Zainab Baloch: Mayoral candidate questionnaire answers

Read below for mayoral candidate Zainab Baloch’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? 

Building for the Future Raleigh is in a unique position. We’re the capital city of North Carolina. We’re the second biggest tech hub after Silicon Valley. We’re facing unprecedented growth and there’s a great job market… for some. We’re also one of the worst cities to live in if you’re a poor black kid trying to get out of poverty. Our upward mobility rate is 8%, worse than Oakland, Queens, and DC. Many of our firefighters can’t afford to live in the city. We’re polluting our air and water systems, making climate change worse. Our homelessness rate is skyrocketing. 

What if Raleigh became known for our choices to listen to our people and prioritize moral, ethical, kind decisions for our city? 

We need to reimagine our city and the spaces we live, work, and play in. We will be a city that invests in people and is committed to doing good even when it’s hard. 

We need new moral approaches. Not the same old solutions. Public office is about public service, not power. It’s time for us, all of us, to serve the public. This is our moment. The future of Raleigh is with the next generation. 

As Raleigh mayor, I will build a movement that ignites past, current, and future generations to take a leading role in forming the future of Raleigh. I will engage the voices and talents of Raleigh’s community, to solve old problems with new and innovative solutions. Together, we can create a city of opportunity and hope–a Raleigh that will give every person a chance to pursue mobility, security, and happiness. 

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? 

Infrastructure that gets us where we need to go, at the time we need to get there, is the backbone of a healthy economy. It powers businesses, connects workers to their jobs, creates opportunities for struggling communities and protects the nation from an increasingly unpredictable environment. As our city grows, we need to be thinking two steps ahead of the problems urban growth can bring. We will reduce the need for “car culture” and prioritize building a public transportation system that is timely, sustainable and accessible for all. 

The Vision: 

● Coordinating with transportation partners to establish an integrated system combining rideshares, scooters, bikes, busses and trains 

● Creating and maintaining more bike lanes and greenways 

● Bringing back electric scooters, with community members included in the conversation, to find a policy that supports both safety and accessibility. 

● Supporting the proposed light rail plan 

● Building bus shelters, and improve walkability to bus stops (some stops don’t even have sidewalks!) 

● Supporting our bus drivers with good working conditions and living wages 

● Improving accessibility to transportation information with a cleaner, integrated online presence and social media sharing 

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 ability to come together, celebrate, discuss, and support each other is one of the greatest pillars of our democracy. As we grow, we must prioritize spaces where our communities–the people who have been here for generations, people of color, LGBT!+, our young and our old, our creatives, our artists, our neighbors–can thrive. 

Mobility: The arts and culture generate tax revenue far beyond any government investment, adding dollars to city coffers and helping city budgets. However, in order for a community to be vibrant, its residents need to be able to afford to live there. 

Security: Communities with arts and culture organizations are seen as safer by their residents; they bring residents closer together and the arts act as a bridge between the community and police. Areas that are well-lit and have public art or murals attract pedestrians, bicyclists, and even auto traffic, which leads to safer and more vibrant communities. 

Happiness: Innovation can increase engagement. Chicago created a “modern-day suggestion box” by developing a $20 million loan fun to support promising innovations. Ideas can be just about anything so long as they pay for themselves, improve services, and don’t lead to the hiring of more staff. One winning idea; a new program that provides cash rewards to citizens reporting illegal tobacco sales. It’s expected to pay for itself through increased cigarette tax revenue. 

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? 

Looking through the City of Raleigh’s website I came across our vision statement: To pursue world-class quality of life by actively collaborating with our community towards a fulfilling and inspired future for all. 

We can do this, but need to stay ahead of the curve, learn from the successes and failures of other cities, and take advantage of upcoming industries. Currently were dropping the ball on creating a world-class city, We are also letting certain economic opportunities pass us by. 

Right now, we have an opportunity to fulfill this vision if we can take advantage of our current situation: Presently, the green economy is worth ~ 4 trillion dollars, that’s as much as the current fossil fuel sector. It’s an industry other cities are already investing in. We have the opportunity now to jump on that, and incorporate it our infrastructure. 

If we don’t get on this, we’ll be missing out on not only money for ourselves and our future generations. We may be an up and coming tech city but we need to double down and plan ahead if we want to be a leader in innovation. 

It’s all about the future. Solutions focused on 2030. Not today. To solve today’s problems we need new solutions. We have to aspire to something better for our lives–not just fixing past problems. 

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 will support Ethical and Equitable Business Practices. Raleigh is on the nation’s radar as one of the top places to work–we’re in a position to decide how we grow, and who we grow with. 

We will recruit companies that will not only create jobs, but are sustainable and socially minded. We will prioritize companies that: 

– Will support employees with living wages, parental leave and healthcare – Are environmentally conscious

– Will create jobs at every level, not just for university graduates 

We will prioritize the success of our local businesses, established and in-the-making 

– Support local entrepreneurs with easy-to-reach information and advising about starting a business

– Provide grants for women, LGBTQ+, and black and brown entrepreneurs

– Incentivize mixed-use developers to build smaller, ground-level storefronts, rather than large, higher rent spaces–creating more accessible spaces for local business owners to open shop

– Create more rotating pop-up spaces for local entrepreneurs 

Zainab Baloch is a candidate for Raleigh mayor. Find her campaign website at zainab4raleigh.com.

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