Renee Price | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Renee Price 

Candidate for Orange Board of County Commissioners

Name as it appears on the ballot: Renee Price

Full legal name, if different: Renee Ann Price

Date of birth: 11-28-53

Campaign website:

Occupation & employer: Office Manager, Health Center of Hillsborough

Partner's name: Michael Carmichael

Partner's occupation & employer: Cultural anthropology, Duke University

Years lived in Orange County: 21


1. What are the three most important issues facing Orange County? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

Three of the most important issues facing Orange County are:

honest and open government—government that is transparent, has minimal conflicts of interest, engages its citizens and responds to its citizens

collaboration—cooperation between and among town boards, rural fire departments and school boards, and advocating public-private partnerships

fiscal accountability—assurance that our tax revenues are spent responsibly for the benefit of general public.

As County Commissioner, I will strive to resolve these issues and move forward with creativity and innovation to promote continued excellence in education and opportunities for all students, small business expansion, farm-based economic development, high quality jobs, living wage jobs, clean and green technologies, and protection of our renewable and nonrenewable resources for a healthy environment.

I believe in "government for the people and by the people." We the people have the right to demand that government policies and programs speak to our views and values, and fulfill our shared vision.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Orange County Board of Commissioners? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

I began my career in city and regional planning, with a special interest in environmental planning and design. Over the years, my professional work has involved housing and community development, environmental impact reviews, natural resource conservation, rural community economic development, sustainable agriculture and forestry, and sustainable living overall. I therefore have experience in areas that the BOCC addresses in working toward a vibrant and robust Orange County.

In addition, I have volunteered many hours per month for many years serving on BOCC -appointed boards and commissions. Our purpose is to assist and advise the BOCC on matters relevant to land-use planning, growth management, environmental protection and sustainability. I therefore am well acquainted with many of the issues of concern to our community, and involvement on these boards has given me numerous valuable opportunities to work with and hear from other community members and interest groups.

Furthermore, my participation in the cultural affairs of Orange County will help me be an effective commissioner. I have enjoyed being a member of nonprofit boards focusing on our local history, our diverse traditions and our artistic talents. The arts build community and are essential for the vibrancy of local culture.

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

I am progressive and I espouse the values of the Democratic Party. The underlying theme of my life has been the struggle for civil rights, humanity, peace and justice. Over the years, my role in working with nonprofits has been to help individuals and communities, especially traditionally marginalized groups, to advance, to excel, to be heard and to be respected. I believe in the principle of government for the people and by the people, and we the people have the right to have our views heard and our values respected.

My goal therefore is to offer the people of Orange County, in particular the people of District 2, a bigger voice and a bolder presence at the table when decisions are being made that affect the quality of our lives. Accordingly, my campaign platform focuses on honest and open government, collaboration and cooperation, and fiscal accountability for the benefit of the general public. We then can move forward with a progressive agenda toward sustainability.

4. Provide a review of Orange County's trash decision. Are you satisfied with using Durham's transfer station to transport trash to Virginia? Why or why not? Has the county done enough to address concerns at Rogers Road? What else needs to happen?

At long last, Orange County has voted to close the landfill. The Rogers Road community has borne the burden of the County's solid waste far too long...decades too long. As a final solution, I oppose transporting trash to another county, and to another state. Orange County needs to take responsibility for its own solid waste.

The County, inclusive of the municipalities, has much more to do to rectify and make amends for the situation at Rogers Road. A couple of generations ago, the people of the Rogers Road neighborhood enjoyed a healthy living environment—fruit tree orchards and springs with clear clean water. Today, they are dealing with stench, contamination and unexplained illnesses. We need to assure safe drinking water, provide sewer service, investigate the illegal dump sites, look into further public health issues, and treat the people with dignity.

5. Building off of the landfill debate, what's your view of the working relationship between the BOCC and Orange municipal governments? What's worked well? What hasn't? How will you change it, if needed?

The relationship between the BOCC and OC town boards or councils needs improvement. Lawsuits and impasses hurt the people of Orange County and stall development and progress. I would propose joint meetings, an intergovernmental council that meets at regular intervals with a focus on a shared vision for the county.

6. With Wal Mart's application to build a store in Chatham, Orange could have three major shopping centers—Wal Mart, Tanger Outlets and New Hope Commons—just across its borders. What, in your view, lead to this situation? Assess the county's work in the last two years on economic development and your priorities for the next four.

Orange County has had a reputation of being less than business friendly. We need to identify what we want and be consistent. Falling short of the expressed community values leads to opposition, which in turn leads to back-tracking and missed opportunities. One of my priorities will be to engage citizens in the design and review process along with the governing bodies.

Another priority will be to broaden our approach to economic development; we must attract more than big-box retail. As North Carolina's historic epicenter of higher-education and with our centrality to other major universities and community colleges in the Triangle, we need to encourage incubators for high-technology research and the expansion of medical research facilities. A robust research and development industry that taps into the vast talent pool afforded by the major universities is the clear path to progressive economic development in Orange County.

Respecting our local agrarian heritage and the recent growth in sustainable agriculture, investing in farm-based economies also will be one of my priorities. Furthermore, Orange County is rich in the arts, historic preservation and cultural assets and can look to tourism and entertainment as a form of economic development.

7. What's your stance on regional transit and specifically the half-cent regional rail tax? What should a long-range transit plan include for Orange? What should it not include?

Regional transit is in our future if we are to realize sustainability. In order for the half-cent sales tax to be accepted in District 2, the scope of the transit plan will need to go beyond mass transit between Chapel Hill and Durham; it must be inclusive and serve the greater part of the Orange County population. I am pleased to find that the BOCC is now considering commuter rail service in Hillsborough and bus service extending into and through the rural areas. A platform as a precursor to a modern-day depot is an exciting concept. Schematics have already been completed. This is the way to economic development; this is the means to make Hillsborough and Orange County a destination.

8. Candidates can choose to run either at-large or in the district in which he or she resides. Explain your decision. Do you see district representatives serving different interests than at-large commissioners? Name two issues specific to your district and your plans to address them.

I decided to run for the district seat because the people of District 2 stated that they need better and more responsible representation, and I have observed a distinct lack of effective representation. District representatives are expected to bring to the table and focus on issues specific to their direct constituencies; yet in the end, they are to consider the well-being of all members of the Orange County community. The at-large commissioners are expected to help level the playing field.

One issue specific to district 2 is the decrease in public services in northern Orange. The library was closed, the recreation activities have all but come to a halt, and the day-care will be closing. The BOCC has plans to demolish the building. My goal will be the construction of a new and better facility and the restoration of services to the familiesof northern Orange,

Secondly, District 2 relies on rural volunteer fire departments. The BOCC currently is discussing plans to intervene into the affairs of the volunteer fire departments, and possibly take over some of the management responsibility.

I respect the men and women in these departments who risk their lives for us, and I also respect their knowledge, skills and judgment. They know their job and until a verifiable problem can be identified, I would suggest that government allow the fire chiefs and their members to make the decisions pertinent to their area of expertise. We must avoid the mistake of central control and encourage local autonomy.

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

My personal life and my professional career have been focused on justice. The struggle for justice is a part of me, and I will bring that aspect with me as I work with the people of Orange County, and together guide our community on a path to a sustainable future—a future of economic equity, environmental quality and social justice.

10. Identify a principled stand you would be willing to take if elected, even if it cost you popularity points with voters.

Our basic human and civil rights are under attack. I will stand against "Amendment One." I also will stand for the rights of women in matters of reproductive health. I will advocate to maintain and expand the Racial Justice Act.

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