Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Also in tomorrow's Independent back page, there will be a Thank You ad to all of the Indy readers. As best I can figure, about 7 to 8% of my 9.65% of the votes came from Independent readers. Of course that doesn't make the rest of my voters any less valuable.
I thank you all.
I hope you will join me as I continue to support citizen involvement, neighborhoods, natural systems and equality in this wonderful city and region.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I actually had 2 requests but they lumped them together in one on the agenda.
First, I'm just asking that the next Council meeting (the new Council's 1st meeting) include an update of a few specific election issues: Impact fees, The North Hills TIF, teardowns, and Dix Park.
Second, I'm expressing concern about the process and the difficulty in finding out and applying to city volunteer Boards and Commissions. I'm suggesting they at least have instructions on how to find out about and apply for openings. Or even better do something like Wake County does for their boards:
Wake County's Boards and Commissions page
Seems like Wake County really wants people to know when their boards have openings.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
It will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.at North Raleigh Church of Christ. 8701 Falls of Neuse Road. ( For directions to the church, see http://www.nrcoc.org/AboutUs/directions.html ) Since the workshops are not intended to be specific to the area in which they are being held, you don't need to live in this area to be able to contribute to the process.
For more info on the entire process, go to: www.planningraleigh2030.com
Last night, I attended the workshop in West Raleigh. After a presentation about the plan process and about current conditions in of Raleigh, the audience was divided into groups to evaluate the description of current conditions, the proposed vision for Raleigh and the "themes" of the plan. Participants can also comment on anonymous forms that address these questions. I found the discussions very useful and enlightening.
If you can't make tonight's workshop, city planners said that the presentation with an online comment form will be at the plan website soon.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Ironically, my CAC meeting is focusing on growth and revitalization this month. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance, the Southeast Raleigh Assembly and other community groups will have presentations relating to the subject. City Councilor James West and County Commissioner Harold Webb will be participate as well.
It's a shame that the one Comprehensive Plan workshop located downtown would be on the same night as the North Central CAC meeting. (Another downtown CAC, the Mordecai CAC, meets tonight also).
I guess the North Central CAC people will have to go to one of the other workshops.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Creating Urban Form: Conventional and Form-Based Codes
How Do We Design a 21st Century City?
ALL LECTURES ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. REGISTER NOW!
November 6, 2007
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
The Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Fletcher Opera Theater
in Raleigh, NC
GET ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
Cities all over the world are striving to create more accessible and walkable urban environments. Development patterns are the result of zoning regulations. Conventional codes are based on specific land uses. Form-based codes are based on design, and less on use.
What are form-based codes, anyway?
What are the pros and cons of conventional codes?
What are the pros and cons of form-based codes?
Why does zoning sometimes forbid exactly what our plans call for?
Great cities of the world were created without zoning; why do we need rules at all?"
There's more information at the city website: http://www.raleighnc.gov
Monday, October 15, 2007
Volunteering is the best way to go to the State fair. I always try to find a volunteer opportunity at the fair. It gives you a built-in connection to other people at the fair, and you get in free. I just wish volunteers got a break on the price of the bus ride to the Fairgrounds. $4 round trip is a little steep for a ride that has to fight the same traffic as everyone else. It's still the the best way to get out there.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Maybe Mary Ann will be the kind of representative Raleigh needs. If she’s not, I’ll be there to point that out.
I got 10% of the vote in 81 days, in 2 years I could be in her place. Unless of course, she votes to preserve Raleigh’s quality of life by increasing citizen involvement, neighborhood preservation and environmental stewardship and to make sure the prosperity of some is shared by all. Then I won't need to.
Also it couldn't hurt for all of us to take note of the houses in our neighborhoods that have had Mary Ann Baldwin signs in front of them, and urge those folks to hold her accountable as well.
We could even use "Helen Tart for City Council" signs to send her a message. We can put them out if she seems tempted to vote with her developer contributors. If you don't have one, I've got lots left over. Just let me know if you want one.... I'm not sure where I'm going store them all anyway.
Thanks for being involved and hope you'll stay involved. Go to:
for a good opportunity to do so.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
You have helped me shape the debate in this election so that the other candidates are talking about the issues that are so important to the future of Raleigh. Every vote we get is one for my stance on these issues.
I'll be busy visiting various precincts as time permits. Say hello if you see me--I'll probably be greeting you anyway if you do see me.
We have made a positive difference already.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Tuesday! The polls are open from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM on Election Day.
Search for yourself at the Board of Elections website:
to find your polling place.
If you have a little extra time, stand by the sign for the candidate of choice (me, I hope) and encourage other voters to support them. The political parties will have a sign for each of their candidates at all the polling places, so there should be a sign for you to stand by. Just don't say anything to folks once you get past the signs-- election law forbids it.
Whole Foods was even better. 9 out 10 people shopping on Saturday vote in Raleigh. It was great until the manager very politely explained that no soliciting of any kind was allowed on the premises--inside or out. I probably reached 100 mostly receptive people before I got thrown out though.
Cameron Village on a Saturday is almost useless unless you're talking to employees or library patrons. 9 out 0f the 10 people I approached there were from somewhere else.
Another observation--If you ask someone if they're from Raleigh, often they'll say yes. Then when you start talking about voting, it turns out they live near Raleigh. That suggests that folks in the county and in the nearby small towns think of themselves as part of Raleigh even if they don't actually live within the City limits.
The things you learn campaigning....
Friday, October 5, 2007
I'll be attending the Capital Group Sierra Club's Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Event - Saturday, 5:30PM, Helios Coffee Co., Glenwood Ave, Raleigh. It's the Capital Groups primary fundraiser to support the work they do to protect the Triangle's environment, educate our citizens on the issues and offer outings to enjoy the natural areas of our state.
This is a great event, featuring raffles, wine tasting, and a silent auction, where you can bid on items ranging from massages, backpacks, to paintings.
The schedule is the following :
5:30 pm Sign in
6:00 - 7:30 pm Wine Tasting
7:30 - 9:00 pm Silent Auction
The cost for the Wine Tasting and Silent Auction is $20. Cash or check only, no credit cards are accepted.
It will also offer lots of appetizers from merchants in the area, great wine to taste, and plenty of people for great conversation. It is being held at Helios Coffee Co., 413 Glenwood Ave.See you there.
I just re-taped my 3 minutes for Time Warner Cable 24 -- in Oakwood Park. They came to Raleigh at my convenience because there was a technical problem with the segment that I had taped earlier in the week in their studio in Durham. I wasn't very happy with the earlier one anyway, so I'm hoping that this version will be better.
Let me know what you think.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I'll need help getting them in to the hands of voters by October9. Let me know if you would be willing to help. Call 833-0586, email: email@example.com or come by the Oakwood Dog Park around 4pm.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
For the rest of us, I have about a dozen ready out in my yard -- with many more to come on Tuesday. Or if you already have a wooden stake or wire frame, I can provide you with the paper part of the signs ready to be displayed in the manner of your choice. The goal is creative reuse.
The volunteers also got to meet my sister, who came over from Chapel Hill to help.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
We're building 200 signs on wire frames for the precincts. We'll have some staplers, but if you have a regular office stapler you could bring that would help.
We'll be at a neighbors house( 925 Brookside Drive ) from 10am to 12pm, spread out in their garage. There are a lot of other fun things going on in my neighborhood today too: Yard sale at the "Glorious Church"on Glackcock street in the morning and "Dogtoberfest" at Oakwood Park from 11am until 3pm. There will be plenty of parking because the development 2 houses down isn't open yet so they don't need their thirty spaces.
Sorry about the late notice....
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Independent endorsement story:
(I put it in my links too.)
My answers to their questionnaire are on the website too.
Raleigh can have a real change for the better!
It was completed and received weeks ago. I called them Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
So here it is :
OFFICE FOR WHICH YOU ARE RUNNING:
Raleigh City Council At- large
51, Dunn, NC, August 1956
Currently a part-time reader/scorer of end of year writing tests at Measurement Inc. in Durham. From January 1980 until November 2006, a Pagetech in the Production Department of the News and Observer.
BA in English /Writing and Editing Option, North Carolina State University, 1982
POLITICAL PARTY AND EXPERIENCE:
Democrat. Appointed by the Raleigh City Council to the Raleigh Transit Authority (the governing body for Capital Area Transit) as a member in 1998 and then in 2000 as chairperson, served until 2003.
CIVIC ACTIVITIES AND OTHER AFFILIATIONS:
Guided the creation Oakwood Dog Park and the Friends of the Off-Leash Dog Park at Oakwood Park (FOLDPOP) and continue, with my husband, to oversee the day-to-day activities in the park; one of the founding members of Oakwood Park Community Watch; member of Oakwood Park Neighborhood Plan Task Force and the North Central CAC; Ten Thousand Villages volunteer; Sierra Club member; former steering committee member of Triangle Smart Growth Coalition; former board member of the North Carolina Alliance for Transportation Reform (NCATR); Raleigh Recycling Block Leader; Festival for the Eno "Trash-free" volunteer; and participated in hundreds of public meetings in my 30 plus years of living in Raleigh.
WHY SHOULD YOU BE ELECTED? (100 words maximum)
I believe my expertise and creativity will benefit the citizens of Raleigh and will help me lead Raleigh into a healthy, sustainable, and prosperous future. As a citizen, I helped complete a Neighborhood Plan that has protected the character of my neighborhood while allowing revitalization of 60 year-old houses. As an activist, I've supported the many organizations that work to safeguard natural systems. As leader of the Raleigh Transit Authority, I initiated public participation efforts that resulted in the 2003 Five-year Transit Plan. My work organizing the Oakwood Dog Park volunteers has convinced me that Raleigh's citizens are willing to help improve the city. I can help them do so.
CONTACT INFORMATION (including Web site, if applicable):
Helen Tart for City Council
611 Monroe Drive
Raleigh, NC 27604
(250 words maximum for each question)
1. Do you believe that the impact fees currently imposed by Raleigh on new development are too high, too low, or at the right level?
I believe Raleigh's impact fees are too low and have been for years. We need to increase impact fees to cover the cost of future growth and to help to pay for costs of the past growth that did not pay its share. Raising impact fees is not the only way to deal with costs of growth, but it is the fastest. Most other revenue sources would require legislative approval. Since other areas of the state and the country are dealing with similar problems, we need to be constantly researching successful strategies.
The real issue is how development should be managed. Some areas have Adequate Public Facilities laws requiring that the public facilities must be in place before new developments are approved. Otherwise police, firefighters and sanitation workers have too large an area to cover effectively; parks become overcrowded with land for new parks getting more and more expensive; inspectors and planners don’t have adequate time to do their jobs; air and water quality are threatened by overworked water and transportation systems.
The City Council has made some courageous decisions to deal with growth. For example, the recent 70% increase in the small existing impact fee, adding the stormwater fee, and the upcoming Comprehensive Plan update that includes protecting environmental resources and linking land use to urban form. However, much more is needed, starting with significantly increasing impact fees.
2. Which aspects of the city's infrastructure, such as roads and parks, need the most attention over the next 10 years?
With the growth that is coming in the next 10 years, all of our infrastructure is going to need attention. As a regular citizen, it is difficult to find out the specific information needed to answer that kind of question. From my perspective, we need better land use planning, more sidewalks, greenways, bike racks and transit service. It is also important to remember that roads, parks, water and sewer systems, and everything else that the city builds requires maintenance.
Good planning is where infrastructure needs begin. Planning allows cities to have the infrastructure ready when it's needed. We have the opportunity to do that. The city of Raleigh is just beginning the update of the city's Comprehensive Plan. We can identify infrastructure needs or focus growth where the infrastructure exists. We'll probably need to do both. Since the plan update will include citizen participation, citizens will be able to learn more about the city's infrastructure.
3. How much money do you think the city should be willing to invest to buy and develop the Dorothea Dix campus?
The question shouldn't be how much, but how. How do we craft a workable public/private partnership, what kind of funding strategies will work best for capital and stewardship needs, or what deals we can make with the State -- those are the questions. I can't imagine the city giving up on this property after the countless hours that citizens (and staff) have put into the effort to craft the best solution for this property. This opportunity has energized thousands of Raleigh citizens to work together to try to figure out the best way to preserve and enhance this property as a major park in the heart of our city. There has to be a way to harness this energy to help the city resolve this issue.
I believe that this property will be such a strong economic engine that it could even help fund some of the mental health needs that the closing of the hospital has left unmet. Countless studies have shown that a park of this quality increases property values in the neighborhoods near it. These increases would benefit not just Boylan Heights, but the neighborhoods across Lake Wheeler Road from the property. Many of these modest homes have been converted into rental units over the years. These houses could be renovated and updated, perhaps even offered to state, city, and county employees at reduced cost before being offered to the general public. This project provides the kind of clear public purpose that Tax Increment Financing is designed to fund.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Then from 7pm to 9pm the Wake League of Women Voters/Wake Up Wake County City Council Candidates' Forum Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, corner Brooks and Clark Aves.
Come see me in action!
Sunday, September 16, 2007
My idea of appealing to people's passions, letting the people in the neighborhoods identify issues, then empowering them to do the work, is not very new after all.
The Exchange was the informative and energizing. However it left us with lots of knowledge and enthusiasm, but little idea of how to take it back to our neighborhoods.
BTW: I've added a new post on my issues forum--a short, blunt response to the some of the most asked about issues.
Friday, September 14, 2007
This event is a great example of the kind of thing the city needs to be doing to increase citizen participation.
Say hello if you see me!
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I haven't had a chance to post more than an introduction to the blog, so if you have a particular issue you're interested in, you can let me know in a comment to that 1st post and I'll start there.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I rode the bus on Saturday and passed out 90 bus specific palm cards.
Attended a couple of Democratic Party events, knocked on doors and have a design for my yard signs. (You can send contributions to Helen Tart for City Council, 611 Monroe Drive, Raleigh 27604)
I'm off to ride the bus and attend a Sierra Club event.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
I've gotten an interview on the New Raleigh blog:
I'm glad I found the blog. It's got a good mix of ideas and opinions. I added it to the links here too.
After reading the post though, I realized I hadn't focused on my environmental protection issues in the interview as much as the need for more citizen involvement. Oh well...
Besides, soon some of these questionnaires that I've been filling out will start showing up in the newspapers and websites. Those should make clear my commitment to protecting and improving our natural systems.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I started knocking on doors and leaving palm cards Sunday.I got a mixed reaction on my street. Some people were very friendly. The conservative elderly lady up the street was noncommittal. Mostly no answers. I'll go back after people have a chance to read my card.
A lot of people seemed to be out of town for the holiday. Working in the every-day-of-the-year newspaper business for 25 years, I sometimes forget about holidays.
One of my other neighbors (a different older woman with a lot experience in government) is helping me with the campaign. Besides advising me on issues, she knocked on doors on her street from one end to the other last week-- about 10 blocks worth. A couple of old friends and dog park folks are helping too. It's a good feeling have supporters to tell people about me and my ideas.
I got an email from someone who is working with one of the other six candidates talking about his candidate needing $40,000 for this race. I'd rather have 400 volunteers get my message out. Most of the people I know aren't big politicos. We've been behind the scenes people at public meetings or neighborhood projects like litter pickups or Community Watches or Dog Park events.
Not that money doesn't help. I'd love to be able to have yard signs sprouting up all over the place like a couple of my fellow candidates. But legally placed ones of course -- not like many of the other signs out there. I guess if I can't get 100 people to give $10 then I maybe I should give up on the idea.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
I've been spending hours filling out questionnaires for various groups and media outlets. The news media not only want you to answer the questions, but to do so in a limited number of words.
I am beginning to get good at it. It's also instructive because you can tell from the questions asked, what the author of the survey is concerned about. Favorite questions refer to impact fees, Tax Increment Financing (ie: North Hills East), growth, infrastructure needs, and the very popular: why are you running.
There are a couple of issues that have been mostly missing from the questions.
I been surprised and disappointed that only one of the questionnaires asked about the CACs at all and didn't mention the restructuring that the council is in the midst of considering. The CACs are the heart of citizen involvement in Raleigh. It's the only City organization that allows everyone living in an area to be involved in communicating with City leaders. Every other City board or organization is appointed by the Council. CACs are not perfect and there are problems to be addressed, but the people involved in the CACs should be a large part of addressing those problems.
Regionalism is the other issue that hasn't had much mention, either in the questionnaires or in the media. Even I hadn't noticed it was missing until the one question out of dozens showed up. I don't know whether we're doing so much better at regional planning that it is not an issue any more, or maybe people are hoping the dozens of municipalities in this area will work together if we leave alone long enough.
So I'm busily typing away, discussing what these groups want to discuss and sometimes being able to work in what I'm concerned about as well.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Saturday, I spent several hours at the Southeast Raleigh Mini-Neighborhood Exchange at Saint Augustine’s College. This is first event that I've attended for the campaign that all but one person I talked to was a Raleigh resident -- and I talked to dozens of people. Usually about a third of folks I talk to don't live in Raleigh.
The event was a collaborative effort among North Central CAC, the Southeast Raleigh Assembly and the college. I thought it was odd that there was no sign of the event on the Community Services city webpage though. Apparently, since it was listed on Southeast Raleigh Assembly webpage, the city thought that was enough. There was a lot of useful information, entertainment and rides for kids -- even free food. It's just a shame that more people weren't there enjoy it.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Maybe honesty is the best policy.
I did tell them a little about my background and my reason for running: to improve citizen involvement. Then I used the rest of my time to pitch one of my ideas that it would be much easier for the developers to do than for government. I think that in mixed-use projects (commercial and residential combined), the businesses should get a condo -- or a least a good deal on one -- for one of their employees to live in. That way it makes the commercial space more attractive because the business can give their employees a very valuable benefit. It also assures at that least some of the employees at the businesses are not adding to the automobile traffic problem that density can cause.
The big problem with mixed use in general is that there is no guarantee that the people living in the condos are going to be working in the development. This idea would help address that problem.
Originally I was going to tell the folks there that improved citizen participation could work in their favor too. After all they are citizens too. Then I thought about how difficult it would be for me as a regular person to get two minutes with many of the people in that room. It seemed a better use of my and their time to get one of my ideas in front of a group of people that had the power to do something with it.
Here I am on stage, looking at the back of the room so I wouldn't get too scared by the reaction to my ideas.
I really shouldn't worry. My experiences with the TCC, Chamber of Commerce, Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors, Homebuilders, and with business folks in general is that they are very nice people. They behave professionally and politely even when they disagree with you.
My biggest adventure was after the event, trying to find my way out of Brier Creek and back to Hwy 70. I never did find 70, but managed to get home on I-40 instead.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I'm proud to say my printer is Grass Roots Press on Peace Street near my neighborhood and beside Raleigh landmark Finch's Restaurant. Besides wanting to support a local small business, I choose Grass Roots because they offer a wide range of 100% post consumer waste recycled paper -- and they are only union shop in the area.
I'll be using the palm card(see definition in an earlier post), featuring a photo of me and my dog Ernie, when I'm talking to people in my and surrounding neighborhoods. We've been walking through neighborhoods for 8 years now. I figure people will be more willing to open the door to someone they know has been in the neighborhood for years. I can also give several of them to my friends to give to their neighbors. The palm card also has info about me and my contact info.
With real printed promotional material in hand, I feel like a real candidate.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
For the first time since I've been going to meetings for the campaign, all 6 candidates for the 2 at-large positions were in the same room together--thanks to the Chamber of Commerce candidate breakfast. There were also Board of Education and District seat candidates there as well. Even one of the current Council Members that doesn't have opposition was there for awhile.
We were all there to listen to Chamber representatives explain how the Chamber works: committees, funding, members, services, and philosophy. The first message was: "Party politics just aren't welcome" in Chamber activities. Another message was that Chamber is focused on specific issues and to not make assumptions on Chamber positions on those issues. The Chamber position on those issues depends on the people who are involved in the committees and boards. (Who knew the Chamber was grass-roots organization!) Looking through the information provided for us, they have a group of people working on almost any issue that the community-at-large cares about: Education, Environment, Government, even Sports-- to name just a few. (See for yourself; I added a link to the Chamber website to my Links section.) With almost 3000 member organizations, they have lots of people to get involved.
For those of us running for a Raleigh office, it was especially interesting to see the 2-minute recruitment video(actually a DVD) developed by the Chamber staff person for Raleigh. We even got a copy of it.
There was a comment and questions opportunity at the end, plus after the meeting we could talk one-on-one with the rest of folks there. The one-on-one is always my favorite part. I got to give several people my page-long "introduction". I ended up going home and printing out more copies for my next meeting, with the Homebuilders.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
I delivered the design for my very first professionally printed campaign materials -- on 100% post-consumer stock by one of Raleigh's two union press shops.
A campaign glossary term: Palm Card-- those pieces of cardboard about a candidate that get put in your palm, unless your quick enough to avoid it. Except of course, mine which you'll want to treasure.
Then I dropped off a proof of the palm card with my biggest contributor yet. (I've just topped $500 in contributions.)
All before 10am!
Then family time with hubby and the red dog walking through the neighborhood, and reminding myself why I love living in Raleigh so much.
I spent the afternoon preparing for my first double meeting evening. Apparently you're not a real candidate unless you have more than meeting for every part of the day.
First was a pleasant hour at Wake Democratic Mens Club monthly meeting. Had I not attended one of these meetings a couple of months ago, I wouldn't be a candidate now. I got to talk to a couple of dozen people that seemed very interested in what I had to say. I also learned some things from the people I was talking with -- always one of my goals. I and the rest of the candidates at the meeting got recognized at the start of the program, just before I had to leave for my next meeting.
One of the neighborhoods near mine is doing a great job of getting together and improving their community--and often seem to be having a good time doing it. They kindly let me campaign for a few minutes at the end of the meeting and were encouraging. I told them one of my favorite ideas of the City having an umbrella non-profit Community Watch that could receive donations so every Community Watch didn't have to pay the $500 fee to the state to set up a non-profit.
I gave out lots of my cards that night. I haven't heard back from anyone though. I've got to be more assertive or find a campaign manager to help me.
Gosh that's just one day...and I've got another big day on Friday: Chamber of Commerce breakfast, then an interview with the Homebuilders!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I'm always telling people how wonderful the Internet is and that the city should put more information on their website. I have admit, it isn't as easy for me as I'm always telling the current City Council that it should be for city employees.
So here goes: My first adventure as a candidate was a lovely afternoon of talking with folks that live in a very pleasant neighborhood just off of Trawick Road. Even though a major connector street was within view of the yard where the cookout was held, you barely noticed it. I'd probably passed by that neighborhood a hundred times on the way to Tower Shopping Center, without ever having a clue there were children growing up and couples growing old together there.
Running for Council At-large is a wonderful way to expand my horizons without ever leaving the city that I love.