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Raleighites Agenda: District A candidates

IMPORTANT NOTE: Raleigh Convergence is no longer publishing, as of April 1, 2022. Read more.

Below are the candidates for District A with their websites linked in their name and a link to the answers of the Raleighites Agenda community-powered questionnaire.

Read more about the process and the question selection on this page.

Below, compare answers between candidates, organized alphabetically.

Joshua Bradley: See his responses here and below.

Patrick Buffkin: Declined to complete the questionnaire in the time available.

Sam Hershey: See his responses here and below.

Compare all three candidates in News & Observer’s questionnaire

See more of the candidate questionnaires for at-large and mayoral candidates 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?

Joshua Bradley: 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.  

Patrick Buffkin: N/A

Sam Hershey: In 20 years, I want Raleigh to be a green city with tremendous solar output, a fully-electric bus system, protected bike lanes, and a great public and alternate transportation system. I want the city to have updated its zoning ordinances to allow more density, so that we have more mixed-use spaces and more affordable housing. 

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?

Joshua Bradley: 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. 

Patrick Buffkin: N/A

Sam Hershey: Our urban core is already very walkable, and traffic downtown is largely uncongested, but there are some stretches entering and leaving the downtown area that do have congestion, especially during rush hour times. One of the easiest ways we can combat this is by expanding public transit options, building bike lanes, and putting in sidewalks to create those options where they don’t currently exist. 

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?

Joshua Bradley: 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. 

Patrick Buffkin: N/A

Sam Hershey: Raleigh’s thriving arts scene is a huge draw for people moving here as well as an economic engine for the city. The city council should always work with the arts community on all relevant projects/issues to ensure that their voice is heard and their interests are taken into consideration. 

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?

Joshua Bradley: “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.

Patrick Buffkin: N/A

Sam Hershey: See my answer to the first question.

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?

Joshua Bradley: 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.

Patrick Buffkin: N/A

Sam Hershey: Raleigh does a great job of promoting local businesses over chains, especially downtown, and we should continue to do so. A lot of that credit goes to our city’s consumers, who frequently choose to spend their money at locally-owned shops over chains. This is an issue more controlled by the market than anything, but insofar as the council can have an impact on it, as a small business owner myself, I will always work hard to ensure that small businesses and local shops have whatever tools the city can provide to compete with larger chains. 

Author: raleighconvergence

Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen is the editor of Raleigh Convergence.

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