Potential aldermen talk engagement, access, taxes

May. 01, 2014 @ 12:26 PM

Three people are campaigning to finish out the Carrboro Board of Alderman term of now Mayor Lydia Lavelle.

Talal Asad, Bethany Chaney and Theresa Watson are in the race to complete the term though 2015, campaigning on several issues facing the town including affordable housing, transparency of local government and community engagement.
Watson is asking voters to support her “in order to achieve workable, common sense solutions to the issues of affordable housing, sustainability, and infrastructure/balanced growth for the future of Carrboro.”
Watson said that her experience in the nonprofit sector has allowed her to see firsthand the challenges facing residents and the changes the community has undergone.
“I can help Carrboro by encouraging planning that is very sensitive to the fact that the population of Carrboro has doubled since 2000 and that it will continue to grow larger at an above average rate,” she said.
Watson added that by helping the town be more proactive than reactive on issues like housing, she can help the town grow into the future.
Chaney said that one way she would help Carrboro move into the future is with a dedicated funding source for affordable housing, improving infrastructure and focusing on process improvement and efficiency.
“I’m particularly interested in exploring public-private partnerships to attract low-income housing tax credit for affordable housing and new market tax credits for innovative commercial development,” said Chaney. “These tools can leverage private investment to make tough development projects economically feasible.”
Chaney also wants to find more creative ways to engage with local government outside online platforms.
“We need to find more ways to engage diverse publics in person, on a regular basis, and where they feel most comfortable,” she said. “Whatever methods we employ for citizen engagement, we need to be intentional about reaching our school-age young people and our seniors as we shape our future. Both populations are important to a diverse, healthy community.”
Chaney referenced her experience with local government for having prepared her to be an Alderman, noting that “it’s important that the person who fills it be able to hit the ground running.”
“This is critically important in order to make a difference in the remainder of the term,” she said.
Asad explained that his key concerns, when addressed will help propel Carrboro forward, lowering the proportion of property tax, solving the town’s increasing parking problem and keeping downtown accessible to all residents.
“I would work to ease the burden of tax revenue on the property owners and find more viable and diverse streams of business to bring to Carrboro,” he said. “Any increases in property taxes by the county should be offset with a reduction by the town to keep our housing affordable.”
Community engagement is also a concern of Asad’s, especially after he learned that many young constituents do not know how the town is governed.
“I would be in favor of funding local outreach efforts that educate residents on town governance and encourage participation on town advisory boards,” Asad said. “I am very interested in the E-Democracy/Electronic Town Halls, ideas that Ross Perot championed in the ’90s. This is a form of direct democracy that allows citizens to not only weigh in on issues, but have a say in the actual passing of ordinances.”