Sunday, September 30, 2007

Thanks to the volunteers!

In just over an hour, we built 200 study yard signs on brand new wire frames for the Democratic party volunteers who will be delivering them to all Raleigh precincts to be there on election day.

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

Yard sign buiding event TODAY

You're invited to a to a yard sign building event today from10am-Noon for Independent Weekly endorsed Raleigh City Council at-large candidate Helen Tart.

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 Indepenent endorsed me!

The heck with the N&O!

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!

The N&O left me out !

For some reason, the N&O can't seem to get my questionnaire online.

It was completed and received weeks ago. I called them Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

So here it is :

Raleigh City Council At- large

Helen Tart

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

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.

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


Issues questions

(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

The Indepenent endorsed me!

The heck with the N&O!

The Independent endorsement story:
(I put it in my links too.)

Raleigh can have a real change for the better!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yard signs have arrived!

I've just gotten my yard signs ( 11x14, red like my dog Ernie), suitable for yard or window display.

If you'd like a yard sign, give me a call at: 833-0586 or email me at: .

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Two forums in one day tomorrow....

11am Wednesday is the Senior Democrats forum at the Crabtree Marriot.

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

I'm not alone!

There is man in Seattle that has spent years organizing the kind of successful public involvement efforts I envision for Raleigh. Jim Diers was a keynote speaker and workshop presenter for the Neighborhood Exchange.

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

Neighborhood exchange

I'll be at the Neighborhood Exchange at the McKimmon Center on Western Blvd this evening and much of tomorrow.

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

Helen on the issues

I've started a separate blog to talk about my take on the issues in the Raleigh City Council race, both to tell people what I think about them, and to hear what they think about them. (Just click on the link to the right. )

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'm still out there campaiging

I just haven't had a chance to sit down and write about it. I kept waiting to have time to write a detailed and insightful account. That's not happening any time soon, so here's the short version of it.

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

More publicity

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

Knocking on doors

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

Questionnaires, and more Questionnaires

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.

Then once in while I get to go out and talk to real voters.