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Politics

2019 Election: Davidson Board Of Commissioners

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Seven candidates are running for the Davidson Board of Commissioners.

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Jane Campbell

JANE CAMPBELL

Why are you running?

I'm running for re-election for many of the same reasons I ran two years ago. I'm running because I believe in public service. As a career military officer, I spent most of my adult life in the service of our Nation. It is now my distinct honor to be in the service of my fellow citizens in the Town of Davidson. I'm running to continue to be a vocal advocate for available, affordable housing. I'm running because I remain committed to open and transparent decision making. I love that we have an engaged citizenry - citizens who are not shy about stopping you and telling you what they think. I'm running to continue my pledge of sound decisions about our financial resources. As a Davidson College alumna, I'm also running believe I can continue play an important role on issues involving town and college (town & gown). I'm running because I believe in maintaining our historic small town character, and the green space included across our community. Ultimately, I'm running because I believe that I can continue to make a positive difference for all the citizens of Davidson.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

The biggest quality of life issue is the disparity of quality of life in Davidson. At roughly the same time the town was named one of the wealthiest communities in North Carolina, a study showed that 25% of our population has an income below 50% of the area median income (AMI). To put that into perspective, similar studies show that only 17% of the population of Charlotte falls below 50% AMI. We need to do more for these members of our community, but there is not a single solution. Some folks need assistance to remain in the homes they already have. Others need affordable rental opportunities – and that includes senior / accessible rentals. Still others are in immediate need of housing after losing what housing they may have had. While we can be proud of our Affordable Housing Ordinance (1 of 3 in NC), it clearly cannot solve all the challenges our citizens face in 2019. We must develop a formal strategy for affordable housing – the details of which are more complicated than 200 words. However, one important element of that plan should be moving forward with establishing our affordable housing committee as a standing, appointed board.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

We should continue to push for developers to put affordable units on the ground vs. simply writing checks as payments in lieu (PIL). I have asked that question of every developer who has come before the town board seeking some sort of project approval. And in one case, it worked, and 8 new units are scheduled to be built. But let me be clear, we will not solve our affordable housing challenges exclusively with PIL funds or even with 12.5% of new projects being affordable units. We must partner with existing, and potentially new, organizations and nonprofits to help address our challenges. We also need to think outside the box to find new solutions. We need to ensure that we have seats at the table as Mecklenburg Country addresses the issue, and that includes for funding. We must to continue to communicate the importance of affordable housing. We have not made as much progress on this issue as I had hoped when I ran two years ago. I regret that lack of progress, but I’m not giving up. I remain committed to available, affordable housing in Davidson.

STEVE COOK

No response received.

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Matthew Fort

MATTHEW FORT

Why are you running?

I believe that as a board, we have accomplished a lot in our first two years:

• Improved Trust and Transparency in our local government
• Balanced Growth
• We are well down the path to exiting Continuum

While we have accomplished a great deal, I feel that there is still more work to be done. I’m running to continue to implement and execute our strategic plan. I’m running because I believe that over the past two years, I have demonstrated the ability to make thoughtful, informed choices representing all of the people of this town. As your Commissioner, I believe that I leverage my business experience in operations and finance to provide a unique point of view for proposed projects.

I believe that our Small-Town Charm is what makes Davidson such a unique and special place to live. My goal is to ensure Davidson remains that way for generations to come. Together, we can work to keep Davidson a unique and special place to live.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

The biggest quality of life issue facing residents today is twofold; the previously approved higher density development and its impact on our existing infrastructure. The first part of addressing the higher density development is already in process. As a board, we have been more stringent on approving projects that come before us. The projects that have been approved in the past two years are much lower density and have a far less substantial impact on our existing infrastructure. I believe that a balanced growth plan will help alleviate the impact of existing higher density development.

Secondly, we need to execute the approved 2017 G.O. Bonds and if approved the 2019 G.O. Public Facilities bond. The implementation of these two bonds will provide some much-needed investment in infrastructure. Due to the purchase of Continuum and its subsequent debt service payments, we have been unable to substantially invest in key areas such as Police, Fire, Mobility/Transportation, Greenways, & Parks. If/when the sale of Continuum happens, we will be able to implement of all $15M 2017 G.O. Bonds and the proposed $14M 2019 G.O. Bond for Public Facilities without raising taxes.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Addressing the rising housing costs in Davidson is something that will be one of the most challenging issues for the Board of Commissioners to address over the next two years. Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet to mitigate the rising housing costs in Davidson. I believe the best ways to address the rising housing costs are the following:

Keeping taxes low through fiscal responsibility. People on fixed incomes have little room for cost of living increases. By keeping property taxes flat, we are providing some relief in the overall cost of living.

Successfully execute an affordable housing strategy. With the input of citizens and the Affordable Housing Committee, we need to develop and implement a cost-effective affordable housing strategy. I believe the major focus areas should be in funding repairs and renovations to existing homes owned by lower-income households, continuing to work with developers to put actual units on the ground vs. payment in lieu, and investment in Community Land Trust activities.

JIM FULLER

No response received.

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Autumn Rierson Michael

AUTUMN RIERSON MICHAEL

Why are you running?

When I decided to run in 2017, I ran on a platform of "people, preservation, and place." I think we made substantial strides in two years in some of these areas with the passing of the new tree ordinance, the mobility plan, expediting the comprehensive plan process, becoming a "Certified Local Government" and enhancing our historic preservation program, and passing a "missing middle" ordinance as some of those examples. I think there is still more work to do around some of the issues, such as expanding the historic district, determining the best use for the old Davidson School, and getting greater greenway connectivity, among other issues. I think we also have significant work still to do around affordable housing, as well as displacement issues in West Davidson. I am running again in order to help move some of these initiatives forward. 

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

I think there are a couple of quality of life issues that still need addressing in the coming term. One is affordable housing which I expand on below. Another is overall parks and greenway growth and connectivity. With the distinct possibility of the sale of Continuum and the property revaluations complete, I think the Town is now in a better place to be able to decide how much and on what projects to spend the 2017 GO Bonds supporting parks, recreation, and greenways. 

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Affordable housing is an issue that our community has indicated is very important to many community members, and Davidson has long prioritized affordable housing policies and process. I continue to believe that this is a 3-part approach of 1) inclusionary housing policy, 2) preservation of naturally occurring affordable housing through a possible overlay district and critical repairs funding, as well as 3) new construction or "putting units on the ground." I think we also need to institutionalize our affordable housing committee, create an affordable strategic plan based on comp plan recommendations, explore land banking for the development of future affordable housing, and explore new strategies, partnerships, and funding opportunities for affordable housing. I don't think there is one solution, but there are a combination of tools that can be used to help meet these strategic affordable goals.

DAVID SITTON

Why are you running?

To help a community that I grew-up in, preserve the elements that either brought us to, or kept us in, Davidson. My areas of focus are:

1) Conservation of our Rural Area.
2) Preservation of our Historic Downtown.
3) Building a more diverse and inclusive community. 

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

Growth is the single most influential factor shaping Davidson. There are areas to direct growth. Those include historically sensitive development and scale along South Main, Jackson Street, and the repurposing of the asbestos mill. Conversely, sprawling growth in our rural area erodes our rural qualities, taxes our infrastructure and is an unsustainable model for growth. 

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

Rising housing costs have placed the greatest pressure on our historic communities. The result has been gentrification and displacement. If we are to retain diversity in our communities each of the major stakeholders: the Town, the College, and the Citizens will have to commit to addressing this issue. There are a number of tools to use in this effort but all of them require 1) The collective Will to do it and 2) The money to do it. 

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John Stroup

JOHN STROUP

Why are you running?

I feel that more attention should be given to all of Davidson not just the town area.

What is the biggest quality-of-life issue facing residents of your town and how will you address it?

How to promote business growth, provide affordable housing and still maintain the small town atmosphere that has been a part of Davidson for so long.

How should your town deal with rising housing costs?

They should require developers to build some affordable housing when building a subdivision and not just take a monetary credit from the developer if we truly want some affordable housing.

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