Sammy Slade | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Sammy Slade 

Candidate for Carrboro Board of Aldermen

Name as it appears on the ballot: Sammy Slade

Full legal name, if different: William Samuel Slade

Date of birth: 8/30/1974

Occupation & employer: Outreach Coordinator, NC WARN

Email: sammy_slade@hotmail.com

Campaign website: sammyslade.org


Why are you running for office and what are your top priorities, if elected?

I am running for a second term as Carrboro Alderman, because I love Carrboro and I believe that Carrboro has the capacity to serve as a role-model for other communities. We have the courage and sanity that is lacking in this time when at the state and federal levels things are looking dire and not responsive to the wellbeing of all living beings on this planet. I see participation in local governance in a progressive town such as Carrboro as a way of being part of the larger movement that values bringing decisions and actions closest to those who bear the consequences.

My top priorities if re-elected are to:

• Develop a Local living economy. I will continue the work of pursuing a local living economy, that is establishing economic development that is rooted in local ownership and import substitution.

A local living economy:

  • Strengthens Carrboro's, vitality, tax base and walk-ability
  • Keeps money re-circulating locally
  • Reduces environmental impact

• Create a Livable scale Carrboro. I will Continue work towards a comprehensive plan that integrates future and current development within a framework that is in line with our regional carrying capacity (water, power generation, living economy, waste, food, environmental constraints) while protecting town character and assuring social justice.

Plan would include:

  • Defining growth parameters
  • Identification of residential areas of town in need of walk-able community, commercial, open-space, conserved, recreational, community gardening and educational spaces.
  • Rezoning/purchasing/permitting/incentivizing of areas for needed identified spaces (i.e. neighborhood food shop)

Confront Climate Change. I will continue work on reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions.

  • Creating a year-by-year plan integrated with Carrboro's 20/20 vision for achieving the target.
  • Coordinating and integrating the plan with initiatives by non-governmental community entities such as Solarize Carrboro.

Please include information on past public service, posts held, volunteer work completed and other examples of your leadership.

I am currently serving my first term on the Carrboro Board of Alderman and have learned a lot in the experience. I am also an organizer for NC WARN, where a large part of my work is facilitating and coaching people towards their empowerment and their taking leadership roles in the fight for climate justice in North Carolina.

I have also served on various Boards and Commissions. Those that I am currently on or have been on include:

  • Transportation Advisory Board
  • Affordable Housing Task Force
  • Historic Rogers Road Task Force
  • Carrboro OWASA subcommittee
  • JOCCA
  • Recreations and Parks Commission
  • Chair of Local Living Economy Task Force
  • Appearance commission/ Neighborhood Preservation Commission
  • Climate Change Committee

Some accomplishments while on the Board of Alderman include:

  • Brought the Historic Rogers Rd. Community the closest it has ever been, in 30 years of suffering the landfill, to getting sewer.
  • Got 30 local elected officials to sign letter asking the governor to veto fracking
  • Established greenhouse gas emissions goal for Carrboro; in line with what is socially just and what the science calls for
  • Got League of Municipalities to represent towns in Duke Energy rate cases and for Duke to establish LED street light rates
  • Wrote resolution asking that money be spent on communities instead of war
  • Supported creative solution for keeping Fleet Feet, a locally owned national business, in town.

My experiences are rooted locally and have produced tangible results spanning a spectrum that includes the economic, the community, social justice, and the environment. Other examples of my leadership include:

• Recognized in 2010 by Grist online blog as one of 40 people who are redefining green.

• Outreach coordinator for NC WARN, working to build the people power to mitigate climate change, for economic justice and for democracy in NC by targeting the worlds largest electric utility holding company, North Carolina's largest greenhouse gas polluter and biggest PAC in North Carolina: Duke Energy.

• Chair of the Local Living Economy Task Force an advisory committee to the Board of Alderman that researched and recommended to the Board of Alderman actions to advance economic development of the kind that maximizes the community's wellbeing through import substitution and supporting locally owned businesses.

• Co-founded the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition and established the CCGC garden at Carrboro's MLK Jr. Park. This involved the collaboration and coordination with Carrboro's Parks and Rec., the Board of Aldermen, the Orange County Partnership for Young Children.

• Co-founded the Carrborogreenspace, which has accomplished many events and projects. These include, Walk In Tributary Theatre (through the WITT brought back to the community use of Carrboro's historic Sparrow Pool), The Casa Grande Community Garden, The Farmer Appreciation Potluck, and the Urban Farm Tour.

• Co-founder of the Carrboro 'LocalMotive' business group, a network of businesses working to further establish a healthy local economy.

• Successfully lobbied the BOA in preventing the fulfillment of a contract by Carrboro Recreation and Park that would have filled with cement a well at the MLK Park that is now used for water by the community gardens. The plan for the well includes the installment of a solar panel for powering the pump.

• Spearheaded the actions from the community that led to allowing artistic and personal expression on Weaver Street lawn. Relevant to BOA office as it is further demonstration of my commitment as a community member for the protection of values that Carrboro holds dear.

• Was the Get Out the Vote coordinator of the Orange County Democratic Party during the 2004 General election and the 2006 election. Responsibilities included organizing volunteers, coordinating the organizational efforts by all the precincts, distributing campaign materials to precincts, organizing volunteers for phone banking, etc.

• Democrat Chair of Mason Farm Precinct (2004 - 2006) and OWASA precinct (2006 -2007), during which time I lead the efforts on many resolutions including the resolution to defend the Iraq war and the resolution on climate change. I organized the large proportion of Democrat precincts and all Democrat counties (Wake, Durham, Orange) that are within the 4th Congressional district to lobby Representative David Price to discontinue his voting in support of further funding of the war in Iraq.

2. If you are not currently serving on the Board of Aldermen, what will you bring to the body that it now lacks? If you are an incumbent, what perspective have you brought that the town still needs?

I will answer this question in the words of Alderman Dan Coleman from his farewell remarks: "I am especially heartened by our two newest members, who may represent a generational shift away from the jaded politics of we baby boomers. ... Sammy, more than any of us, understands the challenges facing the planet but couples that awareness with a facility for grassroots organizing and building genuinely sustainable alternatives. May Carrboro find a thousand like them."

3. In the last four years, what do you feel are the three best accomplishments of Carrboro town government, and why? Conversely, what are three things you would have done differently?

3 Best accomplishments

• Setting a greenhouse gas emission reduction goal, then doing a GHG inventory and initiating the process for a plan. Given the urgency of mitigating climate change before it gets beyond humanities control we must do our part in implementing necessary action.

• Over the past 4 years maintaining services while holding property taxes steady was a significant accomplishment given the downturn of the economy.

• Higher density commercial development in our downtown and the complimentary sidewalks and bike lanes that are necessary for maximize our communities' walk-ability and bike-ability.

3 things that I would have done differently:

• I believe we could have been prepared with a fund from a bond referendum for purchasing Colton Crossing when it came up for sale or acquiring it through eminent domain when it was in significant disrepair and a hazard to the public. The apartments were sold very cheaply and even after repair they could have still been sold to a local affordable housing entity to own/sell and manage.

• Estes apartments have an informal right of way that the current managers are threatening to blockade and this could soon be affecting a lot of people's ability to easily get to downtown Carrboro, we should have already challenged this private property owners ability to close off this longstanding right of way by going to court and testing the law and hopefully establishing the necessary precedent.

• We should be maximizing public greenspaces along sidewalks or along buildings by planting fruit trees because a paradise has free food on the trees and bushes everywhere.

4. Indy Week's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

I have had the honor of working on the Historic Rogers Rd. Neighborhood Task Force, I have played an instrumental role with my colleague Michelle Johnson in pushing the process to bring sewer to the Rogers Rd. community after 30 years of the injustice of burdening the community with our landfill. Many attempts have been tried over the years to provide sewer, this is the closest the process has ever come and I feel that given the sensitive nature of this process, my presence is key to seeing this through.

I supported the hiring of a community organizer with town funds at El Centro Hispano to help fight the wage theft problem and towards an eventual day laborer center. I look forward to supporting a day laborer center in Carrboro.

Also I am supportive of a housing wage for town employees so that the least paid of our employees can afford to live in town.

Some projects that I look forward to leading if I get re-elected include:

  • A community process towards a healing from the trauma of our segregation and slavery history

  • Breaking with our participation in the school to prison pipeline and working to change the way in which minorities are arrested disproportionately relative to what the racial make up of Carrboro is.

  • Assuring that our police force's policies and actions are in line with town of Carrboro values instead of values that are represented by examples such as the national trend towards the militarization of local police forces or the use of local police forces to enforce immigration, etc..

5. How do you define yourself politically (i.e. conservative, moderate, liberal, third party, hybrid, etc.) and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

To understand me politically it is important to understand the intellectual landscape from which I emerge. I am the result of a historical legacy that has been losing its momentum. The era of cheap energy and non-accountability for debts imposed upon future generations or people and living things that are out of sight is ending. The expectations and responsibilities that have been, until recently, deferred are now once again to be owned/held locally. My work toward creating community both through the Carrboro Greenspace and the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition is informed and driven by the need to re-acquaint ourselves with ways in which to do things that are human in scale and which allow for local accountability and autonomy.

The trajectory that has led me here includes my involvement in the local Democratic Party. In the Democratic Party I have been chair of two precincts and spearheaded multiple resolutions over the years that have promoted the grassroots perspective over the perspective of Washington politics. I am not interested in subscribing to self-defeatism in the shape of 'pragmatism' or 'political possibility.' Issues that are derived from the grassroots are more important to me. I believe that organizations should not be too big and must be true to a process that assures that the legitimate needs and demands that most people want are advanced. Decisions and actions are best when they are made closest to those who bear the consequences.

By working from the grassroots and engaging the citizenry anything is possible.

Grassroots activism is by nature local and has led me to serving on the Carrboro Board of Alderman.

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

A generalized perception is that Climate Change mitigation and achieving a healthy economy are contradictions.

The current Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory recently published by the county and the municipalities of Orange County sets an 'aggressive' target of greenhouse gas emissions reductions that takes more account of what economic developers believe is possible than what the scientist consensus is saying is needed.

I have established a more aggressive GHG emissions reduction target for Carrboro while further establishing a robust local living economy. I seek to debunk the myth that having a healthy economy and dealing with climate change are antithetical.

My work on the local economy as chair of the town of Carrboro's Local Living Economy Task Force, combined with my environmental and community work through both the Carrboro Greenspace and the CCGC community garden, as well as my day job as organizer with NC WARN have provided me with key complimentary perspectives and experience in dealing with both climate change and the work in creating a healthy local economy.

As an example, in Carrboro less than 5% of food that is consumed locally is grown locally. At the same time we spend $60 million annually for food in Carrboro. Localizing the production and distribution of food will not only reduce the # of food miles traveled but will also re-create a sector of the economy that is currently not here. With the Carrboro Greenspace I have 1) supported local farmers through farmer appreciation dinners 2) collaborated with the farmers market on events 3) put on the Urban Farm tour which is now in its second year.

With the community garden I have promoted the acquisition of gardening skills that are also marketable.

While serving on the Carrboro Board of Alderman I have been advocating that the recently approved cent sales tax portion for economic development be allocated for localizing the economy instead of being used for the very costly running of sewer and water to extreme ends of the county where economic development zones are being built that are far away from Orange county population centers.

7. Many of Carrboro's most recent controversies centered around the clash of local businesses versus corporate businesses. What are your thoughts on this dynamic and how can a town official impact this?

Study after study has shown that locally owned businesses provide much more to the community then do businesses that are not locally owned (see Carrboro Local Living Economy Task Force Report attachment B-5).

A challenge of our times is to find ways for supporting systems that support life over systems that are killing us or that at a minimum are harmful to the community. Some examples of this dynamic that we have experienced recently and some local responses that we have taken or could take include:

• Responding to the perching of mega-box stores on our county and towns borders. We could counter the draining effect on our economy from these big box stores by allocating significant local economic development resources (both county and towns) towards locally owned businesses and import substitution. Establishing a locally owned business alliance could begin to put us on the right track; the alliance could market and educate about all the benefits that come from supporting locally owned businesses and from maximizing the purchasing of locally produced goods. Billboards in the corridors to these big box stores and bus signs could be touting the benefits of supporting the local economy and Michael Shulman's 'Purchasing Ladder' (see Carrboro Local Living Economy Task Force Report attachment B-4) .

• Bank loans are determined using clumsy parameters that are not sensitive to economic microclimates of a region. Because of this, developers constantly propose projects that do not include as much office space or retail as our actual experience in Carrboro shows we can withstand. A recent example of this was with the Shelton Station development. One of the buildings for this development is not on a main road and the banks determined that because of this they could not loan for commercial on the ground floor. I was the swing vote for this project. My demand for supporting the project was that the developer make the ground floor for residential but that it be built so that a retrofit could be done easily if a business wanted to move in.

• National chains displace locally owned businesses when they pay rents for commercial space at prices that are defined by national rent/capital markets and not local markets. We see this epidemic in our neighboring town of Chapel Hill on east Franklin Street and it is something we need to prepare for as it heads west.

• Duke Energy is a monopoly hence we do not have a choice in who our electricity provider is. In other states that have more competitive markets, customers have options for buying their power from locally owned energy supplier businesses that are viable thanks to the smaller, distributed scale of renewable energy production. Boulder Colorado is successfully creating a municipal utility that will maximize energy efficiency and renewables. The cost for the electricity for their customers will be equal to or cheaper then what they currently pay. I am for exploring this possibility for Carrboro.

• Farmers Market we support the local farmers market and celebrate the locally produced and owned food economy. It would be a boon if one day all the food that local supermarket chains currently provide, representing tens of millions of dollars leaving our local economy annually, were supplied by locally owned grocers selling the most local products. I am supportive and part of very recent initiatives for establishing a local food policy council that can identify policies for putting us on this track.

8. Affordable housing remains a key issue in Carrboro. What can the town do to ensure affordable housing remains an option?

A large part of our affordable housing depends on new developments and the density bonuses that are given if these developers set aside 13% of the units (or payments-in-Lieu) for affordable housing. Carrboro also has an affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund. If we are serious about ramping up our support of affordable housing I am for looking into options for growing a housing trust fund such as through a bond referendum, impact fees, etc..

Finally as a member of the affordable housing task force I am looking forward to finding ways to implement the Planning Board's Affordable Housing Dialogue Sessions report recommendations. Some of the recommendations from this report include:

Reduce the cost of living for folks through

  • Energy efficiency projects. According to HUD, those living on Social Security use 19% of their income on energy costs, compared to the national average of 4%
  • Finding ways in which to create affordable housing on public transportation routes or where people are closer to their work and play, this will offset the costs of owning a car.
  • Emergency home repair

9. This year, Carrboro experienced damaging floods due to heavy rainfall. Town officials cannot control the weather, but they can be prepared. What can the town do from an engineering and planning standpoint to be prepared should future flooding occur?

Unfortunately climate change will only exacerbate natural disasters. We need to make sure that homes are never built in flood. We need to update the standards for drainage and pipes to reflect the changed climate change world.

To the extent that Duke Energy produces a majority of the greenhouse emissions in North Carolina they must be held accountable for the true costs of their business model. The town should ask them to pay for repairs and increases in costs associated with upgraded standards for new developments and retrofits.

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