• Adam Wright

Question:

 

** What are your opinions or views on the current Wake Forest town government from the town manager and town board through all of the town departments, including the police department and the fire department?

** What have you heard from town residents about town government?

** What changes do you think need to be made? For example, should the public hearings about rezoning and master plans be held on one date and the planning board’s vote about that be held at a different date?

 

Answer:

I am running because I feel that the board can do better. I do think we have some wonderful board members that are not running this election. However, they need some like minded individuals seated with them. Our town police department does a fabulous job keeping us safe and have helped keep Wake Forest named one of the safest cities in North Carolina. Our fire department also does an outstanding job. They have a low response time and can keep fires contained to the room they started a majority of the time.

 

Since I have started my campaign, between my volunteers and I, we have knocked on over 1500 doors. I have also attended several meet and greets and there has been one consistent theme that I hear from the residents - people are upset at how the town development has unfolded and the lack of transparency in the process. It seems that every time they turn around a new area has been rezoned for dense growth in the most congested areas of our town. The residents are also upset that no matter how much they speak out these developments keep springing up. Another concern I hear often is that we do not do a great job at creating jobs in the city.

 

I want more transparency in our rezoning process. Our city has a great app. It has a lot of great info on it. I know it also can do push notifications. The app has info about public notices accessible on it. However, I would like to see the ability to "opt-in" when new public notices are posting and the meetings scheduled. I would like the public to have the opportunity to comment before the board taking a vote on any new development. Many residents were caught off guard when the new development was being voted on behind Harris Teeter. They showed up to voice their displeasure with the development but were turned away from being able to do so. This policy makes citizens feel like the fix is in and their voice doesn't matter. We should value their input and be willing to listen at ALL times.

 

  • Adam Wright

Question:

 

** What are your views on affordable housing and subsidized housing? In affordable housing, owners or tenants pay, usually, up to 30 percent of their monthly income on housing costs. In subsidized housing, tenants pay on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. Should the town be involved in helping to provide affordable or subsidized housing? The town already has subsidized housing owned by the Wake County Housing Authority and two complexes that are privately owned with federal housing subsidies.

** What are your views on the homeless people in town? If you do not believe there are homeless people, talk to a police officer. Do you think the town should be involved in helping to alleviate homelessness here?

** What are your views on the town’s support of the Northern Community Food Security Team and its ongoing efforts to end food insecurity?

** Do you think the town is doing enough to make this community where people of all colors, backgrounds and faith feel safe and welcome? Do you have any ideas about what more could be done?

 

Answer:

 

Having housing be affordable for all those who live in our community should be a priority. I know there is a developer working to build some houses that fit this need already. We should work with them on finding great areas for opportunities such as this. Part of having such a "hot" real estate market is that supply drops and demand increases. That will make it so only the most fortunate are able to afford houses. So, what can the Board do? We need to be smart about our growth and allow the more dense building to happen near the area closest to where our new transportation plan has bus routes. We should also encourage more mixed-use building in our downtown area. 

Part of the issue is that while we do have an affordable housing problem, our lack of infrastructure and school space makes them higher on my radar. The more we try to solve affordable housing, the worse we make our traffic and schools. So, we have a very delicate line to walk and very little margin for error. Currently, our growth and school issues are problems. The more rezoning we do as a town in the name of affordable housing could make them predicaments. Problems have solutions and predicaments have outcomes. Let's fix our infrastructure and schools and then work on affordable housing as opportunities present themselves. 

The town should work on reducing our homeless population. Doing so reduces crime. We should focus on getting the homeless the help they need to be productive members of our town. We need to find local businesses that are willing to provide chances for the homeless to find work and non-profits to help with any substance abuse and housing issues they may have. This will allow them to have the best chance to be a net-positive for our community. 

I am all in for supporting the Northern Community Food Security Team. Ensuring that there are those in our community that are not going without eating is a valuable investment. 

I do think that we can always try to do more for our less fortunate. We need to make sure their infrastructure is being maintained. The Board, Mayor, and Town Manager should hold regular walking audits in all of our communities. Being visible in all of our communities will allow the community know we have their needs on our minds. It also provides us and them an opportunity to hear about issues that have a simple fix that we may have never heard about had me not made ourselves available.

 

  • Adam Wright

Question:

 

Some of these questions come from Grif Bond, a planning board member.

** What is your plan to boost economic development to improve local employment in industry, manufacturing or higher-paying non-retail businesses? He notes that about 90 percent of the employed people who live in Wake Forest commute to Raleigh, Durham, RTP or other locations. Local employment would lessen traffic congestion.

** How will you manage the tax rate, now 52 cents with 11 cents dedicated to the independent Wake Forest Fire Department and 41 cents covering governmental operations? The 41 cents also includes weekly garbage and recycling pickup so there are no charges to individual homeowners, unlike most other local municipalities.

Comparisons with other municipalities are not useful because they have different tax bases (usually more industry) and do not include garbage and recycling but charge them as fees and many have other fees than we have in Wake Forest.

** There will be a county-wide property revaluation in 2020 which in the past has meant a larger tax base for Wake Forest. The town manager will propose a new tax rate or keep the present rate and the commissioners will determine whether to accept his proposal. Have you considered the revaluation and the setting of a new tax rate?

** As the town commissioners have decided to include the fire department in the town organization, there will be some financial considerations. The consultants and the town’s finance department will work out how the town should handle that financially. Would you be inclined to accept their recommendations?

** Would you vote for and be ready to pay for another fire station?

** What will you do when the town manager and chief finance officer recommend one or two bond referendums in the near future?

** How important do you think greenways and parks are? Do we need another large park, another community center? Would you be open to the idea of a large aquatics center?

 

Answer:

 

Mr. Bond, these are some wonderful questions and I thank you for asking. 

   One of the three main planks in my platform is dedicated to small business growth. In 2012, I started my own small business here in Wake Forest. So, I understand the hurdles that many of our business owners face. According to the Small Business Association, 50 percent of small businesses fail in the first five years. Every dollar that the town can save a business owner is one that he can use to keep the business open. That is why I would push the town to open a business incubator. Approved applicants would be offered office space and internet access. We would also team up with a service, such as SCORE, offered by the SBA. The town can also hold regular asset fairs and business seminars put on by local business leaders. The cost to operate a program such as this would be small. Yet, the payoff could be huge. The town has already had tremendous success with a program similar to this when it helped the Wireless Research Center. 

   Another way that I would help the town create jobs is to have it back a performance art theater. I grew up in the theater and I have seen what a theater can do not only for personal growth but for the town's growth as well. What do people want to do before they go to a show? They want to go out to eat! I, just like many of you, would love to see a wider selection of mom and pop restaurant choices. A theater opening in our town could provide the incentive for more to open. The town could structure the parking lot to include some mixed-use zoning on the edges with shops and restaurants on the bottom and condos or office space above them. My dad runs a theater in a small town in Southern Virginia. The town backed the idea and the theater operates on grants, donations, and the revenue it generates. So, this is also something the town could do that would generate some small business growth, create jobs, and bring a wider restaurant selection. 

   As noted, there will be a county-wide reevaluation. I would hope that with the near 50% population growth we have experienced in the past 10 years that we would get a tax relief for all this growth that we have taken on. I want to cut frivolous spending as well. There is an estimate in the town CIP for $200,000 to paint "Wake Forest" on the water tower downtown. While it may look nice, is that a good investment of our money? I think not. Projects such as that, I would want to put a hold on until we fix our traffic infrastructure and our schools being capped. After listening to the recent discussion on bringing the fire department in the town, I feel that we should build a new firehouse. This will likely not be cheap. So, making sure that we are financially sound to be able to take on such cost is important. The presentation also pointed out that Firehouse 1 also will need some upgrades soon in addition to replacing trucks and apparatuses. That being said, I would also listen to the town's finance department on how we should best handle these costs. As long as their recommendations are sound, I would likely vote for them. My goal would be to do this with no tax increase or bonds needed. 

   It is hard to say if I would vote for any future bonds as I do not know of any reason we currently would need them and I do not want to speculate. The city took on 25.1 million in debt in 2014. Why do we need to add more to that at this time? 

   I love the greenways in the area. I think they are a great value add to the community. Not only do they increase our property values, but they are also a great way to encourage exercise and provide a beautiful green space. There have been recent studies that suggest the more green space a town has, the lower the crime rate and anxiety levels. I have heard from many people in the town at my meet and greets and canvassing that they would like to see more parks. I am all for this idea. I would like to see, however, that we try to find more grants and sponsorships to lessen the cost to the city. After we spent $14 million for a community center that was supposed to cost $11 million, I am cautious to make such another large investment so fast. I have not heard from anyone in the town that they would like an aquatic center.