Joal Hall Broun | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Joal Hall Broun 

Candidate for Carrboro Alderman

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Joal Hall Broun
Full legal name, if different: Not applicable
Date of birth: February 20, 1961
Home address: 107 Creekview Circle, Carrboro, N.C. 27510
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: (Provide by next Monday)
Occupation & employer: Director, Lobbying Compliance Division, N.C. Secretary of State
Home phone: 919-933-7725
Work phone: 919-807-2172
Cell phone: 919-357-3647

1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Carrboro? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?

The most important issues facing Carrboro are:

  1. Increasing of the stock of moderately and affordable priced housing for purchase and rental.
  2. Maintaining the affordable living in Carrboro.
  3. Insuring that development meets the standard of environmental sustainability, to encourage mass transit use;
  4. Determining the type of growth that does not overwhelm our physical and capital infrastructure.
  5. Paying for the town’s capital and programmatic goals while maintaining Carrboro has an affordable place to live

My top priorities in addressing those issues are as follows. The Board needs to seriously consider whether in some areas of the northern transition area is the development lot to large and whether some areas of the northern transition area should be commercial instead of residential. Once that determination is made, the Board needs to determine where such development is appropriate and where it is not appropriate. Those determinations would give the residents of the entire town and the landowners of those particular properties the information necessary to determine what the development should look like. The Board needs to be clear about what the Board expects those developments to look like. It is my preference that the developments would not be adjacent to environmentally sensitive areas and that the developments would contain a mix of residential and commercial, or just commercial.

The Board needs to continue to support affordable housing development with its continued financial support of Orange County Land Trust, Habitat for Humanity, and Empowerment. Additionally, the Board needs to create mechanisms in our ordinances that would provide for the additional development of moderately priced housing that people who earn 125% to 150% of the median income can afford.

The Board needs to jump start a conversation with adjacent municipalities and communities that we can leverage the mass transit resources to benefit the community and thereby increasing both the water and air quality in the entire region and make it more affordable for people to commute to and from work. This could mean adjusting some of the bus schedules so that there is a direct route for citizens and residents who live in Carrboro but work in Durham or Hillsborough.

Finally, an ongoing challenge for any elected Board in Carrboro is to insure that our economic development initiatives provide additional revenue sources without adversely impacting the residents, the existing businesses that are located near that business. Also, I believe that the Board should convene a larger discussion regarding Orange County’s total economic development orientation with the fellow municipalities. The increase of taxes and the cost of doing business for governments in the county does not occur in isolation.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the board? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

My experience as an assistant public defender, an assistant general counsel for a community development bank, and as a board member of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority has given me the experience of working with people of different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Those working experiences have also given me the experience of resolving disputes and assisting in the operation of large organizations. Such experience makes me uniquely qualified to help Carrboro navigate the challenges of increasing the commercial tax base, developing the Martin Luther King Jr. Park, and to insure that development of additional residential housing is achieved in an environmentally and sustainable manner.

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

I define myself politically as a progressive moderate with the ethos that everyone should have the same opportunities and quality of life in Carrboro and its surrounding communities. In shows itself in my continued advocacy for the Rogers Road neighborhood with regards to the siting of the waste transfer station. Since the towns transferred the solid waste operations to the County, I have publicly advocated for the siting of the transfer not in the Rogers Road neighborhood. I went on the trip to Greensboro’s waste transfer station and pointed out to other elected officials of Orange County that Greensboro’s waste transfer station was in a heavily industrial neighborhood, and not located adjacent to a residential neighborhood.

It shows itself in my longstanding commitment to affordable housing and to the support of the agencies that create affordable housing in Orange County. I have demonstrated by my voting record that I seek to increase the moderately priced and affordable housing stock in Carrboro. It shows itself by the manner in which I approach any issue that comes before the Board. I gather all the information, and I make a decision that best serves the needs of all of the Carrboro community in the long term. I have advocated for the purchase of additional park and recreation facilities in Carrboro because the addition of additional park and recreation facilities, both in parks and greenspace makes a better community overall both in social interactions and health for ourselves, our children and our children’s children.

4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I recently voted against a commercial development on commercial property adjacent to a neighborhood with only one entry and exit way. While I have advocated for the doubling of the commercial space in Carrboro to alleviate the residential tax base, the proposed development as proposed would have caused too many safety issues for the residents and for individuals coming to the development along Jones Ferry Road. At those times, you must balance the tax revenue that you would gain with the safety and infrastructure problems that would ensue.

5) Large building projects like that under way by Main Street Partners and the Greenbridge development just across the line in Chapel Hill will change Carrboro’s landscape and it character in the near future. What is your vision for the town’s long-range development? What are the pros and cons of commercial and residential development?

My long range development division for all of Carrboro is that any residential and commercial developments that are developed have four critical characteristics: 1) Walkability; 2) Connectivity; 3) Accessiblity in price for purchase; and 4) Sustainability for both the residents and the environment. I would continue to work to insure an increase in affordable and moderately priced homes. I am an advocate in placing additional commercial development in those areas where it is appropriate in the northern part of Carrboro since there is a dearth of commercial and retail development in that area, and the ongoing work of the Northern Transition Area Study Group will provide such suggestions for doing so in that zoning area.

I am an advocate of the redevelopment of some of the areas of downtown, such as the developments of Main Street Partners and the Alberta development that I recently voted to approve. The Board must be sensitive to three goals as it goes forward with reviewing these types of downtown developments: First, the impact of the development on the community values of walkability, connectivity, accessibility, economic and environmental sustainability, and mass transit. The Board must insure that these developments fit within Carrboro so that the developments are designed so that there is no isolation of the residents or tenants of the buildings from the rest of the community. Second, we must be sensitive to the impact on parking and insure that there is a manner in which people can access these new places to live, work, and shop without causing safety and traffic issues for the new residents of Carrboro and the old residents of Carrboro. Finally, the Board must insure that any residential development that occurs in downtown provides rental and purchase opportunities for an economically and socially diverse group of individuals.

6) How will you deal with growth in Carrboro given its limited physical boundaries? By extension, what are your viewpoints regarding high-density housing and its placement?

Where appropriate and away from sensitive environmental areas, I think there are locations where high density housing is appropriate to insure that the new neighborhoods are not isolated and have the opportunity to use the Chapel Hill transit system for which we are partners, and have access to the recreational opportunities in Carrboro. I am in favor of high density housing where it is appropriately located and can be integrated in the fabric of Carrboro.

7) How should development be handled in the Northern Study Area, and would you support any future moratoriums there?

I would support future moratoriums in the northern study area if there was a legal justification for that moratorium. However, at some point, the Board must make decisions with regards to what it would like to see developed in that area within a reasonable amount of time. I think it places where it is appropriate there should be a mix of higher density residential and an inclusion of some commercial development in that area. At present, the residents of those areas have the furthest trips to make to purchase groceries and other items to live. Consequently, the Board must make an effort to identify those places, to provide the standards by which such developments would take place, to provide some mechanisms to encourage the land owners to permit such development, to insure that such developments are accessible by public transportation, and to insure that such development is not near environmentally sensitive areas. Additionally, the Board must then review its decisions so that any mistakes or unintended consequences can be remedied with the next development.

8) 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 department or agency budgets could be cut?

With the Board’s emphasis on doubling the commercial tax base to provide additional revenue, we need to add additional resources to the Economic Development Department. This Department works with existing staff so that businesses and residents can apply for the Town’s Revolving Loan Fund, and works to attract and retain businesses in Carrboro that are meet the standards of the Town’s 2020 Vision statement. For the last nine years, that job has been done with only 1.5 employees. Additionally, the Board has started additional initiatives in this area which creates greater work for this Department and the entire town staff as a whole, including but limited to planning. Given the importance of the emphasis on increasing the commercial tax base as a part of alleviating the residential taxpayer’s burden for providing the tax revenue for the town, I think it is logical to have additional resources for that Department.

I think that we could increase funding in the Recreations and Parks Department to expand our youth leagues. Studies have overwhelming shown that an involved youth is a youth that does not get in trouble. This benefit inures to the community in other areas for quality of life issues. I would like to fund a summer internship program similar to the other towns that allow high school students and college students to work for town government and create future public servants.

At this time, I would look for money in areas where the Town saves money. The town budget’s is very tight. It is difficult to see at that this time where we could cut funding in any other Department without affecting the quality and quantity of services that the Town provides to its citizens. Two of the last three years, the Board did not raise taxes. Town staff works hard to save the money we receive from taxpayers. With less federal and state assistance, it is essential that leadership makes a concerted effort to find ways to increase revenue without raising taxes unless it is necessary to fund additional fire protection, police protection, and environment protection.

9) Earlier this year, the board heard a fiscal presentation about a pay-as-you-throw trash system. What do you think of the system from a financial, environmental and practical standpoint? If you approve, how would any additional costs be covered? If you disapprove, what are some alternatives?

I am opposed to pay as you throw. I believe that at a minimum that the Town should provide fire, police and garbage services to its residents. I think that it unfairly penalizes the low income and moderately income residents of the Town. I believe that pay as you throw for a town our size is not fiscally feasible unless all of the surrounding jurisdictions that we partner with in the solid waste disposal arena have the same system. I think increased emphasis on reducing source disposal by reducing the amount of garbage that needs to be disposed of. I am in favor of community composting and working on a long term strategy to reduce the amount of packaging that is sold in Carrboro, and encouraging retailers and our grocery stores to develop a long term plan to reduce the amount of packaging.

10) Carrboro emphasizes locally owned, import-substituting economic development. What is your opinion of that policy? Has it, in your view, succeeded? How can it be improved?

The emphasis on locally owned, import-substituting economic development is a start. During my tenure on the Board, we have approved the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, continued marketing to and assistance of small businesses that are in Carrboro to use the Revolving Loan Fund to start and to grow local businesses, and we have encouraged the building of additional commercial space for such businesses to grow so that they will not leave Carrboro. I think that the policy has succeeded partially; however, I think that if we want to see more locally owned import substituting development, we must provide a place for them to locate and to expand. I also think we have to insure that we are providing sufficient technical support for our existing businesses and continually identify the types and sizes of businesses that realistically can thrive in Carrboro based upon the criteria of environmentally friendly, economically sustainable, and good business citizens.

11) Carrboro is participating in the Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project to help manage this resource, which is polluted and threatened by growth and development. What is Carrboro’s responsibility in mitigating these threats? What policies should the Board of Aldermen enact to help protect water quality and quantity in Jordan Lake?

The types of developments that we approve that insure each development captures one hundred percent of its stormwater is a start. I think we need to more proactive in providing greater mass transit links with the surrounding towns and counties to remove cars off the roads which assist in the reduction of the pollutants from runoff that are discharged in Jordan Lake. I think that we have to have a regional discussion with regards to how the entire region is developed because I think Carrboro has been forward thinking in insuring that development is not adjacent to stream buffers and other areas which affect the water quality and quantity in Jordan Lake. The Town can reaffirm its commitment not to permit OWASA to access water from Jordan Lake unless it is the only option for the existing residents at the time because of a continued exceptional drought.

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