Vote for Transit

Everyday Wake County is growing by 64 people and the majority of those people are choosing to live and work in Raleigh. That influx of people is changing our city and that change is being seen and felt every day. Thus, our city has some big questions we need to answer: What does the future of transportation look like? If we do not act now, we will become Atlanta or LA, cites that are known for horrible traffic?   We need to start preparing for tomorrow by building a modern public transportation system today. This will reduce commute times and congestion on our roads, which will grow our economy and provide better options for all citizens. But new infrastructure takes time and capital.   Over the last several years mayors, citizens, university leaders, business owners and more have been gathering to discuss what our future transportation could look like. It’s a conversation I have been proud to take part in and one that I believe is crucial for our city. That’s why on election day, I am asking you to join me in voting to approve a half-cent sales tax referendum to fund transportation system and transit expansion.   Here is what the plan will do: Triple bus service in just the first few years, connecting every town in the county.  Build a frequent “Bus Rapid Transit” network in high-traffic areas that will incorporate dedicated bus lanes, level boarding platforms, and other enhanced features that improve the speed and quality of service. Create a new commuter rail line that will efficiently utilize pre-existing tracks to provide a backbone of passenger train service across the county, enabling people to completely avoid daily road traffic congestion. Learn more at http://www.movingwakeforward.com/   Please remember to join me in November and vote to move our county and city forward by funding this needed infrastructure.

Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Development

A few weeks ago, we held Raleigh’s first major event in Dorothea Dix Park. This is the just the start of amazing things to come for our city and this park. When I think about the great cities I have visited, they often have a large scale park that helps define them – Central Park in New York City, Boston Common in Boston and Grant Park in Chicago. Raleigh’s will be Dix Park, and it will become part of the fabric of our city and define us. That park will be managed by our city’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. This is one of those departments that if you are not taking full advantage of their offerings, you are definitely missing out. We only have a few weeks of summer vacation left before school starts back, and it’s not too late to enjoy what Raleigh has to offer.  Here are just a few examples: -Let the kids play youth football! Children ages 7-13 are invited to play in a youth tackle football league. Register before August 31st.   http://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/news/content/CorNews/Articles/PRecAthletics.html  -Experience nature in our city’s parks! There are a variety of evening programs that showcase nature. Adventures include family nature night at Laurel Hills Park, learn about our birds while building a bird house, and learn about protecting our planet. http://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/news/content/CorNews/Articles/PRecNatureProgramsAugust2016.html -Do some yoga in the park! Yoga and other fitness activities in the big field at Dix Park.  https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/NCRALEIGH/bulletins/158d32b -Take advantage of the arts! From pottery classes and outdoor movies to featuring arts – our city has it all. https://www.raleighnc.gov/parks/content/Arts/Articles/RaleighArts.html  These are just some of the many ways you can take part in the fantastic opportunities from our Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. They are a great way to enjoy our city, stay active and learn something new. This month at the District E Alliance the topic will also be Parks and Rec. RSVP to attend here:  http://www.bonnergaylord.com/aug_dena

Fair and Equitable for our City Employees

All of our city employees work incredibly hard and deserve to be paid a wage that is fair and equitable. Over the past few weeks, we have heard a lot about salaries for our city employees -- in particular our fire department. I want to assure you, that appropriate salaries for city employees is something we are keeping an eye on and continuously addressing. We are working toward a solution that does not just stop at the fire department. With the budget we recently passed, we included an average salary increase of 3 to 3.5%. I realize this is just a start. The city is in the process of a pay study that will help us to determine where we fall short both across departments and in the marketplace. I have included some information about the current stage of the study below as provided to the council in July. This effort is a big undertaking for the city and one that has been needed for some time. Once complete, this will allow city staff to ensure that individuals are paid fairly across the board while remaining sustainable with the city’s budget. In addition, we will have data to compare to our peers and be able to ensure our salaries are competitive. One of the main ways to recruit, retain and support the best talent available is to pay them a wage that is supportive of the work performed. As stewards of your tax dollars, we have to be mindful and ensure that government is operating efficiently. It is far more cost effective to retain outstanding employees than to recruit and train new ones. Salaries are just one step in the retention process. After this study is complete, myself and other council members will work to ensure that all city employees are paid a living wage that is competitive both in our area and with our peers.I plan to advocate for a pay structure that guarantees a minimum wage for all our city employees that reflects the cost of living in Raleigh, ensures current employees are paid an equitable wage across city government, makes sure the best employees are supported and rewarded and all our salaries are competitive both in this region and in our peer cities. Information on the Pay Study: The city is currently in the second phase of a pay study. This study is being conducted by Gallagher Surveys - a firm that specializes in surveys surrounding compensation and human resources. The study was undertaken “to implement a compensation system that will support the city’s compensation philosophy to attract and retain employees who are committed to public service, demonstrate initiative, and are accountable for individual and team performance that provide a high level of service. The resulting compensation system will be transparent, fair, competitive, equitable, and sustainable.” Per the most recent study update to the City Council, the first phase has been completed and the second phase kicked off in late June. The initial focus of this phase is to have employees complete position description questionnaires which identifies the essential job duties, responsibilities and qualifications for every classification. These will be the basis for establishing job classifications and for making accurate comparisons to market salary survey data later in the process. The city has over 600 job classifications currently. This also included over 21 employee meetings, which included over 1,500 employees attending. Three meetings were specifically for police and three specifically for fire. In the coming months, position description questionnaires will be completed and Gallagher will draft a job classification structure. Then we will conduct a custom market survey to be completed in early September.

Mayor’s Full Statement on Proposed Community Dialogue Sessions

Text from the Raleigh Public Record: http://raleighpublicrecord.org/news/city-council/2016/07/19/mayors-full-statement-on-proposed-community-dialogue-sessions/ The following statement was read aloud by Mayor Nancy McFarlane at the start of the July 19, 2016 City Council afternoon session. Before we get started today, I want to take a moment to discuss recent events that are weighing heavily on my mind and I believe the minds of most others not only in our community but the nation. The events of the past few weeks — most notably in Minneapolis, Dallas, and Baton Rouge — have left us all shaken and questioning what is happening to us as a community and a country. First and foremost, our hearts and minds are with the victims of these tragedies and their families and friends during this very difficult time. Here in Raleigh, we have a diverse community that when faced with adversity in the past, have worked together to make our community and city stronger. We work to find common bonds but as we see in other areas of the country, we also struggle with issues of trust and understanding within the community. We have been working hard together to improve relationships and while we've made progress we still have work to do. Building healthy and safe communities is the enduring goal of government; this is an on-going process that requires constant nurturing and persistence. To that point, each of us has a role to play in building and maintaining a Raleigh that is healthy and safe for everyone. The City of Raleigh is preparing for a "Community Dialogue" that will help to bring together the many voices and talents in our community by generating ideas, exploring common grounds, and building relationships across the lines that help separate us as a community. The Community Dialogue will be a series of conversations aided by a professional facilitator who is a trained listener and can help inspire and advance conversation while remaining neutral. The Dialogue will take place throughout the city over the course of the next several months and will include informational sessions focused on bringing about positive change. We will announce the details for the first of the community conversations in the coming weeks. As I've said in the past, we are more alike than we are different, and while I acknowledge that these conversations may prove difficult and at times uncomfortable, I strongly believe that by working together and having an open, honest dialogue we will be building a safer, stronger Raleigh.

Short Term Rentals

The city’s current ordinance makes it illegal to offer short term rentals. The Raleigh City Council recently voted on a proposed ordinance, which would have made Airbnb type services legal. Under the proposed ordinance, residents could only rent two rooms in their home for less than 30 days, in addition to a required permit process and a 400 foot buffer, severely limiting opportunities for homeowners. In a split vote, these proposed regulations and restrictions were not adopted. These type of regulations are not the future for our city – they limit the ability of economy to adapt. We have seen it across the US, our economy is evolving. We are able to supplement our incomes through services like Airbnb and Uber. The shared economy is opening new doors and making it easier for citizens to visit new places and enjoy the ones they call home. We have seen cities shut the door on the shared economy. We can’t innovate in our city or be a home for the next great company, if we don’t accept and embrace the ability of our citizens to be entrepreneurial. This is Raleigh’s chance to be part of the future. I will continue to push for and support city ordinances that allow Raleigh to be part of the sharing economy.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day has been part of the fabric of America for almost 150 years. Originally called Decoration Day it was created to decorate the graves of those that served in the military as a way of honoring them. We continue that tradition today by observing Memorial Day.This day holds a special place for my family -- both of my grandfathers served in WWII. They fought for this country and helped to protect our Democracy. Every year, I take time to reflect with my family on their service and the service of others. More than just a start to summer, it's a chance to thank those who've served.As you head out of town or use the weekend to enjoy all that Raleigh has to offer, enjoy time with family and friends but also remember the meaning of this weekend. We wouldn’t be the country we are today without the service of women and men who keep us safe. 

Stormwater Runoff

Unless you have had a problem or you work in the industry that deals with Stormwater runoff, most people do not ever think twice about it. However, it is an important part of the city’s management plan. When it rains, all the water has to go somewhere. In most cases one of two things happens – the water either soaks into the ground or is managed through stormwater runoff systems. These runoff systems allow developed areas to drain properly and usually direct through the stormwater into the city’s sewer. In general, stormwater runoff that is located within the city’s right-of-ways and on city property is the responsibility of the city. Beyond those areas, the responsibility is the private landowner. Stormwater runoff has lots of potential to cause damage. Types of damages caused by stormwater runoff include erosion, flooding, polluting our sources of water and property damage. Proper stormwater management is important because unlike sewer water it is not purified returning to streams. Instead systems are in place to remove debris, silt and nutrients to protect our waterways. As Raleigh becomes more densely populated, the need for stormwater management increases. Currently the city has 30 stormwater projects in works with another 15 already approved by the City Council. In addition, we have 33 on a waitlist. Due to these risks, the City (like the majority of all urban cities) has a nominal stormwater utility fee. This fee is used to manage the city’s runoff, stormwater sewer system, and offer grants and assistance to private property owners. This fee was created 12 years ago. The council recently approved a fee increase that would help in funding future projects and would be the first increase since the creation of the fee. Through a collaborative effort between Raleigh’s Stormwater Management Advisory Commission and Stormwater staff in alignment with the City’s Strategic Plan adopted by City Council in 2015, Raleigh recently developed a unique Integrated Stormwater Capital Improvement Projects Prioritization Model and Adaptive Implementation Plan. This new model and plan will become the primary means by which potential stormwater system improvement needs and projects across the city are identified, evaluated, prioritized, and recommended for implementation. Learn more about stormwater runoff - http://www.raleighnc.gov/services/content/PWksStormwater/Articles/Stormwater.html Learn more about the cost sharing available - http://www.raleighnc.gov/services/content/PWksStormwater/Articles/StormwaterQualityCostShareProgram.html Get involved -- http://www.raleighnc.gov/services/content/PWksStormwater/Articles/StormwaterEducation.html

Thank You

Last night I was reelected to the Raleigh City Council - my hometown's city council. My heart is full of gratitude for this opportunity and I just wanted to say thank you. I am honored that you once again have put your faith in me to represent you for another term and I am proud to continue serving our city.   Continue reading

Building a Sustainable City

How do we build a sustainable transportation system in a world where urban sprawl is on the rise- leading to traffic congestion, air pollution, and high economic costs? According to a recent report published by New Climate Economy, buses and bikes may be our saving grace. Continue reading

What's the Plan, Raleigh?

Any professional at the top of their game will tell you that having a plan is crucial to success. A plan will prod you into action and give you a framework to follow. Alan Lakein, an expert on time management, once stated, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” It seems then that Raleigh has planned for success. Continue reading