A City For Everyone
Raleigh is a city that embraces diversity, and that is one of the reasons why I am so passionate about our community. We are a city made up of a beautiful array of different cultures, religions, economic backgrounds, gender identities, and age groups — all devoted to making Raleigh a better place. Unfortunately, our local government is not representative of the voices of those communities who are proud to call Raleigh home. I believe that creating a city for everyone is critical to the success of Raleigh. To build a city for everyone, it is imperative that our city and state governments focus on three core issues; affordable housing, public transportation, and upward mobility.
Affordable Housing: Earlier this year, Raleigh City Council approved increasing affordable housing by 5,700 units over the next 10 years. While this is a great step in the right direction, we can and must do more. The city’s investment in affordable housing is not keeping up with the growth of Raleigh. This is why I fully support increased funding for Section 8 housing.
We must work to end the stigma surrounding affordable housing in Raleigh. Instead, we should stigmatize the negative consequences of allowing rapid gentrification that pushes out our residents. The often dismissive rhetoric that surrounds any discussion of affordable housing blatantly overlooks the fact that such initiatives help citizens of varying ethnicities, backgrounds and age groups who are essential to the proper functioning of our city. To give you an example, many of the firefighters and police officers who keep us safe can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods they protect. I spoke about this at a few of our recent candidate forums just this week. I believe and fear that if we continue to build and expand housing for only the wealthy, Raleigh will soon lose the vibrant, innovative culture that makes it such a wonderful place to live.
Don’t get me wrong — development is a necessary and beneficial component of any successful city. We must ensure that the businesses choosing to come to Raleigh benefit our most vulnerable community members. Everyone should be able to afford to continue living in our great city.
Public Transportation: As Raleigh expands, so should our public transportation. Currently, public transportation in Raleigh is utilized as a last resort due to how inefficient and time consuming it is. We need to increase the number of buses in Raleigh so that residents have shorter wait times and faster commutes, which will allow public transportation to become a practical option for all. This will decrease traffic and cut down on congestion, which will both make our commutes less frustrating, and reduce toxic emissions to make the city a healthier place to live. I believe that Raleigh has more work to do in ensuring we maintain a healthy existence, and I will detail my plans in the coming days.
In addition to this, increasing public transit can enhance both personal and economic opportunities. Public transit makes it easier to visit friends, explore the city, and spend quality time with loved ones. It provides people access to their places of work, downtown activities, as well as crucial employment opportunities and training programs allowing residents to expand life skills. In fact, according to the American Transportation Association, 87% of public transit trips impact the economy, and residential property values perform 42% better on average if they are near public transportation with high-frequency service. As our city grows, a robust, efficient, and accessible public transit system will ensure that we are able to expand in order to reach our full potential. Let’s truly put Raleigh on the map alongside the other great cities in our nation.
Upward Mobility: As a city at the top of many national lists, we fall short in terms of upward mobility. Out of the top 100 most populated counties in the nation, Wake County is ranked 88th. This means that a child living in Oakland, California, Queens, New York, or even Washington, D.C. has a better chance of escaping poverty than in Raleigh. How can we plan for the success of our future generations if we aren’t actively working to improve the success of our current residents? To improve upward mobility, we need to have a serious discussion about what we pay our workers. It’s time for a living wage. No one working 40 hours a week should be struggling to afford to survive in 2017. By adequately compensating employees, we not only benefit workers, but also employers. I stand by these values, and will continue supporting workers to secure a living wage.
We cannot expect our city to prosper when our residents cannot, and I refuse to sit by idly while we lose our residents due to the rising cost of living, insufficient public transportation, and poor prospects for upward mobility. Every resident brings value to our community. Every resident should be heard and represented in City Council. When I am elected on October 10th, I will continue my commitment to our city, and that starts with my commitment to each and every resident.
Candidate for Raleigh City Council