Joshua Bradley is a candidate for Raleigh City Council’s district A. Find more District A candidate responses here.
QUESTION 1: For district candidates: What is your vision for your district and the city as a whole? (What will Raleigh look like in 10-20 years?) Once in office, what actions will be your priority to achieve that vision?
If we make it a priority and work together, Raleigh could substantially reduce its carbon footprint in 10-20 years and do its part to combat climate change. I envision Raleigh as a transit-oriented city that has drastically reduced reliance on cars. Ideally, Raleighites would be able to live, work, and play without needing a car at all. The city should be planned around transit corridors. Neighborhoods should be walkable, have easy access to grocery stores, jobs, and community services, and preserve trees and green spaces. I would propose allocating city funds to the startup of grocery co-ops in areas of the city that are food deserts, with ownership of the co-op transferred to the workers after the city’s investment is returned.
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?
In order to address gridlock and improve walkability, we must address our transit system. The best way to significantly increase public transit ridership is to make it a more efficient option than driving. I would make implementing the transit plan a priority, expanding the proposed network of Bus Rapid Transit lanes and frequent service routes. I would work with transit partners on an alternate solution to connecting the Triangle region, as the Durham-Orange light rail is now an obsolete part of the plan. Future development should be concentrated along transit corridors, focusing on affordable housing first. Gentrification is pushing people further from the center of the city, even outside the city limits, where they have less access to public transportation and will be more likely to drive cars into the city to their jobs. It follows that solving our affordable housing crisis is integral to the success of mass transit. I would propose a moratorium on all luxury development until the affordable housing need is met. If people can afford to live close to where they work, traffic is reduced and so is our carbon footprint.
There are many ways to address walkability in the urban core, including protected bike lanes, expanding the greenway network, adding pedestrian bridges or tunnels at busy intersections, a free bike share operated through the existing transit program, and a trolley system. Mixed use development should include resources like grocery stores, pharmacies, health clinics, and community spaces rather than luxury goods and services.
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?
Any money from the occupancy tax that cannot be redirected into affordable housing or infrastructure could be used to support local artists. Arts and Culture are important for the City as a whole and great effort should be made to support artists of all backgrounds.
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?
“Growth” is understood to be synonymous with expansion, and that is always expansion of population and the addition of housing, and under a purely capitalist model, that means high end housing for developer profits. Raleigh needs growth in affordable housing, growth in living wage jobs, growth in including marginalized community participation in government. Much of what is defined as growth, as currently used in discussions with developers and community leaders, is predicated on and largely dedicated to the growth of private profit, when the challenges the city faces require a more mature and overarching idea of what it means to create a vibrant and sustainable future. Private profit must be assigned a lesser role in our conversations than it currently occupies.
We can’t talk about growth in a vacuum. We must ask the questions: Growth for whom? Is it growth that benefits our communities? Does it make Raleigh a better place to live, or does it push working people out of the city in the interest of private profit?
The city is growing; anti-growth is not an option. But if Raleigh really wants to grow into the vibrant city the current council claims to envision, a “fulfilling and inspired future for all,” we need leaders who will prioritize the needs of the people that live here over the money that can be made.
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?
The city needs to stop incentivizing large corporations to move to Raleigh. We also need to do what we can to encourage employers to pay a living wage. The workers in Raleigh have a harder time supporting local businesses rather than the larger, cheaper corporate stores, if they are barely able to pay the rent and put food on the table. If the residents of Raleigh have more money in their pockets, they are more likely to spend on quality local products instead of cheaper corporate ones.
Joshua Bradley is a District A candidate for Raleigh City Council. His campaign site is jbradleyforraleighworkers.org