is the level of school funding in Wake about right? Too little? Too much? Please be specific about any changes you'd support.

The facts speak for themselves.

There are more than 23,000 seats in trailers and temporary structures with a high lifetime cost that compete with funds for classroom education. The County is 100% responsible for the lack of funds for school construction.

The resources available to K-12 education fall short of the national average by $30,000 annually per classroom. This gap has grown 50% over five years. While both the State and the County are responsible for funding education, this gap is entirely due to the meagerness of the county contribution.

I support local option revenue sources such as impact fees and special assessments on growth to improve education and build more schools. This should be supplemented by prioritizing needs ahead of wants and greater efficiencies through consolidation.

f. What about the overall county tax rate: Too high? Too low? What's your position on property taxes?

I would work for the local revenue options noted above ahead of increasing property taxes. Additionally, I will work for maintaining the County's AAA bond rating as a reduction would raise future interest costs and taxes.

g. Is Wake doing enough to protect its water supplies in Falls Lake and Jordan Lake from pollution and sediment runoff?

No. The issue involves insufficient enforcement of existing sediment regulations within the County's jurisdiction. I believe having the enforcement done by the municipalities would result in more frequent pro-active inspections of building sites without increasing total cost.

A proactive septic system inspection process is needed to avoid leaking systems, especially near the lakes.

Ridgeline regrading must be prohibited.

Increased demands on existing storm-water run-off systems must trigger testing and, if needed, upgrading of said systems

Also, the County should take a pro-active role in assuring that the Haw River Rules (protecting Jordan Lake) are not side-tracked by the development lobby dominated NCGA Rules Review Commission as they have in the past.

h. The Wake Commissioners have contracted to open a small mental-health facility to fill the need caused by the impending closing of Dorothea Dix Hospital. Is that a sufficient response? Are additional efforts needed? If so, what do you propose?

While this is an insufficient response, care of the mentally ill is primarily a state responsibility. I believe that the State's decision to close Dix and move to Butner was a poor one for the mentally ill. But the deed is done. Additional efforts should be funded by the state. Local governments can help by ensuring the approval of group homes and sheltered workshops. Increased support from the business and faith-based community should be sought, as should regional support from nearby counties.

An express bus service, including parking, from the Dix area to Butner would help in staffing and assist visits from relatives.

8) What is your position regarding LGBT rights? Please address whether, as an employer, Wake County should adopt a policy protecting its gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or identity?

Discrimination against any group is counter to my values. Large corporations increasingly respect the rights of adults, private sexual behavior. As the County supports attracting large employers, it should follow their lead. In order for the County to attract the best qualified employees, its own policies should be non-discriminatory.

9) Given that North Carolina has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, do you support medically accurate sex education that includes information about birth control?

This is primarily a school board decision. Given that, I support improved sex education with parental consent.

  • Candidate for Wake County Board of Commissioners, District 4

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