Issues

Topics:

  • Statement on Filing for Re-election, July 6, 2009
  • Constituent Service
  • Safer Streets and Sidewalks
  • Strong Neighborhoods and Community
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • Economic Growth and Opportunity
  • Clean Air and Water for Our Families' Health
  • Parks and Greenways for All to Enjoy

Statement on Filing for Re-election, July 6, 2009

In these challenging times, Winston-Salem needs steady  leadership, with calm, reasoned, and moderate voices.

That's how we'll continue to build our economy, protect public safety, and raise our community quality of life. 

I'm committed to helping our community work together for these goals:

--safe streets and neighborhoods.

--a strong economy with jobs and opportunity for all our citizens

--and a high community quality of life, building a clean, green, diverse and inclusive city.

This is a vision that can only be pursued by working together, bringing all parts of our community into a vibrant whole.  Division, finger-pointing, shouting at each other—they don't work—never have, and never will.

Instead, we have to combine a foundation of fiscal responsibility with a commitment to building the infrastructure our community needs to thrive—the transportation system, the utilities and sanitation services, the sound planning, and the parks and greenways, that are together the special responsibilities of city government.

We've made progress on these fronts over the past eight years.  In one area I've taken as a personal focus, clean air, we've gone from 31 unhealthy air days in 2002 to just three, by that same standard, last year.

We've also built our economy on a regional basis, and our unemployment rate (even in these tough times) is the lowest in our region.  I serve as Winston-Salem's representative to the board of directors of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, our regional economic development group, which has been named for two years running as one of the ten most effective economic development organizations in the nation.  Our community crime rate is down, and our development of affordable housing is up.

This work takes understanding.  It takes patience.  It requires paying attention to what's happening in our community, a pragmatic attitude, and the readiness to listen, cooperate, and work hard for solutions.

That's what I've worked to bring to my role as City Council Member for the Southwest Ward and the City of Winston-Salem.  With your support, that's my commitment to you—to continue to listen, and work hard, and build our community together.

Thanks very much for your support—today, and for the next four years.

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Constituent service:

--Returning your calls: Dan makes a special point to return calls and emails from constituents—hundreds of contacts over his first term in office. He listens to concerns, responds to questions, and works to get answers.

--Addressing your problems: When Southwest Ward residents have a problem with city services, Dan works to help. He contacts the responsible department and gets the needed information to the right place. From trash pickup and brush collection, to street maintenance and stormwater, to housing code and zoning enforcement, he works every week to help provide residents with the best public services available.

--Participating in the community: Dan is available year-round (weekdays, evenings, and weekends) to participate in community meetings and events, and has taken part in more than 100 each year during his term in office.

--Reporting to the public: In addition to responding to direct contacts and participating in meetings and events, Dan circulates a monthly email report (Southwest Ward Update) to a contact list of interested residents, and posts these updates on his website.

Safer streets and sidewalks:

--Traffic calming: Dan helped lead the development and approval of a city policy for "traffic calming"—applying ways to slow and "calm" traffic through residential areas. Traffic calming strategies include a variety of techniques for persuading or forcing drivers to slow down. They range from simple lane marking and raised pavement reflectors, to median islands, to "curb extensions" which slow down traffic through intersections. The city policy discusses these alternatives and outlines a process for neighborhood involvement in their selection and implementation by the city.

Dan continues to work with neighborhoods and city traffic engineers to implement the best strategies where they are most needed to safeguard drivers and pedestrians in our neighborhoods.

--Sidewalks: Sidewalks help make a neighborhood a community, by encouraging people to get out and visit with neighbors, safely walking, running, and pushing strollers. Dan has led a push for more sidewalk construction for pedestrian safety, in both existing and new neighborhoods. He and some of his council colleagues have successfully insisted that sidewalks be included in new developments.

--Intersection efficiency: Traffic signals that operate efficiently reduce vehicle idling time and travel delays—and that helps save money and reduce air pollution. Dan has worked to support a new emphasis on this efficiency. As a result, Winston-Salem has sought and received additional state and federal funding to update and fine-tune the signal equipment at key intersections around our community.

--Transportation planning: Dan works actively as one of Winston-Salem’s representatives on the regional Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC). The TAC advises the state Department of Transportation on project priorities, and selects projects to recommend for funding approval in road construction and improvements, public transit, sidewalks, bikeways, and intersection improvements.

--Bicycle safety: Dan participated in the development of a city/county bicycle routes and safety improvement plan, and led the City Council in approving that plan. The plan calls for common-sense measures such as striping bike travel lanes on the most heavily-used bike routes.

Strong neighborhoods and community:

--Zoning decisions: Dan seeks out neighborhood feedback on rezoning requests, alerting neighborhood organizations to pending cases, and seeking feedback on traffic, noise, stormwater, and other impacts. When concerns are identified, he works to bring builders and neighbors together to resolve them.

Examples include the care taken with street connections and design for the new Hillcrest development; wooded buffers there and at other locations; and smaller items like dumpster placement at commercial projects near residential areas.

--Neighborhood and homeowners associations: An active member of his own neighborhood association, Dan works to involve these key civic groups in city planning and policy decisions. He has met and worked with Southwest Ward neighbors in Ardmore, Ashford, Atwood Acres, Burke Park, Country Club Estates, Hannaford, Knollwood Manor, Lawndale Avenue, Lockland Park, Miller Circle, Salem Woods, Sheffield Gardens, Sidestown, Westbrook, and Westmore Court. (Dan says: "If your group is not on that list yet, please call!")

--Community policing: Dan also actively works with the Winston-Salem Police Department (WSPD) to see that neighborhood crime problems are identified and addressed by our police—before they grow out of control. The community policing approach to make this happen is based on continuing two-way communication between neighbors and the police. When constituents contact Dan about crime issues, he contacts WSPD patrol district officers to see that the information gets to the right place for attention. Officers follow up with direct citizen contacts as well. Keeping everyone "in the loop" builds trust and effectiveness.

One current example that affects the Southwest Ward is the "Peters Creek Community Initiative", in which neighbors, businesses, and faith groups from Ardmore and West Salem are working together to improve the Peters Creek Parkway & Academy Street area.

--"Big box" retail rules: Dan worked for the development of Winston-Salem’s innovative new guidelines for the design and placement of large-scale retail development (the "big box" rules). These rules should help to avoid the traffic, noise, and other adverse impacts of poorly designed or sited large retail projects.

--Legacy Guide: Dan supported the development and adoption of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Legacy Guide as a member of the general public in 2001. This long-term vision document lays out policies to guide our area’s continuing quality development as a great place to live and work, through good planning and smart infrastructure investment. As an elected official, Dan has worked to apply these principles to planning and zoning decisions.

--Area Plans:  City area plans are important guidance documents for local planning and zoning staff in reviewing rezoning and new development requests.  Dan worked with neighborhoods, institutions, and businesses around the Southwest Ward for the development and approval of the Southwest Suburban Area Plan in 2008, and the Southwest Area Plan in 2009.

--Group homes: Family group homes provide an important option for community-based care (or community re-integration) for many individuals facing disabilities or other personal challenges. However, "clustering" of such homes can create neighborhood problems with traffic, parking, and related issues. In 2002, Dan led the development and adoption of new rules requiring that new family group homes be spaced a minimum distance apart, to prevent those clustering-related problems.

--Housing opportunity for all: Dan supports the city’s programs to encourage the development of more affordable housing opportunities in our community. Homeownership support efforts are especially valuable in strengthening our community. They ensure that more families share that sense of "ownership" responsibility for our neighborhoods.

--Reducing homelessness: People facing long-term or "hard-core" homelessness present a special challenge to our community. Many of them face disabilities or addictions that make them particularly hard to reach, and which lead them into problem behaviors like aggressive panhandling or petty crime. Dan supports Winston-Salem’s efforts to develop more effective coordination of support services and transitional housing to get these folks off the streets and into safe situations. Our city’s efforts in this area have recently been recognized and supported by a special $500,000 federal assistance grant, helping to fund our progressive Ten-year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

--Reducing panhandling: At the same time we work to reduce homelessness, we must also address the public safety issues associated with aggressive panhandling and solicitation in dangerous locations. Dan supported city ordinance changes in 2003 which prohibit problem behaviors like soliciting after dark or while intoxicated.  He supported the 2009 changes which prohibit soliciting in parking lots and decks, and restrict the dangerous practice of soliciting from medians and other locations in the street.

Fiscal responsibility:

--Property taxes: Dan has consistently sought to keep tax rates low and avoid adding regressive fees. Dan supported the 4 cent cut in the city property tax rate for 2006, and the 2.25 cent tax rate cut in 2009.  Winston-Salem has the lowest combined tax and fees for the typical resident of any major municipality in North Carolina. 

--Efficiency: Each budget year, Dan looks for ideas to increase cost-efficiency and savings in city services and government. Among his suggestions which have been implemented are the following:

--Energy efficiency: At Dan’s urging, Winston-Salem initiated an energy efficiency program in 2002, including audits of energy use in city buildings. Resulting steps include innovations like replacing incandescent traffic-signal bulbs with LEDs. LED traffic signals use 90% less energy, last five times longer, and will save Winston-Salem over $50,000 per year in electricity costs.

--Matching funds: In 2003, Dan identified a source of state grant assistance which took advantage of money Winston-Salem was already spending to draw down an additional $200,000 in matching funds for greenway construction.  In 2009, Dan helped identify and make city application for federal Recovery Act funds for transportation and law enforcement.

--Staffing efficiency: For the ‘04-’05 fiscal year, the City Council directed the City Manager to identify and cut $750,000 in non-public-safety staff costs, following Dan’s suggestion of using that approach as a cost-cutting measure.

--Coliseum funding: Dan actively supports moving the Coliseum complex toward financial self-sufficiency. At Dan’s suggestion, the City Council reduced appropriations to the Coliseum by $22,000 for the ‘05-’06 fiscal year, continuing a three-year trend of reducing tax subsidies to its operation.

--Vehicle purchase and fuel efficiency:  In 2006, Dan successfully advocated for the adoption of a new city policy requiring that new city vehicle purchases be reviewed to ensure that fuel-efficient models are used.  The City Council reviews large vehicle purchase to see that this police is followed.  For example, in 2007 the Council applied this policy to see that new police administrative vehicles (not patrol cars) purchased would be fuel-efficient mid-sized cars, not large gas-guzzlers.  In 2009, the Council approved the purchase of new electric-diesel hybrid buses for our transit system and electric-gas hybrid sedans for city departments.

--"Garbage tax": Dan successfully opposed imposition of a "residential refuse collection fee" (a.k.a. a "garbage tax"). By imposing a new flat fee for trash pickup on all households, regardless of waste produced, this fee would have created a regressive tax on residents least able to pay. It is no longer being considered.

Economic growth and opportunity:

--New industries and jobs: During the last four years, Winston-Salem has become a nationally-recognized leader in the recruitment of new industries and job development. Our best-known projects include Dell Computer and the Piedmont Triad Research Park. Other examples include ones located in the Southwest Ward, like the consolidated Playtex Apparel international headquarters, the impressive new Truliant Credit Union headquarters, and smaller but still welcome projects like the new TriStone Community Bank.

--Revitalizing existing commercial areas: Winston-Salem has a large number of existing commercial areas that have been allowed in the past to slide downhill into neglect. Revitalizing these areas will create jobs and protect nearby neighborhoods from the spread of urban decay. Dan is working to support the city’s development of effective strategies for these "Declining Urban Activity Centers" (DUACs). Effective approaches will combine incentives for business property owners to fix up their buildings and clean up their lots, with targeted public infrastructure investments in streetlighting, sidewalks, and curbing.

--Revitalizing downtown: A healthy metropolitan area needs a vibrant city center. Over the past four years, Winston-Salem has reached a breakthrough stage in the revitalization of our downtown as a business and entertainment center. The jobs and economic boost provided by an active downtown will benefit our entire community. In addition, a strong central city attracts development that might otherwise sprawl outward to existing farmland and green space, with negative impacts on our regional air and water quality. For both of those reasons, Dan supports prudent investment in our central city.

Clean air and water for our families’ health:

--Early Action Compact: The Piedmont Triad area has been dealing with serious air quality problems, especially during the summer season, for over a decade. That air pollution worsens serious health problems, especially for children and older adults with asthma or heart disease. It’s estimated that ozone air pollution triggers over 200,000 asthma attacks and 6,000 hospital emergency room visits a year around our state. In the Triad alone, there are an estimated 16,000 children and 60,000 adults with asthma.

During the past four years, we have made strides toward a cooperative effort to clean up our air, and we are beginning to see results. More than 40 local governments in the Triad have banded together in an effort endorsed by the state and by the federal EPA, to clean up our air. Called an "Early Action Compact" (EAC), these cooperating local governments have worked with business, industry, and health and citizen groups to create a comprehensive cleanup strategy. As Winston-Salem’s city representative, Dan was selected in early 2003 to chair the Piedmont Triad EAC committee. Since then, our EAC has developed an effective cleanup plan, approved by the EPA and recognized as one of the best in the Southeastern United States.

The EAC is continuing to work to implement that plan. During the previous three years, the Triad’s air quality rating (by the American Lung Association) improved from 16th most serious U.S. urban air quality problems to 27th. Based on air quality monitoring for 2005 thus far, it appears that the Triad may have reached federal clean air standards for ozone two years ahead of schedule. Now, our challenge will be to keep our air getting cleaner even as our population and economy grow.

--Stormwater planning and education: Poorly planned development can dramatically increase stormwater runoff, polluting downstream waters and increasing downstream flooding. Since 2001, Winston-Salem has begun to regularly work with new project developers to study stormwater runoff control needs for their development. This will help to protect stream quality, and to reduce flooding problems for downstream neighbors and property owners. Dan has pressed for this more effective management of stormwater runoff.

Parks and greenways for all to enjoy:

--Greenways development: Greenways are linear parks, usually along streams and other natural features. They provide urban green space for wildlife, clean water buffers, and recreation—especially trails for walking, running, and biking. (Greenways also attract young or otherwise active people to a community, and substantially increase the value of nearby homes.) Dan has been a leader in the promotion of more greenways for our community. Since 2001, Winston-Salem has done the following:

-Approved the Winston-Salem/Forsyth Greenways Plan, which includes long-term goals and policies for greenways development.

-Included greenway easement requirements along streams in new large developments.

-Started construction of new greenways along Brushy Fork Creek and the Waughtown Greenway Connector. The Muddy Creek Greenway and the Strollway South extension are scheduled to start this year. Development of the Piedmont Greenway Trail, the Little Creek Greenway, and the Salem Creek Trail westward extension are in the works.

-During this time, Dan has also helped to found Forsyth Greenways Connection, a community coalition to support the development of new greenways.

--Protecting existing parks: Dan consistently speaks out against proposals which would result in a net loss of city parkland. Where a genuinely needed project would take land from a city park, he works to ensure that any plans approved include compensation with new park space of equal or greater value. During the past three years, this principle has been scrupulously applied in Winston-Salem.

--Parks and Open Space plan: Winston-Salem is in the process of developing a comprehensive Parks and Open Space Plan for expanding our parks and recreation areas to meet our growing population’s needs. Dan is working to see that this plan meets the needs of the Southwest Ward as well as our entire city.