NC Deep Dive

Elizabeth Parent: Running for the 2 Year Unexpired Term Seat for the Fuquay Varina Board of Commissioners aka Town Council

September 16, 2023 Amanda Lunn Season 2 Episode 0
NC Deep Dive
Elizabeth Parent: Running for the 2 Year Unexpired Term Seat for the Fuquay Varina Board of Commissioners aka Town Council
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Gear up for an exclusive conversation with Elizabeth Parent, running for the 2 Year Unexpired Term Seat for the Fuquay Varina Board of Commissioners. Elizabeth unpacks her reasons to run, her perspective of democracy, and her commitment to accurately represent the residents of Fuquay Varina.

Elizabeth brings to the table a unique blend of smart growth principles, infrastructure partnerships, and housing affordability strategies. Join us in this enlightening episode, where community concerns meet policy planning, and political discourse becomes a tool for change.

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Campaign Finance Reports
Campaign Finance Reports for All Candidate Committees
Voter Information
--Register to Vote
--Voter Info (Designated Polling Places, Sample Ballots, Registration Status, Voting Jurisdiction, Verify Address and Party Affiliation)
--Election Information
--Election Day Voting FAQs
--Absentee by Mail FAQs
Early Voting Locations
October 19th-November 4th
Wake County Board of Elections Office: 1200 N. New Hope Rd., Raleigh, 27610

October 28th-November 4th
--Avery Street Recreation Center: 125 Avery St., Garner, 27529
--John M. Brown Community Center: 53 Hunter St., Apex, 27502
ELECTION DAY
Tuesday, November 7th from 6:30 AM to 7:30 PM

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Now, let's dive in!

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Hello friends, you are listening to the Holly Springs Deep Dive podcast, soon to be called the NC Deep Dive. I am your host, Amanda Benbow Lunn, and today I am honored to be speaking with Elizabeth Parent as part of our candidate segment for the 2023 municipal election for Fuquay Varina. Elizabeth is running for the 2 Year Unexpired Term Seat for the Fuquay Varina Board of Commissioners, also known as Town Council. This will be a two-year term and she is running against Jason Ora Wunsch. As with all the candidate podcasts, I am taking their introductions directly from their website at their request or information they have provided me personally as an effort to be as fair and non-biased as possible. Elizabeth is the mom of three boys, a honey beekeeper, the wife of a US Army veteran and a community advocate. She is the former secretary of the Artist Alliance of the Triangle, former president of Mom's Club of Fuquay Varina and Holly Springs and a former candidate for the North Carolina House District 37. She also works part-time as a hostess at a fabulous breakfast restaurant in town. She was raised on a small family farm in a small rural town, , Washington, similar in many ways to Fuquay Varina. Having been raised in a large Christian homeschooling family, she understands and relates to a conservative point of view. However, she has grown to hold the views of a progressive. Elizabeth is also a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and that experience has made her a strong and relentless advocate for others. She is active at Fuquay Varina Town Hall, having watched every town board meeting, online or in person, since April of 2020. Those who know Elizabeth will tell you she is not afraid to stand up to politicians who think they can bully members of our community and occasionally bend ethics rules. Elizabeth arent Parent is ready to lead Fuquay Varina with a forward vision for the future of our town. Without further ado, my friends, let's dive in. What does democracy mean to you?

Elizabeth Parent:

Democracy means to me people's voices being heard and contributing towards the solution or contributing towards the decision making.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, how long have you lived in this area?

Elizabeth Parent:

So we moved to Fuquay Varina in 2018, right before Mother's Day, and, yes, we've loved it ever since.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Perfect. And why have you decided to run for the Board of Commissioners for Fuquay Varina?

Elizabeth Parent:

That's a really big question because there's so much, so much that's gone into that decision. I would say that, ultimately, it's time for a change and I believe that our town board needs fresh perspective, and I believe that I can bring that to the board.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And let's say you win your election as a member of the Fuquay Varina Town Council, do you feel your job to make important decisions should be based solely on your own thoughts, your political parties thoughts or, as representative as possible, of every single one of your constituents, and why?

Elizabeth Parent:

Definitely the last one, for sure, and I can even go a little bit deeper into this. So I feel, as a representative, your job is to represent the body that elected you Period, end of story. You're a single individual that either voted for you or has to, ultimately has to live by the ordinance that you set. Anyone that's affected by the decisions that you make on that board you have to take into account their perspective of the decisions that you make so that you can ensure that this is a decision that is supported by the community, the whole community. And, yeah, something that I would like to pursue is district voting in Fuquay Varina, and I know that as we grow, it's going to be something that is going to be necessary, and if we don't talk about that now, when are we going to talk about it?

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So go in a little bit. What is the district voting? What does that mean?

Elizabeth Parent:

Okay, so right now our Board of Commissioners and Mayor are elected at large, so anybody who lives within the Fuquay Varina Municipal Limits can vote for any of the Board of Commissioners or Mayor. Now district voting. The town would be split into different districts that would have specific voting precincts inside of it, based off of the population within those precincts, and the voters within those precincts in the municipal limits would then elect an individual who lives in that voting district to serve and represent them on the town Board of Commissioners.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And why can this be important?

Elizabeth Parent:

Equitable representation, ensuring that the officials who are elected from those districts are aware of the issues that their district face. Historically, there have been a lot of Board of Commissioners who have lived in the precinct that I live in, or previous Mayor of 20 years had lived in my precinct. So if we find that a majority of the leadership is coming from one specific area, how are we connected to the rest of the municipality? How aware are we of the issues with Crooked Creek or with Piney Grove-Wilbon area? How in tuned are we with the day-to-day issues that constituents face if we are all in a very concentrated area? And, granted, it's not necessarily like that right now, but I think that it's important to have responsible representation and equitable representation. So why not disperse it? Why not start implementing that sooner?

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Perfect, and how do you intend to gather input from the community before casting important decisions, or how do you make sure that people are as involved as possible?

Elizabeth Parent:

There are a lot of avenues that I've been already utilizing since being a part of this community and just listening whenever you can, wherever you can, and you learn a lot by just initiating conversations. Whether you're in line for coffee at Cultivate or whether you're on a waitlist at a local restaurant, there's always something right, there's always something someone has to say, and you know what. 99% of the time, we're all thinking the exact same thing. And you know, it's important to recognize that you can stop and you can listen. And a lot of the times we see this every election year, where candidates say you know, I would like to host a monthly get-together where individuals can come and speak to me about this and that and this and that and this and that, and ultimately, what we've seen is, yes, those candidates do hold those meet and greets at such and such place, at such and such time every so often. However, most of the time, community members don't go to them. And so from my perspective, it's important to meet constituents where they are, whether that's the churches, the local organizations or local events. I love going to local events and just talking to people. It's one of my favorite things about my job at the restaurant here. It being one of the only breakfast restaurants in town, we see a lot of people. I love talking to them, whether they're sitting at the counter or just on the waitlist talking about oh, you know what's your plan for today? Oh, you're going to go plow your field Not really, but that may or may not have come up in a conversation at one point. Or, you know, just talking about traffic or different things that their family is going through and having that connection with individuals, not just at a customer level, but a look, I heard what you're going through, so let's you know, you're not the only one who said this. So why don't we start looking into solutions? And if we can find solutions, why not just talk about them but actually pursue them?

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And sometimes I feel like you know, as a massage therapist. People will come to me and tell me some of the things going on in their lives and sometimes there are things that need solutions, need forward progression, but sometimes people just need to be heard. Just the simple act of listening and feeling like you were seen and heard is tremendous, and sometimes that is the solution Just listening is the solution.

Elizabeth Parent:

You know I agree with that to an extent and having an experience with trauma, and you know it depends on the situation, obviously. But when it comes to like, hey, there's a sinkhole in my neighborhood and I can't get out of my neighborhood if the sinkhole gets any larger, well, you know we can sit there and we can listen to it, but you know what good does that do Sometimes. Yes, I agree with you that sometimes listening is really important, especially when someone's sharing their trauma or their experience with something. But when there's a legitimate like hey, this needs to get fixed it's really important to start talking about solutions.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Yes, and not just talking.

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh yeah, yes, Pursuing them.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So what do you believe are Fuquay Varina's strengths?

Elizabeth Parent:

Well, let me tell you why we moved here. That's a really great point. So when we moved here, my husband works in tech, so it was an easy transfer from. We were living 45 minutes outside of Seattle at the time, in a small town, but he commuted to Seattle and so he works in tech. So when we moved out here, it was an easy transfer because there are so many tech companies out here, and so when we were looking at places to move, I wanted a place that felt like my home, like some place that felt like how I grew up, because I wanted my kids to have that similar experience. I was raised on a small family farm in Poulbso, Washington, and it's a little quirky because it's known for its Scandinavian heritage and indigenous heritage, so it's got a lot of rich history involved in it that I love that. I loved that aspect of my hometown while I was growing up there not so much, but as I grew up I learned to appreciate it even more and more and more. So I wanted that for my kids. I wanted that sense of freedom and that sense of surrounded by nature and first house that we bought it backed up to forest and to trees, and when we walked outside, I could hear birds, I could hear frogs, I could hear the crickets. Our first couple nights there we saw a luna moth and a garden and we saw fireflies and it just was like, oh my, good Lord, this is home, this is what I want my kids to be raised around. I want my kids to be in a car with me as we're racing to school and we're stuck behind some sort of tractor trying to get to its field to go and do its thing. And I wanted that for my kids because I loved that. I loved seeing process and I wanted my kids to be raised around that. Now, living the home that we live in now, there is a creek behind our house and there is a treehouse. I wonder, can I ask for our previous house before we moved out? One of the reasons why we moved was because a development was built right behind us and so we stopped seeing many of the birds, we stopped seeing the deer for the most part, and where we live now we back up to a creek and there's just forest and it's beautiful and luscious and my kids can run out there and hopefully not find snakes, because I love you kids.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

They'll find all the fun things.

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, they do, All of them, everything.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And if it's not the kids, it's the dogs.

Elizabeth Parent:

This is true. This is very true.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So what do you7 think?

Elizabeth Parent:

I would say that the town itself, the town staff, has done a tremendous job at attempting to get information out to people and well people are informed. That, I would say, is probably one of the biggest strengths that our town has right now is its communications is, from my perspective, is fantastic. Now there are folks who are not on social media, or are not on this or not on that, and so they don't see everything on these platforms that our town is on. However, they make an attempt to reach out in other avenues, whether that's through the newsletter that comes in your utility bill or just. I really appreciate the way that they try to get information out to people. I would say that that's probably one of the biggest strengths Also and what do you feel are the weaknesses? I feel as if our town board over the past couple of years has seen almost a stagnant sort of leadership. I appreciate, and I can definitely appreciate each and every single one of the members on our current Board of Commissioners life experience and whether that's personal or professional experience, what they bring to the board. They're all each so different. However, I feel like when it comes to moving Fuquay Varina forward, it's something that a fresh perspective can only come in and perhaps contribute towards that progress for the community.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, so many voters seem to be unhappy with the influx of growth in our area and its ramifications, like traffic and a lack of prepared infrastructure. What does sensible growth mean to you, and how do you intend to achieve it?

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, sensible growth. So part of my platform is smart growth, and that has seven different principles. I'm not going to go on to each and every single one, but I believe that sensible growth means planning for the future period period. End of story. What does that mean? That means, if we look at Fuquay-Varina as a town, we have been slated as becoming the third largest municipality in Wake County by the year 2050. So that's a lot of growth and we've already seen historic growth in this area. So if we're not going to be proactive about some of the protections we have in place or we don't have in place that we should have in place, that is what I feel is sensible growth is ensuring that we, first and foremost, protect what we have, whether that's historical or it is environmental, and so that our children and grandchildren can see the same fireflies that we're seeing today, and so that our children can learn from our town's history, whether it's good or bad. That's important, and so I believe incorporating those things, as well as ensuring that we diversify our housing, is incredibly important. We see a lot of these single family home lots, and many of them are larger, and I understand that, the land use plan and the land development ordinance I feel like I might bore you if I go into those, but at the same time, I sit there and I more or less nerd over them and I understand the intent behind them, but there are certain ordinance that we have to update in order to ensure that we are diversifying our housing options, and that's just part of smart and sensible growth, as well as protecting our environment, adopting riparian buffer zones to our waterways and wetlands to ensure that there is stormwater drainage. I know that our town has created this campaign, Storm Walter, so I know our town has done a great job in promoting what our community can do as individuals to help with the stormwater drainage issues. However, I feel that some of those things are band-aids on the situation and a lot of solutions need require ordinance change, like riparian buffers. If you go, marina has a zero foot riparian buffer requirement.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Why is that important? Or, why is it dangerous to not have that buffer?

Elizabeth Parent:

OK, so this is a really big to pic, Amanda. And I could honestly, I could talk to you about this for probably three weeks straight. Amanda Benbow Lunn (Host): Well, this is the deep dive, so let's dive in! Elizabeth Parent (Guest): ok. So why is that important? Water quality, first and foremost. Protecting our natural resources, for our water is incredibly important when it comes to stormwater drainage. The home that I live in right now, when we went to go and buy it actually no, we're going to rewind, we're going to talk about my former home. So our previous home was a new construction development that had been under construction for well over a decade and, due to the recession, part of the subdivision was sold to a newer developer and the newer developer had made an agreement with the homeowners association that they would repair the roads when they have completed the final home and the development. Now fast forward. They finalize the. They are in the process of finalizing the final home and it's discovered in the neighborhood that one of the culverts that a blue line stream goes underneath the roadway, one of the culverts for that stream was not put in properly, to the point where sinkholes were being formed on either side of the culvert and, unfortunately, a alot of that may have been the right size culvert at the time, but then when you start putting in development after development, after development, after development all around that space that negatively affects that culvert. Because where does that water go? It goes into the stream, it makes it larger. The culvert does not have the capacity to handle that amount of water. So fast forward to the home that we live in now. While we were in the process of housing on the home, I was fortunate enough to learn from one of our new neighbors that there was a plot of land that was being rezoned to accommodate townhomes. And while I love and appreciate high density and multi-use zoning options for in housing options, when you look at this development and you look at other developments in Fuquay Varina that were built in the 90s or so, there was not a lot of solutions for stormwater placed at the time of construction. Now you put in all of these developments around and then where does the water go? Like I said, there's a creek right behind my house. Now we have the townhomes under construction. Currently we have a manufacturing plant on the other side that's under construction and then we are soon to have a essentially like a town center being built on the other like kitty corner from us, and with this construction, all of the removal of the trees all around the stream. Where does the water go Into the stream? Behind my house, and when we were purchasing the house, one of the questions we had for the former homeowners was how often does the stream rise above its bank and come into the yard? And they said that it had only ever happened one time in the, however many years that they had lived there. Now, ever since the construction has begun in the homes for the developments next to us, that water has exceeded our fence line and the 100 year buffer zone a number of times, and we have tracked it to the point where we found that when it's raining like a heavy downpour rain for just 30 minutes it exceeds the 100 year floodplain.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

and I think it's important to highlight that, yes, this is happening to you, that you have the bird's eye view of what's going on, but that creek is not just in your backyard, correct? That creek touches so many people. Absolutely. So it's to put those protections in place Right To prevent future issues with their houses, their land.

Elizabeth Parent:

Yep, that goes back to the beginning of the question is why are riparian buffers important? Well, that means that developers can't build a certain distance from these waterways. For example, this town home development is building right up next to it and you can't tell me that it's not affecting quality of life in Fuquay Varina. Also, with planning Fuquay Varina, when a development is proposed, there is a process, and part of that process is having a community meeting and the developer only has to notify property owners within a 200 feet of that development. So when I learned about the development that's going on behind our home while we were in the process of purchasing this home, we were outside of that 200 feet. But there is just one house in between me and that development, so very few people were notified. Yet hundreds of homeowners are affected by this. There's a development adjacent from the property that's being developed. It's the Sunset Forest neighborhood that is about the same age as my neighborhood, so 90s-ish, and there are homes that are close to the development nearly flood every single time it rains. Many of them are built within the 100-year floodplain. So if we don't start now, it's a negative impact on many, many, many homeowners.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And if we don't get a handle on it now, it seems like it will be more expensive later to fix, because that's going to raise people's insurance rates.

Elizabeth Parent:

Think of all of the sinkholes that are developing right now because their culvert was built pre-mass development in this area. So how many places does water go underneath our road? And if your home was built before the 2000s or built before even 2010, or built before 2015,. We got to start putting in some process and some protections so that it benefits the whole quality of life for every community member.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And it's important because there are still so many people moving to the area. So if we're not proactive, if we're not thinking about it, if we're not planning even, for instance, what you're talking about now the culverts that we're putting in now aren't going to be good enough for the future. So it does definitely some critical thinking and implementation should be put in place, for sure.

Elizabeth Parent:

Right, and we've got some great town staff members who, I mean, this is their expertise, and so if we listen to our town staff and we start implementing the changes that they are proposing, hey, I believe that we can do it. Nobody has a crystal ball. Nobody can say, hey, this is what's going to happen in this place at this time at this day in the future, but we can look at data and we can go from there. Perfect.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So what are ways that you have served the town and its people prior to running for office?

Elizabeth Parent:

Ooh, I have listened, I listen, I listen everywhere, I listen at work and stood up at Town Council a number of times, whether that's advocating for support for the social district, adoption for the Fuqua side and the Verena side, or whether that's the developments that have been going in and ensuring that we have quality builds and it's not negatively impacting other adjacent property owners. Or I go to every town board meeting and if I don't go to every town board meeting, I've at least watched them online since 2020. And I feel like having watched or listened to those meetings has given me a lot of insight into the process and a lot of the time when I'm having conversations with people or I'm listening to the issues that people have with what's going on in the town, 99% of the time people don't understand the process or they don't understand each step that it takes to get X, y, z, or each step that it takes to get that Judd Parkway and South Main intersection corrected. And it comes down to I'm willing to sit down and listen and help others understand the process, and I've had a lot of conversations with other folks and, to their perspective, it's a daunting task. But to me, I love process and I love listening to it, I love talking about it and I love learning it, and so if I can share that knowledge with the rest of the community and educate them on OK, this is what needs to be done. If you want to achieve X, y Z, let's talk about the process to get to the solution, and I'm willing to do that, and I believe that I've done that in the community and I'm more than happy to continue doing that, and I would love to do that at a more official capacity.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Now. Have you been on any of the town's committees?

Elizabeth Parent:

No, ma'am, I have not.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And have you been a consistent voter in the elections?

Elizabeth Parent:

So, yes, I have been a consistent voter since we moved here. That being said, our first home was in the ETJ of Fuquay Varina, so, while we were impacted by the municipal ordinance and the decisions that were being made from the town, we were not able to vote, so I would have voted if I could have.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

I believe that Now you kind of just spoke about it. Do you want to share what ETJ means in case listeners aren't familiar?

Elizabeth Parent:

ETJ stands for Extraterritorial Jurisdiction and it is portions of property subdivisions that have been annexed into the ETJ, so they fall under Fuquay-Varina ordinance. However, they get their services from the county or they have private water. They don't pay town taxes. They don't get town services. However, they have to live by town ordinance. As a former citizen of the ETJ Fuquay-Varina, I did not appreciate it at all. While there were times where we had to call for services, whether that was public safety or fire, and while fire department did come to us, we could not get police services for safety, like if there was an issue, we had to rely on the county sheriff's department, even though we were so close to the municipal limits the property adjacent to my backyard was municipal limits we did not get those services. I would say that my biggest gripe about being an ETJ citizen was not being able to utilize my voice in elections and not being able to ensure I had a say in who creates these ordinance that I have to live by. That might sound like the most young thing of me to say. You know, I don't want to do what someone else wants me to do without me having to say it, but honestly, honestly, I really value my rights, whether that's property or personal. You know all my rights and freedoms. I value them and I feel like voting is one of the most important ones. It's the way my voice is heard. It's the way that I am able to advocate for myself and for my family and for others on how I believe decisions should be made. And if I'm unable to do that but have to live by someone else's rules that they make for me. I have a problem with that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Yes, what are your areas of focus for your campaign?

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, we kind of already touched on them, but Smart growth, infrastructure advancements and housing affordability.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, we talked about the smart growth a little bit. Let's talk about the infrastructure piece. What are your thoughts on that? Do you have any strategies or plans?

Elizabeth Parent:

Yeah, I think that we could potentially be better at advocating with our other elected officials within state and federal government, assuring that we are communicating our community needs and thinking about that ahead, thinking about okay, this is what our data is telling us, we are going to be like in 20 years or 10 years, so we need to put in those intersections so that we can accommodate that, because by that time that's likely when we will complete those projects. And so I think that a lot of our infrastructure advancement funding comes from state and federal dollars, and if we're not smart about how we ask for those dollars, then how can we plan for the future, how can we begin those projects without thinking them fully through and then asking for the appropriate funding for each of those necessary infrastructure advancements?

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And it's difficult because, as we're living it, as we're going through and having the traffic issues, we want the problems to be fixed yesterday. Oh yes, but there's a whole process for that.

Elizabeth Parent:

Absolutely yeah.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

When everything was coming up about 401 last year, learning that I think that process started back in 2002-ish. The roads not slated, that project's not slated to be completed until something like 2042. So that's a 40-year process and if population growth has grown so much so far and it's estimated to continue growing, the roads that we needed in the early 2000s we're not getting until 40 years later. That's just a backflow of a whole lot of yuck for me.

Elizabeth Parent:

Listen, Amanda, tell me something I don't already know, but a little bit more about that in my experience with that. Granted, was I alive during this time? No, I will be completely honest with you, but in Seattle they had discussed putting in a commuter rail system in the 70s. It's still under construction.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Oh, wow.

Elizabeth Parent:

And if you've ever been to Seattle, the traffic is not fun. We lived, I say, 45 minutes outside of Seattle City, but that's an average commute. If you're driving at like 2 am you can get to Seattle in less than 20 minutes. So I always say it's about 45 minutes and my husband commutes up to Morrisville and so he sits in that 55 traffic that everybody else does too, and I believe that there are ways that different solutions we can implement that can combat our traffic. One of those things is the commuter rail system that's being talked about goes from Fayetteville to Durham. There was another one that was talked about going from Chapel Hill, Durham area to Garner, and those two I can't tell you how much I wish that they had started the construction on that like 10 years ago because it's very reminiscent to Seattle and the lack of infrastructure that they were able to put into place earlier on, but now they're feeling the growing pains with it. We're feeling the beginning of those growing pains, and so, from my perspective, it comes down to being proactive and ensuring that, while I understand that the federal level said that they were not going to fund the Raleigh rail system, we still have the potential for the Fayetteville system that I am like holding on to, and I think it comes down to all of our municipalities getting together all of our elected officials and saying, hey, look at us, we need this, and advocating to our state and federal elected officials consistently. One story I love to say that I learned in college is taking a theater class and the professor said you know, okay, this is the importance of projection. Like one of you can stand here and yell and we can hear you on the other side of the theater. However, you're not going to be as strong of a message unless it's multiple of you. You'll get a more powerful message or experience to the audience. What my professor did was she had about 15 or 20 of us students on the stage and then she'd have one student stand in the very back of the auditorium and she would say okay, one of you whisper something, like we came up with a phrase I don't even remember what it was, but we came up with a phrase and that one person whispered it and the person at the very back of the auditorium could not hear it. Couldn't hear it not at all. So then my professor said okay, now five of you whisper that exact same thing at the exact same time, and let's see if the person at the back of the auditorium can hear. You person at the back of the auditorium could kind of hear something that could not make out the words. So then she said okay, now all of you on stage whisper the exact same thing at the exact same time. We'll see what happens. We all whispered it at the exact same thing at the exact same time and it sounded like an ocean wave versus a trickle right, and so the person the very back of the auditorium could hear us loudly and clearly. And so I think that, to tie this all back up, I feel like if all of our municipal elected officials can get together and say hey, this is why it's important, I think that it can be powerful. I think it can go far, yeah.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

I like that story.

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, thanks.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What does affordable housing mean to you and how will you address its lack?

Elizabeth Parent:

So I typically stick to the term housing affordability, because many people have a misconception of what affordable housing means. Most people believe that it means Section 8 or HUD, and when it comes down to housing affordability, what most people mean when they talk about it, it's diversifying our housing options and ensuring that there is equity in our housing options and ensuring that a first time homeowner can own a home Just that. Ensuring that they can, ensuring that they have the opportunity to because there is an option for them. Period.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

When making important decisions, sometimes you have to make compromises or choose the least sucky thing. I have a couple of scenarios and in these scenarios, what would you choose or what would you consider thinking about? So, talking about housing affordability, decreasing lot sizes of homes in order to allow a greater number of homes to be available at a lower price point, or would you be more prone to increasing lot sizes to decrease the number of homes available, lowering environmental and traffic ramifications of having more people in a given area?

Elizabeth Parent:

When it comes to those two, there's a middle ground that I see. The term for the zoning for the first option is high density residential and we have that, and I believe that there is a way that, if we incorporated some of the environmental protections like we would like on the second option that you gave, there's a happy medium. Currently, we have a lot of large, we have a lot of large lots with single family homes on them, and do we have any environmental protections? Do we have any of the funds from the developers going towards infrastructure advancements? No, so I believe that there is a way to get into the middle of that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Now between these choices having fewer town amenities and knowing many constituents may not be able to participate in those amenities because there's not enough space in order to avoid raising towns taxes, or would you be more prone to thinking ahead and feel it might be better to raise the town's taxes to a certain point in order to reasonably be proactive with the growing population?

Elizabeth Parent:

So when it comes to raising taxes, I'm not a fan of that and I believe that when it comes to certain amenities, what do you mean exactly by amenity? I think that's where I would start.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Amenities could be anything. It could be parks and rec type stuff. It could be utilities, anything that the town provides its people. And because we have the growing population, it takes money to take care of people and their needs and wants.

Elizabeth Parent:

Yep, I just wanted to make sure, because there's a lot of people who think amenities are like parks and rec department or public safety, fire department, and then there's others who think of utilities as a completely separate thing. So I kind of want to address those two things differently. Sure, when it comes to parks, recreation and cultural resources that department, we're already building a community center north. Now, there was a lot that went into that and that whole process, and I know that having that space is going to alleviate a lot of the influx that we have in registration and we have what's called a registration fee for citizens of Fuquay Varina and a registration fee for non citizens of Fuquay Varina, and I think that we could definitely increase that. I know that they've been in conversation of increasing the non residential registration fee. If they haven't already implemented it, they're about to implement it, they're getting close to it. So I believe that that's one avenue that we could utilize in order to ensure that our citizens of Fuquay Varina have access to those amenities in the parks, recreation and cultural resources department. When it comes to public safety and fire, there's no if, ands or buts on that. We got to stay safe and, as we grow, we're in the process of building a new fire station, which is going to be stunning. If you haven't already seen it, it's right off of Broad Street, going up towards 55. It's going to be beautiful. I'm really excited to see it as a finished product. Yes, and we got to pay those staff members, whether that's police communication staff, whether that's police officers, whether that's fire department, whether that's a clerk at the public utilities pay station. I think that there is a happy medium where you find a way to raise prices for non Fuquay Varina citizens for registration fees with the parks, recreation and cultural resources department, as well as imposing impact fees for developers and ensuring that utilities are being funded when new developments are put place.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Are we able to collect impact fees from developers, or are we limited on that based on state legislation?

Elizabeth Parent:

We're definitely affected by the state legislation that needs to progress. However, there are developer fees is what Fuquay Varina has and often developers opt to and the town board approves fee and loo, developer fee and loo and to be honest with you, Amanda, I should look more into. I knew a year ago, before I started running for state house, I knew every little thing about the fee in lieu and right now, because that was at the time with impact fees, that was a higher issue when I ran for legislature. I need to do more research on the developer fees, but I know that the town board almost all the time if not I don't know if they've ever not waived the developer fee for developers and that fee goes in towards the utilities, whether that's maintaining the roads or stormwater drainage stuff. Those fees go into that. So I would like to do more research on that before I answer that question.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

But what you're remembering is that there's like a space for that fee. However, the town has been waiving it and not collecting it on the developments up to last year, when you were last looking at it.

Elizabeth Parent:

When it comes to paying for utilities. Instead of raising town taxes for me, I believe that we should not be waiving developer fees. Developer fees are fees that the developer pays to the town based off of each home lot. Instead of the developer paying those fees, they instead maintain the roads and the infrastructure for that development. So when a developer goes before a board and they say, hey, you know, we'd like to waive our developer fee and in lieu of the developer fee, we're going to maintain XYZ, so that means that the town is not maintaining those streets and whatnot, but they're also not getting the revenue that they would from each household, each rooftop, and then they waive that fee until each home is purchased. Once the home is purchased and there's a homeowner in there and they start paying taxes, that's when it stops.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So is there a limit to what you feel may be a reasonable amount if a situation warrants increasing taxes during your term if you were to win?

Elizabeth Parent:

To be honest with you, I would listen to my town staff. Our town staff recommends something. I know that they have the expertise and I know that they have done the necessary research into what is needed in our town. So if our town staff has done their due diligence on things as they do, I would have to agree with staff on that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay. Do you feel that there are any major areas where the town is inappropriately allocating resources?

Elizabeth Parent:

That I know of no. That I know of no. If you look at the budget, it's pretty thorough Okay.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Do you have any creative suggestions on where to get alternative funds for the town to support the town's growth?

Elizabeth Parent:

businesses. I believe that we can recruit small businesses, we can recruit large businesses, we can get taxes through business versus residential, and that is one avenue I think that our town could definitely utilize.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, do you know where it's at now, like how much residential versus commercial taxes are allocated to the town? No, I don't either.

Elizabeth Parent:

Okay, I was going to say I was about to look at you like, if you know these numbers, Amanda, I am going to be blown away because I do not know the exact numbers. Should I know the numbers? Probably. However, they flux and flow. Every year it's different and every year that I've watched the town budget being passed and looked at and adjusted and whatnot, it's different. It's almost every single time it's different. So at this time I don't know the exact number. I am sure that Susan Weiss has done an impeccable job ensuring that it is easily accessible and it's just one quick Google search away.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And for those listening, who is Susan?

Elizabeth Parent:

Susan is the communications director.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

All right. Many times people, including those who may be your fellow town council members, have varying opinions. How do you approach a situation when there is a major difference of opinion?

Elizabeth Parent:

Ensuring that I enter a conversation always with a base level of respect, compassion and empathy for the other person, because that other person has had an experience that has built their perception and while I may not have had that same life experience and I have my own life experience that is the basis of my perception. I believe that everybody deserves respect, compassion and empathy and without coming into a conversation with even a baseline of that for each other, I know that I can ensure that I can come with that. I can't ensure that the other person will, but I know I can control myself and if I can come into a conversation with that baseline, then I know that I'm doing what I can in order to find a solution, because you can't have a conversation and talk about solutions without any one of those three.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Do you feel the town could be more inclusive?

Elizabeth Parent:

Yes, and I don't say that lightly because I know that this is a very hot topic right now. I am a member of the LGBTQ community and there have been some situations in this town that are are disappointing is the way I've said it and I know that there is a process that can be put into place to ensure that that our town is more inclusive. And that makes one side angry and that makes another side angry or angry is not the way to put it. I guess I think it's passion is the best way to put it is. A lot of people feel very passionate about inclusion and what that means. And does Wake County have a non-discrimination ordinance that we could absolutely sign on to? Absolutely. Does Fuquay Varina have a non-discrimination ordinance? Yeah, do we have to sign on to the Wake County non-discrimination ordinance? No, would it be nice? Yeah, why? Because they pay those legal fees, if there are any legal fees. But we can certainly update our own non-discrimination ordinance to include the items that the Wake County non-discrimination ordinance has that Fuquay Varina does not, and if the rest of the town board feels that, that is a good way to go and we have the ability to pay those attorney fees if there are ever a situation to arise where there is direct discrimination, then so be it. But I believe that it would be very nice to have those funds be covered by the county. You know what

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Creative solutions All right. Have you gained any endorsements thus far? And if you gain more after the recording of this podcast, where might voters find that information?

Elizabeth Parent:

So I have received the Wake County Democratic Party's endorsement. I plan to have all of my endorsements listed on my website, elisabethparent. com.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So that is the end of the questions that deal with the election and your candidacy, but I have just a lightning round of questions.

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh OK.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So there are no right or wrong answers. You can just say whatever comes to mind, and we'll start off with what is your favorite book.

Elizabeth Parent:

The Secret Garden yes.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Who is someone you look up to and use as a role model?

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, my dad.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What's your favorite way to relax and let go.

Elizabeth Parent:

Go out and look at nature, take pictures of flowers, sit out by my bees.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What's one thing that fills your heart with joy?

Elizabeth Parent:

And as a mom, there are moments, don't get me wrong, there are moments. But when it comes down to it, my kids, when they come up to me, or if I walk in the door and I'm like, ugh, I had a date or ugh, it's really hot outside and I can't wait to get to AC, and I see my kids, and they just come up to me and they just say, mommy, and give me big hugs and just, oh my gosh, there's nothing. There's nothing better than that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What is your greatest weakness?

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, I have a lot of feelings I have a lot of feelings and I overthink. Probably the biggest thing is I overthink into the point where my emotions get activated. Very easily.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What was one thing you wished for as a kid?

Elizabeth Parent:

There's not enough time in the day. I wished to live in the secret garden. I wanted that so badly. I wanted to have my own little space where I have all of these beautiful plants and this nice little utopia, and that's what I wished for.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Yep, what's something on your bucket list?

Elizabeth Parent:

Ireland.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And the last question, what is your favorite thing about yourself?

Elizabeth Parent:

My favorite thing about myself; this is a really deep question, Amanda. Good job! I would say oh, this sounds so egotistical when I say it, Amanda, but I would say my perseverance, regardless of what life has thrown at me throughout my entire life whether that was last year or when I was eight years old. I've continued the ability to continue to grow out of spite my will to survive and adapt to survive.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

I would say If you were a flower, does that make you a dandelion?

Elizabeth Parent:

Oh, look at you. Yes, Amanda, that makes me a dandelion.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

I love it Well. Thank you, Elizabeth Parent, for trusting me and being part of this candidate segment for the Holly Springs Deep Dive podcast. I wish you the best of luck. Do you have any last thoughts that you'd like to share with those voting in the upcoming election?

Elizabeth Parent:

Don't forget to vote. November 7th is the election day. There is an early voting period. There are only three locations early voting locations in Wake County and one is in Garner, one is in Apex and one is in Raleigh. You can look them up at the Wake County Board of Elections website or you can go to my website and click the I think it's voting information button, also my website, elizabethparent. com. And don't forget to bring a photo ID when you go and vote, and the Wake County Board of Elections also has a solid list of acceptable photo ID options. Go vote and I hope you vote for me, but regardless, please just go vote. It's so important I can't even I can't even like stress how much it is such an importance. Use your rights, go and vote.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

I love it. Well, thank you so much, Elizabeth, and you take care, and good luck.

Elizabeth Parent:

Thank you.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Democracy is at the heart of all we hold dear. Our local governments have the influence to decide our community's priorities. These offices have a major impact on our daily lives and can have real consequences. They create and enforce local ordinances, fund our local fire and police departments, create the structure and ambiance of our communities and decide our local property taxes. Lower voter turnout in local elections means your vote has even more of an impact. Early voting starts October 19th at the Wake County Board of Elections and begins October 28th and will run through November 4th at the John M Brown Community Center in Apex and the Avery Street Recreation Center in Garner. During early voting, you may go to any of these early voting sites. Election day will be Tuesday, November 7th. On election day, you have to go to your designated polling site. Please remember you will need a valid ID to vote. This year, the voter registration deadline is October 13th, though you may also be eligible to register at the voting sites during the early voting period. And that brings this episode of the Holly Springs Deep Dive podcast, soon to be called the NC Deep Dive, to a close. Make sure you check out all the other relevant candidate episodes for the Board of Commissioners, also known as Town Council for Holly Springs and Fuquay Varina, at www. H ollySpringsDeepdDive. com, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Audible or wherever you currently listen to your podcasts. I will include helpful links for each candidate and voting in general in their episode's show notes on our website. If you have any thoughts or topics you'd like to share, you may do so through social media or via email at HollySpringsPodcast@ gmail. com. Thank you for engaging in today's episode and becoming a more informed citizen. Democracy is a team sport. Together we make democracy work and our communities a better place to work, live and play. Your vote absolutely matters, your voice absolutely matters. You, my friend, absolutely matter. Until next time, my friends. Namaste: The love and light in me sees and honors the love and light in you.

Elizabeth Parent
Growth, Communication, and Environmental Concerns
Importance of Voting and Addressing Infrastructure
Important Decisions and Town Funding Sources
Approaching Differences in Opinion and Inclusion