Residents and local groups have been asking specific questions about issues important to our city and the upcoming Mebane City Council election. Hopefully, this will give you more detailed insight into my positions on issues important to the people of Mebane. This page shows you the questions in bold and my answers follow. If you have specific questions that you would like to ask, please send them my way.
What led you to run for Council – whether this year or in previous years?
Up until this year, I could honestly say I was not a politician. I still would rather think of myself as a person of service. I want to be the city council person that you know. The person you see on the streets, at community events, and online talking to Mebanites. I want you and all corners of the Mebane community to have a city councilperson they know is eager to listen – not just during campaign season. Self-governance is hard work – I want to raise the standard of local leadership, get people like you involved, and make being active in our community easier to access.
Please explain why you are running for this office and what experiences you have had that prepare you for this position.
Why am I running for Mebane City Council?
I am running for Mebane City Council to bring fresh perspective to how Mebane moves forward and to bring representation to all corners of our community. I am running to raise the bar for serving as a local leader by improving how city leaders serve, communicate, and engage members of our Mebane community, including Orange County Mebanites. I know we must preserve our downtown and small-business culture while making smart decisions about Mebane’s growth. Building innovative partnerships with our local schools and connecting our islands of neighborhoods with safe pedestrian paths are priorities of my campaign. My hope is to encourage greater community participation in our local government and be a city councilperson that you recognize on the street, knowing that your leaders are eagerly wanting to hear your vision for our Mebane community.
I expect myself to be a city leader who reaches out to you and others from all corners of the Mebane community to listen and actively engage with the people of Mebane – not just during the months leading up to an election. If elected, I would like to encourage my fellow councilpeople to do the same. Mebane needs leaders who understand that leading begins with listening to those you serve. It begins by presenting a sincere eagerness to listen to the concerns and visions of those who call Mebane home. I want to be a leader for all of Mebane. I find joy and refreshed enthusiasm reaching out to neighbors, being accessible on the streets, and building relationships with my fellow Mebanites.
What experiences prepare me for this opportunity?
Mebane needs service-focused leaders experienced in managing complex situations who are defined by their character and inspired to listen to the people of Mebane. My qualifications for serving as your city councilperson reside in 4 areas: a dedication to service; proven professional experiences as a leader solving complex challenges; a reputation for character-driven leadership; and genuine enthusiasm to bring city leadership out of the council chamber and onto the neighborhoods with the people of Mebane.
Being your city councilperson is all about service to others. I am a 15 year veteran of the United States Air Force and Air National Guard. My commitment-to-service continues in my strong relationship with Mebane’s small businesses, work to register voters of all political ideals, encouragement of others to be actively involved in their local government, and membership in various local organizations such as veterans’ groups, NAACP, Mebane Historical Society, and Mebane Community together in Unity.
After Basic Training at Lackland AFB and Technical School Training at Sheppard AFB, I proudly served with the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw AFB, the 35th Fighter Squadron, the 13th Fighter Squadron/35th Aircraft Maintenance Group, and the 162nd Fighter Squadron/178 Aircraft Maintenance Group. I served active duty during Operation Southern Watch at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia and Kunsan AFB, Republic of Korea, I left the United States Air Force having earned the rank of Technical Sergeant (E6) working as an F-16 Avionics Technician.
A growing Mebane needs leaders who are prepared to be proactive when anticipating the challenges ahead. As a Quality Manager and Telematics Verification Engineer for American-made Volvo trucks, I work to resolve a variety of issues. I would translate my skills to finding effective solutions to the issues facing city government. As a former F-16 Avionics Technician, I am familiar with government processes, which would make my transition into the role of a city councilman proceed more smoothly than someone without experience working with government budgets or operating procedures.
What is your occupation?
I currently work as a Quality Manager and Telematics Verification Engineer for American-made Volvo Group Trucks. Some of my specific responsibilities include:
- Testing Telematics Gateway software and ensuring software meets Volvo and Customer requirements,
- Performing hardware and software deep dive analysis of Telematics issues,
- Developing hardware and software test tools for our Verification Team, and
- Developing robotized test programs to provide greater scope of testing.
I have worked as a F-16 Avionics Technician in the United States Air Force on fighter aircraft worth over $1 trillion. Some of my responsibilities included:
- Being responsible for repair and maintenance of electrical and avionic systems on F-16 and
- Leading and teaching new airman about avionic systems repair and maintenance.
I have also worked as a Quality Control Expert with global technology leader TE Connectivity. Some of my responsibilities included:
- Initial in-depth part analysis and supervisor for first line of containment and countermeasure,
- Mitigating and ensuring countermeasures for Supplier Manufacturing Defects within TE part manufacturing processes,
- Communicating with TE and customer upper management to ensure all parties are aware of investigation(s) process, and
- Working with TE plants around the globe as well as part suppliers to investigate root causes of defects.
List 3 issues you consider to be important that should be addressed within the next two years.
There are a number of challenges and opportunities in Mebane’s immediate future. Mebane is a rapidly growing community that must focus on:
1.) Improving Mebane schools through innovative City-County partnerships. I have strongly advocated that Mebane City Council should work in new ways with Alamance County and school system officials. Our Mebane schools in Alamance county are overcrowded, aging, and in desperate need of repair. The quality of our schools directly impacts our property values, local economy, and quality of life for Mebane residents. By investing in city-led education initiatives for science, math, music, arts, and sports programs, Mebane city council can establish stronger support for local businesses by preparing students to become skilled and educated individuals. An educated workforce is a driving factor for the continued success of local businesses. I do not accept the old way of thinking that said, the responsibility for schools is not a “city issue.” I stand in strong support for finding innovative ways to support our students and teachers by building working relationships with county and Board of Education to support a new city-county cooperative model of education.
2.) Preserving and promoting Downtown Mebane and our local small businesses with a smart-growth strategy that doesn’t sacrifice our heritage. Mebane is “positively charming” and I am dedicated to increasing the visibility of Downtown Mebane and our small businesses. Our downtown is our history, our heart, and a reflection of our incredible community. Small businesses are the front door to achieving the American Dream. As small businesses thrive, so to do the families they support, students they hire, and income they bring to the city with increased tax revenues. I will work to promote our downtown and small businesses starting with better signage directing visitors to our local businesses. As a city councilman, I plan on working with local businesses to improve the aesthetics of downtown to compliment our city’s charm. Developing downtown Mebane as a go-to place for families to spend time together benefits both the businesses and the community. As the popularity of downtown events like the Dogwood festival has shown, the need for more parking needs to be part of the smart-growth strategy. Lastly, I will implement better online city communications and social media strategies to promote our local businesses to visitors. By supporting Downtown and our community of small businesses, we are investing in the continued success of the future of Mebane.
3) Creating and implementing a modern city communications strategy that promotes our vibrant community and better informs Mebanites in real-time about City projects. I want to work closely with our city managers and employees to develop communication methods that have multiple ways for people to access them, including internet, phone, and most importantly, face-to-face communication. The people of Mebane want to be heard. They want an open line of communication with the city that is transparent and accessible to all. I want to enable the city to be able to respond to residents needs to hear about things such as the 119 Bypass, areas traffic congestion, city improvements, and feel that their voice matters.
What 3 ways do you see that funds can be allocated for your stated priorities?
Mebane is experiencing a period of rapid growth which has been reflected in our city finances. This is due to the tax dollar contributions of hard-working Mebane businesses and citizens. I believe implementing my proposals are a matter of investing our city tax dollars wisely so that the city’s income continues to support sustainable growth in the following ways:
- The city can help support science, math, music, arts, and sports programs in the schools. I personally have reached out to programs like First Robotics to see if schools are interested in implementing the program for their students. Having established a collegiate racing team at the Ohio State University, I am familiar with what it takes to work with the education system to get a new program rolling.
- Promoting our local small businesses with better signage. I was inspired by how Hillsborough uses their traffic signs to warn residents of traffic delays while also encouraging people to eat and shop in downtown Hillsborough. Increasing the visibility of downtown doesn’t always require funds, but it does require innovation and out-of-the-box thinking.
- As a leader, there are no costs associated with getting out among the people of Mebane. However, one of the themes I heard again and again talking with residents about Mebane was how hard they found the city’s website to navigate. While the City of Mebane’s website looks nice, there are no modern City social media communication channels and the website is not transparent nor easily accessible to residents. As a city councilman, I would invest in establishing a line of online communications for residents and develop a focus group to help revamp the city’s website so that it is easier for more Mebanites to use.
Does the redevelopment process in Mebane (zoning and planning) need improvement? Please explain your answer.
Yes. The rapid growth of Mebane has brought with it new challenges. This includes a booming population that stretches the already thin resources of Mebane schools. With controlled growth, it is easier to plan for infrastructure investments such schools, sidewalks, and roads. I don’t want the city to scramble to meet the needs of new citizens, I want our smart growth strategy to anticipate the needs of Mebanites and plan accordingly.
Do you consider the tax burden on Mebane citizens and businesses to be fair? Please explain your answer.
Current growth in Mebane’s tax base has allowed for a decrease in tax rates. This is good. The improvement I would like to see regarding taxes include: efficiently using revenue gained during this period of growth; preventing cost overruns on projects; being more selective in the city’s use of “incentives” to large corporations; supporting our small business community; and addressing long-overdue proposals to implement the greenway proposal, install bike paths, and connect neighborhoods with safer sidewalks. There may be times of slower growth in our future and as a city councilman, my objective is to use the current period of growth responsibly and not let rapid expansion result in an overextended city infrastructure. Additionally, not having a smart-growth contingency risks a substantial increase in taxes for everyone, and that would not be fair nor a fair use of our resources in a time of prosperity.
Current growth has allowed for a decrease in tax rates. This is good. Improvements I would like to see regarding taxes include: more efficient use of revenue gained; preventing cost overruns on projects; being more selective in the city’s use of “incentives” to large corporations; supporting our small businesses; and addressing long-overdue infrastructure proposals.
As Mebane grows – what do you see as the biggest hurdle?
A growing Mebane has many challenges ahead. We are not the one-traffic-light town we once were not that long ago. One of our hurdles will be balancing growth with Mebane’s unique charm. This demands that city leaders be more forward-thinking and visionary in their decision making. It will take a proactive approach over a reactive one.
Another challenge will be catching up with the growth that has already happened.
- There is a clear need to connect islands of neighborhoods throughout Mebane with safe and accessible sidewalks.
- There has been a tendency to forget the day-to-day needs of Mebane. Recycling is not as exciting as a new city park. Yet, there is a real need to move from bi-weekly recycling to weekly recycling. And still the city has yet to install recycling containers at locations where the city collects garbage such as downtown and city parks.
- Our local small businesses and downtown merchants have taken a backseat to ribbon cuttings for new industries. There is a forgetfulness that small businesses are the front door to the American dream for many in our community.
The biggest hurdle will be smart growth found in the transition from the incumbent mindset that all growth is good to one that says, we have an opportunity shape Mebane into a community that works for everyone. My worry is that without fresh leadership, a completely incumbent city council will become comfortable and digress into complacency. A new leader with a different perspective than the one that has been in place for so long will help ready Mebane for the hurdles and opportunities that lie ahead.
[The following is a series of questions asked by a Mebane resident who moved to town 4 years ago about residential growth]
What is your opinion of the current residential growth.
What has been clear for many years now is that Mebane is growing at an accelerated rate. Mebane continues to grow because we are a wonderful and charming community with some of the most friendly people around. I can’t imagine not wanting to live here. It’s a place where the tradition of knowing your neighbor and building a family comes alive with opportunity. With this being said, we all have felt the impact of an expanding Mebane in one way or another – school overcrowding, increased traffic congestion, and increased difficulty walking, running, and biking in town.
The challenges of increased residential growth must be addressed. I am not here to stand in the way of growth and welcoming new Mebanites. I am here to say that Mebane City Council cannot hastily accept every new development proposal without a clear plan to address the growth in smart ways. I hope to address more of this question in your following questions.
Why should the City continue to build more homes and apartments?
Growth is an inevitable force shaping our community. My position is not to stand in the way of growth, but to manage it in smart ways that brings benefit to all of Mebane. To specifically respond to your question, zoning for new residential developments is an issue of economic supply and demand. This is a real important concern considering the number of young adults, families, emerging professionals, and others impacted by rises in cost of living. Hastily zoning for any and all residential development, strains city resources, puts pressure to expand city infrastructure, and increased traffic. My objective is find the right balance and to work in smart ways to make sure Mebane does not become an economic boom town unable to respond to periods of economic downturn.
I want to add my position is that the city should prioritize zoning neighborhoods over apartment complexes. Neighborhoods contribute to a more stable city growth trajectory than multi-unit apartment complexes. Mebane should work to be a community of better connected neighborhoods where we can more safely bike, walk, and cross the street.
There is a need to catch up with the growth that has already happened. The city council must address limitations to previous zoning codes that did not include requirements for developers to build sidewalks interconnected to the city in their plans. This limitation has made many neighborhoods in Mebane island communities isolated the rest of town. Any job I do, I make an effort to do it to completion: if elected to city council, I will work to make sure the city works to fulfill its responsibility areas already developed.
What do you feel is the ‘stopping point’ for this growth?
Economic forces will be the primary force determining Mebane’s growth – locally, regionally, and nationally. As a city councilperson, my responsibility will be to manage the current growth in smart ways and make sure the city is prepared for future economic downturns.
What is the biggest ‘advantage’ of this rapid growth?
Growth brings opportunity to invest in city objectives that will shape Mebane’s future. Growth allows for an increase in the tax base which helps the city to maintain a lower overall tax rate.
The advantage the city has now should be focused on investing into the growth that has already occurred – need for better schools and safer and better connected sidewalks, bike paths, and greenways.
Mebane truly has an opportunity to shape its future during this period of growth. If we address the challenges facing our community in smart ways, we can work to find the right balance of a charm and growth. If the incumbent city council continues to chase any growth that comes its way, I would expect the existing problems will be compounded.
What is the biggest ‘pitfall’ of this rapid growth?
The “pitfall” of unmitigated growth is losing what makes Mebane a uniquely charming community. Mebane’s small businesses, community of neighborhoods, and small-town feel is one of the biggest draws of our city. Rapid growth, without a vision for preserving what makes Mebane special, endangers that which the growth is based. There becomes a tendency for small towns to sprawl during times of rapid growth. There becomes a disinvestment in downtown businesses. Increased traffic, increased city noise, and increased air pollution, and those traits that made the charming town you once knew quickly dissipate.
What has the City done in working with our School Districts regarding the additional children this growth will bring to our schools?
Sadly, the incumbent city council has not responded in concrete ways to the obvious problem of school overcrowding and struggling school infrastructure. A primary objective of my campaign is to challenge the city to become an active partner with our local schools and finally put solutions to this long-known problem.
There is not enough space for the new elementary, middle, and highschool students coming to Mebane. Our existing local school buildings are in dire need of repair. This is not a new issue. The incumbent city council members have been quite aware of this problem for many years. An example of complacency, the incumbent city council – except for Patty Phillipps who I have seen join with me advocating for our schools at County Commissioner and ABSS School board meetings – has passed responsibility for this back to the county. I am running to act on innovative solutions to this problem.
While we are on the subject of education. There is a working proposal from the County for a new high school. Efforts to build this new facility needs to also include efforts to fix the problem at our local elementary and middle schools.
There have been times where some members of the incumbent council have acknowledged the problem from council chambers. City leadership has passed responsibility for our schools back onto county officials. I want to make Mebane City an active and regular partner with our local schools. The city has been quick to drop Mebane tax dollars and incentives for industry partners and the city can find the $10 million for a new park. My objective is bring the same measure of city-county cooperation used to build industrial parks to create city-county school partnerships. The ability for city leaders to find innovative solutions to fix our schools may very well be the most important issue facing our community.
How long have you lived in Mebane?
I have lived in Mebane working on 3 years. Military services has taken me to many cities and places all over this world. I speak from experience that there is no place more amazing than Mebane – it truly is at my heart. I’ve been told by lifelong residents that I’ve always been from Mebane even when I was living somewhere else.
What do you believe is the one most important/critical issue facing Mebane in the next five years?
I’ve spoken to many of the issues that I see being a concern for our growing city. We must find a solution to the strain growth is putting on our schools. We can expect Mebane to continue to grow over the next 5 years. Managing Mebane’s growth in a way that allows us to maintain our community’s charm is going to be the biggest issue- it’s a problem now and one we will see in the next 5 years.
What are the local organizations you are a member of, if any.
I am a member of Veterans Connect, VFW Post 1920, NAACP, Mebane Historical Society, and Mebane Community together in Unity.
What type of business growth do you see for Mebane in the future?
In all likelihood, the state of our schools and ability to promote connected neighborhoods will determine the type of businesses Mebane is able to attract. If we use this opportunity to become an active partner with our local schools, we can expect to be in a strong position to encourage higher paying jobs and more diverse professional opportunities.
Are Council members required to attend any type of yearly classes relating to service to our community?
I am always looking for ways to improve myself, add new skills, and work towards being a better leader. I will take full advantage of professional development opportunities that improve my ability to better serve the people of Mebane. With the exception of regular council retreats, I am unaware of any required training. The lack of required training will not stand in the way my seeking out professional development opportunities.
I saw the proposed plans for Fifth Street at the recent public meeting.
Do you support these proposed plans?
To a degree, yes. There is a need to make it safer to cross the street and address the traffic problem. I am not comfortable with the proposed project being $425,000. This seems quite expensive for street crossings. I would like to investigate more cost effective measures.
Fifth Street is one example of the many areas of town that need better sidewalks, safer ways to cross busy streets, and where traffic congestion is an issue. Many areas along Third Street are additional examples of similar problems.
Do you believe these plans can and will be implemented?
If elected, I will work to more promptly implement these type of improvements throughout town. Hopefully an efficient action plan can be approved in the near future.
What would be the anticipated ‘start’ date for these improvements?
The current incumbent city leadership is best suited for providing a specific start date for this project. If elected, I will work to make sure plans for improvements like these better align with decisions on zoning for increased development. This is an example of why it is important to be proactive when managing growth.
I contacted the DOT and they erected new “Pedestrian Crosswalk” signs for the designated crosswalk at Fifth and Jackson. As expected, the signs have done very little to get the many cars to stop/yield to pedestrians waiting to cross Fifth Street. Is there anything the City can do in working with the DOT to help with pedestrian crossings along our major, busy streets? (South Fifth and Third streets in particular)
This is a serious problem that needs immediate attention. Throughout Mebane, there are many busy intersections that make walking, running, and biking in town difficult and unsafe. And you are correct to say that crosswalk signs are not a complete solution.
Crossing signals that correspond with traffic patterns are a more effective solution than signs alone. Still more, Mebane needs to encourage a mindset that brings awareness to pedestrians crossing busy streets. This is an issue of making efforts to better enforce rules requiring vehicle traffic to yield to pedestrians and for pedestrians to follow crossing rules at intersections.
Why should I vote for you?
I would be honored to earn your vote. I am also honored for the opportunity to engage your specific questions. It speaks to your efforts to be an informed voter – thank you. I have worked to provide specific responses to each of your questions.
Instead of an incumbent politician, I ask for your vote as a fresh face and representative for those new Mebanites. I want to be the city councilperson eager and excited to listen to you and people from all corners of Mebane before and during my terms on the council. I want my understanding of the people I serve to come from being out-and-about listening and engaging the people of Mebane. Mebane is rich with amazing and diverse people. We deserve leaders who want to know us beyond our responses to online surveys and election-season handshaking.
I bring a fresh perspective to a council of long-time incumbents. With respect for their extended service, it is my opinion that comfort breeds complacency.
I offer you my professional experiences as a critical thinker, complex problem solver, and quality control expert that is always looking to improve the status quo.
I celebrate that we live in a nation where we the people choose our government. I humbly ask for your vote for Mebane City Council this November 7th.