Growth and transportation are hot topics in Southwest Raleigh’s District D city council race, where newcomer Jim Kemp Sherron is challenging longtime incumbent Thomas Crowder.
While other council races have been heated this year, Sherron and Crowder agree on many issues and haven’t had any negative campaigning.
“I think that’s a good thing,” Sherron said. “Things don’t have to be contentious.”
Both candidates are eager to add more transit options in the growing neighborhoods surrounding N.C. State University, and they want to improve the district’s gateways and foster a better sense of place in Southwest Raleigh.
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Crowder, an architect, has served on the Raleigh City Council since 2003. Recently, he’s helped create “Uncovering Southwest Raleigh,” a city-sponsored project to brand the area as the city’s creative district.
Sherron – an apartment building manager who serves on the city’s appearance commission – says it’s important to create a coherent vision for the city. “District D and, of course, Raleigh need an identity and a clarity of purpose,” he said.
Sherron also said the district needs to focus on improving its gateways – namely Western Boulevard, Hillsborough Street and Tryon Road.
“I think there are very real tangible benefits to having a revitalization of these gateways,” he said. “It’s good for our businesses there.”
But Crowder points to work he’s already done on the issue, particularly at the intersection he calls “Dysfunction Junction” – the confusing convergence of Hillsborough Street, Western Boulevard, Jones Franklin Road and Buck Jones Road.
He also secured $150,000 in funding this year for a corridor study to identify needs along South Saunders Street.
“This is an opportunity to reinvent this major gateway to the city of Raleigh and the town of Garner,” he said.
Both candidates are focused on managing growth in a district that’s seen development pressures and higher-density housing construction.
Crowder notes that he voted against the two apartment buildings currently under construction at Cameron Village. He thought they didn’t fit the city’s comprehensive plan goals for the area.
Crowder said that planning document, approved in 2009, must be followed by developers. “I’m going to be fully supportive of any project that comes in that’s in compliance with the comprehensive plan,” he said.
Sherron said clear standards are necessary as the council reviews development proposals.
“What the council’s job is not is to dictate every aspect of every building,” he said. “The standard isn’t clear. What we need to do as a city council is say, ‘Here’s the standard.’”
Sherron and Crowder both back expanded transportation options in the city, including more bus service, sidewalks and bike lanes.
“We need to look at the successes there with the R-Line” downtown circulator bus, Sherron said. “How can we take what we’ve learned with the R-Line and expand that?”
Crowder has also been active this term in neighborhood issues. Last year, he pushed to require residents to wait until after sunset to roll out their garbage cans, though other council members voted to drop the rule after an outcry from residents.
Crowder was more successful in an effort to ban front-yard parking, a common practice in neighborhoods with student renters.
“I think it’s been a huge success,” he said. “I think it’s made a big difference to keep cars off the front lawns.”
Sherron also supports the rule, though he said the council should consider how opinions and circumstances differ between neighborhoods on such topics.
“We want to put on a good face for our neighbors,” he said.