Justin Sutton: mayoral candidate questionnaire answers

Read below for mayoral candidate Justin Sutton’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 envision Raleigh as a model of economic success and upward mobility where small businesses drive our local economy and where affordable housing is more than just a dream, but a reality for low to moderate income families. 

As mayor, I will prioritize:

1. Economic growth and small business inclusion throughout all city contracts awarded in efforts to strengthen our local dollar; 

2. Housing affordability which continues to displace our residents daily; and 

3. Infrastructure management to address growing density concerns, accelerated growth, and the gradual strain placed on our public resources and municipal operations (i.e. utilities, public safety responsiveness, and waste management services).

I will revamp our competitive bidding process to prioritize the purchase of local goods and services. I will also rewrite our solicitations, specifications, and contracting terms to mandate small, minority, and women owned business utilization across all procurements and citywide contracts awarded. I will expand existing housing programs to enhance the marketability of our communities through homeowner rehabilitation services, first time homebuyer assistance funding, credit counseling/consumer protection programs, and proposed amendments to the existing budget to redirect taxpayer dollars to increase funding for rental vouchers/subsidies. I would prioritize funding for the construction and/or purchase of single-family homes and low-density housing units with lease to own options and housing rates below market value. I will also sponsor feasibility studies to address infrastructure needs and asset management programs to maximize city resources and streamline municipal operations.

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?

There are limitations to accelerated growth. All downtown development projects should be subject to traffic pattern studies prior to obtaining city approval. Increased density due to high-rise developments will only continue to strain our existing infrastructure and city resources (i.e. public utilities, waste management services public safety responsiveness, roadways, etc.), thus creating untenable circumstances which may impair the city’s ability to effectively address the health, safety, and welfare needs of our residents over time. 

We experience this firsthand every day through congestive traffic patterns, increased frequency of first responder reporting, and water/utility main breaks beneath our busy streets and roadways. Looking towards the future, we will need to place greater emphasis on infrastructure management programs and conduct feasibility studies to streamline municipal operations while maximizing public resource utility. We must also prioritize alternative mass transportation options such as bus rapid transit (BRT) systems with designated bus lanes to bypass traffic congestion in the most densely populated areas of the city.

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?

The Raleigh arts & culture scene is certainly thriving today. I am a regular contributor to the N.C. Museum of Art. However, this industry is more than just a revenue stream as the cultural and socio-economic impact on this city is priceless! As mayor, I will prioritize funding and resources for this industry and continue to sponsor programs, lyceum events, and festivals to promote cultural diversity and inclusion for ALL residents across our city.

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?

I am a proponent of strategic growth with a social purpose. There must be a dynamic shift in how we do business in this city, how we govern as a collective body, and how we effectively manage city resources/operations for long term sustainability and growth. This starts with effective leadership, greater transparency, strategic fiscal policy, and responsible infrastructure planning to scale down unnecessary private developments. We must also do a better job of engaging our citizens throughout all functions of local government.  

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?

We must incentivize small business growth, development, and sustainability within the city by increasing the amount of funding assistance and grant opportunities available through our city’s Economic Development Fund Program and transfers from the city’s general fund. I will also prioritize growth opportunities for small, minority, veteran, and women owned businesses by prioritizing the purchase of local goods and services across all city contracts awarded to bolster our local economy. 

Justin Sutton is a candidate for Raleigh city mayor. See his campaign website at www.suttonformayor.com.

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