Editor's Note: All candidates were sent two questionnaires by the News + Record. The first asked general questions about candidates and their goals; the second asked office-specific policy questions.
Questions are indicated in bold, any question left blank was unanswered by the candidate
How long have you lived in Chatham County? Since 1999, I was 5 years of age when my family moved to Chatham County, specifically Siler City.
Age on election day: 28
Occupation: County (Commissioner); self-employed (small investments, family business in naturally occurring affordable housing)
Campaign website/social media: Facebook.com/franklinforcommissioner
Party affiliation (even if your race is nonpartisan): Democrat
Current and previous elected offices held or sought & terms you served:
2017 - Siler City Town Commissioner - at large (lost)
2020 - Chatham County Commissioner - District 5 (won)
2022 - Chatham County Commissioner District 5 (re-election)
Campaign manager (if applicable): Maria Gomez Flores
Campaign treasurer (if applicable): Self
Why are you seeking this office?
I believe it is important that we all have equal and fair opportunities, and that no community falls behind. We all are facing challenges: pressures of growth, the risk of losing resources, or the lack of resources. I am involved in helping develop a Digital Equity and Inclusion Plan and in the task force focused on preserving our Maternity Care Center at Chatham Hospital. I supported our Bonlee community in their local commercial opportunities after a significant project had been stalled for years. I pushed forward the need to address our school gyms at Bonlee, Bennett, and Silk Hope.
What makes you the best candidate on the ballot?
I treat everyone with dignity and respect and have placed myself in the spaces necessary to address basic life necessities. I am taking the steps in learning more about the challenges faced by our Agriculture community given the incoming economic opportunities. I do not only focus on my district nor do I only focus on areas experiencing the pressures of growth. I am fair to everyone and every district, and I do not stand in the way of anyone receiving the resources needed in their community. I listen, I empathize, and I advocate for everyone.
Give us a job description you’d write for yourself if you’re elected to this seat:
As the representative of the most impoverished/low-income district, make sure that your community has the basic necessities of life: high-quality education, health and social services, safety and security, internet access, and economic opportunities. Address the challenges regarding wastewater and water quality throughout Chatham county, in incorporated/unincorporated areas. Your district faces challenges, but make sure that you are also fair to everyone outside your district because there is an opportunity to address overlapping issues simultaneously. Get creative, and make sure you are putting in the time and effort to learn about the challenges and successes of each community.
What three specific, measurable and attainable goals would you pursue if elected?
Investments in school infrastructure throughout Chatham County
Investments in parks and rec programming throughout Chatham County
Access to fast and reliable internet access throughout Chatham County
What are the biggest challenges in Chatham and/or N.C. right now — and how would you address them?
Growth and the allocation of resources/funds - Our tax base is increasing and diversifying. I am against budgeting any property tax from the mega sites into the county’s daily/yearly operations, and rather opt to address major one-time investments that can be paid off quickly, or pay off debt quicker to address the pressures of growth: schools, wastewater and water concerns, and safety and security. My thought is similar to a revolving door source of funding.
Chatham County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. What do you see as the major challenges/opportunities coming from this growth and how would you address them?
I am concerned about losing our agricultural economic base. I have heard the Board of Commissioners is not much appreciated by the Agriculture community. I have a genuine desire to change that. I treat everyone with dignity and respect and am interested in meeting with interested parties to ensure that we cater to their needs and that we are taking into consideration the challenges they face with any decision the board makes, so they don’t sell their farms. I will be interested in switching board committee responsibilities for Triangle Area Rural Planning Organization and the Agriculture Advisory Committee.
What’s your overall view of the role of the elected body you’re seeking to join? Is it fulfilling its mission now? If not, what needs to change?
I am a firm believer that we will never satisfy everyone with one sweep of a brush. But, we can coordinate and ensure that we all expect the challenges and are well prepared for the inevitable. We must be willing to listen to each other, especially if the other community has something that we wish to preserve/keep. This is a teamwork effort, no one will get exactly what they wish but we can coordinate to alleviate each other’s pain. Again, teamwork makes the team work.
Do you believe the 2020 Presidential election produced fair and legitimate results? (Please respond with a “yes” or “no” answer, then, if desired, you have 100 words to support your response.)
Yes, I believe the result was proper, but not to the extent that it should have been. I believe there was an attempt to steal the election by the former President. How many attorneys of the former president are in trouble with the law? Even those that were not yet affiliated with the former president during the 2020 election. It is 2022 and new attorneys are getting scrutinized because of the former president. What if it was your child or your spouse? I was critical of the business practices of the former president leading up to the 2016 election.
Political/government hero: No one.
Favorite book: A Home on the Field by Paul Cuadros
Book most recently read: Getting More: How you can negotiate to succeed in work and life - Stuart Diamond
Favorite film: John Q
Hobbies: studying the economy and markets, and family time
Community/civic involvement: Chatham County Board of Health, Chatham Hospital Board of Trustees, Siler City Futbol Club Board of Directors
Favorite thing about Chatham County: the diversity and professional expertise
Personal motto or one-line philosophy: Prepare for the worst, pray for the best
Strongest childhood ambition: Improving our collective quality of life
Most significant life goal you’ve accomplished: First in my family to be an elected official and hold a leadership role
Chatham County historically faces large socioeconomic divides between the eastern and western sides of the county. What can be done to mitigate that divide, and how do you foresee County Commissioners aiding in that process?
Increased development in the county has put strains on its stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. What can be done at a county level to ensure residents have access to sustainable and clean water sources?
With major investments in the county from the likes of VinFast, FedEx and the CAM site, how do you believe the county should manage growth while ensuring the interests of existing residents are heard?
Increased economic growth is projected to cause a population boom as well, many of whom will need middle- to low-income housing. How do you think the county should address its looming affordable housing problem?
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