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Kelly Smoke 

Candidate for Durham County Soil & Water District Supervisor

Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Kelly Smoke

Full Legal Name: Kelly Simone Smoke

Date of Birth: January 23, 1982

Campaign Web Site:

Occupation & Employer: Pharmaceutical Sales Rep/ Publicis

Years lived in Durham County: Over 20


1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing Durham's Soil & Water District? What are your top three priorities in addressing these issues?

The most important issues facing Durham Soil and Water are anonymity and water quality. Durham's Soil and Water District is a multi-award winning organization. There are many programs and initiatives to help Durham's citizens to do their individual and collective part to make sure that future Durham citizens inherit the best Durham possible. However there are very few people aware that the Soil and Water District exist. There needs to be an emphasis on awareness. An aggressive social media campaign and collaborative efforts with other environmental groups will be necessary to allow citizens to know that there is a group who will lead the way and has implemented plans to protect and conserve Durham's soil and water.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be an effective district supervisor? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

I'm a Christian who believes Psalms 24:1 The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. I believe in stewardship of God's earth it doesn't belong to me but I am responsible for making sure that future generations inherit the earth that God intended for all people. I am a former special education teacher. Soil and Water District Supervisor must be willing to educate our citizens, managers and landowners on the conservation services that Durham County offers.

3. Several major objectives are detailed in the 2011-2012 Soil & Water plan, among them working with the city, county, state and federal government on a strong water quality improvement program. If you are the incumbent, please assess the progress on meeting that goal. If you are a challenger, please tell voters about your vision for improving local water quality, including any funding issues.

My vision begins with education; the message must go out to all of Durham County's citizens. Conservation is a collaborative effort. I will personally take the message to Durham's educators so that they might have their students participate in local service projects with an emphasis on conservation. Durham's elected officials will have to be educated on how every vote impacts Durham's Soil and Water. Homeowners will be educated about initiatives of the Durham Soil and Water services and programs to help ensure that they are doing their part and protecting their investment in the city.

4. Along those lines, what are the challenges facing the district? How should the district address those challenges? How do these challenges affect the average Durham resident?

That's best summed up by a famous movie quote: "If you build it they will come." Through education comes awareness, and after awareness comes action. The average Durham resident will see the problem but also see themselves as a part of the solution.

5. Durham County has two very distinct constituencies: largely urban in the central and southern part of the county and rural in the north. Tell us about the issues facing each constituency and how the district is addressing them.

The issues facing the rural constituencies are farmland preservation. Agriculture/agribusiness is the number one industry in the state. Durham is losing much of its forestland to urban development. The district is addressing this by collaborating with the state and the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. The state plan recognizes the importance of agriculture to the economic and social well-being of North Carolina by encouraging the preservation and protection of farmland from non-farm development. The urban constituency needs access to the cleanest water possible. The district is working to make sure landowners and users are compliant with use of our watersheds. There is also an effort to restore riparian buffers and associated best managed practices as needed to reach nutrient reductions. The district also has a plan to reach and educate underserved populations.

6. How does the district conduct its the stream restoration projects? How are streams prioritized? Tell us what streams are at the top of the list, what has been done to restore them and what is left to do?

The district conducts stream restoration projects based on the funding they receive from various grants. Grant funding also determines priority streams. The district has successfully completed stream restorations on an unnamed tributary to Lake Michie, Lick Creek and phase four of Sandy Creek. All stream restorations. There are many accomplishments of a stream restoration projects but the greatest of these is an improved water quality. Funding will continue to determine additional efforts.

7. What can the district doing to protect farmland? Are the districts efforts sufficient? Evaluate the success of the program and what can be improved?

Currently district provides tax incentives, conservation easements, and creation of agricultural districts all which protect farmland for future generations. While these may help to protect the land it does not encourage future farmers that are needed to replace our aging farming population. The district needs to educate the community about the advantages and potential in farming. We need to teach our community, residents, restaurants, schools, etc to eat local and to support our local farmers. Many farms produce a small portion are not large producers yet still operate on larger acres which still need to be protected for future growth.

8. Many Durham residents don't know what the Soil and Water District is, or what it does. How do you propose to educate the greater Durham area about the district's work?

Through an active social media campaign including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and by coordinating with other conservation groups in the city who want to carry the same message of preservation and conservation of Durham's natural resources.

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