Read below for mayoral candidate Caroline Sullivan’s answers to the Raleighites Agenda. See all the available mayoral candidates answers here.
The Raleighites Agenda, a community-powered questionnaire, includes questions from Raleigh residents. For more details on the process, visit this post.
QUESTION 1: For at-large and mayoral candidates: What is your vision for the future of the city? (What will Raleigh look like in 10-20 years?) Once in office, what actions will be your priority to achieve that vision?
I have never been more optimistic about Raleigh’s future. We will continue to face challenges as we grow, but we have the right ingredients to collaborate and find innovative solutions. We have our great universities, the best community college in the state, innovative companies filled with smart creative people, strong local governments, and tireless non-profits. By working together, we can build a Raleigh that works for everyone. We can create a vibrant, sustainable city that provides many affordable housing options and transportation and transit systems that can move us around the city and region. We can ensure all communities and all families feel safe, keep up with the critical infrastructure as we grow, and continue to promote the arts, culture, and parks that give us our wonderful quality of life. Raleigh can be a city that provides opportunity for all residents—the opportunity to find a job that gives them purpose and can support them and their families. We must encourage economic development by supporting local small business and entrepreneurs while also recruiting larger companies to locate here. We must grow our talent pipeline locally, not just attract it by expanding youth and adult training programs. But we cannot do this alone, and we cannot do it by tearing each other down—we have to bring everyone to the table to collaborate and get things done for all of Raleigh. I believe that Raleigh’s leaders need to work harder to get along to achieve common objectives on behalf of the people. I will do everything that I can to bring back respect and ensure that the Council conducts the work it is trusted to do.
QUESTION 2: What’s the impact on traffic of the rapid high-rise development in downtown, and what are you doing to avoid the gridlock we’re seeing too often? How would you improve walkability, especially in the urban core?
As we grow denser, infrastructure will continue to be a concern and must be one of many considerations with new development projects. Raleigh must keep up with road maintenance and prioritize the reduction of traffic and congestion. During my time on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, we developed and successfully passed the Wake County Transit Plan. As we continue to implement the long-term plan, we will see more bus service and more frequent bus service, improvements to bus stops, the development of bus rapid transit corridors in the city, and the commuter rail line from Garner to Research Triangle Park. As the Wake County Transit plan is built, Raleigh residents will have more robust transit options, which will help alleviate congestion as we grow. Density allows us to facilitate these diverse modes of transportation, and therefore, Raleigh must make investments in connectivity and first and last mile infrastructure for walking and biking. Walking and biking infrastructure are critical to making public transit a viable option for our residents.
QUESTION 3: According to the Arts & Economic Impact Study 5, the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations in Raleigh generated $532 million in economic activity, representing 95% of the total activity for Wake County in fiscal year 2015. The creative economy also supports over 8,00 full-time equivalent jobs in Raleigh and generates $26 million in tax revenue for local government.
What is your vision for the arts and the role they would play in Raleigh’s overall economic development strategy?
Having a vibrant arts culture not only enriches our community experience, it attracts visitors and businesses and needs to be an integral part of any strategic plan for Raleigh. Cultural assets like the NC Art Museum, CAM, Gregg Museum, Burning Coal Theatre, NC Theatre, Theatre in the Park, Raleigh Little Theatre, the African American Cultural Festival, SparkCon, the International Bluegrass Festival, the Dreamville Festival, and the local music scene should be supported for their impact on tourism and on our quality of life, and for their role in fostering creativity and collaboration for our young people. I also believe it is important to have local artists and musicians work with schools to give more young people the opportunity to learn about and participate in arts and music.
QUESTION 4: What is your vision for Raleigh 20 years from now? Development will happen whether you support it or not — so what is next? What is the big idea? What is YOUR big idea?
Like many large cities, Raleigh is experiencing rapid change and growth, and this presents challenges and opportunities. We have a choice. We can choose to ignore the changes coming in our future, or we can come together to collaborate and create a shared vision to build a Raleigh that works for all of us. Together, we can build a city of the future–a vibrant, sustainable city that offers opportunity for all residents and builds resiliency for our future. One challenge of growth that must be addressed with urgency is housing affordability. I would convene an affordable housing summit to establish our shared long range housing plans, similar to the meetings used to create the Wake County Transit Plan. The summit would include representatives from the city, county, other municipalities, nonprofits, advocacy organizations, developers, banks, businesses, and community members. At the conclusion, a permanent affordable housing commission would be established to continuously address this issue with a long-term, collaborative plan. We must put divisiveness and pettiness aside, and bring everyone to the table to work collaboratively to find balanced solutions. Together, we can develop short and long-term plans that ensure Raleigh grows and builds for the future but not at the expense of Raleigh’s longest-term residents.
QUESTION 5: With rising costs for parking and rent, what will you do to help keep independent, locally-owned shops in downtown Raleigh from being swallowed up by larger chains?
One of the things that makes Raleigh so special is our abundance of locally owned businesses. It is important that the city continues to foster and support locally owned business downtown and across the city. The city must offer grants and technical assistance for small businesses that want to expand and cut red tape to help local employers grow and increase job opportunities for the local workforce. Raleigh must invest in our residents’ abilities to maximize their potential in a changing economy. From making it easier to help small businesses expand, to supporting working families, to providing more opportunities for youth jobs and apprenticeships, we need to build a city that promotes economic opportunity for all of us.
Caroline Sullivan is a candidate for Raleigh mayor. Her campaign website is carolineformayor.com