Sunday, October 4, 2015

Setting the Record Straight

Other than my campaign announcement for re-election, I have avoided using my blog for political purposes. That isn’t what I created it for. I started blogging over seven years ago to not only communicate with Cary citizens about what it is I am working on as a member of the council, but to also inform you of how I voted on a particular topic and why I voted that way.

Unfortunately however, my opposition has been spreading lies and misinformation and I must set the record straight.

Communication and Transparency

Not only has he accused the entire Cary Town Council of failing to communicate with Cary citizens, but he has gone so far as to state that we are somehow “engaging in backroom deals”.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

This council has been the most transparent in Cary history. All of our meetings are open to the public and advertised well in advance. Council meeting agendas are posted on the town’s website the week prior to our meeting and we also have an email notification system that alerts subscribers to upcoming meetings with links to our meeting agendas. We then follow that up by sending out another email after our meeting to inform citizens of council actions. If you aren’t already subscribed to the town’s email notification system, you can do so by clicking here.

To further promote citizen input, we moved the “public speaks out” portion of our council meeting to the beginning of our agenda so that citizens are given the opportunity to speak on any topic before any council action is taken.

We also initiated a new process that requires developers to meet with nearby property owners to explain their proposals and receive citizen input BEFORE the first council meeting and public hearing is ever held. Citizens now often learn about a potential project before we do.

We created the Cary Matters television program where we discuss topics of interest, and the town now even has a Facebook and Twitter page to further disseminate information. We are also currently working to update the town’s website to make it even more user friendly and easier for folks to find the information they are looking for.

This council works very hard to communicate with and listen to our citizens.

The Mayton Inn

My opponent has also been critical of the Mayton Inn – the hotel currently under construction on Academy Street in Downtown Cary. He accuses the council of spending “millions in taxpayer dollars” on the project. That is false.

The town sold the property to the hotel and assisted with a $1.4 million HUD loan from the federal government.

The town is self-financing the sale of the property. That will be repaid to the town over a 10 year period with interest. Cary will actually make money on this deal.

The $1.4 million HUD loan is a loan between the federal government and the hotel and is to be repaid by the hotel – not the town. The town does however guarantee the loan repayment to HUD via Cary’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that we receive from the federal government. Should the hotel be unable to repay the loan, the town essentially loses that amount in CDBG funds we would otherwise receive from HUD. The town currently receives about $500,000 annually in CDBG funds.

I know what you are thinking, “how can you use HUD funds on a hotel?” I asked the very same question. Well HUD’s section 108 loan program allows the use of HUD monies on economic development projects that create a certain amount of jobs for low income folks.

I kind of like the program honestly. It helps to give low income folks a hand up – not a hand out.

In a nutshell we basically had two choices with the HUD monies. We could use those funds to provide for more subsidized low income housing options in Cary, or we could instead leverage those funds on an economic development project that creates jobs for low income folks, provides an amenity in our downtown and adds to our property tax base. Which would you have selected?

My opponent has also stated that “should the project fail, I fear the bank will turn it into luxury condos”. While I respect his opinion, it is speculation that it will fail and what the bank would do with it if it did. Heck, it hasn’t even opened for business yet and he is already trying to board the place up. But for the sake of argument let’s say that happens. My question then becomes would luxury condos in downtown Cary really be a bad thing? Really? Heck, I’d buy one.

The council does recognize the risk should the hotel be unable to honor their commitment with HUD, but we believe that risk to be low and a risk we were willing to take.

While I agree with little my opponent has stated during this campaign, there is however one comment he has made that I do agree with, “the residential real estate market inside the Maynard Loop is stronger than ever.”

Why do you think that is? Our revitalization efforts inside the Maynard Loop and in downtown maybe?

Fracking

My opponent also claims that I want to Frack in Cary and that I “support adding fracking waste water to Cary’s drinking water.”

This is absolutely crazy and a perfect example of how far political opportunists will go in an attempt to scare folks into voting for them. Given who is advising his campaign I am not surprised.

For the record, I do not support fracking in Cary or anywhere near our water supply.

I do however support a safe and responsible way in which to extract natural gas from the ground. Let’s face it, we need natural gas to heat our homes, produce electricity, cook our food and even run air conditioning systems.

The quote from me that my opponent takes out of context and uses on a doom and gloom campaign mailing reads, “I think it [fracking] can be done in a safe and responsible manner.”

The key word there is “think”. I think it can. But is it currently? I honestly don’t know. Does anybody know for sure? The Obama administration seems ok with it.

But what I do know is that oil companies and government agencies should continue to work to improve upon the methods used to extract natural gas from the ground to ensure that it is being done in a safe and responsible manner. We can either take advantage of our own natural resources, or we can continue to send billions of dollars overseas to foreign countries who hate our guts.

I also supported a council resolution to the North Carolina General Assembly that stated that “IF” the state were to allow fracking in North Carolina, that we retain local authority over any potential shale gas development. That resolution passed unanimously.

And is this even a Cary issue or a state and federal issue anyways? Fracking in Cary? Really? Not happening.

If you want a self-proclaimed environmental activist as your next councilman, then by all means vote for my opponent. If you prefer someone who instead focuses on local issues that directly impact our daily lives and community and who has a proven record of delivering results, then I am your candidate.

In Closing

I do not expect anyone to agree with every decision I make or position I take. Heck, I can’t think of any elected official I agree with 100% of the time – including my council colleagues. But when I find one I agree with more often than not and who does what they believe is in the best interest of our community and is honest with me about it, I am going to continue to support them.

I am running for reelection to continue to work to make Cary a better place to live, work and raise a family and I hope that through my efforts I have earned your trust and support for reelection. I ask for your vote again on October 6th.