Name as it appears on the ballot: Will Raymond
Date of birth: 1961
Home address: 209 Mt. Bolus Rd. Chapel Hill NC
Campaign Web site: campaign.willraymond.org, citizenwill.org
Occupation & employer: Tibco Software Developer
Home phone: 932-1035
Cell phone: 360-9939
1. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader?
Throughout my life I have stepped forward and taken on tasks that others couldnt or wouldnt do.
Sometimes it was as simple as pitching in to save a Scout troop (this is how I became one of the youngest Junior Scout Masters yes, I was a Boy Scout our Council had). Sometimes it was pitching in to battle indifference as I did in working to open local elections to students when I attended ECU. Sometimes it was pitching in because a fundamental principle was offended like ceding our Constitutional rights to a commercial entity, as in the red-light camera issue and no one else stepped into the breach. Sometimes it is pitching in to help because I have developed an expertise as in the case of the Lincoln Arts Center in working with our Towns staff and Council to solve problems.
In these cases, and others, I have found that taking on a task taking responsibility for an outcome can inspire others to work alongside me for a positive result.
Even though I managed teams at Northern Telecom, have been a successful entrepreneurial CIO/CTO at startups like Reged.com, I well know the difference between management and leadership. For some, this is a confusing lesson.
Fundamental to my process are two guiding principles: education activating the interest of an informed public and walking the talk leading by example. As a Council member I will work to unleash our citizenrys talents to solve the issues before us. And if I promote a particular policy, say asking UNC to live up to the highest environmental standards at Carolina North, I will also work so that our Town can proudly walk the talk.
Finally, I think this quote, which is part of my CitizenWill.org website, captures what I believe:
"On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right."
Passionate and forthright, for the last 6 years, the issues Ive worked on popular or not are those that I believed right.
Please be specific about your public and community service background.
Degrees and work history
I have served on several Town advisory boards:
2. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I am registered as unaffiliated in Orange County though I prefer the term independent as that more accurately portrays my political philosophy. Like more and more folks in Orange County, the stale, divisive practice of categorizing voters by slotting them in one silo or another doesnt work.
Sure, I have assisted the Orange County Democrats in GOTV efforts for many years but have not been willing to join the party because of the lack of leadership at the national levels. I was against both the Afghanistan and Iraq invasions. I believe the party acquiesced in the continued shredding of our Constitution via the Patriot Act and other offenses. Tacitly, through inaction, this loyal opposition suborned torture and diminished our countrys humanity. What label does that earn me?
I reject the notion that living within ones means, as our Town needs to learn, is a conservative principle. If you want to do good, you have to have money in the bank. Fiscal responsibility and prudence is, to me, as liberal as it gets.
I search for effective public policy irrespective of its origin and judge its worth based on fundamental principles: is it in the public good, are the goals measurable, can it be implemented in a fiscally prudent fashion, did the public weigh-in?
I believe that an effective democracy demands that an informed public be put front and center in their own governance.
I have a well established track record of reaching out and educating our local citizenry on issues before them. I have worked to broaden participation calling for super-precincts, non-partisan elections at the county level, cumulative voting, fighting divisive districting by all our citizens. As far as governance, Ive sought reforms in the way our advisory boards operate better minutes, agendas, making meeting times and places more accessible, etc. I continue to ask our Council to adopt a policy requiring agendas to be complete seven days prior to a meeting.
Believing a sustainable community requires an informed public, I have led the way using several novel, at least in our local community, techniques to educate our residents on the consequences of our Councils decisions.
Using GoogleEarth, 3D simulations of Downtown I have not only sketched out what various projects will look like but provided a template our Planning Department can use to continue to educate our populace.
Using googleVideo and youTube, Ive put clips of their fellow citizens calling for social justice out on Rogers Road, shown their Superior Court candidates debating policy, used my shaky Will-cam to record the Carolina North presentations, posted the arguments for and against Lot #5 in an effort to promote wider public discussion and cover issues that our local media usually gives little coverage of.
I havent restricted myself to local issues but have spoken out against various State level issues - the lottery, the death penalty, the fiscally imprudent Amendment One to name a few.
Locally, Ive taken on electoral districting, balancing the local options tax and expanding voting rights.
Moving forward, I will press for the greatest participation by an informed public. Work on prudent budgeting so we have the necessary resources to address our critical issues. Put the public front-and-center in their governance.
3. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I have taken on some rather thorny issues in the past. The red-light camera program, which folks to this day still tell me prevents them from supporting me. Working the Lot #5 development issues which cost me support among the local political elite. Losing on the county districting issue (which I opposed on the grounds that it didnt solve the underlying issue and that better methods, like cumulative voting, which encouraged coalitions should be tried first).
Over the next four years, Im sure Ill have an opportunity to practice putting what is right in front of what is popular. In the near term, here a few issues that I believe need to be addressed but will not necessarily be popular.
Reform the Art Commission Our Town, in general, is becoming more and more predisposed to consumption and less to production. I believe the Arts Commission deserves adequate and sustained funding beyond the %1 for art program but I strongly disagree with the current tilt towards purchasing expensive signature pieces of art. We need to reform the commission so that it can, one, take on the responsibility for hands-on production of art by our residents starting with taking the Lincoln Arts Center under its wing and, two, shift the balance between consumption and creation.
Finding a location within our community for the mens homeless shelter is a moral necessity. Selling that to the affected neighborhoods will require stalwart leadership.
Our Town must take responsibility for our garbage. We might end up having to pay more to correct two injustices an existing one and one that is yet to be. First, we must address the concerns of our Rogers Road neighbors. Second, we have to work within a productive relationship to find other local landfill sites to manage our garbage at home. The trash transfer center sited somewhere other than Eubanks -is a stop-gap we will probably have to live with in the short term. Our citizens will have to take on the responsibility fiscally and otherwise for dealing with our trash close to home.
Each of these issues could be unpopular if not handled effectively.
4. The Independents mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
An informed citizenry is a core value of my activism a mission I will expand upon as a Council member.
Social justice is not just something we seek for folks living half-way across the world. We must practice the values Chapel Hill espouses and seek justice for our neighbors on Rogers Road.
We must maintain a commitment to live within our means. Not to borrow water from other locales, not to ship garbage to other poor communities. Fiscally, we have to tighten our Towns financial belt so that folks that have contributed decades to our community will not be driven out. Affordable housing is important, affordable living more so.
Our community will be measured by its compassion. We must differentiate between the homeless, the mentally ill and the troublemakers Downtown. Punish individuals for their bad behaviors, not tar a whole population because they dont fit.
In terms of our Town staff, we need to reverse some trends that have started to take hold. The inability of an employee to have adequate advice within a human resources action needs to be corrected directly. How we treat our Town employees is a reflection of our values. If we espouse justice without, we need to practice it within.
5. Carolina North could transform the look of Chapel Hill, as well as set precedents in town-gown relations. What zoning regulations and building standards should the city implement on the project? Explain the optimal process by which the town could work with UNC on this and future projects.
In 2005 I called for a rethink of Carolina North. I sought a new process and a new plan. At the time, some of the incumbents Im running against now cynically dismissed the idea.
Wishful thinking, I was told yet I knew we needed to rework the stale two-step our Town and UNC was stuck dancing.
Shortly after the election, UNC brought forward a new framework for building consensus. The LAC (UNC Leadership Advisory Comm.) was the result. A watchdog of UNC for many years, I put what small political capital I had behind this process because I felt it was an excellent opportunity to forge a new kind of working relationship.
Sure, there were some missteps on both sides, and I worked both behind and in-front of the scenes to nudge the process forward.
I now think we have the beginnings of a framework we can buttress and build upon. Moving forward our Council needs to commit to a transparent, honest approach in dealing with the friction between what UNC wants and what our community can support.
I think Carolina North could be a win for both UNC and Chapel Hill if we commit to a structured relationship.
As far as zoning, we need a new type of zone and a new process. Above and beyond the new zone, our Town needs to work within a development agreement that is negotiated IN THE OPEN and with the fullest of public participation (here is an opportunity to use some of the planning education techniques I pioneered locally).
First, the new process needs to be fair that means making the outcome timely and predictable. If UNCs proposal doesnt live up to our communitys standards, we need to reject it quickly. If UNC does commit to our requirements, the end-point of the negotiation should be visible.
Second, the new process must be informed by a Carolina North master plan. This master plan should set the theme for the ultimate build-out of Carolina North. We are looking for an integrated approach and not a piecemeal aggregation of spillover buildings.
Third, Im looking for appropriately scaled structures. Human dimensioned. UNC is working in that direction with peripheral structures of 2-3 stories scaling up to 4-5 (human scale).
Fourth, open space is not just an ideal, it is a commitment.
Fifth, the master plan must show a deeper integration into existing neighborhoods than UNC has currently shown an interest in developing.
Sixth, while our community is insisting that Carolina North be transit-oriented, we need to develop a flexible framework for managing the piecewise development of transit infrastructure as Carolina North blossoms.
Finally, Im deeply concerned that neither our Town nor the University has adequately accounted for offsite impacts be they traffic, environmental or economic. As with transit, we need a goals-based, measurable approach that can adapt to changing conditions.
To build credibility our Town must lead by example. Our leadership needs to react honestly to dispense with theatrics. The framework we work within must incorporate a design agreement, new zoning and an evergreen process that is designed to evolve.
To facilitate this I propose a standing organization of all our communities stakeholders to manage the process.
6. Along those development lines, growth in northwest Chapel Hill is an issue important to the towns citizens. What is your plan for growth in that sector? How will it be achieved?
I applaud the efforts of the recent Northern Area Task Force but am concerned about some of the reports components.
First, I understand the emphasis on a transit-oriented approach but coupling that with excessive density, in my informed opinion, will erode the charm of surrounding neighborhoods. The corrosive effect of a dense multi-use site will be felt most keenly in those neighborhoods that are more traditionally blue-collar.
Second, we need to treat the whole of the MLK, Jr. corridor as a piece.
With Carolina North coming online, the further development of Downtown, Hillsborough425, the slice from the Y to the Police Station identified already as an economic opportunity zone, the pressure to create a dense transit-oriented canyon lining MLK, Jr. will only increase. Lining MLK, Jr. with four or more story, mixed-usage sites will disintegrate the already diminished bonds between neighbors on either-side of that corridor. Not treating the corridor as a whole will burden some areas with excessive development and create all the concomitant difficulties that arise with too much density
Finally, we cant grow ourselves out of our land-use problems. While tempting, for what some see as smart growth reasons, to build densely along this major thoroughfare - to take advantage, for instance, of the improved (we hope) transit capability between Carolina North and Downtown doing so will rob Chapel Hill of one of its strongest assets a still beautiful and neighborhood friendly entrance from the North.
How will it be achieved?
Not just through prudent land use policy. Not just by partnering with existing neighborhoods.
Again, the NATF has started a process that needs to be extended.
We need a cohesive end-to-end vision of what we want the future MLK, Jr. corridor to look like. We need more than a set it and forget it comprehensive plan. We need a framework which embodies measurable goals. We need a yearly process to reality-check whether were meeting those development goals. We also need to build in some flexibility to manage surprises good or bad as this corridor evolves.
7. While Greenbridge has been lauded as an environmentally friendly housing development, there are also concerns that it threatens adjacent lower-income neighborhoods. What do you think the towns strategy should be in regards to gentrification?
While I celebrated Greenbridges developers commitment to build a stunningly green (though less so now) development, I was one of a few citizens that questioned its location. Greenbridge at University Square, Conner Drive, Eastgate no problem. Greenbridge adjacent to Northside - big problem.A number of sitting Council members claimed that the Northside NCD (neighborhood conservation district) would serve as a bulwark against the corrosive presence of Greenbridge. Maybe so, but the shadow physical and economic that Greenbridge throws extends farther than Northside.
The majority of the current Council seemed unswayed by arguments that the affordable commercial spaces within a few blocks of Greenbridge will disappear if Greenbridge is successful. Many of these locations contain minority-owned businesses. It is difficult to believe that the hairdressers next door to Greenbridge wont be one of the first casualties of Greenbridges success.
Looking South and East of Greenbridge, there are neighborhoods not currently protected under NCD. Again, commercial infill will probably follow on Greenbridges success.
Back to Northside. I believe the NCD will not protect the traditional makeup of that neighborhood.
When I first came to Chapel Hill, Carrboros mill homes could be bought on a modest salary. Now, even the most ramshackle of those houses, sell beyond many folks pocketbooks. Keeping their homes footprint, many buyers upgrade their properties to justify the cost.
The NCD does nothing to reduce this type of gentrification.
Greenbridges shadow, then, will stretch into the Northside. What can the Town do to minimize the spreading disintegration of the traditional makeup of this neighborhood? Commit to not lining Rosemary with similar up-scale buildings. A few more luxury high-rises stretching East to West will ensure the deepest penetration of gentrification into Northside. Our policies and decisions should recognize that fact.
Finally, we need to renew our Towns commitment to police Northside effectively. I believe that the drug dealers hanging out on Rosemary will move deeper into Northside to escape the greater scrutiny that I think Greenbridges millionaire homeowners will demand.
It will say something about our community if we finally deal with the dealers only because rich folks moved into the neighborhood. It will say something worse about our community if we let it exacerbate Northsides current problems.
8. How should the town incentivize affordable housing? As for public housing, how should the town continue to manage these developments in light of reduced federal funding?
As I said in 2005, we need to work on some structural issues in the way we manage our affordable housing portfolio.
One reason we need to reform the way the land trust functions is so we can handle proposals, such as Roger Perrys East54, which wouldve added more than twice the square footage required under current ordinances. The land trusts Mr. Dowling said that because of the nature of these units, the anticipated turnover, the land trust couldnt manage them effectively.
When presented with a windfall we need to be ready to take advantage of it.
One affordable housing windfall on the horizon is UNCs Carolina North. We must be positioned to work with UNC to take advantage of this once in a communitys lifetime opportunity.
Beyond that, Im concerned that we are not efficiently dealing with the bread-n-butter issues of managing our affordable housing stock.
It is important that the affordable housing units the Town underwrites be family friendly. The units at East54, I believe, represent the small-end of family friendly. Our Council finally recognized, after I and others brought the issue forward, that the units on Lot #5 were not family friendly.
Families help stitch our community together our housing policy must reflect, in practice, the need to find families a home.
We need to continue to balance the number of units in transit-oriented, denser developments with those in new and existing neighborhoods. A strong mix of unit types will serve our community well.
Home ownership is a key value to our approach but I believe we need to explore solutions like Raleighs Carlton Place (see this Citizen Will blog entry). For a fraction of the known outlay of Lot #5 ($8.5 million so far), we could kick start a development that is both family friendly and much more affordable than the units our Town is getting from RAM Development.
Money is a lure but we have to wean our Town off of in lieu payments. When a developer commits voluntarily, under the existing %15 rule or as part of the proposed inclusionary zoning ordinance to build square footage, we must take them up on that offer. Square footage should be the measure of our success. Right now were escalating our reliance on in lieu monies. Square footage will not get cheaper. If we need funds to maintain the affordable housing stock we need to find them elsewhere.
Finally, the most affordable housing is housing folks already own. We need to keep our tax rate and fees down so folks in existing housing are not driven out. We need to adopt policies that maintain neighborhoods, like Elkins Hills, that offer affordable entry points for young couples.
9. The towns comprehensive plan emphasizes regional planning and cooperation. What are the most important issues in regional planning? What results are you looking for? How would you achieve them?
Chapel Hill is part of contiguous and overlapping planning zones. Each community and extra-territorial planning authority has their own agenda, their own areas of influence. Weve seen how co-operating with Durham within the municipal planning organization (MPO) has failed in several areas over several years. Something needs to change. I would start at home.
With all these conflicting interests it is essential that Chapel Hill maintains a very clear vision of not only its own development but our communitys interplay with regional expansion.
In some ways, Chapel Hill is ahead of the game. In other ways, like keeping the comprehensive plan and other directives up-to-date and reflective of current trends, not so well.
Just as Ive called for rethinking the parameters we use to establish the boundaries of Chapel Hills own growth, I believe we need to expand and evolve our thinking on regional growth.
There are two parts to reforming our current thinking.
One is to establish a baseline for growth. For Chapel Hill, Ive suggested building a model of growth based on carrying capacity. Chapel Hill, if we want to build a sustainable community, can only draw so many gallons of water from the reservoirs. We can only generate so much trash. We can only accommodate so many cars and house so many people.
In other words, there is a limit to growth based on a number of parameters. Right now, Chapel Hill uses several different yardsticks transit capacity, financial capability, etc. that we treat as separate elements.
That is not how a community operates.
As with a balloon, if you squeeze on one element say reducing throughput on our roads then another element say air pollution from cars idling at intersections might increase. Theres a rich ecosystem that we dont currently account for.
Chapel Hill, in its planning process, needs a more nuanced and richer view of the factors that influence our communitys carrying capacity.
As with Chapel Hill, our regional planning organizations need to develop a much richer set of parameters to measure the impacts of both their and adjacent communities development.
Chapel Hill could lead the way by reforming not only how it plans for the future, creating a much more diverse model to measure impacts and opportunities, but also revising our own view of how our community sits within the larger region. Do we plan to pull water from Lake Jordan? Do we need reliable rail to ship our garbage down State? How many cars do we plan to dump on the periphery of Town?
With a stronger model of growth, a new way of talking about Chapel Hills place within our region, we should be able to start cooperating more effectively with our neighbors.
10. The council has debated obtaining contributions from developers to help pay for the operating costs of the towns free bus system. What are the pros and cons of such a plan? What formulas should be used to assess the fee amounts? What transportation needs could be met with the additional funds generated by these fees?
I believe we have already seen the corrosive effects of a Council addicted to in lieu payments.
The best approach is to work with developers to make their developments transit-friendly. Rather than cash to fuel our bus system, lets get actual design improvements better bike/pedestrian access, bus turnouts and adequate road widths. These improvements will remain long after the cash is spent.
Our transit system needs steady reliable funding for its critical infrastructure holding developers up for a source of funds is neither right nor predictable.
As with the stormwater utility, if the Town Council cannot make the case for paying for transit services out of existing revenues, they are failing in their leadership.
11. The 10-year plan to end homelessness began earlier this month. How will the town monitor progress on the plan? What accountability measures are or should be in place? What are the hurdles to accomplishing it? How can the town overcome those obstacles?
To avoid the problems we are seeing in other programs, our Council must set specific goals and measure the results of their policies.
Part of the 10 year plan is to identify candidates most amenable to this approach.
In speaking with my fellow citizens, I have run across some rather serious misconceptions about the population this program serves. Our community could use a very strong dose of education. As part of this education, we need to right size the communitys expectations. We say end homelessness in 10 years but that is not accurate. Lets get our community on-board by explaining the risks, explaining the costs and reporting regularly back to them on both the successes and failures of the program.
Failures? Yes, like a lot of programs or proposals, mistakes will be made assumptions will be invalidated. I believe the best way to bolster confidence in this program is to be excruciatingly detailed in reporting on its progress.
As I have suggested before, like other programs we need to follow up and make sure that the program is working that it not become another set it and forget it effort.
The biggest hurdle? Selling the plan to our residents.
I find it understandable that folks dont want to underwrite care for people they consider irresponsible. We need to make sure that our community understands this is both a compassionate response that holding a hand up is the right thing to do and a selfishly motivated response - by measuring the programs cost-effectiveness and demonstrating the real financial upside.
I look forward to advocating on behalf of this plan.
12. What important town departments or agencies have been, in your opinion, chronically underfunded? What have been the ramifications of that shortage? If elected, where would you find the money to more fairly fund these areas? Conversely, what town departments or agencies have been overfunded
Departments that are underfunded or in need of help include IT, the Clerks Office, Police educational services and the Planning department.
As a successful entrepreneur, I well understand the value of technology to decrease cost of delivering services, increase efficiencies and reduce operational overhead. For an organization the size of Chapel Hill, our technology expenditures are woefully inadequate. Because of this inattention there are a number of services that comparable (or smaller) communities offer on-line payments, submitting official forms, etc. which we dont. This is the tip of the iceberg.
To address the underfunding, Id consolidate the technology budgets of all departments and create a CIO position. Our Town needs a CIO to set strategic and tactical directions. Further, the CIO could regularize our technology procurement process and reduce multiplication of similar systems.
I probably use the Clerks office more often than most citizens. They need a dramatic upgrade in the way they do business. The Clerks office has a great staff but managing the in-flow and out-flow of information has taxed their current process. There are two broad commitments that I believe were failing on.
One, is to report faithfully and timely on not only the activities of the Council but of the Councils advisory boards. Minutes are late or missing. Many of the decisions made on issues that eventually rise to the Council are inadequately documented (in some cases, not documented at all). This is shameful for a Town committed to open and transparent governance.
Two, the agendas the office produces are often incomplete days before the Council addresses them. As a Council member I will push for a firm rule that if a substantive agenda item is not complete and published a full seven days before Council addresses the agenda, then no action can be taken on that item.
How would I pay for an additional position? Reduce the Mayors and Councils discretionary fund.
Finally, the Planning Board is overtaxed. Im a big fan of J.B. Culpepper but we have got to immediately reform this department. Reform will cost money. We need to invest in adequate technology to reduce paper-handling and move to an electronic-based submittal and tracking system (common elsewhere). Reform will take time. The end-to-end planning process needs to be revamped to increase predictability, to provide greater and earlier visibility to both developers and the public, to improve communication so that any project within the department can be easily tracked. Reform will take people. I believe we need to increase not only the planning staff but also the support personnel including hiring a planning technology expert.
How would I pay for this? Partially through savings created by operational efficiencies and partially by increasing, modestly, some development fees. I believe developers will pay a modest increase if we can provide a service that is predictable, transparent and timely.
13. Chapel Hill is participating in the Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project to help manage this resource, which is polluted and threatened by growth and development. What is Chapel Hills responsibility in mitigating these threats? What policies should Town Council enact to help protect water quality and quantity in Jordan Lake?
Chapel Hill has tried to be a good steward of the watersheds affecting Lake Jordan. I believe theres always an opportunity to improve upon that stewardship but we must recognize that the significant issues facing Lake Jordan are not of Chapel Hills making.
That said, Jordan Lake Non-point Source Pollution Management Strategy, developed under the auspices of the North Carolina Division of Water Quality, provides a framework for continued sound environmental management of this regional resource.
To work within that framework, our Town must commit to measuring nutrient loads and other downstream impacts. In 2005, the cost and dimension of monitoring these type impacts led to a weakening of our communitys commitment to account for its environmental impact.
In the ensuing two years, we havent moved much closer to the goals set forth in this inter-jurisdictional proposal. Then again, neither have most of the other communitys more directly affected by the worsening condition of Lake Jordan. And, of course, the impacts of Chatham Countys irresponsible growth over the last few years has swamped, probably, the affects Chapel Hill has on Lake Jordan.
Irrespective of what other communities do or dont do, I believe Chapel Hill, just as Im requesting UNC do with Carolina North, has a responsibility to monitor its off-site impacts. How can we do this effectively and efficiently?
The best way is to tap the incredible talent within our community, to reach out to the University and develop a three year plan that will achieve our goal.
Once Chapel Hill begins to monitor our communitys impact on Lake Jordan, we will be in a position to determine if further action modifying zoning, adopting additional remediation strategies, etc. is called for. In this particular case, to proactively adopt policy that might or might not mitigate our footprint does not make sense.