Pin It
2006 county, legislative and judicial races

Wake County 

2006 county, legislative and judicial races

Click on the candidate's name to jump to the questionnaire response. If a name is not linked, we did not receive a response.

All responses are unedited.

County Races
Commissioner District 1Donald Mial (Dem)
Joe Bryan (Rep)
Commissioner District 2Lindy Brown (Dem)
Phil Jeffreys (Rep)
Commissioner District 3Martha Brock (Dem)
Tony Gurley (Rep)
Commissioner District 7Rodger Koopman (Dem)
Paul Y. Coble (Rep)
Sheriff John H. Baker Jr. (Dem)
Donnie Harrison (Rep)
Clerk of Court Janet Pueschel
Nancy (Lorrin) Freeman
Soil & Water Conservation
District Supervisor
F. Carlyle Teague
Thomas Wayne Allen
Guy Meilleur
Lewis E. Wells
Donnie L. Woodlief
Joe E. Teague Jr.
Joy Elliott
Daryl Baker
Legislative Races
NC House 34Grier Martin (Dem)
J.H. Ross (Rep)
NC House 36Greer Beaty (Dem)
Nelson Dollar (Rep)
NC House 37Ed Ridpath (Dem)
Paul Stam (Rep)
NC House 39Linda Coleman (Dem)
John Blackwell (Rep)
NC House 41Ty Harrell (Dem)
J. Russell Capps (Rep)
NC Senate 14Vernon Malone (Dem)
Richard Doeffinger (Rep)
NC Senate 15Dorothy (Gerry) Bowles (Dem)
Neal Hunt (Rep)
Judicial Races
Superior Court
Superior Court 10BRipley Rand
Paul C. Ridgeway
Superior Court 10CDaniel Garner
Paul G. Gessner
District Court
District Court 10Aida Doss Havel
Vince Rozier

County Races

Commissioner District 1

click to enlarge DonMial.jpg

DONALD MIAL
Date of birth: July 4, 1952
Occupation & employer: Manager / N.C Dept. of Juvenile Justice

1. Do you support or oppose the $970 million school bond issue? Why?

I support the bond, because it is important that we have adequate funding for Wake County Public Schools. The present county commissioner board has under funded WCPSS and the result is that we are behind on repairs at existing schools and not enough seats which the County Commissioner are mandated to have. Therefore we must build more schools and look for more ways to pay for them because we cannot continue to only raise taxes.

2. The school system estimates that, even with this bond, it will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. Do you agree, and if so, how should the county go about raising the needed revenues? Specifically, how much of that burden should be assigned to:

a. Property taxes?

I do agree that even with this bond we will need additional funding. I believe that the county must look at a menu of options. We have already increased property and we cannot continue to burden the payers with just property tax increases.

b. Impact fees?

Presently, we cannot do anything about impact fees, it is a legislative issue.

c. Real-estate transfer taxes?

Presently, we cannot do anything about transfer fees, it is a legislative issue.

d. Year-round schools?

I am against mandatory year round schools. I am for choice.

e. Sales taxes?

We believe this is a resource; however we must not kill our economic.

f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

I'm for looking at other resources and Public Private Partnership since the legislature has given us this option.

3. The Blue-Ribbon Commission suggested reassessing property values more frequently (e.g., every four years) and not adjusting property tax rates as the valuations go up. Do you favor or oppose that idea?

I am in favor of this process.

4. Some have proposed that, instead of building so many more public schools, the county should either let private-sector partners (developers that is) build them, and/or else seek legislative authority to have more charter schools? Do you favor either approach? If so, why, and what would the impact be have?

I do think that Public Private Partnership is something that we can consider it use, since the legislature has already given us that resource to consider and charter schools still have a limit.

5. Or maybe Wake County should try to slow its rate of population growth to let the taxes catch up to the spending needs?

I don't think that is something that we should consider, because growth is good. However, I do believe that we should develop a growth management strategy, in other words let grow better not just bigger.

6. With Dorothea Dix Hospital scheduled to close, what more should be Wake County be doing to assure that mental-health services here--never great to begin with--don't get markedly worse? How do you rate the county's response so far to this emerging mental-health issue?

The present county commissioner has failed. They have relied on Dorothea Dix to long, knowing that it was being considered for closing. Presently, we do not have anything in place to accommodate the emerging mental-health concerns.

7. What should happen to the Dix property when the hospital closes? Should Wake County commit funds to purchase it as a park, or for some other purpose?

I support, the property becoming a park and as a life long resident of Wake County I want to see it remain.

8. With Wake losing 27 acres of open space a day to development, does the county need to find a dedicated revenue source for land conservation before it's all gone?

Yes

9. CAMPO's analysis suggests that, without major new spending; almost every important highway in the county is headed for code-red congestion ("the tomato map") over the next 25 years? This has some proposing a sales tax dedicated to road projects, and others seeking new taxes for public transit. What's your position on the county's transportation needs, how to meet them, and how to pay for them?

It is my belief that our regions pressing transportation issue of handling the growth and congestion that will occur with that growth is very important. According to the LRTP forecast, the population is to grow by 95%, with 25% of that population being over 65 and employment will grow by 103% and travel under congested conditions will more than double with a 117% increase. During my term in office, I will push to have a more detailed analysis, focusing on current and future land use. I will push to gain more local input on the transit system to include an assessment of potential travel demands.

10. Should Wake County get behind the TTA's commuter-rail project? Seek to kill it? Push TTA to start over with a different plan? And, bottom line, should the county be represented on the TTA board of trustees?

I do feel that Wake County should get behind the commuter-rail project and not kill it. I think that in the coming years as we continue to grow and our roads becomes more congested, other means of transportation is going to be vital to us and yes having a county representative on the TTA board of trustees is very important and I would support it.

11. The fast-growing Hispanic and Latino populations of Wake County are putting pressure on the schools, social services and other county programs. If elected, what new policy directions, if any, will you suggest to better service these communities?

Yes, the Hispanic and Latino population is growing; however we are required to educate all of Wake citizens. We will seek to have an open rapport with the Hispanic and Latino population in our community. This population of citizens brings a lot to this community and our work force.

12. What are the other county issues you'll focus on if elected to the Wake Board?

The other county issue that I will focus on is the growing youth gang issue here in the county. We propose a muti-agency task force to address this issue. We believe that by developing a realistic intervention and prevention program we can address the growing youth gang issue.


JOE BRYAN
Date of Birth: 03/05/1953
Campaign Web Site: wakecountyfirst.com
Occupation & Employer: First Vice President-Investments, Wachovia Securities

1. Do you support or oppose the $970 million school bond issue? Why?

Support. We need to invest substantially more in K-12 Education. Growth, including 7200 new students this year and aging school buildings will be addressed with this initial investment. Also the BOE and BOC's have formed an independent citizens facilities advisory committee to ensure the money you entrust for school construction will be invested effectively for both the short and long term.

2. The school system estimates that, even with this bond, it will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. Do you agree, and if so, how should the county go about raising the needed revenues?

Yes I agree. Thought provoking questions. Currently, the Wake County Board of Commissioners has authority only for property tax. The NC Association of Counties Annual Conference in September focused on untangling the web of the state-county relationship. I serve on the board of directors and helped develop our strategic plan. Versus yes, no and percentages Counties challenges need to be addressed comprehensively. In my opinion, counties need substantial revenues from a tax and finance system that has been broadened and structured to grow with the economy and one where our financial partners are reliable.

Specifically, how much of that burden should be assigned to:

a. Property taxes?

Large percent

b. Impact fees?

Not authorized by State

c. Real-estate transfer taxes?

Not authorized by State. Support menu of options for Counties.

d. Year-round schools?

Voluntary year round schools--Yes, we will be at approximately 25%. Prefer choice. I oppose mandatory year around. This is a capacity and cost-cutting strategy.

e. Sales taxes?

Need State authority, with a vote of the people, I support a sales tax to lessen the property tax burden.

f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

  • Raising the cap on charters would provide minimal help.

  • State of NC issue Statewide school bond

  • Lobby the legislature to keep more of Wake County's money here -- We are a donor County only receive approximately .60 on each $1.00.

    3. The Blue-Ribbon Commission suggested reassessing property values more frequently (e.g., every four years) and not adjusting property tax rates as the valuations go up. Do you favor or oppose that idea?

    I generally favor the recommendation as a way to capture an expected $2.3 billion of property growth. It will depend on all variables. At a minimum it moves the discussion off local governments always setting a revenue neutral tax rate.

    4. Some have proposed that, instead of building so many more public schools, the county should either let private-sector partners (developers that is) build them, and/or else seek legislative authority to have more charter schools? Do you favor either approach? If so, why, and what would the impact be have?

    Yes. Public/Private legislation was approved this session. Additional charter schools could help. In my opinion, both of these options give us more choice even though neither may make a significant impact. Perhaps a private company could build quicker, thus saving money, but generally it will be difficult to over come the financial strength of Wake's AAA Rating. I think these are approximately 4800 students in charters. Charters and private will provide minor relief. The supportive action depicts a view that we are trying to keep cost down.

    5. Or maybe Wake County should try to slow its rate of population growth to let the taxes catch up to the spending needs?

    No. Good paying jobs and improved services are a priority. The Blue Ribbon Committee on the future of Wake County focus was to meet the demands of growth. Let us continue to have the benefits and challenges of growth.

    6. With Dorothea Dix Hospital scheduled to close, what more should be Wake County be doing to assure that mental-health services here--never great to begin with--don't get markedly worse? How do you rate the county's response so far to this emerging mental-health issue?

    To provide mental health services Wake County needs partners including the hospitals and the State. What has been done -- mental health summit Jan 2005, request to State for capital, 10m county plus 5m from ABC Board for capital, 5M County for annual operating deficit, continuum of care, RFP's, Mecklenburg County tour, a top goal of county commissioners, etc. Our effort has been good, we have not delivered yet. As you know this is a priority for me. I will invest more county money in the delivery of services. I prefer a major hospital partner. Only one hospital, Holly Hill has been willing to partner.

    7. What should happen to the Dix property when the hospital closes? Should Wake County commit funds to purchase it as a park, or for some other purpose?

    There are many competing interests for the park -- housing, school, open space, minor retail, human services office buildings, NCSU, and mental health. The State legislature will decide. My number one priority is the proceeds should go first for services for people with mental illness.

    8. With Wake losing 27 acres of open space a day to development, does the county need to find a dedicated revenue source for land conservation before it's all gone?

    Wake County is recognized as a national and a state leader in open space preservation. 2,287 acres for the Little River Reservoir, since 2001 - 2,767 acres of open space acquired, and I am especially proud of the Marks Creek initiative -- "the Umstead Park of the East." I support another $50 million general obligation bond for water quality protection, agriculture, parkland, and wildlife habitat for us and future generations to enjoy.

    9. CAMPO's analysis suggests that, without major new spending, almost every important highway in the county is headed for code-red congestion ("the tomato map") over the next 25 years? This has some proposing a sales tax dedicated to road projects, and others seeking new taxes for public transit. What's your position on the county's transportation needs, how to meet them, and how to pay for them?

    I chair the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. In 2005, I was honored by the Regional Transportation Alliance as a Transportation Champion. Wake County is a donor County to North Carolina. Our citizens send in over $200 million in gas taxes and receive approximately $120 million for transportation investment. I will continue to lobby our state of change this inequity formula in order to invest transportation dollars where congestion exists. Wake County has $6 billion of unmet transportation needs over the next 25 years. Toll roads and a vote of the people to support a ½ cent local option sales tax for transportation improvements are strategies Wake County should pursue.

    10. Should Wake County get behind the TTA's commuter-rail project? Seek to kill it? Push TTA to start over with a different plan? And, bottom line, should the county be represented on the TTA board of trustees?

    Long term, Wake County and the Triangle must have a multimodal approach to transportation. The current TTA commuter rail project will not be done because it does not meet Federal cost/benefit analysis guidelines. The MPO's, not TTA, will lead a new look at public transit.

    11. The fast-growing Hispanic and Latino populations of Wake County are putting pressure on the schools, social services and other county programs. If elected, what new policy directions, if any, will you suggest to better service these communities?

    Our #2 goal for 2006 is to identify the changing faces of Wake County and then to develop an improved strategy of service delivery of Wake's limited resources. I am on the Poe Health Center Board of Directors. Health care, especially healthy lifestyles for our children, will be a new focus.

    Additional Comments

    I will continue to support human services issues:

    1. Wake County/Raleigh 10 Year Plan to end homelessness

    2. Funding for the Healing Place for men and for women

    3. Urban ministries, Interact, and Hospice capital plans

  • Economic Development will be an ongoing goal. Significant infrastructure by Mead, Credit Suisse, Novartis, Fidelity, RBC Centura, and Glaxo will create over 3,500 good paying jobs and several $100 million in tax base.

  • Good fiscal steward of your tax payer money that you entrust to us.

  • Ensure public safety priority by providing adequate resources for EMS, fire, and sheriff protection.

  • Lead discussion of Urban, growing county issues at State and Federal levels.


    Commissioner District 2

    click to enlarge LindyBrown.JPG

    LINDY BROWN
    Date of Birth: March 10, 1956
    Campaign Web Site: www.LindyBrown2006.com
    Occupation & Employer: Retired

    1. Do you support or oppose the $970 million school bond issue? Why?

    Yes, I support the $970 million school bond. This bond is critical to meet the demands of increased student enrollment. Passing this General Obligation Bond carries a lower interest rate than other financing resources.

    2. The school system estimates that, even with this bond, it will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. Do you agree, and if so, how should the county go about raising the needed revenues? Specifically, how much of that burden should be assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    b. Impact fees?

    c. Real-estate transfer taxes?

    d. Year-round schools?

    e. Sales taxes?

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    Yes, I agree additional revenue is needed to meet the demands of current and future student enrollments. Looking at the list below, I would not single out any particular one. The Property Tax revenue source would be my last choice. I believe we need to "think outside the box", utilizing those large vacant commercial buildings (e.g., Winn Dixie) throughout Wake County to house our students.

    3. The Blue-Ribbon Commission suggested reassessing property values more frequently (e.g., every four years) and not adjusting property tax rates as the valuations go up. Do you favor or oppose that idea?

    I favor reassessing properties. However, concessions are needed to support those homeowners who are on "Fixed Income or owning their home for twenty or more years."

    4. Some have proposed that, instead of building so many more public schools, the county should either let private-sector partners (developersthat is) build them, and/or else seek legislative authority to have more charter schools? Do you favor either approach? If so, why, and what would the impact be have?

    It would be premature to support either approach because there are more data needed to address long range cost.

    5. Or maybe Wake County should try to slow its rate of population growth to let the taxes catch up to the spending needs?

    I do not agree to "slow down the population growth." Wake County is a diversified community known for excellent schools, medical/mental health care, culture activities and employment opportunities.

    6. With Dorothea Dix Hospital scheduled to close, what more should be Wake County be doing to assure that mental-health services here--never great to begin with--don't get markedly worse? How do you rate the county's response so far to this emerging mental-health issue?

    Wake County needs to use the $5 millions to build their own psychiatric crisis unit, and use in-house private contractors to provide daily direct care to displaced consumers discharged from Dorothea Dix Hospital. They need to continue seeking financial support from our Wake County Delegation to achieve long-range solutions. I give Wake County a "C-"for addressing this issue. The "C-" is for not handling this crisis in a timely manner, not getting feedback from the Wake County Human Service Board and local Community Advocates, including my former Supportive Living Team (DD Services) colleagues.

    7. What should happen to the Dix property when the hospital closes? Should Wake County commit funds to purchase it as a park, or for some other purpose?

    Dorothea Dix Hospital is already registered as a "Historical Site", and should be preserved as "Open Space Site."

    8. With Wake losing 27 acres of open space a day to development, does the county need to find a dedicated revenue source for land conservation before it's all gone?

    Yes, we must preserve "Open Space."

    9. CAMPO's analysis suggests that, without major new spending, almost every important highway in the county is headed for code-red congestion ("the tomato map") over the next 25 years? This has some proposing a sales tax dedicated to road projects, and others seeking new taxes for public transit. What's your position on the county's transportation needs, how to meet them, and how to pay for them?

    I support the half-cent sales tax, as long as it is dedicated to "road construction." Having "Toll roads" have been suggested but I need more information to support this funding method.

    10. Should Wake County get behind the TTA's commuter-rail project? Seek to kill it? Push TTA to start over with a different plan? And, bottom line, should the county be represented on the TTA board of trustees?

    I am a strong supporter of the TTA's commuter rail plan. I would like to incorporate the municipalities pre-existing rail track and bus system in this plan.

    11. The fast-growing Hispanic and Latino populations of Wake County are putting pressure on the schools, social services and other county programs. If elected, what new policy directions, if any, will you suggest to better service these communities?

    I don't believe the Hispanic and/or Latino populations are putting no more pressure on our county programs than other minority ethnic groups. If elected, I will support "better county services that meets the demands for all Wake County citizens."

    12. What are the other county issues you'll focus on if elected to the Wake Board?

    I will support the Wake County School Board's effort in the Technology area. We must provide our students with the best technology tools to meet our economic development expectations. This includes supporting Wake Tech programs. Secondly, I support the EMS, Fire/Rescue and Law Enforcement Services.


    Commissioner District 3

    click to enlarge MarthaBrock.jpg

    MARTHA BROCK
    Date of Birth: 11/16/1949
    Occupation & Employer: Advocate, Governor's Advocacy Council for Persons with Disabilities (since August 21, 2006)

    1. Do you support or oppose the $970 million school bond issue? Why?

    I support the $970 million school bond referendum, because building costs and land cost are increasing significantly in this area. We need the schools now, and paying for them out of current revenues is not feasible. Also, the cost of borrowing through other types of bonds would cost about $50 million more according to many sources.

    2. The school system estimates that, even with this bond, it will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. Do you agree, and if so, how should the county go about raising the needed revenues? Specifically, how much of that burden should be assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    b. Impact fees?

    c. Real-estate transfer taxes?

    d. Year-round schools?

    e. Sales taxes?

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    I have to accept those estimates in cost and needed revenue. But I cannot assign a specific dollar amount to each type of tax. I can prioritize how I would favor each type of tax or strategy. In order of priority and estimated additional revenues, I would favor

    1st: Real Estate Transfer Taxes.

    2nd: Impact Fees

    3rd: Property Tax Revaluation every four years and some increase in the Tax Rate

    4th: A 1/2 cent increase in the sales tax dedicated to school construction and renovation--only as a last resort and part of an array of revenue sources

    5th: A conversion to all year-round schools.

    3. The Blue-Ribbon Commission suggested reassessing property values more frequently (e.g., every four years) and not adjusting property tax rates as the valuations go up. Do you favor or oppose that idea?

    Yes, I favor that suggestion.

    4. Some have proposed that, instead of building so many more public schools, the county should either let private-sector partners (developers that is) build them, and/or else seek legislative authority to have more charter schools? Do you favor either approach? If so, why, and what would the impact be have?

    I think Public-Private Partnerships should be tried on a trial basis to see how successful that effort would be.

    I do not want to see the cap on charter schools removed.

    I do not see the limited number of charter schools addressing the great needs of the school system.

    5. Or maybe Wake County should try to slow its rate of population growth to let the taxes catch up to the spending needs?

    How would we slow the population growth? If we maintain the quality of life so sought after and that we would want to maintain for the folks already here, through adequate support for education and maintaining the infrastructure, won't more people want to come?

    I am well aware that the developers and realtors think that transfer fees and impact fees will reduce growth significantly, but I am not convinced this is true.

    6. With Dorothea Dix Hospital scheduled to close, what more should be Wake County be doing to assure that mental-health services here--never great to begin with--don't get markedly worse? How do you rate the county's response so far to this emerging mental-health issue?

    I think the response so far to this problem rates a "gentleman's C". The county commissioners have initiated talks with local hospitals to get them to provide an inpatient unit (without success). They have also allocated funds to support an inpatient unit.

    I think the real need is to lobby the hospitals harder, as time is quickly running out. Also, the Wake delegation to the General Assembly must take responsibility to get funds from the Legislature, as this will be a regional responsibility, and not just a Wake County responsibility for operating funds for the indigent.

    7. What should happen to the Dix property when the hospital closes? Should Wake County commit funds to purchase it as a park, or for some other purpose?

    I favor a mixed use approach, and not the dedication of the entire Dix property as a park. I would favor at least part of the property being preserved as open space.

    However, it seems that most of the use of a park would come from Raleigh residents, and the city should provide the majority of the funding for that use. The county could provide some funding.

    I am awaiting the report expected from the Urban Land Institute (just announced) before getting more specific as to what the uses other than preservation of open space would be provided for.

    8. With Wake losing 27 acres of open space a day to development, does the county need to find a dedicated revenue source for land conservation before it's all gone?

    Yes, but I am not at all informed on this issue as to proposals for how it would be financed other than as the bond issue as in 2004. I believe we have a good foundation laid by the county in this endeavor to preserve open space and protect the environment and water supplies. However, I would be open to suggestions on how to improve on past and current efforts.

    9. CAMPO's analysis suggests that, without major new spending, almost every important highway in the county is headed for code-red congestion ("the tomato map") over the next 25 years? This has some proposing a sales tax dedicated to road projects, and others seeking new taxes for public transit. What's your position on the county's transportation needs, how to meet them, and how to pay for them?

    I do not favor a sales tax increase to support road projects unless and until there is more effort to support and improve public mass transit. We cannot address transportation needs only by reliance on the private passenger automobile, as that will lead to more sprawl and deterioration of air quality and the environment.

    To my knowledge the county is not in the road building business anyway, so we would have to cooperate with the municipalities and the state to fund and build roads. I believe we would enhance highway efficiency and access to jobs through long-term multi-focus planning for transportation. We need to serve the rural communities, the poor, the elderly and children with mass transit. WE also need to promote public participation in planning and design of services.

    10. Should Wake County get behind the TTA's commuter-rail project? Seek to kill it? Push TTA to start over with a different plan? And, bottom line, should the county be represented on the TTA board of trustees?

    Yes, our county should get behind the TTA's rail project, although since it will take years to develop a new plan given recent rejection of funding by the federal government. And yes, the county should be represented on the TTA board of trustees.

    11. The fast-growing Hispanic and Latino populations of Wake County are putting pressure on the schools, social services and other county programs. If elected, what new policy directions, if any, will you suggest to better service these communities?

    I cannot at this time suggest any new policy directions, as I have to admit to a complete lack of knowledge on this issue. However, as a Commissioner I would be aggressive in serving all the population including minority populations like the Hispanic and Latino groups.

    12. What are the other county issues you'll focus on if elected to the Wake Board?

    As a long-time advocate on health and mental health issues, I would like to see the Commission address the issue of Mental Health "reform" and its impact on services in Wake County. While I believe the recent bus trip of officials to Mecklenburg reflects a new interest in this area, the crisis in services is one that demands immediate attention.

    Though the goals of the recent mental health reform in our state were laudable, the implementation has not lived up to those goals, and we need to work at both the county and state levels to get changes in the service delivery for mental health. The control over local services comes increasingly from the state level, so cooperation with our Wake delegation to the General Assembly would be required.


    click to enlarge TonyGurley.jpg

    TONY GURLEY
    Date of Birth: April 3, 1956
    Campaign Web Site: www.tonygurley.com
    Occupation & Employer: Pharmacist and attorney: Gurley's Pharmacy, Durham; Gurley & Cookson, PLLC, Raleigh

    1. Do you support or oppose the $970 million school bond issue? Why?

    Yes, I do support the $970 million school bond. We must provide facilities for the increasing number of children in Wake County. General obligation bonds, approved by voters, are the best way to finance the debt.

    2. The school system estimates that, even with this bond, it will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. Do you agree, and if so, how should the county go about raising the needed revenues? Specifically, how much of that burden should be assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    b. Impact fees?

    c. Real-estate transfer taxes?

    d. Year-round schools?

    e. Sales taxes?

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    I do agree that we will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. I support the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners effort to lobby the North Carolina Legislature for addition sources of revenue. These revenue sources, if allowed, would then go before voters for approval.

    Year-round schools provide for better utilization of existing facilities and should be encouraged. I do not favor "mandatory" assignment to year round schools. Given a fair choice, I believe sufficient numbers of parents would choose the year round schedule and additional capacity would be gained in this voluntary effort.

    3. The Blue-Ribbon Commission suggested reassessing property values more frequently (e.g., every four years) and not adjusting property tax rates as the valuations go up. Do you favor or oppose that idea?

    There is a cost associated with more frequent assessments. Our Board of Commissioners has directed our Budget department to research this issue and report back to us in the near future. I do believe that waiting 8 years for each assessment is waiting too long and leads to the possibility of drastic swings in property taxes for specific properties. A more frequent assessment is more equitable, but I haven't received facts supporting a specific time period.

    4. Some have proposed that, instead of building so many more public schools, the county should either let private-sector partners (developers, that is) build them, and/or else seek legislative authority to have more charter schools? Do you favor either approach? If so, why, and what would the impact be have?

    Public-private partnerships were recently approved by the legislature. I favor the concept and the procedures are now being developed.

    I absolutely favor removing the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in Wake County and in the State. Charter schools are public schools that utilize non-tax monies for their capital expenditures.

    Both, public-private partnerships and charter schools are responsible approaches to maximizing the taxpayer investments in our public schools.

    5. Or maybe Wake County should try to slow its rate of population growth to let the taxes catch up to the spending needs?

    6. With Dorothea Dix Hospital scheduled to close, what more should be Wake County be doing to assure that mental-health services here--never great to begin with--don't get markedly worse? How do you rate the county's response so far to this emerging mental-health issue?

    Mental health reform has been an emerging issue for several years. Our current Board of Commissioners has ranked this issue as one on the most important issues of the year. In cooperation with our Human Services Board, consumer advocates, and providers, we will establish a short term hospital and provide the continuum of care necessary in our community.

    7. What should happen to the Dix property when the hospital closes? Should Wake County commit funds to purchase it as a park, or for some other purpose?

    The State of North Carolina owns the Dix property. I would support efforts to establish a park on a significant portion of the property.

    8. With Wake losing 27 acres of open space a day to development, does the county need to find a dedicated revenue source for land conservation before it's all gone?

    I support giving the voters a choice through Open Space Bonds. These bonds are generally approved overwhelmingly. A dedicated source of funding would provide a more predictable revenue stream, but it may not provide more funding than bonds for this most important purpose.

    9. CAMPO's analysis suggests that, without major new spending, almost every important highway in the county is headed for code-red congestion ("the tomato map") over the next 25 years? This has some proposing a sales tax dedicated to road projects, and others seeking new taxes for public transit. What's your position on the county's transportation needs, how to meet them, and how to pay for them?

    Wake County taxpayers send the State over $200 million in gasoline taxes each year. We receive back only $120 million in transportation funding from the State. Our first priority must be to lobby our legislators to make this "equity" formula more equitable. The State must return Wake County taxpayer monies if we are to assume a role in transportation funding.

    As a second measure, I would not oppose giving voters a choice in a referendum for a sales tax designated for roads.

    10. Should Wake County get behind the TTA's commuter-rail project? Seek to kill it? Push TTA to start over with a different plan? And, bottom line, should the county be represented on the TTA board of trustees?

    TTA should go back to the drawing board and encourage private development of the rail sites.

    11. The fast-growing Hispanic and Latino populations of Wake County are putting pressure on the schools, social services and other county programs. If elected, what new policy directions, if any, will you suggest to better service these communities?

    Before additional policies are developed, we must determine the cost of these "pressures" on county programs. An analysis of the estimated costs should be available in the near future.

    12. What are the other county issues you'll focus on if elected to the Wake Board?


    Commissioner District 7

    click to enlarge RodgerKoopman.JPG

    RODGER KOOPMAN
    Date of Birth: 4/27/60
    Campaign Web Site: www.rodgerkoopman.com
    Occupation & Employer: Director, R&D, Itron, Inc. (ITRI)

    1. Do you support or oppose the $970 million school bond issue? Why?

    I support the bond. It's vitally important we get the financial tools we need to remedy school funding shortfalls. If the bond doesn't pass the county will be forced to use Certificates of Participation. These carry higher interest rates and therefore will cost the county and thus the taxpayer much more money to service the corresponding debt. Valuable tax dollars will get used up to pay for the higher interest which means cuts would have to be made in other areas of the services the county provides.

    2. The school system estimates that, even with this bond, it will need another $3-4 billion for construction and renovation over the next decade to keep up with Wake's burgeoning growth. Do you agree, and if so, how should the county go about raising the needed revenues? Specifically, how much of that burden should be assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    b. Impact fees?

    c. Real-estate transfer taxes?

    d. Year-round schools?

    e. Sales taxes?

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    We need a menu of options--most of which you've listed above--because I disagree all of this should be borne by existing property tax payers. I've not yet crunched the numbers to be able to accurately assess exactly how and where I would allocate percentages.

    In reference to #f, above it's important we do a better job containing the cost of school construction. Today, when schools are built many of them are expensive custom projects. We need to increase the number of "prototype" schools to realize significantly better economies of scale in terms of purchasing building materials, etc. In Greenville, SC the school board on average saves 20 to 30 percent per school which is dramatic when you consider schools cost tens of millions of dollars to build.

    This is a volatile time in the construction business, in part also because of the hugely increased demand for building materials in the states that were struck by Hurricane Katrina. Due to increased demand for labor and supplies it now costs $18.6 million to build an elementary school, $30.7 million for a middle school and $55.9 million for a high school and that does not even include the cost of the land. So saving 20 or 30 percent per school represents significant amounts of money.

    3. The Blue-Ribbon Commission suggested reassessing property values more frequently (e.g., every four years) and not adjusting property tax rates as the valuations go up. Do you favor or oppose that idea?

    I could support the idea, but only if we're given the additional options such as impact fees for school construction.

    4. Some have proposed that, instead of building so many more public schools, the county should either let private-sector partners (developers, that is) build them, and/or else seek legislative authority to have more charter schools? Do you favor either approach? If so, why, and what would the impact be have?

    I think it's unrealistic to assume Wake County will get a disproportionate share of charter school allocations. Many other counties in our state are vying for charter schools so all indications are that the legislature will not support giving Wake County additional charter schools. Therefore, I do not believe charter schools are a realistic option. Furthermore, the jury is still out as to whether charter schools can significantly contribute towards solving our myriad problems. I've read articles with pros AND cons.

    The current majority on the county commission has stuck its head in the sand and failed to make the required investments to keep up with the growth of the county. It's good to consider alternatives, but fundamentally the county commission needs to suck it up and do the right thing. Which is to fund school construction and teacher retention at the proper levels. Then let's talk about mixing in smart alternatives to ensure we get the most bang for the buck.

    Public-private partnerships do not always work well for local governments so should be very carefully evaluated. I'm not sure giving away one of our most valuable assets--land--will work in the county's favor in all cases.

    5. Or maybe Wake County should try to slow its rate of population growth to let the taxes catch up to the spending needs?

    We cannot control population growth so I don't think that's an option available to us. We can use good public policy-making and fiscal stimuli to ensure we manage growth, but the idea that we can somehow affect population growth itself is unrealistic, at least based on what I know.

    6. With Dorothea Dix Hospital scheduled to close, what more should be Wake County be doing to assure that mental-health services here--never great to begin with--don't get markedly worse? How do you rate the county's response so far to this emerging mental-health issue?

    We need to make sure we partner with existing medical and other health care institutions who have access to Federal matching grants so we can offset some of the increased costs associated with the displacement of the mental health patients coming out of the Dix property.

    7. What should happen to the Dix property when the hospital closes? Should Wake County commit funds to purchase it as a park, or for some other purpose?

    The county commissioners are about to vote on recommendations. My preference is to preserve the entire property as open space. The best metaphor I've heard so far is from advocates for the preservation of the Dix property. They say, "Imagine New York City without Central Park." That pretty much says it all. If we were to develop the park it's highly unlikely it would ever be converted back to open space. Thus, we should keep it as open space and perhaps retrofit the existing buildings and lease them as offices. This will significantly enhance the value of downtown Raleigh and the surrounding areas. Wake County is projected to double in size over the next 10 years. It would be a terrible shame if we did not have a nice park in the largest metro area in the county.

    8. With Wake losing 27 acres of open space a day to development, does the county need to find a dedicated revenue source for land conservation before it's all gone?

    We absolutely need to make sure we plan ahead so that open space preservation and land conservation can co-exist with managed growth. It's very important we manage growth so that we can ensure a good quality of life for all the residents of Wake County now and in the future. Simply gobbling up land for development is not smart. I have nothing against growth. Growth creates opportunity. But we need to make sure we smartly manage growth so it benefits everybody and not just some special interests.

    9. CAMPO's analysis suggests that, without major new spending, almost every important highway in the county is headed for code-red congestion ("the tomato map") over the next 25 years? This has some proposing a sales tax dedicated to road projects, and others seeking new taxes for public transit. What's your position on the county's transportation needs, how to meet them, and how to pay for them?

    Public transportation is vitally important. But it will only be relevant if it's ecologically safe, accessible to those most in need of it (i.e., people in the lower income scales and the elderly), affordable, and has routes that connect urban centers with employment centers or areas with important amenities and/or services. Buses clearly are instrumental, but at some point we must also invest in rail. To do rail correctly we need to build a comprehensive regional plan that will likely include the participation of other counties. Charlotte-Mecklenburg comes to mind. Rail is expensive to attempt at the county level, but Wake County can play an important leadership role in making sure a roadmap is established that leads to making rail a reality.

    10. Should Wake County get behind the TTA's commuter-rail project? Seek to kill it? Push TTA to start over with a different plan? And, bottom line, should the county be represented on the TTA board of trustees?

    The Federal government recently turned down the TTA's plan. It seems the Federal government disagreed with the TTA's plan to use abandoned freight corridors because it did not provide enough assurance ridership would be at economically viable levels. This means we need to work with the TTA to revisit the plan. Furthermore, our Congressional and Senatorial delegations need to be involved in making sure Wake County's best interests are properly represented at the Federal level. I have not seen much, if any, leadership from our two senators on this issue which I find disappointing. As I mentioned in #9, rail does have an eventual future in Wake County as well as in many other counties. I think it would make sense to have county representation on the TTA Board of Trustees to ensure the county's vision is properly represented. The Independent recently had a good article on what Charlotte is doing with its rail. We can learn important lessons from that.

    11. The fast-growing Hispanic and Latino populations of Wake County are putting pressure on the schools, social services and other county programs. If elected, what new policy directions, if any, will you suggest to better service these communities?

    I do not discriminate between gender, race, or any other human attribute. I even include some Republicans in the people I seek out for advice. The Latino community, like any other community, deserves to have its unique needs listened to so that we--as a community--can make sure all people in Wake County continue to enjoy equal opportunity and fair treatment. I look forward to partnering with duly elected representatives of all constituencies in the county to ensure we have policy- and law-making that's inclusive, fair, and representative of everybody's needs and wants.

    12. What are the other county issues you'll focus on if elected to the Wake Board?

    There are many other issues that affect us in Wake County.

    Water is a very important component of everything we do. The EPA tells us Americans on average use 100 gallons of water per day. Furthermore, a recent EPA publication mentioned that unless we carefully plan, in 2013 (only 7 years from now!) up to 36 states will have moderate to severe water shortages. Since we had water rationing this year, plus we have a rapidly growing population it's critically important we pay close attention to our water supply. Moreover, we need to continue to make the necessary investment to ensure Wake County residents will continue to have access to a plentiful and safe water supply.

    Because of massive tax cuts at the Federal level many community block grants and other Federal funds simply are not longer available to local, county and state government. Therefore, there are additional financial burdens placed on local budgets to continue to fund EXISTING services. This further exacerbates Wake County's already critical fiscal condition.

    Education is being mentioned everywhere you go. However, we need to make sure we continue to be highly cognizant of the important contributions that are made by talented teachers. In other words, it doesn't matter how many school buildings you build if you can't find enough GOOD teachers to teach in those schools. That means we need to partner with the state and our excellent universities to ensure that enough college graduates are inspired to become teachers. That also means we have to offer salaries and a quality of life sufficient to attract the talented teachers we need to keep our public school system world-class.

    I'm also very concerned about our elderly. Many live on fixed incomes and need to be protected through increased homestead exemptions in case property and/or other taxes go up. Currently, the state has some financial protections for our elderly but those max out around $17,000 annual incomes. Given inflation and other increased costs such as energy and fuel, $17,000 is too low a number to adequately protect many of our at-risk elderly. It's my intention to aggressively lobby the legislature to ensure our elderly get better protection.


    Sheriff

    JOHN H. BAKER JR.
    Date of Birth: June 10, 1935
    Campaign Web Site: www.johnbaker06.com
    Occupation & Employer: Retired

    1. How do you rate the current functioning of the Sheriff's Department? What's good? What's not so good and needs improvement?

    I would rate the current functioning of the Sheriff's Department as average. I really think that it is good that there is a program that checks on Senior Citizens. In the Sheriff's Department at this time I feel that there appears to be a lack of professionalism.

    2. Since both candidates--Sheriff Harrison and former Sheriff Baker--have had a hand in shaping the department, please comment on your own contributions and your opponent's to the current conditions as cited in Question 1. Please be as specific as possible about any criticisms of your opponent's leadership.

    The Sheriff's Office at this time is functioning on programs that were put in place during my administration. There have been little or no changes, just only in name not content.

    3. What physical changes or additions, if any, are needed in the county's jail facilities? What policy changes should be made with regard to staffing, training or programs in the jails?

    Upon my return to the Sheriff's Office I will look at the policies regarding staff, training and programs and make any changes that will be needed to better serve all the citizens of Wake County.

    4. Is more county funding needed? If so, how much?

    At this time I do not know an actual dollar amount for funding that will be needed, but I do know that additional funding will be needed to fight youth gang and to better use technology to fight crime.

    5. With regard to the department's work as a police force for the county, what changes will be needed over the next four years to serve and protect the fast-growing Wake County population?

    Over the next four years, I know that there will be several needed changes to better serve and protect our fast-growing population. Such changes will include:

  • Gang prevention and intervention programs.

  • Use of high Technology to fight crime

  • The ability to communicate with all of our citizen.

    6. Is the department doing enough about drugs in the county? Too much? Are the resources used in this area well-spent, or could some of the time and money devoted to anti-drug efforts be better spent some other way?

    At this time the department is doing the minimum to carry out all aggressive programs. The resources that are use in this area of anti-drugs will have to be increased.

    7. If elected, how will you address Wake County's emerging problems with gangs?

    When elected as Sheriff I will add a Gang Prevention, Education, Investigation, Enforcement Division that will address the emerging problem with gangs in Wake County

    8. If elected, do you anticipate making changes to better serve the Hispanic and Latino communities?

    When elected, I will continue to enforce the laws that apply to all citizens and I will make sure that ALL CITIZENS in ALL communities receive the same respect and protection.

    9. Most of us have little direct information to go on when voting for Sheriff. Please help us be better-informed by sharing any documents, endorsements, critiques or other information that would help us make this important choice.

    "It is the responsibility of the Wake County Sheriff to protect the lives and property of all the citizens of this county. To me, there could be no higher calling. I am fully committed to once again doing just that- protecting the lives and property of our citizens and upon re-election to this most important law enforcement position, I will commit all my experience and rededicate my life to ensuring the safety of my constituents."


    Clerk of Court

    click to enlarge JanPueschel.jpg

    JANET PUESCHEL
    Date of Birth: 12-20-45
    Campaign Web Site: www.janforwake.com
    Occupation & Employer: Clerk of Superior Court -- State of North Carolina

    1. Why--other than the fact that it pays well--are you seeking election to this specific office?

    I am seeking re-election to the office of Clerk of Superior Court for Wake County because my background in public management, large government budget accountability and the improvements that I have made to the Clerk's office during my last term uniquely qualifies me for this position. I have earned your vote because of the tremendous accomplishments that the staff and I have made to increase financial accountability and customer service in the Wake County Clerk's office. I have kept all of the promises I made before my election in November, 2002, including a reorganization of the Clerk's office, appropriately training staff, providing accurate records for every legal action and proceeding and cleaning up the backlogs of financial receipts and disbursements and collections of fines and court costs. The work that I have done in the victims assistance area has been personally rewarding and earned me the 2006 National Organization of Victims Assistance Award. I would like to continue the plans that are currently in place to provide additional assistance to victims to navigate the court system, to continue with the telecommunications project in conjunction with SAS and to complete the reorganization of the Clerk's office.

    2. What are your qualifications for holding the clerk of court's job?

    My qualifications for the Clerk of Superior Court's office include my education:

    B.S. -- Social Work and Correctional Services

    M.S. -- Administration of Justice

    J.D. -- Law Degree

    My experience in significant and unique. It includes:

    23 years in State and Federal correctional services, including management of large staffs and inmate populations in Illinois, Virginia and North Carolina.

    Executive Director of the North Carolina Drug Cabinet handling millions of dollars in state budgets, which included federal money forwarded to North Carolina for drug programs.

    Practiced law in Raleigh, North Carolina for over 10 years (establishing a law office and meeting a payroll). My practice included cases in state and federal court in criminal and employment law.

    Legislative experience -- I was legal counsel to the House Select Committee on Personnel Review, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women and a lobbyist for the drafting and passing of Drug and Alcohol Bills in the North Carolina legislature.

    Extensive Academic and Teaching Experience -- Participated at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Study of the State Drug Control Executives, Assistant Professor and Instructor at North Carolina Wesleyan College, Lincoln College in Illinois, and various community colleges.

    3. A major issue in the campaign is the job being done by the incumbent clerk. For the incumbent, please provide a self-assessment of your performance, including successes and strengths as well as challenges and weaknesses? For the challenger, how do you rate the incumbent's performance? What's she doing right? What's she doing wrong?

    The accomplishments of the office of the Clerk of Superior Court in Wake County have been many and significant. I supervise 116 clerks and operate approximately 24 courtrooms per day. I am the official custodian of all court records in Wake County, which included filings of 275,000 during the last fiscal year. My office is also responsible for receiving, investing and disbursing over $244 million dollars.

  • Implemented training for all employees through the Administrative Office of the Courts and state personnel.

  • Assistant Clerks were given supervisory training.

    2045 hours of training were completed in 2003-2005. 96% of the staff have participated in the formal training classes.

  • Instituted for the first time, open and fair hiring procedure, where political party, age, race or gender were not a consideration and all hiring was done through a posting and interview process handled by assistant clerks.

  • The Estates and Special Proceedings area were supplemented by 2 attorneys to run those sensitive areas.

  • A Staff Enrichment Committee was developed to allow deputy clerks an opportunity to voice opinions. We instituted, through their recommendations, optional flex time, a health and fitness fair, shared leave program, fall picnics and Christmas parties.

  • Time tracking procedures that massively reduced tardiness and absenteeism were implemented and the file access procedure was streamlined.

  • 10 years backlog of criminal files were purged.

  • Judgment Abstracting system was instituted to allow judgments to be accessed automatically computed via our database.

  • Staff in the finance division was increased and a backlog of victims restitution and school board funds were cleared up.

  • Property bonds were disposed where cases had been handled as far back as the 1980s.

  • There was a reduction of 100% in checks returned for insufficient funds as we implemented a registration process for the acceptance of checks.

  • Reduced financial backlog by over $8.5 million.

    Crime victims and restitution was significantly assisted when I proactively lobbied the legislature that allowed criminal defendants to have records expunged without proving that all restitution had been paid.

  • Brochures were developed for every division, outlining basic responsibilities and telephone numbers for the public.

    4. What are the two or three biggest changes you'd make to this office if elected?

    The following are areas which need further development:

  • Job descriptions and quarterly evaluation system needs to be developed for all employees with their supervisors, including goal setting.

  • The telecommunications system needs to be revamped according to the program which is currently being developed with SAS to increase the ability of the public to access all public information through the courts on the website and to access individual information in the criminal justice area for Wake County, including probation status and jail status.

  • Crime victim assistance and domestic violence victim assistance needs to be increased. We need to coordinate more activities between the criminal and civil courtrooms to ensure that no orders are superseded by others. Further, we need to develop a process whereby domestic violence or other victims can submit paperwork through kiosks in locations outside of downtown Raleigh where Judges may review charges and issue temporary restraining orders for a 10-day period without victims having to drive into downtown Raleigh and appear in person in court.

  • We need to make sure that the website continues to provide information to the public in a friendly manner and that the website provides information on moves, policy changes, weather closing information, etc.

  • Technology -- We need to continue to request funds for improvement in technology, filing via e-mail and credit card payments.


    click to enlarge NancyFreeman.jpg

    NANCY (LORRIN) FREEMAN
    Date of Birth: 04/20/1971
    Campaign Web Site: www.freemanforclerk.com
    Occupation & Employer: Assistant Attorney General, Department of Crime Control & Public Safety

    1. Why--other than the fact that it pays well--are you seeking election to this specific office?

    I believe that people come most directly face to face with government through the court system. Often when citizens enter the courthouse doors, they are at low points in their lives--they have lost a loved one, are going through a divorce, or have been a victim of crime. They deserve to be greeted with a court system that is respectful and user friendly. That is not the type of system that is currently present in Wake County. It is that type of system I am committed to building.

    2. What are your qualifications for holding the clerk of court's job?

    For ten years, I have served the people of Wake County as an assistant district attorney and most recently as an assistant attorney general. I have a strong, lifelong commitment to public service which I will bring to the Clerk's office. As an assistant district attorney, I handled hundreds of cases on a weekly basis. I am well skilled to manage the volume of work that comes through the Clerk's office. While at the District Attorney's office, I recognized the need for innovative solutions to tough problems and helped start the Teen Court program and the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court program. Apart from my legal career, I have served as Chair of the Democratic Party in Wake County where I was responsible for organizing and motivating several hundred volunteers and overseeing a budget of nearly $200,000.

    3. A major issue in the campaign is the job being done by the incumbent clerk. For the incumbent, please provide a self-assessment of your performance, including successes and strengths as well as challenges and weaknesses? For the challenger, how do you rate the incumbent's performance? What's she doing right? What's she doing wrong?

    One in four people will use the services of the Wake County Courthouse this year. The volume of work for which the Clerk's office is responsible is tremendous. The Clerk of Court oversees 116 employees and is responsible for fulfilling a number of judicial responsibilities as well. I do not underestimate the difficulty of this position.

    Upon taking office, Ms. Pueschel did a good job of clearing a backlog of cases and of expediting the amount of time in which monies were paid out of the Clerk's office. In the beginning of her term, Ms. Pueschel made a number of important strides in making the office more efficient. While Ms. Pueschel seemed to start off well, her term has been marred by controversy.

    Unfortunately, I believe the current Clerk of Court is doing a poor job today. Over the past three years, the turnover in the Clerk's office in Wake County has been at least twice that of other comparable sized counties such as Mecklenburg, Forsyth and Guilford counties. This high turnover rate is directly contributable to a management skill that fails to build loyalty and a commitment to serving the public. The constant vacancies and requirement for training new employees has made the system less effective and user friendly for the public.

    Equally as important as the ability to manage the office so as to retain qualified and dedicated employees, is the need for the Clerk of Court to be able to work with others within the system, prosecutors, attorneys, judges and law enforcement, to effectively process cases. The court system works only when its components can operate together to reach the common goals of keeping our community safe and redressing wrongs. Ms. Pueschel has consistently demonstrated an inability to work collaboratively with others within the system.

    Finally, as a judicial officer, it is important that the Clerk of Court is possessed of a temperament that is fair and even. Ms. Pueschel has demonstrated on numerous occasions a demeanor that is rude and intolerant to others. She has failed to set a tone of public service for her employees that has resulted in an office that is not helpful to the citizens of Wake County.

    4. What are the two or three biggest changes you'd make to this office if elected?

    The Clerk of Court's role in a county the size of Wake is largely that of a manager. I would work hard to build and retain a team of skilled employees who understand that their primary responsibility is to serve the public. I would encourage employees to avail themselves of tuition support through state government for state employees to receive additional education. I would actively recruit new employees from paralegal programs in operation at local college campuses.

    I would remove unnecessary barriers to efficiency. For example, Ms. Pueschel has strictly applied the prohibition against non-attorneys offering legal advice and has restricted her employees' ability to answer simple questions regarding court process. This position is unnecessary and is not helpful to the public.

    I would find ways to make the office operate more efficiently. Specifically, I would push hard to implement a system, much like the current system in the federal courts, that allows for filing of court documents over the internet and the remote access of these public records. Such a system would drastically reduce the traffic in and out of the courthouse on a daily basis and would free up time for employees of the Clerk's office to help members of the public.


    Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor

    F. CARLYLE TEAGUE
    Date of Birth: August 30, 1936
    Occupation & Employer: President, Cooperative Council of North Carolina

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    I have nine years total service on the District Board. I feel I have the experience and desire to serve a critical need to effectively administer the conservation and technical needs of rural Wake County.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    I think the most pressing natural resources issues in Wake County today are to protect these resources, at the same time the development of the county is in such demand by the growing population

    3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

    I think these issues can best be addressed by providing the technical assistance to the county's remaining farmers so that they can continue to farm in an environmentally friendly way and still not be hampered by overly stringent regulations.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    Specific areas of the county can be designated as voluntary agricultural districts that can continue to be farmed in harmony with other areas that are being developed for more urban uses.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources? What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    Natural resources can be protected with limited economic incentives by protecting the agriculture producers' right to produce as they would like to continue to do. Open space funding and other programs can meet these needs and still enable true farmers to continue to farm and protect the natural resources at the same time.

    6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

    The district has technical expertise that can be used very effectively to assist the planning and zoning to assure that development activities are administered in the most environmentally safe manner possible.

    7. Wake: What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs? Which do you think is more effective and why?

    There must be a balance between voluntary and mandatory programs. The county can draft mandatory conservation programs and the district can continue to work with the farming and development communities to take advantage of their natural instincts to protect the environment. The farmers of Wake County have, for a very long time, exhibited their ability to till the soil and still provide protection from soil erosion and other threats to the environment. There must be some mandatory conservation programs but those cannot be administered in the most effective manner without recognition of some voluntary conservation practices.


    THOMAS WAYNE ALLEN
    Date of Birth: 3-28-59
    Occupation & Employer: Allen's Transport Service of Wake County

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    To be a great part of helping out to make sure our water and soil has every chance to be the citizens of Wake County like what it and safe to drink. And help my community at large.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    Air and water. Drinking water for everyone in the United States to drink safely for there family's.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

    1. Work more with the public and here all sides for there entrest. 2. Make sure they have a say in the way we over see there drinking water and public saftey.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    By working more with everyone at the agricultual rural levels and making sure they are in touch with all the public. And soil and water conservation leader's in the office as well as the field.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources? What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    With all the power we have in the office of water soil conservation district supervisors.

    6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

    In any way we can to make sure they are in all the guidelines and with all the growth we have in Wake County we need more in the way of. A over seer such as myself if I am elected.

    7. Wake: What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs? Which do you think is more effective and why?

    In many ways I think we all come out on time.


    click to enlarge GuyMeilleur.JPG

    GUY MEILLEUR
    Date of Birth: 10-1-50
    Occupation & Employer: Consulting Arborist, Better Tree Care Associates

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    I am uniquely qualified to be your Wake County Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor because of my experience:

  • 20 years as a consulting arborist in Wake County, working toward reasonable regulation and compassionate conservation of Wake County's soil, water and trees

  • Instructor, Ecology and Urban Forestry courses, Duke and NCSU

  • ISA Board Certified Master Arborist, retired Certified Master Gardener

  • Educator, teaching ecology and planting trees at 67 Wake County schools

  • North Carolina Field Representative, American Forests organization

  • Curator at NCSU's JC Raulston Arboretum, Former Staff Arborist at UNC

    As a small businessperson, I find ways to get work done with limited resources.

    As a conservation professional for all my working life, I know the issues.

    As a parent, I want to leave this county better than I found it, for my children and yours.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    Wake County is a great place to live, but our families, businesses and schools rely on sustainable natural resources -- like clean air and water -- for continued healthy growth. If we safeguard these assets, we will not have barren, polluted cities, like those many of us left behind.

    North Carolina General Statute 139: "Soil and Water Conservation Districts are authorized for the purpose of exercising public powers for the conservation, protection and development of land, water, air, forest, wildlife and related resources."

    All these resources are being lost to development that does not provide for their conservation, and careless land use by towns, businesses, and residents. We must conserve and grow more trees and natural ecosystems.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

    If elected, I will harness public and private resources and modern science to conserve not just soil & water but all of our natural treasures. I will work hard to protect the natural wealth that makes Wake County such a great place to live.

    I have worked with developers who build our economic base while sustaining our natural resources. If we conserve as we grow, our property values will grow, and we will leave a better place for our children. Good growth is compatible with clean air and water.

    I plan to highlight and build upon the remaining natural environment. By documenting the high dollar value that these resources deliver to our quality of life, we can encourage towns and landowners to practice wiser land management. Instead of broad lawns and barren parking lots and rooftops, we should be vegetating where we can with rain gardens and rooftop gardens. This is being successfully done elsewhere. I can bring more of this technology to Wake County.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    I live in a rural area, but my land is targeted for a sewer line from Cary. I am working with engineers to ensure minimal disruption of the green infrastructure as their gray infrastructure expands, as it will. Good living fences make good neighbors. I am skilled in conserving and planting the right trees, shrubs and groundcovers in the right place in the right way to buffer properties and prevent runoff.

    Trees are ecological keystones, connecting air, water, earth, wildlife and people. The health of a community is indicated by the health of its trees.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources? What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    I buy my vegetables from a neighboring Century Farm. Farmers must continue to be protected from the high taxes that come with development. Programs like this preserve agriculture, and should be expanded to ensure that holding land to its traditional use will be a viable economic option for their children. Wake County gains by retaining agriculture. These programs should be continued and expanded.

    6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

    In most towns, developers are given credits for saving trees, but too often these trees die soon thereafter. Planners are bullied by builders and their own public works departments, so enforcement is not what it should be. The district must provide support to towns in the form of educational materials and presentations that demonstrate the value of conservation, so they can stand up to development pressure. I have worked on projects that conserved natural resources as they provide for economic growth. It is important to feature these projects as examples, so people understand that we can have our cake and eat it, too--as long as we are not gluttons!

    7. Wake: What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs? Which do you think is more effective and why?

    Voluntary programs are preferable, but not effective because of a present lack of appreciation for the long term values of conservation. Mandatory programs, like Wake Forest's and Raleigh's Tree Conservation Ordinances, are more effective because they work. 10-20% of the land undisturbed is a lot more than 0%. Look at projects in other towns, and you will see a big difference. Governments are instituted among people to provide for life, and our lives depend on clean air and water. I will work to make conservation the norm, so mandatory programs will not be needed in the future.


    click to enlarge LewisWells.jpeg

    LEWIS E. WELLS
    Date of Birth: 9/3/61
    Occupation & Employer: Nuclear Engineer, Progress Energy

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    I have been thinking about entering politics for a while. This office seems to me to be consistent with my career in nuclear power. I want to make a difference in the world and I believe that this might be my first step toward that goal. That certainly remains to be seen. I have considered many others offices; however, I am not independently wealthy or work for myself so I cannot afford many days away from my office.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    I think that there is too much growth in Wake County with too little thought to the consequences or the effects on the environment. I believe that the country as a whole typically undervalues developments cost to the environment. I would like to raise environmental cost awareness in Wake County.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

    I have to first learn the limits of the office. Once I understand them, I'll work to understand the various conflicting individual and/or corporate goals and to develop alternatives that reduce the conflict, protect the environment and permit development. For example, I do not believe that simply adding lanes to existing roads aids in reducing congestion in the long term. Adding lanes and bicycle lanes/greenways combined with corporate incentives to carpool and bike to work would reduce the need to build more roads, more parking decks and etc.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    I've thought about the issue of buildings that are vacant for a long time. It seems to me that renovating and using those buildings can directly reduce urban sprawl and aid in conservation of soil and water. I think that the development along Glenwood South is a great example of the reuse of old buildings with the benefits that I noted and the beginnings of the revitalization of near-downtown Raleigh.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources? What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    In my perhaps slightly jaded worldview, protection of the environment and natural resources only occurs when it is economically beneficial to all parties. Therefore, economic incentives have to be used to tilt the benefits toward all parties, including those whose care of the environment is at best secondary. I think that we need to actively engage corporate citizens to promote changes that reduce our use of natural resources. Corporate engagement could be done pretty cheaply when we hold up corporate leaders as good stewardship models.

    6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

    I've got a lot more learning to do before I can really understand this issue. At this point, I suppose that listening and understanding the issues would be for me the best approach.

    7. Wake: What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs? Which do you think is more effective and why?

    Voluntary participation removes the need for monitoring; a voluntary program is therefore more effective and likely to become more efficient over time. The problem with the voluntary conservation approach is the need to somehow make program participation in people's best interests.


    click to enlarge JoeTeague.JPG

    JOE E. TEAGUE JR.
    Date of Birth: 10/30/46
    Occupation & Employer: Professional Engineer (PE) and Certified Manger (CM) - Consultant

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    Make a difference. Manage our natural resources responsibly.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    Air and water and farm land.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

    Attention to zoning. Land cannot be doled out like a Pac Man game where the most prized parcels go first. We have a land plan in Wake County but we spend too much time addressing exceptions to it than adhering to it since our first Comprehensive Land Plan. The exceptions result in traffic congestion and smog unnecessarily. They reduce the benefits of farm land -- having a dependable food supply.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    A balance is not about just developing every street corner in multi family homes and retail space. There has to be some attention made to manufacturing space. We have a nuclear power plant effectively in Wake Co. Maybe a landfill is not appropriate for Holly Springs. Maybe neighborhood schools are not a bad thing. We cannot be drawn into condemning property because we need more tax revenue. Private property rights are important. Roads are always routed through the largest undeveloped land parcels and that ignores alternative values of land. Roads support growth but too often growth exposes the under capacity of roads. Zoning decisions create traffic congestion and reduce the quality of life for Wake Co. There are natural resources and there are natural limits. Land and water conservation is about advocating for land and water preservation.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources?

    Natural resources can be protected by managing them. We need to actively dredge our waterways to keep from having our whole county designated wetland whenever it rains. We are all environmentalists but our forests and rivers must be maintained like our highways or nature will maintain them for us via the natural disaster route. Repairs are costly. Providing a consistent development plan would reduce the cost of development. Managing a city or county is no different than trying to maximize points playing Sim City. Every action has a reaction. We need areas of the county left undeveloped for future growth if needed. Our county needs to participate and even lead in the environmental impact process when infrastructure is considered. It provides no benefit to allow development and then allow legal disputes which waste time and money on something the voters have approved. If there are legal appeals, they should be timely, addressed and concluded and not at the taxpayers' expense.

    What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    By designating riparian zones along every drainage ditch, we rob ourselves of potential tax revenues for land that might have higher and better use. The US Corps of Engineers know they are not authorized to be involved in any but navigable waterways. We need to be more active in designating navigable waterways ourselves. By reducing the footprint of government we increase the productivity of our land. By maintaining planned development we have organized development and our roads are more efficient and traffic congestion is reduced. If we would coordinate the traffic signal systems we have that would provide better use of what we have and identify maximums of planned traffic. There is a limit to our infrastructure and we should determine and promote the level that makes NC uniquely NC. Our natural resources should be graded like traffic congestion is and not be exceeded. De-annexing should be encouraged so that an area like Millbrook can recover its identity and assert it's preferences for land development if it wants. It's OK to establish population goals based on the level of acceptable demand for our natural resources via recommended zoning.

    6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

    It would begin by not allowing municipal sewage spills. The penalties should be severe. There is a limit on the population our water supplies can support. We should accept that and plan for it. If we are to have a once through water system, we have limits we have to plan for established from what we can remove from the Neuse River. Inter basin transfers are a last resort, i.e. taking water from the Cape Fear basin, using it and discharging it into the Neuse River basin or vice versa. Recycling is an option but managing our land resources via zoning is the surest way of managing runoff. Managing our utilities would be a method as well with the selling out of tower sites in every block by every carrier.

    7. Wake: What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs?

    There is no benefit in allowing population increase via developments and then chastising our population for using too much water or by encouraging development and then telling us to ride light rail system that does not exist without heavy subsidies anywhere in America.

    Which do you think is more effective and why?

    Regulating our land development is a more sensible way of managing our resources than encouraging growth and then taxing the user twice more: once for his living here and again for our irresponsible use of our natural resources that we promoted in encouraging people to come and live here. I think it is important to know our history and not just paper over it. Selling out properties without knowing their original purpose is like planting trees all over Fayetteville Street mall and then paying to have it dug up and paved over. It is like building a trolley system down Fayetteville Street Mall in 1915 and paving over it for the next century and chasing after a light rail system today. Government must stop giving on the one hand and taxing on the other: our natural resources should be managed and not sold out only to then try and tax them into disuse and forget them until the next plan to turn us into little Chicago. We're Raleigh, NC and our land and water resources give us unique opportunities if we don't forget them.


    click to enlarge JoyElliott.JPG

    JOY ELLIOTT
    Date of Birth: 07/18/64
    Campaign Web Site: www.joyelliott.zoomshare.com
    Occupation & Employer: Currently a Homemaker and N.C. Water Pollution Control Systems Operator Certified, a member of N.C. Water Works and Water Environment Associations.

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    I want to see that funding is allocated in a more cost-effective manner utilizing better newer technologies. For example implementing more constructed wetlands where possible as a low maintenance alternative to package plant sewage treatment at public schools and other public buildings. Also to help preserve existing farm land by not using eminent domain to obtain lands for water treatment when fallow land is available for those applications.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    The current forced incorporation by cities of previous county lands, which are then added to already strained water treatment systems is the most pressing natural resource issue in this county. Land grabs motivated by increased revenue rather than a concern for the environment. The homeowners in these areas have existing septic systems, which handle their waste effectively without the added cost of infrastructure.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues?

    I won't vote for grant allocations to projects that are either not cost effective or abuse eminent domain.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    Agricultural and rural areas need to be preserved by not having another layer or property taxes added to them through forced annexation. This office can vote down funding of projects that abuse eminent domain and promote forced annexation which will help curb the loss of rural farmland. Doing so also serves urban interests in that there isn't the added cost of infrastructure, which ultimately increases the cost of water services and property taxes for urban residence.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources?

    Funding of cost effective and environmentally friendly projects like constructed wetlands for water treatment also help protect natural resources. They create new habitat and sanctuary for plants and animal life.

    What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    Grant monies that might go for package plant constructions for public buildings can be directed toward creating constructed wetlands.

    6. Land use policy impacts the quality and quantity of our natural resources, including drinking water. In light of Wake County's rapid growth, how should the conservation district work with planning and zoning departments to protect the area's soil and water from urban runoff?

    Respecting private property rights benefits the entire community. Private owners will always take better care of their land as they have an interest in future resale value. If urban runoff should impact property owners they would be within their rights to sue the offending upstream polluters and receive compensation for cleanup and or damages. This desire to maintain property values will also translate into better stewardship of natural resources.

    As for zoning, variances need to be in place to allow homeowners and developers to utilize constructed wetland alternatives and not box them into only septic system models for waste treatment. Constructed wetlands are more environmentally friendly by creating more habitats. It is a technology that wasn't developed when most of the zoning laws were passed.

    7. Wake: What are the pros and cons of voluntary and mandatory conservation programs?

    This is the equivalent of asking what are the pros and cons of living in freedom or in a prison with guards. Voluntary measures may not translate into 100% compliance however the population won't feel oppressed and have to carry the cost of enforcing a police state. Once you have mandatory conservation programs you will be required to employee enforcement bureaucrats and request that neighbors become informants, who might make false accusations on enemies.

    This touches on another reason I wanted to become involved in the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation Board. Currently, county regulations concerning the operations of public swimming pools in Wake County have gone way beyond state or even national requirements with no real benefit to the public. They have only served to add increased operating costs on community and apartment complex pools. The communities that serve poorer residents are the ones most effected by these added costs and tend to be the pools that get covered over and closed. The long-term effect is in those lower income communities children will not have the opportunity to learn how to swim and will result in more drowning deaths. In the short term the unnecessary extra water chemical checks cause maintenance operators to use more fuel to maintain their route of pools and increase over all air pollution. In this way I have personally witnessed how mandatory regulations with the best of intentions have actually translated into more harm than good.

    Which do you think is more effective and why?

    Voluntary measures are more effective in that people won't feel like a tyrannical government is oppressing them. It gives the power back to the people who will feel better about their community and their neighbors.


    Legislative Races

    NC House 36

    click to enlarge GreerBeaty.jpg

    GREER BEATY
    Date of birth: February 7, 1966
    Campaign Web Site: www.greerbeaty.com
    Occupation & Employer: Account Supervisor, French/West/Vaughan

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    Education

    We must fund K-12 education, and programs like Smart Start that prepare kids for school. I would like to see an incentive program in place to keep good teachers that offers very low tuition to in-state colleges or community colleges to a 10-year teacher and their immediate family. I would offer this incentive to Nationally Certified Teachers that remain in the classroom.

    Health care

    High-risk pool is critical. We must also examine current NC law that prevents like businesses from clustering to purchase insurance as a group. That needs to be changed.

    Growth

    I support programs and policies that will have growth pay for itself.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    I am not supporting anyone at this time for speaker. I have to focus on my race. I feel that the reforms passed during the short session are a great start and they are the toughest in NC history. I am also aware that as we move forward we need to continue to examine our system to keep it open and honest.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    I would like to get more information on public financing before making a firm decision, but I do support measures to make our government more open and transparent. It makes for a more honest policy-making process, which is to the benefit of all North Carolinians. It also fights the perception that votes are able to be bought, fostering a greater sense of trust between our government and the citizens it serves. This is certainly an issue that has merit and must be considered carefully. We need to make sure our system encourages rather than discourages regular people to run for office.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    I support a progressive tax system and our current system needs to be examined to ensure that all are fairly taxed.

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    N/A

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    This is an important and critical issue for North Carolinians. Everyone deserves access to affordable health care. I support giving tax credits to small businesses and the work that was done to try to create a high risk pool. I will also work to expand children's health insurance, because every child deserves to be insured. We need to make sure hard working people have access to health care. I will also work to change NC law so that like businesses can purchase insurance as a group.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    We need to do a better job of making sure schools in poorer areas are taken care of. That's why I support measures to give additional funding to schools, such as those outlined in the 2006 budget. All children deserve the highest quality education.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    Counties need a menu of funding options available to them that include options that have growth paying its fair share.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    We need to have a comprehensive, long-term plan developed and implemented that will provide for the services needed. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I know that what we are doing is not working.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    We need to be proactive in our transportation planning and not wait until traffic increases to a point where we can't get to and from work before we think about solutions. We must consider all transportation options.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    I support preserving open space as often as possible

    8. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    He is one of the least effective members of the Legislature. (NC Free ranked him in the bottom 11.) He spends his time dealing with extremely divisive issues instead of working with others to find solutions.

    While my opponent was running political campaigns for conservatives, I was working across party lines on Hurricane Floyd housing recovery. I was promoting high quality child care through Smart Start and promoting the State's tourism industry following 9/11. I want my children to say they grew up in the greatest state in the nation, that's what drives me.

    I have worked for NC Wildlife Federation, Smart Start, Community Partnerships, Inc., NC Commerce (Division of Tourism, Division of Community Assistance, Hurricane Floyd Housing Recovery) NC State Cooperative Extension. I am active in the community (YMCA Fundraising Team Captain, Church choir leader and High School Sunday School teacher, our family volunteers for the Society of St. Andrew and other community causes.)

    I believe that public policy should eliminate barriers to personal success and help us continue to move forward. As an adult, I have focused my career working for organizations that I believed in so that I could live my values. I am will bring that real-world experience and passionate to the General Assembly.


    click to enlarge NelsonDollar.jpg

    NELSON DOLLAR
    Date of Birth: June, '61
    Campaign Web Site: www.NelsonDollar.net
    Occupation & Employer: Media and Public Relations Consultant, J.N. Dollar and Associates

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    First and foremost, our economic future depends on a well-educated work force. I will continue to work to cut the dropout rate and improve basic math, reading and writing skills in the early grades. In the Triangle school construction is a critical issue. I have introduced legislation to use all of the proceeds from the State Lottery to fund a statewide school bond that would provide $5 billion to build schools across North Carolina. Under my plan counties would have the resources they need to build schools while lessening the pressure to raise local property taxes or increase the local sales tax.

    A second major issue is the need to transform North Carolina's state government into a modern 21st Century democracy. It's time to leave behind the secrecy and the perception that trading campaign cash for legislative favors is required or helpful. I have proposed several reforms in the House of Representatives to break the concentration of power in the hands of a few, stop the pay-to-play politics that have resulted in ongoing state and federal investigations, and restore the public's confidence in their governing institutions. As part of the new Ethics Law, I was able to successfully amend the bill to prohibit elected officials from using state funds to promote themselves in TV and radio, ads.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    Jim Black should resign as Speaker of the House. The reform measures passed in the Legislature did nothing to fundamentally reform the concentration of power in the hands of a few in the House and Senate. More important, for all the "reform" legislation we passed the issue of eliminating pay-to-play was not addressed. Unfortunately, real reform on the issues that matter most will have to wait until someone in the leadership is convicted -- it would appear that only then will the majority have the political will to place limitations on the power of the leadership and restore democracy to the legislative process.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    No, although someday that may present itself as the only solution. My view is taxpayers should not have to fund political campaigns when we have so many more important needs and I am concerned with the limitation of First Amendment expression in the political arena; however, I appreciate and support the underlying goal of those who recommend public financing. The answer here follows on the comments in question #3 we have too much power concentrated in too few hands -- that power is used to raise millions of dollars which are then washed through the political parties and into the hands of candidates in unlimited amounts. The simple way to change the game is to limit the amount of money a candidate committee can transfer to a state party. That one reform alone would change the entire complexion of campaign operations in North Carolina.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    We need to hold to our principles and hold the line on taxes as the Governor and Legislative Leaders plan for a major tax structure overhaul in 2007. I will not vote to expand taxes on services or to create new taxes until we have reformed state government and established an approach that is far more focused on our highest priorities (education, infrastructure and public safety). In addition, we need realistic performance standards for programs, end needless duplication and corporate giveaways, and modernize our information systems. I know that government is not a for-profit business, but we can instill accountability and sound business principles into the operation of state government. When the final budget came to the Floor of the House for a vote, that budget set in motion a $1 billion structural deficit for the 2007-'08 fiscal year -- this despite the fact that we had a $2.4 billion surplus in 2006-'07 and an additional $420 million in new lottery money. Until we fix state government, throwing more money at the system will not yield better results.

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    It's less a matter of cutting than it is reforming state government, although I would cut certain programs like the incentives and corporate giveaways that cost us now and in the future. My basic contention is, if we invest to create the best education system in the world and in invest in our infrastructure (physical and intellectual) we will create a climate that will not only attract new business, but more important, cultivate new in-state businesses and opportunities. "Grow your own" with the abundant resources we have!

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    I supported and voted for the House Bill to create a high risk insurance pool for North Carolinians who cannot currently purchase coverage at any price or a price so high as to be prohibitive. We made other marginal changes in health care during the 2006-08 Session, but the Leadership seems content with the status quo and has not allowed the movement of any major reform legislation regardless of philosophy or direction. I sponsored legislation with Rep. Linda Coleman (D-Wake) to create an income tax check-off for people to contribute part or all of their income tax refund to breast cancer screening. As you know, focusing on prevention is ultimately the key to reducing the cost of health care.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    I agree with the fundamental decision in this case that poorer or low wealth systems need the financial assistance required to equip their classrooms and recruit the quality of teachers who will prepare students in those areas of the state just as well as in major urban areas like ours.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    I filed a bill to take all of the net proceeds of the lottery and use those to service a $5 billion statewide special obligation bond for the construction of schools in North Carolina. The bill would have also changed the allocation formula to ADM (average daily membership). Every county and school district would receive enough funding to actually begin to make a difference in what DPI estimates to be a $9 billion list of identified needs over the next 5 years.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    The decision to change the model of mental health treatment in North Carolina was made several years ago. The difficulty now is in the implementation of the concept. We have seen gaps in coverage and in funding as we transition to a community base system. Our Wake Delegation has worked as a unified group on the issue of mental-health reform including seeking funds for a short term in-patient facility. We were successful in requesting DHHS give Wake County more time to implement their transition plan.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    We still need HOV lanes on I-40 so we can make our TTA bus system work. I support the ongoing project to coordinate schedules and routes between the various systems in the Triangle. I voted for the bill that will allow the Western Wake Expressway and Southern Loop of I-540 to be built initially as a toll road -- we successfully amended the bill to insure that all tolls collected stay on that roadway; the tolls come off when the bonds have been paid for; there has to be a free alternative (complete 4-laning of Hwy 55); and the area mayors have the final say in moving forward. We also have made it clear to DOT that the "gap" funding has to be provided by the state (gap meaning the portion of the project that is not bonded).

    I was very pleased that the Toll Authority has agreed to build the road with future mass transit space in mind -- planning ahead what a concept!

    e. Open-space conservation?

    I am a Co-sponsor of Land for Tomorrow's Land and Water Conservation Bond Act of 2006. I helped arrange for a promotional meeting with other legislators to build support for the bond and was Legislative Co-host for an event to fund and promote the effort. I also co-sponsored the House version of the Drinking Water - Reservoir bill that passed in 2005 and I voted for the moratorium on mega-landfills. In addition, I have working on funding issues and support for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Locally, I sponsored (with Ross and Stam) the new law that gives real legal teeth to the Swift Creek Land Management Plan.

    8. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    I supported the establishment of the Innocence Commission and voted against efforts on the House Floor to gut the bill. I provided critical support on the Floor of the House for the seat belt bill and the cell phone bill. In addition, I voted against all of the corporate giveaways and incentives ie: Bill Lee, JDIG, the Governor's "walking around money" and various flavor-of-the month incentives. I did support the 2006 Bill Lee Amendments in part based on Rep. Luebke's opinion that most of the reforms he had been working on were in the bill (this is one of those issues where East meets West).


    NC House 37

    click to enlarge EdRidpath.jpg

    ED RIDPATH
    Date of Birth: Jan 26, 1960
    Campaign Web Site: www.EdRidpath.com
    Occupation & Employer: Computer Professional, IBM

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    Education: We need to support pre-K programs for a good start, encourage career-centered education beginning in Middle School, put intense dropout prevention programs in 8th or 9th grade, and set the expectation for a High School Diploma by setting the dropout age to 18. Combined High School/Community College programs should be encouraged to set our State standard at 14 years of career education.

    Roads: We must get the many delayed road projects back on schedule by restoring the Highway Trust Fund. We also must provide incentives to better use of current and futures roads such as HOV lanes and expanded bus systems. Other modes of transportation, such as rail, are needed long term and must be planned well now.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    As a challenger, I did not vote for Speaker Black. I think the position of speaker should be term limited and less powerful. I look forward to casting my vote for the new Speaker of the House in January.

    The reform measures of "blame the lobbyist" fell short of addressing the real issue of the appearance of a "pay to play" system. Only severe limits on contributions or public financing can move us towards solving that. I do support the personal spending restriction for campaign funds.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    I support public financing of legislative campaigns, modeled on our current judicial campaign financing law.

    While registered lobbyists have a very obvious "vested interest", all campaign contributors have some interest in the way the candidate will vote.

    I support incremental steps to reduce the size of contributions from all donors and encourage many small individual donations.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    Yes, I agree that our tax structure is regressive -- we need a state Earned Income Tax credit to help. Spreading sales tax to services would probably help lower income folks too if it reduced the overall rate.

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    I believe firm oversight of state programs and cutting where and when needed is critical to being fiscally responsible. I do not support "across the board" or other general cuts.

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    We need to work towards having everyone covered by a health plan starting with our children. The state can and should help. I support the Small Business Tax credit for health insurance and funding child health insurance.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    The state has a constitutional duty to equitable education funding all counties.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    Agreed, the state needs to untie the hands of the counties and allow them options such as sales tax and impact fees.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    The state needs to help the counties as they struggle to meet the needs of the mentally ill. Mental health care is a sound public investment as it reduces crime, prison needs, and improves everyone's safety and quality of life.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    We must get the many delayed road projects back on schedule by restoring the Highway Trust Fund. We also must provide incentives to better use of current and futures roads such as HOV lanes and expanded bus systems. Other modes of transportation, such as rail, are needed long term and must be planned well now.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    I support Land for Tomorrow and Dix Park -- with growth in the state and the Triangle we need to preserve the land for both natural and recreational uses while we still have land to preserve.

    8. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    My opponent focuses on his own narrow, divisive issues to the neglect of the needs of the district he is supposed to be representing. On the other hand, I have been talking one on one with voters for over a year with a commitment to represent their needs. My background in business at IBM, as well as my previous experience in the military, government, and with technology will help me represent my friends and neighbors well.


    NC Senate 14

    click to enlarge VernonMalone.jpg

    VERNON MALONE
    Occupation & Employer: Retired

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    With a rapidly growing population and an even faster shift to a global economy, Wake County and North Carolina are well-suited to focus on a number of issues to continue advancing our state. During my time as a public official I have always stressed the importance of education for both our young people and also in retraining our adult workforce to be prepared for the newest and best jobs that NC can recruit. Whether it is infusing technology with trades, developing the arts, agriculture or math and science; investments in education will serve as the backbone of North Carolina's growing economy. Reducing class size and adequate teacher pay/recruitment will continue to be a focus of mine as we strive to educate every NC student.

    The state has also been well-served with our investments in infrastructure. A skilled labor force and the means to move goods and resources with ease will also bolster our ability to compete for jobs on a global scale in areas hit hardest by job loss.

    Finally, families and small businesses are both struggling to afford quality health care. We are exploring letting businesses pool their resources to give health benefits to their workers (provided a small business health insurance tax credit this session), we are putting more nurses in our schools (65 newly funded this year), and are striving to give families better access to care in their communities (we took steps to address all three of these areas this past session and realize that there is still much left to do).

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    The 2006 ethics bill is a good start for both ethics and lobbying reform. I am sure this will be an ongoing process, into 2007 and beyond, that we will evaluate regularly in a proactive manner. Our goal is to continue restoring and maintaining public confidence in government and I am committed to these efforts.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    I believe there is a need to evaluate judicial public financing in order to create a statewide plan for all campaigns. Public financing at its face value has many merits, especially today when campaigns are increasing in cost, but such a review will go a long way in this discussion.

    This year's lobbying reform bill takes steps to outline what is and is not appropriate when giving and receiving campaign contributions. Personally, my votes are based on experience, research and the opinions of the people I represent -- not a contributor.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    This summer the NC Senate voted to reduce taxes for 30,000 small businesses in the state and also reduced the present sales tax. The tax structure in North Carolina was discussed in depth this session and the State and Local Fiscal Modernization study commission has been created. The Governor and leadership in the General Assembly will assemble a group to study the modernization of the state tax code. This will give us guidance on how to move forward and save money for the state.

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    As challenging as it is today to be fair and consistent in the budgeting process, I believe it is necessary to strike a balance between budget cuts and new revenues while avoiding drastic cuts to critical programs that may dramatically alter the services/role they provide.

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    I presently serve as the co-chairman of the committee on appropriations to health and human services so this is an issue to which I commit a great deal of attention. We must continue to fund programs like Health Choice while thoroughly working through our study commissions on small business health care, the high risk pool, and advancing our plans for the Healthy NC program. We have recently provided tax credits to help businesses that provide healthcare to their employees and I view this as a major step in the right direction. This upcoming session we will also continue our work on Medicaid and the toll it is taking on our county budgets.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    Equitable funding of our schools is important for all NC counties. Wake County has large school populations, higher teacher salaries, and our teachers often run the risk of being recruited away so there is a need for continued support for education. I am involved in discussions that will address the school funding formula because the wellbeing of all NC children is important to me, but I continue to carry forward the needs of Wake County schools. (In this year's budget approximately 58% percent of state spending was in education, an all-time high.)

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    The lottery was supported by a large majority of individuals in this state and will give our counties more money than they had to start school construction. We will have to continue to be creative to find the funds to build the schools needed to support our growing population.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    This year I, along with the other leadership in the Senate, was convinced of the clear need for us to dedicate increased resources for mental health in the state and voted to renovate two state facilities and created a mental health trust fund. We have committed to making better the lives of those that may not be able to help themselves by way of mental health. This commitment will carry forward into this upcoming session with my work on the Mental Health and Youth Services Committee.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    North Carolina currently ranks second to last in spending per road mile, while we currently have the second most state maintained roads (in miles). This is a challenge for state government that we have handled in the past by focusing our priorities and being creative. We will continue to do so as we develop a long term plan to increase funding because as I stated earlier, building infrastructure is one of the best ways for us to increase the quality of life in NC.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    I support open-space conservation. In larger more urban areas like Wake County, green space and clean water are a premium. Moving to more green building, renewable energy and conserving where we can will ensure that we pass on a cleaner environment to our grandchildren.

    8. What is your stance on assessing impact fees on development? If you support fees, how should they be calculated? How should the money be used? If you are elected, would you support a measure allowing all counties to assess impact fees if their respective commissioners approve?

    This is yet another area where the State and Local Fiscal Modernization study commission will serve the leadership of our state well. The commission has been charged to report back to the General Assembly by May of next year. I look forward to moving forward with those results.

    9. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    Incumbent - Serving as a member of the North Carolina Senate has been an honor and is a responsibility that I do not take likely. My goal is to be proactive on important issues and to be responsive to the residents of this district, by providing leadership rooted in my experience as an educator and a public official. I am committed to making both Wake County and North Carolina the best they can be and will continue to do so with all of my energy. We are making great progress in this state and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you!


    NC Senate 15

    click to enlarge GerryBowles.JPG

    DOROTHY "GERRY" BOWLES
    Date of Birth: December 13, 1946
    Campaign Web Site: www.GerryBowles06.com
    Occupation & Employer: Homemaker and community activist

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    Providing a quality public education system is not only the right thing to do...but it is legally mandated by our NC constitution! As a former Wake County high school history teacher, I know first hand the importance to our state's future both economically and socially in having an educated electorate. We need people in the legislature who have experience and a firsthand understanding of the real issues and problems facing our public schools. I will add my voice to those who are fighting to increase teacher pay so that we can recruit and retain the finest professionals for our system. Our state is currently graduating only 6 out of the 10 students who begin high school as freshmen. We must do better if we are to compete in a global economy. Our future depends on it!

    Transportation ... the highways and interstates in my district have been hamstrung by lack of funding in the highway trust fund ... due to governmental raiding of the fund for other purposes. We are now resorting to toll roads which will create significant delays and safety hazards on our highways.

    We are facing unprecedented growth which has impacted our daily lives. Travel from our homes to the office, to schools and to other areas of interest are made more complex because our elected and appointed leaders at the national, state and district level have failed to emphasize planning in our communities as we grow. We need legislators with political courage who will ask the hard questions as to how we got ourselves into the mess that we are now in...

    Representation ... I became frustrated with Neal Hunt and the issues that he has focused on while in office, and thought, "he doesn't represent me or the issues that I value." We need to make sure that growth is paying its way. We need to insure that our schools, highways and greenways are not only maintained but judged to be excellent. We must be proactive in our public policy...not re active as is now the case.

    We need more people in leadership who demonstrate courage, personal integrity and public service. I have campaigned door to door in the district...I have knocked on 4200 doors as of this time. We the people is not just rhetoric for me, but truth. We are the government. If elected I will hold monthly forums on the model of the Wake County Citizens for Effective Government. These public forums will enable me to stay in touch with the people and issues that are important to my district. I will also continue the IAC's, Individual Advisory committees or "citizen lobbyists" that have been working hard to research issues that are the focus of my campaign.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    I feel that Jim Black should resign his speakership. All of our representatives need to adhere to the highest level of ethical standards...and just the appearance of impropriety impacts on the integrity of the body politic for us all. I am disappointed that after all the discussion about ethics reform that so little has truly been changed. I would like to see a complete ban on fundraising by lobbyists for candidates.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    We need to close all campaign law loop holes that currently allow large contributions to bypass the normal limitations on individual and corporate contributions. The rule of thumb ought to be to aim for full disclosure and transparency in giving.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    We need to overhaul the entire tax structure. We are operating with a 20th century tax code that was dependent on an agricultural and industrial base that does not serve our needs in the 21st century. We need to find sources of revenue from a variety of streams. The end result must be an equitable structure that does not unduly burden any one group...in particular we must not depend solely on the sales tax which is regressive on its face.

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    There is probably no other issue which impacts the state's economic future more than that of providing affordable health care for its people. I favor the state taking a proactive role in providing incentives to small business and corporate entities that expand health coverage for their employees.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    Judge Howard Manning has shown tremendous courage in demanding that the legislature abide by its constitutional mandate to provide a sound basic education for its citizens. The integrity of state government demands that we follow through on his ruling.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    Historically the counties provided the funds for educational buildings (schools) and the states provided the funds for educational programs and staff (teachers and administrators). In Wake County we have experienced unprecedented growth which has exceeded the county's ability to pay for adequate facilities without continually raising property taxes and floating bond issues. We must look for additional revenue streams to address our pressing needs. I would propose that the lottery proceeds from Wake County be directed to providing new facilities. In addition, I would advocate for a larger share of the lottery proceeds...currently Mecklenburg County gets twice that of Wake...

    c. Mental-health reform?

    It is past time for mental health and physical health to be treated equitably by our insurance providers.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    As the triangle continues to grow public transportation, including bus and light rail, will become an increasingly important factor in preserving the quality of life that has made this area so attractive. We must be visionary and proactive in our continued advocacy for a system of transportation which links all of our area.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    8. What is your stance on assessing impact fees on development? If you support fees, how should they be calculated? How should the money be used? If you are elected, would you support a measure allowing all counties to assess impact fees if their respective commissioners approve?

    The question is not about impact fees...the question is how we best provide funding for services that are being strained by development. I believe that we must allow communities the authority to pursue the full range of revenue options...to fund growth which does not pay for itself. That being said, in many cases new development is vital to the existing health of the community and its citizens, therefore it is not reasonable to "saddle new development" with unreasonably high fees which would have the adverse effect of discouraging needed development.

    9. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    I am much better attuned to the issues that affect the majority of the citizens of district 15 as a result of long term community activism on my part including founding the Wake County Citizens For Effective Government. I believe strongly in the need for public forums which allow citizens to interface with their legislators. I believe my experience and my temperament will allow me to pursue this venue very effectively.


    click to enlarge NealHunt.jpg

    NEAL HUNT
    Date of Birth: 9/17/42
    Campaign Web Site: www.nealhunt.com
    Occupation & Employer: self employed HMC Corp.

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    Controlling the benefits we offer to illegal aliens is critical. We are far too generous in offering benefits to illegal aliens. Obviously every benefit offered is an additional burden on NC taxpayers. The benefits we offer exceed those of neighboring states therefore have become a destination state. For example, we should not be giving out food stamps and providing other unemployment benefits. We should not allow them to receive in state tuition at our community colleges (which I presented as an amendment to the budget in 2005). Another step we should take to avoid being such a destination state for illegals is to require photo id to vote. The current Democrat leadership is opposed to taking any of these steps as evidenced by their refusing to allow these Republican bills to receive a vote.

    Secondly, we also really need to have zero based budgeting to alleviate the unnecessary expenditure of state funds. It is inappropriate to simply add money to the previous year's budget without the department having to justify their expense projections. The current Democrat leadership is opposed to this as evidenced by their refusal to allow this legislation to come to the floor for a vote.

    Thirdly, we need to revise the "equity formula" which diverts highway construction money from congested urban areas to more rural uncrowded parts of the state.

    There are many other important issues to work on but these are at the top of my list.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    Jim Black should resign. Even if not judged by a jury to be not guilty of corruption, he certainly has tainted the legislative process in the minds of the public. From my reading of his funding activities and the obvious quid pro quo with Michael Decker it certainly seems as though he is guilty.

    The reform measures passed by the legislature were largely eyewash for public consumption. The avenues for massive donations are still wide open.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    I oppose public financing of campaigns because in my 35 years business experience and 5 years holding office, when government finances anything we see inefficiencies, waste and potential corruption. Public financing of campaigns provides another avenue for these problems. Secondly, obviously public financing of campaigns would use tax payer dollars and I think it is an unnecessary expenditure of the public's money. Thirdly, the influence of the press in increased because of the reduction in overall campaign spending. And finally, it is unfair to the truly qualified candidate who has lots of support because they are qualified and the mediocre candidate who will use tax payer/government money to run against the more qualified candidate's privately raised funds. I must say that I have never put any of my own money in my 6 races so having personal money is not a requirement to be elected. By the way, you will need an outside source of income once you are elected because legislative pay would be hard to live on. The real area of needed reform is to restrict lobbyist from sponsoring fund raisers. This is where the real influence peddling is done. You probably won't see this legislation because that is where the Democrats are able to keep their huge fundraising advantage. For example in the Senate races in 2004, Republicans wereoutspent 3 to 1 in the most critical 7 races. The lobbyists give mostly to the Democrats because they are in charge.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    We absolutely need wholesale tax reform. We have a myriad of sales taxes, income taxes, and fees and the monitoring and collection is expensive, cumbersome and completely inefficient to the consumer (us).

    Our system needs a complete overhaul but it would be impossible to adequately explain the details in this questionnaire format.

    5. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    The most obvious and practical measure we need now it to make sure our health insurance system puts some responsibility on consumers for their health insurance needs. Therefore I strongly favor health savings accounts so that consumers will have some incentive to shop for services since they retain what they don't spend. There are many more ideas available such as limiting Certificates of Need in certain parts of the state. Certificates of Need are necessary in some areas but we need to be careful about where we require them as they inherently inhibit competition and therefore contribute to spiraling medical expenses. Tax credits for employers who offer health insurance to their employees are also a good idea.

    6. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    We should institute incentive pay to attract the best teachers and principles to the schools that need the most help. Since the poorer counties will not be able to afford the extra expense, the state needs to help. School boards should also be able to terminate inadequate teachers.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    In the last session I presented a bill to require lottery proceeds be used for school construction. We should not allow lottery funds to be relegated to the general fund as is being done now! Plus we need to remove the cap on charter schools and strongly consider allowing tax credits for parents sending children to private schools. Charter and private schools provide class room space at no cost to the state.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    The idea behind the mental health reform efforts is to provide smaller and more numerous facilities. That is a good idea but it is not happening fast enough. With the Dix closing eminent, Wake County needs to start planning for a new 60 bed hospital now.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    As opposed to trying to fund an almost $1 billion dollar regional system, we need to focus on a Raleigh's transit needs. Raleigh residents are not enthusiastic about paying for Durham's system and I'm sure vice versa. However, I believe Raleigh citizens would support a system connecting Raleigh's heavily populated areas to its major employment centers, entertainment centers (downtown) and hopefully the airport. Then after our system is functional we could consider connecting to the Durham system and having a regional system.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    We need to do it. Protection of our environment is critical to the livability of the area as well as our economic growth. I'm sure any corporate CEO would not want to have their employees live in a place with no trees, inadequate water supplies and dirty air!

    7. What is your stance on assessing impact fees on development? If you support fees, how should they be calculated? How should the money be used? If you are elected, would you support a measure allowing all counties to assess impact fees if their respective commissioners approve?

    I oppose additional impact fees. Many people don't realize the magnitude of taxes and fees already paid by development. For example all of the materials in a house are taxed at the 7% sales tax rate. There is already a real estate transfer tax of .2%. Plus the federal and state taxes paid on the labor used to build a house amount to about 6.5% of the sales price. Additionally water and sewer acreage and capacity fees add another 6% to the cost of the house! All of these taxes and fees add up to almost 20 % of the house cost and this does not even include property taxes!

    8. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?


    Judicial Races

    Superior Court 10B

    click to enlarge RipleyRand.jpg

    RIPLEY RAND
    Date of Birth: July 23, 1967
    Campaign Web Site: www.judgerand.org
    Occupation & Employer: Superior Court Judge, District 10B; State of North Carolina
    Years Lived in Wake County: 10

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    I believe that the quality of justice in our society matters, and that North Carolina deserves judges who understand how our justice system should work and who administer justice fairly and professionally. I work very hard every day with these goals in mind. I would invite you to talk with any lawyer who has appeared before me, including my opponent, with respect to my work ethic, my judicial demeanor, and my commitment to fairness. My background has given me a unique insight into the role of our court system, and my experiences as a judge have demonstrated my commitment to fairness, professionalism, and hard work. I like my work.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    A judge's role in the court system is also to help bring about a just community, and I believe that my continued service would work to benefit this effort in at least three ways. (1) My judicial experience demonstrates my commitment to seeing that criminal defendants receive fair trials. I have declared mistrials in two murder cases because of problems with defendants not receiving all the discovery information to which they were entitled prior to trial: State v. Lowery (Robeson County File No. 98CRS25025) and State v. Smith (Wayne County File No. 00CRS55177). In the Smith case, the prosecutor later dismissed the murder charge after further investigation revealed that someone else probably committed the murder. (2) As a member of the Professionalism Committee of the Wake County Bar Association, I am acutely aware of the perception problems that the justice system has in our society. I am committed both to fair hearings for all parties and to the appearance of fair hearings. As one example, I have recused myself from all cases involving my wife's law firm although it is not required by North Carolina's Code of Judicial Conduct. (3) A just community requires free and open courts. I believe that my record of service shows that everyone I deal with in the court system -- attorneys, parties, jurors, court personnel, and the public - receives fair treatment.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    I plan to serve as a Wake County Superior Court Judge as long as the voters give me the opportunity.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The function of a judge in Criminal Superior Court is threefold: (1) to preside over trials of criminal matters; (2) to sentence defendants who plead guilty or are found guilty; and (3) to manage the criminal case docket. More than eighty percent of the total cases resolved in Superior Court during the last year were criminal cases (see http://www1.aoc.state.nc.us/cpms/summaryCases.do), and I have a uniquely informed perspective in dealing with the hundreds of thousands of criminal cases that come through our court system every year.

    I am the only candidate in this race with experience in criminal court. I served as a Wake County Assistant District Attorney from 1997 to 2002, prosecuting thousands of cases - everything from speeding tickets to murder. I spent nearly every day of that period of time in a courtroom dealing with criminal cases, and I understand the processes involved with resolving criminal legal issues, trying cases, and sentencing defendants. I also served as the Director of the office's Domestic Violence Unit, working closely with victims and their children to promote safe families, and as a member of the office's Dangerous Offenders Task Force, prosecuting repeat violent offenders and/or defendants with multiple charges of violent crime. Additionally, I spent a year as a research assistant at the North Carolina Supreme Court for former Chief Justice Burley Mitchell, and am therefore very familiar with the manner in which the appellate courts review criminal cases.

    Approximately sixty percent of my courtroom work since taking office as a judge has been in criminal court. I have presided over more than fifty criminal trials throughout North Carolina, including several first degree murder trials, and have handled somewhere in the neighborhood of two thousand criminal pleas during my service as a judge. While much of the media focus on sentencing involves defendants who receive prison terms, I have a thorough understanding of how important alternative sentencing programs are in the criminal justice system. In dealing with thousands of criminal cases in which substance abuse and/or mental health issues played a part, I know how important treatment programs can be in addressing the root causes of crime. I currently serve on the Board of Directors of Summit House, an inpatient substance abuse treatment facility for women with children. Similarly, I worked closely as a prosecutor with Wake County's domestic violence intervention program in monitoring domestic abusers, and served at one time as a member of the Abuser Treatment/Best Practices Subcommittee of the Domestic Violence Commission.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The function of a judge in Civil Superior Court is somewhat similar to that in Criminal Superior Court: (1) to preside over trials of civil matters; (2) to hear motions in civil cases and review records in administrative proceedings; and (3) to manage the civil case docket. Approximately forty percent of the courtroom work I have performed since taking office has involved civil cases. I have heard hundreds of motions in civil cases and held civil court throughout North Carolina, presiding over more than twenty civil jury trials. Among these trials were three medical negligence trials (with a recent one lasting five weeks), and several other multi-week trials. On occasion, I have also been specially assigned by the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court to deal with "exceptional" civil cases pursuant to Rule 2.1 of the North Carolina General Rules of Practice, sometimes at the specific request of the lawyers involved on both sides of the case. These "exceptional" civil cases are designated as such due to the complexity of the evidentiary and legal issues involved, and are typically assigned in an effort to promote the efficient administration of justice by having a single judge deal with all the issues presented in complicated cases.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    In addition to the matters with respect to my background and experience, I believe that in my role as a judge I can have a positive impact on the administration of justice in at least three ways. (1) As noted previously, I serve on the Professionalism Committee of the Wake County Bar Association and am strongly committed not only to fairness but to the appearance of fairness in all my judicial duties. (2) I have made it a point to further my judicial education by attending National Judicial College and other seminars with respect to criminal case management and other related issues. These continuing education courses have helped me streamline my case management practices and make me a more efficient judge. (3) I have worked very hard, and will continue to work very hard, to manage the criminal court system where I am presiding so it runs both fairly and efficiently. One of my Wake County responsibilities is to help deal with the mountains of prisoner mail our office gets -- requests by jailed defendants to see their lawyers or for bond hearings, motions for new trials, requests for discovery, and the like. I helped institute a system for contacting lawyers about communications that their clients have had with our office, and in this respect have worked to keep cases from falling through the cracks.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    Please see my answers to Questions Number Five and Six. Furthermore, I am aware of the perception that many people -- including lawyers -- have about the length of time that it takes many civil cases to get to court. I have made it a personal goal to resolve all civil motions and other matters I deal with as quickly and efficiently as possible, and therefore to keep the civil cases on track to be resolved in a more timely fashion.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    Ideology should not play a role in a judge's performance of judicial duties and responsibilities. Judges (particularly trial court judges) are to interpret the law, not to make decisions based on personal philosophies. The oath I took as a judge is to uphold our law, and I interpret that oath to prevent me from making decisions based on my personal beliefs. I do believe, however, that a person's background and experiences are important indicators of the type of judge that a person will be and the way that a judge will perform his or her judicial duties. My work as a prosecutor and a judge, and the evaluation of that work by the legal community and those who have appeared in my court, speak for themselves. I believe that the way my work has been evaluated is reflected in the endorsements that my campaign has received, such as the endorsement of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. As such, these types of things are much more relevant to the voters' decision whether to keep me as a judge than any statement of my personal views could be.


    click to enlarge PaulRidgeway.JPG

    PAUL C. RIDGEWAY
    Date of Birth: May 28, 1960
    Campaign Web Site: www.ridgewayforjudge.com
    Occupation & Employer: Attorney/partner, Everett Gaskins Hancock & Stevens
    Years Lived in Wake County: 39

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    I am seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time for two reasons. The first reflects my personal view of the role of public service and the legal profession in our community. The second reflects my concern for good government.

    Lawyers, by virtue of their license to practice law and their training, have a unique opportunity and indeed, in my view, an obligation, to serve the public. Service to the public may be in the form of being a strong advocate for a disenfranchised client, providing pro bono services to those unable to afford legal representation, engaging in the development of public policy in regulated areas, or simply striving to resolve discord in a peaceful and civil fashion. From the time I set about to attend law school more than 23 years ago to today, I have been motivated by the opportunity, gift and challenge that the legal profession has offered me to help others. My heroes in the legal profession, lawyers like Julius Chambers, James Exum and Dan Blue, have been people who given of themselves through their profession. My proudest moments of my career are not the businesses that I have helped build or the litigation in which I have prevailed, but rather it has been those opportunities where I was able to do good.

    It is in this context that I am running for Superior Court Judge. Good judges serve the public with every decision they make. Good judges resolve discord, create compromise, protect the innocent, protect society and the rule of law, and give a voice to the disenfranchised. I seek the opportunity to serve the public as a good judge, and hope that voters will agree that I have both the requisite legal experience and experience in public service to be effective in this role.

    The second reason that I am running for Superior Court Judge at this time is because I believe that our citizens are best served by Superior Courts that reflect a wide breadth of experience which mirrors the wide breadth of legal issues that arise in these courts. This is particularly acute the Wake County Superior Court, where, as the seat of state government, administrative appeals on matters of public concern are docketed in addition to the regular diet of civil and criminal matters.

    Specifically, I am concerned about an apparent trend that superior court judges are selected from a rather narrow pool of assistant district attorneys or other career governmental officials. At present, 5 of the 6 resident superior court judges of Wake County come from this background, including my opponent, whose experience prior to his appointment to the bench was less than five years as an assistant district attorney. While this experience and background is certainly important for our courts, and Wake County is privileged to have some excellent judges, there is a need for judges who have the experience and the perspective gained by representing private citizens, engaging in public policy debate, and working with complex civil and commercial matters.

    I have been involved in the judicial election reform debate for a number of years. The foregoing issue, namely the pool from which trial judges are drawn, has concerned me for some time. I was specifically motivated to run at this time because rather than continuing to say "someone ought to do something about this," I felt that perhaps that "someone" should be me.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    The hallmark of a just community, insofar as the courts are concerned, is a community where each member is treated fairly, with respect, and equally under the law, and that no member of the community is favored or disfavored because or race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, economic status or national origin. I am committed to these principles of justice.

    Trial judges are bound by prior case law and the facts of each case before them. However, a just community can be created by a judge who sets an example of respect for all in the courtroom, of intolerance for discrimination, and a demeanor which reflects concern and empathy for those before him or her. A just community can be fostered by a judge who renders decisions impartially, independently, and without regard to popular public opinion. A just community can be reflected by a judge who honors judicial ethics, and refrains from any appearance of bias or prejudice. When elected, I am committed to creating such a community in the courtrooms in which I preside.

    On the campaign trail, I am sometimes asked my "judicial philosophy." I respond that I draw my philosophy from an Old Testament passage: "Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly." I believe that if a judge aspires to do this, he or she will serve the citizens well, and a just community will be fostered.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    If elected (and subsequently re-elected), I plan to serve the remainder of my career as a Superior Court Judge which, under the mandatory retirement law, would allow me to serve about 27 years. I do not aspire for a higher court because I believe my highest and best use of my skills and experience would be in a trial court.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court is to insure that the accused is provided a fair trial where the presumption of innocence is safeguarded. Where guilt has been established, either by trial or by plea, the judicial function of the judge is to ensure that the penalty imposed is appropriate, fair, and properly balances the interests of the victim, sociey at large, mitigating factors influencing the defendant, and the possibility of redemption or rehabilitation.

    In my 20 years as a lawyer, my law practice has not directly involved criminal matters. I approach the task of gaining experience in criminal procedure as one of the most exciting challenges that the position offers. I believe, however, that my involvement in various community affairs has well- equipped me to effectively preside in criminal court. For example, I served for a number of years as a member of the board of directors of PLM Families Together, a Raleigh-based nonprofit providing housing and supportive services to homeless families. There, I observed first-hand the cycles of poverty, drug dependence and crime and the critical need for intervention at the most basic levels. More recently, I have been involved, on behalf of a state agency, in the establishment of a one-of-a-kind vocational education barbering school which we hope will be housed at the Harnett County Correctional Institution. Throughout this process, I have worked closely with members of the Department of Corrections and community college officials, and have become keenly aware of the need for providing rehabilitation opportunities for inmates of our State's correctional institutions.

    While these and other community activities are not a substitute for experience in criminal procedure, they reflect, through action and not just lip-service, a personal belief that many of the root causes of criminal activity are related to a failure of opportunity, and that we are more able to deter crime by fighting poverty, providing education, and creating self-reliance than by warehousing inmates in overcrowded and costly prison facilities.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court is to ensure a fair trial for all parties, to seek to bring resolution to contested matters, to understand and make informed rulings on often complex factual and legal circumstances, to provide for efficient administration of justice so as to minimize the financial burdens associated with civil matters for both taxpayer and litigants and, ultimately, to provide an environment where each litigant, whether successful or not, appreciates that the process of resolving the civil dispute was fair and impartial.

    In addition to the judicial functions set out above, in Wake County, Superior Court Judges have an additional judicial function imposed in many instances by state law. Wake County Superior Court is the court of original jurisdiction for many administrative appeals arising from state agencies, and many matters of public policy brought under various statutes. In this regard, it is vitally important that the Wake County Superior Court Judges not be beholden to the political interests of state government or any interest group, but rather, be able to render decisions based upon a well-reasoned understanding of the policy debate and a fair and impartial determination of fact and law.

    For 20 years I have been a civil trial lawyer. I have represented a single mother in a trailer park whose septic tank constantly overflowed into her child's play area, and I have represented one of the world's largest manufacturers in antitrust litigation. I have counseled individuals and businesses in commercial transactions, in the purchase and sale of businesses, in the expansion of businesses into international markets, and have assisted in the formation of hundreds of for-profit and non-profit entities in our community. For fifteen years, I have taught commercial law courses as an adjunct professor of law at Campbell Law School, and have lectured and written on various topics of civil and commercial law. This broad experience has well-equipped me to undertake the judicial functions of civil superior court.

    With respect to the administrative appeals and public policy issues docketed in Wake County by virtue of the County's proximity to the seat of state government, I am able to draw from a wealth of administrative and public policy experience. For example, for a number of years, I have participated as a volunteer in formulation of public policy relating to the deployment of broadband internet service to rural North Carolina. I served as a commissioner of the Rural Internet Access Authority, where I chaired the ethics committee, authored the ethics policy, and ultimately chaired the Incentives Committee which crafted and administered $30 million in grants and incentives to accelerate the deployment of broadband infrastructure and demand throughout the State. In addition, I have participated at various levels in the formulation of public policy regarding election law reform, economic development initiatives in economically depressed areas, and the enhancement of North Carolina's biotechnology manufacturing opportunities. I hold a Master's of Public Administration from N.C. State University.

    It is this sort of background, and the experiences one gains through several decades in the practice of law and a commitment to community affairs, that I believe distinguishes me from my opponent in this race. Our citizens deserve judges in Superior Court with a demonstrated ability to grapple with complex issues, to comprehend the critical public interest involved, and the ability to render impartial and reasoned opinions.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    Some of the most positive changes in the administration of justice in our criminal justice system have arisen from the advocacy efforts of judges who observed a defect, and sought a solution through the crafting of public policy. Several decades ago, Wake County District Court Judge Bason spearheaded an effort to create a better juvenile justice system. In the '80s, former Chief Justice Exum established a "proportionality review" in death penalty cases to ensure that minority defendants were not disproportionately sentenced to death as compared to non-minority defendants in similar crimes. More recently, former Chief Justice Lake advocated for the establishment of the Innocence Commission to safeguard against prosecutorial misconduct or grievous errors in our criminal justice system.

    With respect to both the civil and criminal justice system, it is my view that it is part of the role of a judge, as a public servant, to seek to improve the administration of justice. In 2002, I was elected by the 3500 members of the 10th Judicial District Bar to serve as their president. My prior service to the Bar had been as Chair of the county bar's Public Service Committee, and during my tenure as President of the Car, we continued an aggressive public service program. To the extent that my past actions provide insight into what the future might hold as a superior court judge, I would hope that the same drive for public service that I have demonstrated in my career as a lawyer will carry over into my career as a judge, and that where opportunities for improvement to the administration of justice exist, I will step forward to lead.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    Having practiced in the Civil Superior Court for 20 years, two issues immediately come to mind that would improve the administration of justice. The first is increasing the efficiency of the court process through the more aggressive implementation of technology. Our state courts lag far behind the federal courts and many other states, which have adopted virtual files and paperless technologies. Implementing technologies of this sort aid not only in the administration of justice, but make the courts and court records more accessible to all citizens. As noted above, I have a wealth of experience in issues relating to the deployment of broadband technologies, and would intend to be an advocate for implementing such technologies in our courthouses.

    Second, in 2003, I was appointed to the Commission on the Future of the N.C. Business Court. On that commission, we drafted recommendations which ultimately because law, and which expanded the specialized business court of North Carolina and broadened its jurisdiction. During that process, it became apparent that the existence of a court system capable of undertaking complex commercial litigation is a power economic development tool. I am committed, both in my personal commitment to run for this office, and when elected, through advocacy, to enhance the competency of our trial court system in complex civil litigation.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    A judge who allows ideology to influence his or her decisions, in my view, violates their oath of office to render justice in accordance with the law as set forth by our state and federal constitutions, court precedent, and the facts and circumstances of each case. Allowing ideology to influence decisions is unfair to litigants, and erodes the public's confidence in the courts.


    Superior Court 10C

    click to enlarge DanielGarner.JPG

    DANIEL GARNER
    Date of Birth: March 16, 1952
    Campaign Web Site: www.danielgarner.org
    Occupation & Employer: attorney, NC Commissioner of Banks
    Years Lived in Wake County: 34

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    I want to serve the people of my home in this way. I think I have the skills and experience and the temperament needed to do a good job on the bench, and I am not encumbered by obligations to anyone or any group.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    Good judges--those who understood the function and can perform within proper constraints---contribute directly to an effective system of justice, just as good advocates do. I think I can do that; I want to.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    The term is for 8 years; I plan to serve the full term.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    A good judge, first and foremost, listens. He is more interested in hearing others than his own voice. When necessary, he calls "balls and strikes." He lets the lawyers try their case; he supports the jury in its function. He keeps the case on track and moving properly, as unobtrusively as he can. I learned to listen in conducting 6,000+ hearings at the Employment Security Commission; I came to value what I could learn and discern by listening attentively and respectfully and impartially to all kinds of people, even when they are not at the highest point in their lives.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    Again, just as in criminal court, listening and then acting as needed as the referee over the process. People speak about the need for a judicial temperament, and I think there is something to that; I have experience and a maturity that allows for a broader perspective than one might expect from an advocate. Lawyers and litigants appreciate this when they have to go to court, especially in bench trials and motion practice. They do not want flash; they want thoughtfulness and care.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    I am ready to hear and rule in cases without fear or favor. I will owe no one anything, since I have not taken one dime of lawyer money to fund my campaign. And I intend to view every person who comes into that courtroom as a unique and valuable human being, entitled to respect and attention and the full measure of his or her legal rights.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    In addition to the stance I have described above, I would point out that I have a breadth of background and experience useful in civil matters---a great variety of matters in 9 years of private practice, and the later experience of hearing unemployment benefit cases, then licensing cases; writing law and regulations and seeing them implemented.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    There is still a huge consensus among lawyers and most people generally about fundamental things---truth is important, lying is reprehensible, humans are inherently valuable, man is prone to failure, laws and governments function as hedges against that, etc. As long as this consensus holds, a judge's ideology may not be so critical; he can and should be merely a part of the playing field. A judge's ideology becomes important, however, when this center fails to hold, or when litigants reject and attack this broad consensus. When that happens, a judge had better know what his core is, what the country's core is, what is the essence of our system of justice.


    click to enlarge PaulGessner.jpg

    PAUL G. GESSNER
    Date of Birth: April 11, 1963
    Campaign Web Site: www.judgegessner.org
    Occupation & Employer: Wake County District Court Judge
    Years Lived in Wake County: 42

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    I enjoy trying both civil and criminal cases. Serving as a Superior Court Judge will allow me to continue doing what I love and at the same time provide an opportunity to advance my career, as I will be hearing more complex cases. I have been a District Court Judge for 10 years, and I feel that I am professionally qualified and ready to proceed to the next trial level.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    It is essential for as just community to have a fair minded and competent judiciary. Over the past twenty years I have established a record of fairness and competence as a law enforcement officer, a prosecutor and as a judge. I have shown that I have an open mind and treat all people fairly. I consider it to be very important that the people in our community have confidence in their court system, and I will continue to strive to ensure that.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    I plan to serve my entire term. I have no plans for any other public office, judicial or otherwise.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court is to ensure that all trials and hearings are conducted within the guidelines established by law. Constitutional, statutory and established case law must be followed to ensure that the defendant's rights, as well as those of the victim, are protected and that all parties are treated equally under the law. I have presided in District Criminal Court for the past ten years and established a record of fairness and equal application of the law to all that come before me. As a former prosecutor and law enforcement officer, I have a unique insight into the needs of victims. Judges are also responsible for maintaining the orderly disposition of cases in a timely manner. I am keenly aware of the overwhelming volume of cases in our criminal courts and my record shows that I efficiently use the courts time, without compromising the rights of any party before me.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The function of a trial judge in Civil Superior Court is similar to the functions of a judge in criminal court, in that judges need to be open minded and fair to ensure that all parties have a fair trial or hearing. I am well versed in procedural and substantive law, which is a crucial element in civil court. In my ten years on the bench I have proven my ability to manage crowded court dockets, while remaining impartial and fair.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    My record of ten years of trial experience on the bench, and reputation among my colleagues and fellow members of the bar as a fair, competent, and efficient judge speak for themselves. Over the years I have sought to further my education to improve my performance as a judge, including my participation in an in-depth sentencing seminar offered by the University of North Carolina School of Government in the Spring of 2005.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    My extensive experience in our civil district and domestic courts has prepared me well for the challenges of Civil Superior Court. I have presided over numerous complexx equitable distribution cases involving millions of dollars in domestic court, and dozens of jury trials in civil district court which serve as examples of my ability to handle such cases and reach conclusions.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    The only ideology that should have a role in the performance of the office of Superior Court Judge is that of fairness and equality for all under the law. The role of a judge is to set aside all personal opinions and beliefs and ensure the law is applied fairly.


    District Court 10

    click to enlarge AidaDossHavel.jpg

    AIDA DOSS HAVEL
    Party: Registered as a Democrat, but this is a non-partisan election for a non-partisan seat
    Date of Birth: June 18, 1959
    Campaign Web Site: www.havelforjudge.com
    Occupation & Employer: Attorney; self-employed
    Years Lived in Wake County: 38 (since age 9; I'm now 47)

    1. Why are you seeking the office of District Court Judge at this time?

    I have wanted to be a District Court Judge for some time, but until this year, the timing has not been right for me. For the past ten years or so, I had elderly parent issues (I am an only child), was busy finding and marrying my best friend, and was managing a two-person legal partnership. When I finally came up for air, I suddenly realized two things: I had been a practicing attorney for 21 years, and I actually had a vision of what I wanted to accomplish as a District Court Judge (as outlined below).

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    I believe that to have a just community, we must be inclusive, not exclusive. I believe the Constitution protects everybody, not just citizens, and I believe that all people are entitled to civil rights and civil liberties, not just those with certain skin colors, certain religions, or certain sexual orientations.

    On the criminal side, I believe we can only have a just community when our poorest, sickest, and most downtrodden members of society have equal access to justice and that justice is absolutely untainted. The equal access to justice has taken a large step forward with the creation of the Public Defender's Office in Raleigh. The more pressing issues for me when I become a judge will be whether warrants have been properly obtained, whether evidence has been legally gathered, whether witnesses are testifying truthfully and not out of fear of retribution or out of hope for leniency, and whether the prosecution has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt. When all those elements are present, I will have no problem finding a defendant guilty and sentencing him or her appropriately. If, however, warrants are defective, evidence is unlawfully obtained, or witnesses are coerced or bribed, the rules of evidence and criminal procedure may require exclusion of evidence or dismissal of a case. It is important to keep the system honest.

    I am answering this question on September 11, 2006, and I feel it is important to note that in the last 5 years, many of our civil liberties and Constitutional protections have been steadily eroded by misguided legislation in the name of national security. The only things that stand between the ordinary citizen and a police state are the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of the various states. That is why I have been a "card-carrying" member of the ACLU since 1994, and why I want to do my part as a judge to uphold Constitutional protections against unreasonable encroachment by the State.

    I have long been committed to justice for those who have the least access to the system, and my commitment is shown by my involvement in the following activities:

  • Prisoners' Rights Project - For all 3 years of law school, I was involved in this organization, which answered letters from inmates who had legal issues relating to post-trial motions, medical conditions, and civil rights violations.

  • ACLU - I have been a card-carrying member of this organization for more than twelve years, and I believe there is no other organization that does more to promote justice and fairness in this country. I do not always agree with its positions, but the ACLU is always at the top of the mountain, defending our Constitutional rights, before the slippery slope even begins.

  • Wake County Board of Elections Precinct Official - For over twelve years, I have worked in a polling place on every election day, whether it was a general election, a primary, or a run-off. I loved being a part of the voting process, and I thoroughly enjoyed helping the elderly, the infirm, and the confused cast their votes.

  • Women's Center Hotline volunteer - For thirteen years, I devoted one night a month to answering calls from women who needed legal advice and could not afford to see an attorney. Many times, I knew that one phone call would be all the legal advice that woman would ever receive about her situation, and I always tried to be as helpful and specific as I could.

  • Most recently, I served on a Bench/Bar committee helping to draft rules and forms for Wake County's new integrated Family Court, in which one assigned judge hears every issue that arises in a family dispute, whether it is domestic violence, a juvenile matter, a child support issue, or the equitable distribution of marital property. While the rules and forms were designed to promote early disclosure of assets, income, and debts, they have also added greatly to the cost of litigation for a party, and I remain concerned about those people who will not be able to afford quality representation for their very immediate issues.

    My commitment to a just society is also shown in the way I am choosing to campaign for District Court Judge. So far, I have participated in the following events:

  • Ivy League Minority Business Expo - I was the only Wake County candidate at this mostly African-American business fair. My opponent, who is African-American, was not there.

  • Two Equality-PAC events (for the gay and lesbian community), and I will also have a booth at the Pride Festival in Durham at the end of this month. My opponent has been to none of these.

  • Muslim-American Public Affairs Council Town Hall Meeting

  • Interfaith Prayer Service at Meymandi Concert Hall, shortly after the Israeli-Lebanon conflict began. No other candidates were present¬.

  • A Doctors Without Borders event at Exploris Museum, sponsored by a Triangle coalition of Muslims, Jews, and Christians. No other candidates were present¬.

  • La Fiesta del Pueblo - Two weeks ago, I spent two days at this vibrant and colorful street fair, reaching out to eligible Hispanic voters to encourage them to become active in the democratic process. I was the only Wake County candidate to have a booth at this event and was included in an NBC 17 TV news report broadcast that evening about the event.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    I am 47 years old, and if elected, I plan to serve as long as the citizens of Wake County will have me. I enjoy the issues that arise in District Court, I am comfortable with them, and I truly have no desire to seek any higher office.

    4. What is the judicial function of a District Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The function of a judge in criminal court is twofold: to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant (applying the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard), and then if he or she is found guilty, to sentence him or her within the parameters of the Structured Sentencing Act. Also, as I stated above, the judge must decide whether warrants were properly obtained, whether evidence was legally gathered, and whether witnesses are testifying truthfully and not out of fear of retribution or out of hope for leniency.

    Because of my commitment to fairness and justice, I will be a completely fair and impartial judge. My opponent comes to the bench having served all of his five years as an attorney in the Wake County District Attorney's Office. While many Assistant District Attorneys have gone on to become fine and impartial judges, it is my belief that it is better to have judges who understand and appreciate the limits on the power of the State, and who do not come from a prosecutorial background.

    5. What is the judicial function of a District Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The function of a judge in civil court is to make a decision based on the merits of a case, applying the applicable standard of proof (usually a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, but not always). I am the best candidate to perform this function because I have actually been a civil litigator for 18-20 years, whereas my opponent's 5 years of experience have all been on the criminal side (I don't believe he has ever been in private practice, or if he has, it has only been for a very short period).

    The cases I have handled have included collections work, general civil disputes, breach of contract cases, and landlord-tenant disputes. I have also handled hundreds of what are widely considered to be some of the most difficult cases a District Court judge is called upon to decide: bitterly contested custody disputes, million dollar equitable distribution issues, and thorny child support and alimony problems, any of which are sometimes overlaid with domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health concerns. These cases call for a thorough knowledge of the law, enormous patience, and a good working knowledge of human nature, and after 21 years of practice, I believe I do have these attributes. To the best of my knowledge, my opponent has never tried a custody case, an equitable distribution case, or an alimony case.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal District Court?

    First, I've spent my entire legal career in private practice, while my opponent has spent little, if any, time in private practice. What that means is that I understand from a very real life perspective the demands on attorneys who have to deal with clients in the courtroom, have to get in and out as quickly as possible, have to get back to their office so they can return phone calls and see more clients, and have to juggle all these things while paying for the office overhead and making a living. I will run an efficient courtroom to get attorneys in and out as quickly as possible.

    Second, I will promote greater respect for the people who come into our courtrooms. On two recent occasions, I was quite surprised at the harsh tone some of the Assistant District Attorneys took with defendants, most of whom were there for minor traffic violations. One ADA told a full courtroom of people that they could answer the calendar call in one of only three ways, that he did not want to hear any one of them say anything else whatsoever, and that there was no need to say anything else. His attitude concerned me, because I believe that if we (Assistant DAs, private attorneys, judges, clerks, and bailiffs), as officers of the court, do not treat "the people" with respect, then they will not treat the system with respect. And the court system has always been the one branch of government that people could count on to get a fair hearing and a redress of grievances.

    Third, I will support and promote alternatives to incarceration, when appropriate. These alternatives include the first offenders' program, drug court, teen court, regular probation, intensive probation, electronic house monitoring, anger management class, the Domestic Offenders' Sentence to Education (DOSE) program, and others. When active jail time is appropriate, I will not hesitate to impose it, but in some cases, people need intensive monitoring, support, and education instead of being warehoused behind a bleak, uncaring wall.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil District Court?

    I am passionate about helping people bring about peaceful resolutions to their personal issues.

    To be specific, I have become convinced in the last three or so years, that litigation is one of the worst ways of resolving civil disputes, and to that end, I have been trained in collaborative law and as a family financial mediator. In collaborative law, the parties and their attorneys sign a pledge not to go to court, and to share information openly and honestly in a series of round table meetings. If, after 3 or 4 meetings, the parties honestly cannot resolve their differences with the help of the attorneys, then the attorneys have to withdraw, and the parties have to hire new attorneys to go with them to court. All four people also seek a "fair" resolution, as opposed to what's "legal."

    My belief is that there are many alternative ways of resolving disputes outside the courtroom, and sometimes people just need a little push in the right direction or a helpful suggestion to get them to think about creative, "out-of-the-box" solutions to their issues. Besides collaborative law and mediation, there are parent coordinators, arbitrators, referees, neutral evaluators, and judicial settlement conferences available as alternatives to litigation. These alternative methods are all being used, with great success, in Wake County right now--just not enough!

    Of course, there will always be some people who need their day in court, and for them, I and all our other judges will be available. My hope is that I will be able to say something to these people at the end of a trial that will make them think of a more creative way to resolve their dispute the next time an issue arises, instead of just running to the courthouse and filing a motion. I also want to encourage attorneys to start looking at these more creative ways of resolving disputes.

    One very small thing that I would like to do as a judge is to help attorneys handling absolute divorces get in and out of court quicker. These cases are generally scheduled at 10:00 am on Fridays, after the pro se divorces from 9:00 to 10:00. But the pro se divorces frequently run long, causing attorneys to wait 30 minutes to an hour or more to handle a matter that could have been resolved in five minutes. If the attorneys cannot get in and out quickly, they will have to charge more, which in turn makes it more difficult and expensive for the average litigant. I would clearly explain to the pro se people why I was taking the attorney divorces ahead of them, and I would venture to guess that the pro se litigants would not mind too much, because they typically have already planned to take off half a day or the whole day to get their divorces.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    None, I hope. I think ideology does matter at the Superior Court level, at the Court of Appeals level, and at the Supreme Court level. But District Court in North Carolina is a very basic level of court, where people matter more than politics. What I mean by that is that it really doesn't matter whether a judge is a Democrat or a Republican when it comes to trying a custody case. The judge certainly doesn't look down from the bench and ask, "Which of you is a Democrat? Which of you is a Republican?" Instead, the judge tries to make a decision that is in the best interests of the child.

    By the same token, I've tried hundreds of family law cases over the years in front of both Republican and Democratic judges, and honestly, I cannot think of a single family law case in which any judge made a decision that was politically-based or ideologically motivated. That is amazing, and something Wake County should be very proud of.

    And the same is true in criminal cases, juvenile cases, general civil cases, small claims appeals, and involuntary commitments. Our District Court judges focus on the merits of the case and on making decisions consistent with the law, not on advancing any particular political ideology. I admire our judges, and it would be a privilege for me to serve with them.


    VINCE ROZIER
    Party: Position is Unaffiliated (Registered Democrat)
    Date of Birth: October 2, 1976
    Campaign Web Site: www.JudgeRozier.com
    Occupation & Employer: Wake County District Court Judge
    Years Lived in Wake County: 5 years

    1. Why are you seeking the office of District Court Judge at this time?

    I am seeking the office of District Court Judge because I want to continue to serve my community by making fair decisions, providing experienced leadership, and encouraging positive change in people's lives. I do not have to be a Judge to serve the public. In fact, I was involved in my community prior to becoming a Judge and will continue do so afterwards. However, as a District Court Judge I am able to use my professional experience as an assistant district attorney to help citizens one individual at a time.

    During my time as Judge, there have been a number of experiences that will surely stay with me:

  • stepping down from the bench to call the mother of a 16 year old and informing her that her son was charged with Possession of Drugs,

  • parents bringing their daughter back to court for me to talk to her about staying in school,

  • a father returning to Child Support Court to let me know that my words and actions changed his path,

  • an abused wife approaching to shake my hand from the words of encouragement I shared with her, and

  • the recently homeless 17 year old, soon-to-be mother who cried when I remitted court costs to help her acquire a fresh start.

    With each new day, there is a new experience that makes me appreciate being a Judge even more.

    We District Court Judges have more face to face contact with the public than Judges at any level, and a day in court is a monumental occasion in the lives of many people. I wish to be one of the faces of justice for the citizens of Wake County. As a Judge, I can help people to have respect for our system through my rulings and in how I treat them. I can also assist them to understand that though our system is imperfect, but we strive to make it the best humanly possible.

    Overall, I want to be a Judge for selfish reasons. I want to be a District Court Judge because I personally enjoy helping others, and this is one of the best ways I am able to do so.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    In order to build a just community in the Triangle, a diverse judiciary is essential. There are 15 District Court Judges in Wake County. Ten of our judges are women, and I am one of only two racial minorities. Thus, my election to office would not help create a more diverse judiciary. It would, however, prevent us from regression.

    A more just community requires that our judiciary reflect our citizenry. A citizen should feel that the decision a Judge makes is based on the evidence and the law. A more evenly diverse judiciary reduces the question of whether a Judge's decision was based on anything other than the law.

    Additionally, I feel I can make a positive impression in Wake County by working with young men and students. Serving as a District Court Judge would provide the position and opportunities to be more effective in my efforts. One does not have to be a Judge or an attorney to encourage young people to achieve and stay crime free. However, being a young Judge and speaking to young people as a Judge does provide them with an immediate example of what is possible.

    Finally, the respect that I have for each individual who appears in court would also allow me to assist in the building of a more just community. I believe that my attitude of respect towards others is what allowed me to be nominated by me fellow attorneys, appointed by the Governor, and endorsed by organizations such as NC Association of Women Attorneys and the Raleigh/ Wake Police Benevolent Association.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    I plan to serve the full four years if elected. Also, if elected, I plan to run again to hold this position. Thus, it is my hope to have this position for at least 8 years.

    4. What is the judicial function of a District Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    As a District Court Judge, I have served as both Judge and Jury in criminal court. As Judge, one must be familiar with how the law applies to a variety of crimes from speeding and Driving While Impaired to Breaking and Entering and Possession with Intent to Sell and Deliver Cocaine. A Judge must also be familiar with the standards and burdens of proof that apply to the different steps of a criminal investigation.

    As a former prosecutor, I have a vast amount of experience with the law and the procedures of District Criminal Court. I handled over a thousand DWI cases and prosecuted various charges that ranged from speeding to first degree murder. Though no two cases are exactly the same, most cases I encounter as Judge will involve an area which I have some previous legal experience.

    As a District Court Judge, I have served in the position of jury in misdemeanor trials. I was prepared to accept this challenge because of my experience with approximately 60 misdemeanor jury trials as an attorney. Because of my experience in trying misdemeanors before juries, I have appeared before over 720 Wake County citizens who have served as jurors. I understand from these jurors where reasonable doubt exists.

    Additionally, as Judge, I do not believe that I have given the District Attorney's office an easier route because of my former experience. At the time of me writing this answer, approximately 40% of my trials have received verdicts of not guilty or dismissed. My decisions have been based on the evidence that has been presented and not because of any allegiances.

    Each trial case is different, and I endeavor to be a fair Judge with each individual trial.

    5. What is the judicial function of a District Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The Judge in Civil Domestic Court often serves in both the role of Jury and Judge. As Judge, I have presided in over two thousand child support cases, numerous domestic violence cases, and various non-domestic cases. I have encountered varied fact patterns, heard from parties with diverse backgrounds, and listened to attorneys make different types of arguments. Each time made me more prepared me for the next experience.

    There are some cases in Civil District Court where the Judge does not sit as jury. In these non-domestic cases, the judge must be familiar with jury trials and jury procedures. My experience with approximately 70 jury trials provides experience that few attorneys have. I have vast experience with jury selection, jury charge conference, and jury instructions. I also understand the necessity and procedures for hearings that need to take place outside the presence of the jury.

    Additionally, I have experience with over 720 jurors selected in my trials and over 1000 potential jurors (jurors plus those excused form serving). This experience allows me to assist jurors in understanding their duties and to make them feel more comfortable about their service.

    The person elected to this seat will primarily serve in criminal court. However, these qualifications make me the better candidate for Civil District Court as well.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal District Court?

    Currently, Wake County District Court has a backlog of cases. We do not even have enough Judges for all of our criminal courtrooms. My familiarity with the criminal process allows for me to quickly move from case to case. This provides the opportunity for more people to have their case heard. Thus, my understanding of the criminal process and Wake County procedures(i.e. called and fails, failures to appear, blue sheets, recalling orders for arrest, gold sheets, bond amounts, pre-trial release, etc.) would help me to improve the administration of justice.

    Ninety-five (95%) percent of Wake County District Court is criminal. The Judge who wins this election will primarily serve in Criminal Court because we already have our Family Court Judges established. Wake County deserves someone who will not have to learn on the job for the majority of the cases heard.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil District Court?

    Much of Civil District Court concerns trials and hearings. My experience as an attorney in over 500 bench trials, 100 superior court hearings, and approximately 70 jury trials has prepared me for serving as a Judge in Civil District Court. Having a Judge with my experience will only improve the administration of justice.

    Also, the compassion and common sense that I have applied to Domestic Violence and Child Support Court are necessary for the proper administration of justice. In Child Support Court, I have deciphered the difference between a "Dead Beat Parent," and someone struggling to find honest work. In Domestic Violence Court, I have attempted to assist numerous victims through a difficult time in their lives.

    The experience and judicial discernment that the attorneys of Wake County recognized in nominating me would allow me to improve the administration of justice in Civil District Court.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    District Court Judges have many opportunities to allow their political ideologies to affect their judicial decisions. Judges refer citizens to rehabilitative, diversion programs, community service programs, etc. These programs are available in Juvenile, Child Support, all Criminal Traffic, and Domestic Violence Courts.

    Ideology may be the determining factor in whether a Judge provides someone the opportunity to create a new future for her/himself.

    (Speaking to individuals who are entering or successfully completing these various programs is one of the highlights of my role as Judge.)

    I do not find myself to be an activist Judge or one who believes in strict interpretation. The only ideology I endeavor to express each day is one of fairness.

    • 2006 county, legislative and judicial races

    Comments

    Subscribe to this thread:

    Add a comment

    INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

    • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
    • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
    • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

    Permitted HTML:
    • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
    • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
    • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
    • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

    Latest in Candidate Questionnaires

    Facebook Activity

    Twitter Activity

    Comments

    Laura Fjeld's conduct as UNC General Administration general counsel is irrelevant. What she does as an attorney may or may …

    by CarolinaCalling on Laura Fjeld (Candidate Questionnaires)

    Clay is extremely intelligent and he has the knowledge and willingness that he will use when he gets to Congress!

    by Judy Lautenschleger on Clay Aiken (Candidate Questionnaires)

    Most Read

    No recently-read stories.

    Visit the archives…

    © 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
    RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation