NC Deep Dive

Jack Turnwald: Running for the 4 Year Seat for the Holly Springs Board of Commissioners aka Town Council

September 23, 2023 Amanda Lunn
NC Deep Dive
Jack Turnwald: Running for the 4 Year Seat for the Holly Springs Board of Commissioners aka Town Council
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Step into the world of Jack Turnwald, a contender for the four year Town Council seat for this year's Municipal Election in Holly Springs. Don't miss this opportunity to hear Jack express their personal definition of democracy, be inspired by the experiences that have shaped their political perspective, and witness their unyielding commitment to non-discrimination.

Drawing from their past service and involvement in the community, they outline their election platform that is built on five key pillars. We take a deep look into their priorities: transparency, accountability, equity, responsible growth, historical preservation, and education. In the final segment of our chat, Jack underlines the need to prioritize inclusivity and accessibility in Holly Springs. So, tune in, listen up, and get set for this enlightening conversation!

Website — Jack for Holly Springs (jack4hs.com)
Email  — Jack4HS@gmail.com
Linked Inhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/jackturnwald
Jack for Holly Springs | Facebook
Jack Turnwald (@jack4hs) • Instagram photos and videos
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

Support the show

As always, if you are interested in being on or sponsoring the podcast or if you have any particular issues, thoughts, or questions you'd like explored on the podcast, please email NCDeepDive@gmail.com. Your contributions would be greatly appreciated.

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 Jack Turnwald as part of our Candidate Segment for the 2023 Municipal Election for Holly Springs. Jack is running for the four-year seat on the Board of Commissioners for Holly Springs, also known as Town Council, and will be running against Staci Almquist, Brian Dennis, Chris Deshazor, and Danielle Hewetson. You will be eligible to vote for up to two of these candidates for this seat on your ballot in the Municipal Election. As with all the candidate podcasts, I am taking their introductions directly from their website as an effort to be as fair and non-biased as possible. Jack Turnwald is an award-winning trans-non-binary former educator of 19 years, having earned a BA in English and Psychology from Miami University in Ohio and an MAT from Duke University. Jack moved to North Carolina in 2008 and entered the classroom with a lens that prioritized inclusiveness, safety and challenging academics. They brought with them a global lens after working in South Korea as a Fulbright scholar and educator for six years. Throughout Jack's years in North Carolina's public schools, they became a vocal advocate, community organizer and builder of culturally responsive curriculum taught from a foundation of trust. Jack called central the belief that government should be a system of power with, rather than power over, and that we must prioritize historical truth-telling experience, educational humility and center-lived experiences in order to build communities that are productive and psychologically safe for all. They are currently a DEI consultant for Human-Centric Work LLC, with certification from Cornell University and a certificate from Diversity Movement Leaders Intensive. In recent years, they have been active with their PTA Advocacy Committee and School Equity team. Jack lives in Holly Springs with their wife, where they are raising two children. Without further ado, friends, let's dive in. What does democracy mean to you?

Jack Turnwald:

Ooh, going to start off with a big question right off the bat! So that's a really interesting question, in fact, because I think one of the concerns right now in all of our communities is that lots of people have different ideas about what democracy means. And when it comes to governance, if the people you're electing have different ideas of what democracy means, then what's kind of in your residual thoughts? It can be really scary. So for me, democracy is that we are all invited to participate in government, that we all have access to equitable rights, that we are able to engage in the voting process in a way that actually invites people in to voting rather than closes people out or makes it limited. And I actually struggle right now to really be able to say that we are fully a democracy in the sense that I have long viewed democracy in America because we seem to be moving away from some of those things and a lot of legislation is now trying once again because it is not, of course, something that didn't already happen in our history, but once again to limit voting rights and to continue down paths of limiting people's individual rights differently than other folks, and so that democracy seems to be very tenuous right now, and something that we all need to be looking at carefully and leaning into the process of participating in a way to get the result that we want out of what we want our democracy to be.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, how long have you lived in the area?

Jack Turnwald:

So I moved to Holly Springs about two years ago. I moved to North Carolina in 2008. Prior to that, I had lived in South Korea for six years after having gone over on a Fulbright scholarship and then stayed to work with the Korean Navy for a period of time, and originally I'm from Ohio. So when I moved to North Carolina in 2008, it was really with the long-term idea of settling in North Carolina permanently and it's really become home. So this is home now.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Why have you decided to run for our Town Council?

Jack Turnwald:

So when I moved to Holly Springs there was a lot of discussion already happening around the Non-Discrimination Ordinance and I think it's no secret that I've been a very verbal advocate for the Non-Discrimination Ordinance and we are currently one of the three municipalities that have not signed on to that in Wake County. And when I talk to small businesses, when I talk to families, people seem to be very supportive of the Non-Discrimination Ordinance. And when I talk to people outside of Holly Springs about their view of inclusiveness in our town, I'm disappointed about what I hear people think about inclusiveness based on our failure to sign on to the NDO, based on some past experiences that people have had and that started as an area where I wanted to be involved and of course I was showing up to Town Council on a regular basis to make public comments and to engage and understand what was happening in our town and I've always been politically involved wherever I've been. I think it's an important responsibility. But the more meetings that I sat through I started hearing issues around our growth patterns and people struggling with. You know we have a lot of development that's happened in sort of siloed ways and people are disconnected and there's all this single car traffic. People are worried about that congestion. We have an enormous lack of affordable housing. Only like 2% to 3% of our housing market here is middle income housing. We have nowhere to age in place. We don't have anywhere for new graduates to get a first time apartment. When you think about the long term of a family living and staying here, there are a lot of issues that are showing up and we are a little behind on infrastructure because our growth exploded so quickly. But we also have innovation that we need to do in order to solve new problems that are arising and all the things that happen when you have population explosion. But you also are trying to keep a community feeling and that requires some creativity. So, as I started to learn about all of those issues, I love to deep dive into topics, and which is quite fitting for this podcast. But I mean, as somebody with ADHD, I know all about the hyper focus of learning about a thing. And government is like that for me, too. I tell people policy is my love language, and so when I start to look at policy around lots of different things, we have areas that we can grow. We have things and tools that we're not utilizing. That might help to resolve some of those problems. And I also had lots of people in the community because of the way that I've been working with organizing who started to ask me will you run? And for me, community relationships are key, and when people start to ask you that question, it's important to take the step back and reflect and say is this the thing that I should do? And it felt like the right thing to do.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Let's say you win your election as a member of the town council. Do you feel your job to make important decisions should be based solely on your own thoughts, your political party's thoughts or as representative as possible of every single one of your constituents, and ?

Jack Turnwald:

So, like I just said, I'm a community based person, and I think good solutions come from talking to as many people as possible. Community oriented solutions are what we need. If you're only talking to one select group of people or you're only working from your own base of experience, you are missing something, and so I think that open communication is super important, both to have it invited in and to seek it out, and that would be just how I would function in general if I were to be an elected official.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

OK, and how do you intend to gather input from the community before casting important decisions?

Jack Turnwald:

I think you can utilize a lot of different tools. Of course we have social media, but not everybody uses social media than having an email newsletter is an opportunity in order to gather input from people, but I also really believe in the town hall model to invite people for conversation and really make government inclusive. Too often, government feels like people sitting kind of up on this pedestal and looking down upon the people and telling them what's going to happen, and I really believe that we should be operating from a power with perspective rather than a power over perspective. People have to have some agency and should have significant agency in the decisions that are being made in the town that they live in.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What do you believe are Holly Springs's strengths?

Jack Turnwald:

Holly Springs's strengths. We have a lot of them actually. People in this town actually have really big hearts. If you look across the community, you've got all kinds of people who are trying to reach out and provide for different folks, and we have the food cupboard we have. There was the unity in the community event the other weekend that people were involved in. I just had an event the other week that was for tools for schools with the Wake Ed partnership. We have so many people who have giving hearts. We also have a lot of people who are actually interested in government and too often people aren't interested in local government or don't know enough about it to really be heavily involved. And I think we have a good base of people here who want to know more, who want to be involved, and that lends itself to building on that. We also have some great community organizers here, people who know how to connect people to each other and to reach out and to step back and learn when we need to, and I think that's beautiful. We've got a great base of education here. We've got a really safe feeling as far as the issue of like, we don't deal with a lot of violent crime. So, yeah, we have a lot of great starting points and we can continue to make those things greater.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What do you feel are Holly Springs's weaknesses?

Jack Turnwald:

So I think it's important to start with the idea that when we love a thing, we also have to be willing to critique it in order to grow and develop and move forward. And one of the challenges in Holly Springs is with diversity and inclusivity, and it's interesting because we actually have a lot of people who embrace it. But we also have a lot of sort of misinformation and misunderstanding about people who are different from some individuals in town, and I think there are a lot of learning opportunities in that situation. But it does take leadership from the top down to invite people into those conversations, to have confidence in having those conversations and to also have them not be contentious in a way that is harmful to people. I think that's one issue. I think, too, we are right now a gated community without a gate, the way in which our community has been developed. A house in this area is $600,000. And to be able to rent a one bedroom apartment you have to make $80,000 a year. That doesn't make sense for first time home buyers, for young people who are just starting out new families, for kids who are graduating and want to live close to home, for people who are on a fixed income as they get older so we have limited who our community can be by the way that our housing market has developed. And then at the same time I hear people say why miss that small town feel that we used to have? Well, part of missing that small town feel is having that diversity of people all along that spectrum, and so that has to be part of our development plan moving forward if we want to maintain that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Many voters seem to be unhappy with the influx of growth in the 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?

Jack Turnwald:

Sensible growth, absolutely. S o, I think as a town grows, there's always going to be growing pains. However, we grew so rapidly and maybe not with a clear plan for that growth as it began, and so we are stuck with some difficult situations now. One of those things I mentioned earlier is that we've kind of made a number of developments that feel really siloed, and when I look at the long term of responsible growth, in order to deal with some of that traffic congestion, we need to be looking at better transit options, we need to be looking at creating more walkability in town. And when I talk about transit options, so Holly Springs is actually part of CAMPO, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, and I've seen other municipalities. For example, Apex has Go Apex, which they get funding through Campo, and I'm yet to see us make a proposal for anything like that, which that's to me a missed opportunity. Holly Springs is small enough still that we could take a lot of the different things that need to be connected. You know apartments 55 and over communities, shopping centers, you know and you give yourself a really simple route and some intratown transit and you also reduce that single car user traffic. So that's one area of responsible growth. Another we need to be looking at is our long term in our access to water and our maintenance of the environment. Right now, I think we have some parameters around clear cutting. I don't think they're as strong as they could be. We need to do more to preserve tree cover. We know that environmentally, that is actually what is best in the current circumstances. We also need to be looking at our water safety or water comes from the Cape Fear River and there's been a lot of discussion around PFAS and forever chemicals, and we need to make sure that our water treatment plants are up to date with the direction in which those things are moving. I know the levels that were previously used as what is detectable versus not detectable, what is actionable versus not actionable that some of that seems to be shifting and we may be moving more towards needing to have untraceable levels, and we also may not know all the long term effects yet of forever chemicals, and so airing on the side of caution is better for people's long term health and the drinkability, the potability, of our water. So I think those are issues that all need to be on the table as we look at responsible growth, along with the housing affordability issue that I've talked about already.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

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

Jack Turnwald:

Here in town. My children are Wake County Public School students and I have served on the PTA as part of the Advocacy Committee. I've also been the parent representative of the Equity Team. I am now on the Board of Directors for the Wake Ed Partnership, which I was talking about before, Tools4S chools and some of the different programs that we do. A lot of my work has been through education and schools, and then I have also done community organizing work with helping get out the vote and helping get people connected to issues that are important to them. I do a lot of writing about legislative issues, about our Town Council, so that people can stay informed. Another thing that folks have talked a lot with me about is you know the way our society has progressed. It has kind of eliminated local news media in many regards, and so I've tried to fill an information gap there for people. Because I do love policy so much, I attend meetings and I go to legislative hearings and I write up those events and also explain what that legislation will mean for people, because sometimes it is hard to go through an 18 page document with legislative language and interpret out: what does that mean for you and your family? family so that's another area where I've tried to provide information for people.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

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

Jack Turnwald:

I have not. So, unfortunately. I've only been here for about two years and I've taken a look at the committees, but the schedules within which it was available to get on to them, there weren't really good opportunities in the time that I've been here. I do pay attention to what they do. I haven't had an opportunity to serve in that capacity.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Have you been a consistent voter in town elections?

Jack Turnwald:

Yes. So since I have been here, I registered to vote and I voted in two primaries and a general, which is what was available to me. Since I've been here, If people look at my prior voting record, which is in Durham, they will see I have been a very consistent voter in Municipals, Primaries, Generals, and where I have not been a municipal voter has been when I have lived in the county, and I was therefore not eligible to participate in municipals. But what I usually did then was help work on the campaigns of municipal candidates that I really believed in and wanted to see get elected, because even in those situations and just like here, where we have people who don't live within the municipality but you still care about what happens I mean, even if you can't cast that vote and there are ways to participate in order to help get voices on to the council that you believe in.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Absolutely. What are your areas of focus for your campaign?

Jack Turnwald:

So there are really five things that I've put out on my platform. One of those is transparency and accountability. As we engaged in the NDO conversation, there was a lot of concern for me about how many people I talked to who wrote to the council and asked questions about the situation and never got a response, and it always concerns me if government is functioning in that way. Like I said before, I feel like there really needs to be good two-way communication and, especially if you're hearing from a lot of people on an issue and there's not really a good conversation happening, that's a sticking point for me. Equity is another area that's super important to me. The NDO, of course, falls under that, but there are a lot of other issues too. When you look at our recent census data, women in Holly Springs make 58 cents to the male dollar. The national average is 77 cents to the male dollar. So what are we doing to help grow entrepreneurship opportunities for women? There is the fact that Holly Springs is a historically black town and there has been displacement of folks through development over the years. There are lots of questions of equity that we need to be addressing and approaching, and when you talk about governance in general, having an equity lens is important too. Too often I hear elected officials talk about the return on investment in any given situation, and that is absolutely important, like what are you going to get for your dollar when you go into any sort of situation. But for me, from an equity lens, I like to think of it as what is the return on community? So certainly that economic factor is a part, but also we have to look at where has there been historical harm? Where is there an opportunity to do repair? Where is there an opportunity to grow community in the decision that is being made and also do it in an economically responsible way? Responsible growth is one of the major pillars that I talk about as well, and responsible growth feeds into so many of the issues that we are looking for change in in this town. The issues I've talked about as regards water, the housing affordability, the transit options all of those things fall under responsible growth, and so that's an important area and historical preservation and education. I have heard lots of people talk about the Pack House up on Main Street. It has been sitting there in a state of disrepair for such a long time and there is such a rich history in Holly Springs, that there are so many learning opportunities and so much to be celebrated, and we're also at a point in time where, if we don't make a concerted effort to preserve that information and some of these locations, that that's going to be lost forever. And so we need to look at what are the opportunities that we can be involved in as a town to preserve some of that history. I know Fuquay has a little museum. We don't really have much in that vein, and we have locations that people want to see be preserved, and what I've seen in other towns is, you know, we have all kinds of different committees to help with different things. You know the Women's Committee to help with the mayor and like all of these interesting committees, and I'm so shocked that we don't have a Historical Preservation Committee here, because, from an equity standpoint too, when you talk about historical preservation, you want to have the voices of lived experiences help the town center what needs to be preserved, how it needs to be preserved, how the story is told. All of that needs to come from people who have the lived experience, and that only happens by bringing in a committee like that. So that's an area that I also think would be really important.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

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

Jack Turnwald:

So housing affordability covers a very wide spectrum. So often when we talk about housing affordability, people are only talking about low income housing, and low income housing is absolutely a necessity. But in that realm of housing affordability, we also have the ability to buy a first time home. We have the ability to age in place if you want to downsize from your multi level house because you're getting older and those knees don't go up and down stairs very well anymore. A lot of people have nowhere to go here. There's nowhere to downsize to. You talk about housing affordability. To me, that also includes people being able to rent a reasonable rate and to not be using so much of their salary that they are now burdened in order to be able to buy food and participate in other general aspects of life. And so again, I'm kind of repeating myself here. But we did a housing affordability study and it showed us where a lot of our gaps are. And then our current council chose not to adopt that study, which is concerning to me. We have this opportunity for guidance and we seem to be saying we're okay with closing the gate instead of inviting people in.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

When making important decisions, sometimes you have to make compromises or choose the least sucky thing. in the following scenarios which would you choose? Decreasing lot sizes of homes in order to allow a greater number of homes to be available at a lower price point. Or increasing lot sizes to decrease the number of homes available, lowering the environmental and traffic ramifications of having more people in a given area.

Jack Turnwald:

So one, in this scenario, I would also have to know where the development is. One of the things that I have found interesting is as far as our Planning Board goes is I don't know that they actually do site visits when they make some of these decisions. And deciding about density is pretty specific to a site. What roads do you have leading up to it to be able to deal with that traffic that may show up? Are they in need of repair? Does that require working with NCDOT? There are so many different factors environmentally. What does the tree cover there look like right now? How does the current plan that is being proposed impact that? How will it impact sound barriers with trees to the road? There are so many different factors that are specific to the site. So I think that's one important thing my leaning in this particular situation more towards decreasing the lot size, in part because I just had this conversation with some folks this morning. We have to do some increased density in order to meet housing affordability needs. We have to. It's not something that we can ultimately avoid. I've lived places like South Korea where you have huge populations and I've seen where you have to get into some density in order to support those populations appropriately. I think you can increase some density while still also looking at important environmental factors. The question of increasing lot size to lower environmental impact or traffic to me again, I think there are some other creative ways to deal with traffic. When you talk about some of these big businesses that are coming to town, are you talking to them about the potential for staggered start times for work? That would change traffic patterns? Are you looking at some of these other environmental factors with? What can our UDO say about clear cutting, even if we have a sized lot that's a little bit larger, how much of that can we really a lot to say you have to maintain the tree cover? So I think there are creative ways to approach this.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Would you choose having fewer amenities knowing many constituents may not be able to participate in those amenities because there's not enough space, in order to avoid raising the town's 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 be reasonably proactive with the growing population? And by amenities I am including public safety, the police department, fire department, as well as parks and rec.

Jack Turnwald:

I think there's some value in being proactive. I'm never excited about raising taxes. For folks those taxes are, mine included and we live in a time right now where people are struggling to keep up. I talked to so many people who, much like my wife and I, if they tried to buy the same house they live in right now that they bought several years back, they wouldn't even be able to buy their own house. So, where we can avoid raising taxes, I love to be able to do that. But, yes, there is value in that proactiveness, and I think the town has actually been pretty proactive over the last several years as far as adding staff and keeping up with the staffing for our police and fire departments, and we have a very good safety record. All of those things have been reflected over time. I do have concerns about some of the upcoming investments that have been proposed and the size of them, because I do think, when you look at these things, there are things that should be done proactively, but there are also things that should be done piecemeal, as needed, and when you throw a huge project with a lot of cost to it at the people, it is always going to have tax implications, and so that is a little concerning for me.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, one more situation: Would you choose allowing commercial property owners their rights to remove trees on their property or trying to maintain tree buffers, especially because of the landfill odors, to clean the air, to allay various environmental concerns and to help with the aesthetics of the town?

Jack Turnwald:

I am very much for tree buffers and maintaining tree cover. I know in our HOA we have to apply in order to take down trees and get permission, and sometimes that makes sense based on a safety issue as regards structural things with a home, but we need to be doing as much as we can to maintain green area. One, it's good for people's mental health to have green spaces. It's good for our air. It's good for issues with climate change. We have to be thinking about how to preserve our environment and to live sustainably, so I lean in the direction of saving as many trees as we can in that regard.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Is there a limit to what you feel may be reasonable if a situation warrants increasing taxes during your term?

Jack Turnwald:

Certainly. I mean, I think we need to have thresholds and again, I'm someone who is always looking for balance is what I'm looking for. We need to spend responsibly, but we also need to not make people tax burdened in a way that is not okay.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Do you feel there are major areas where the town is inappropriately allocating resources?

Jack Turnwald:

Hmm, that's an interesting question. I don't know that I would say inappropriately allocating resources, but I do have concerns about how we are allocating resources and whether or not we are making those resources publicly accessible when we do so. T he example I'll give for that is you know, we've put a lot into parks and recreation, we have a lot of great green spaces, we have a lot of great facilities in town. We have the Hunt Center, we have, you know, all of these spaces. But when I talk to people and they want to get a space to rent or use for a group, everywhere I've ever lived before, there's somewhere that, for example, a nonprofit or an organization can use for a very low cost or no cost, because the community has already put an upfront investment into a lot of those spaces. And here in Holly Springs it seems like there's actually no available spaces like that for less than like a $50 rental fee, and that can be very cost prohibitive for organizations to be able to do things that build community. And so I would also like to see, when we make those kinds of fund allocations and investments, that we're making sure that those outcomes are then accessible to the community that has made the investment.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Mm-hmm, do you have any creative suggestions on where to get alternative funds for the town to support the town's growth?

Jack Turnwald:

Absolutely. I mean, I think one of the things that was suggested in our housing affordability plan was some of those independent partnerships that you can build on, so I think we need to be looking at those. I know I've seen in the past our town staff has done a great job in grant writing, and those are opportunities that we should be seeking out. I'd mentioned before CAMPO, with transit. I think is an opportunity that we are not capitalizing on currently to develop some transit options here, and I'm also seeing where our Town Council has really kind of isolated itself from our county commissioners, and the county has opportunities that we could be engaging in, be it education and just a wide variety of things, from what I understand, that we have chosen to opt out of or to not engage in over the last several years, and so I think exploring more of those partnerships would certainly help to fund some more opportunities and address some of the problems that we're dealing with from growth.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Sure. 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?

Jack Turnwald:

So I mentioned before, I love to deep dive into a topic and one of the things that I enjoy doing is to research and pull up what is the most valid information, what is the research that supports moving in a certain direction and providing that information for people. As a former educator of 19 years, I believe that education is a good mover of these things. So I think that is one area. I think another area is making sure, again, that a multitude of voices and lived experiences are heard on an issue in order to make wise decisions about what direction the town council should go. And in general, I spent a lot of time in my life connecting people who struggle to connect and being a classroom teacher, you have kids and parents who believe very different things about the world and have very different approaches to learning, to life, and finding ways to bring people together is something that I find great joy in and that, as a teacher, I had significant success in, and I hope to be able to bring that to the governance.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

You've talked a little bit about this prior, but do you feel the town could be more inclusive?

Jack Turnwald:

Absolutely, and a lot of what I've heard from people too especially families like my own who have queer individuals within them is they have the heart for inclusivity and they have been afraid because of some of the rhetoric that they have seen and heard. And more often than not, I think we have folks in this town who are inclusive and want to be inclusive, but there's also a little bit of a folks tempering themselves or not being loud about it because they're afraid of how that inclusivity or desire for diversity is going to be received, and I think it's important that we have a conversation about that. Why are people feeling that way and where is the lack of psychological safety coming from? We have a really great safety record as we look at issues of like violent crime, but I hear a lot of people talking about things that would fall under a lack of psychological safety, and that's a community conversation that we have to have, and it's not something that changes instantaneously. It's not something that would change instantaneously even with the NDO in place. That is a thing that is culture change over time. It's an investment people have to make in each other, and it's also having to move past some fear and misinformation that has permeated our society.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Currently, do you feel all constituents are feeling like they are seen and heard when it comes to town matters and issues they may be facing, like discrimination?

Jack Turnwald:

I can say confidently no, I don't think that everyone feels that way, and I've watched situations over the last two years where people showed up to Town Council and I watched someone one evening ask one of our council members if they could speak up because you couldn't hear what they were saying very well from the audience, and that individual, in my view, got dressed down for having interrupted the proceedings of the council to ask that question and they then proceeded to leave. And I feel like we're missing so many opportunities to realize people are showing up and want to be involved. And a simple question like I want to be able to hear you, can you speak up? We should be glad for the engagement that people want to be a part of this town and a part of government at the local level. That so often gets ignored, and so you know, I hear people across many communities saying they don't feel fully represented, that they feel like there is a very limited set of lived experiences that are represented on the council and that sometimes results in decisions that exclude the viewpoints of others in ways that can be harmful.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

So I didn't realize it until my youngest was diagnosed with cancer and she had to do the whole chemo thing and she had to have a hearing test to see how the chemo may or may not be affecting her hearing. And at this time she was 23 months old. They wanted her to drop a care bear into this tin every time she heard the beat and I was thinking she's not even two, how can she even do that? But sure enough she did it and then the last two times she dropped something into the tin and I didn't hear the beat, and so afterwards I had to be like wait a second, were there actual beeps that she was hearing or did she just put extra bears into the tin? And they're like those were beeps. And so, through the Lions Club here I was helping out with, we had basically an RV and we were doing hearing screenings for folks at Sugg Farm and so you know, as I'm doing the screenings, I need to test out the equipment. I found that I do also suffer from some hearing loss and I find at so many events, things like Town Council, that there's a lack of ways to give that feedback of I can't hear you. And sometimes, like I'm reading the room and I understand that so many people can't hear what's being said, and quite often people are there to listen, to hear those things, and if it's not being heard, then we're missing the boat. And so, yes, that's sad to me that somebody had voiced the fact that they couldn't hear and nobody heard that or heard it in a way that they thought was valuable to make a change or at least attempt to see what could be done to help the situation.

Jack Turnwald:

Of course, accessibility is a really important issue and it looks so different for so many different people and if we don't have an individual experience ourselves, we can sometimes miss that lens.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Now, you have spoken about it before, but the order of the questions. Would you be willing to sign on to Wake County's Non-Discrimination Ordinance? Why or why not?

Jack Turnwald:

Yes, I absolutely would. One, what I have seen in the other areas that they have signed on to it is that it has not been burdensome. It seems to be a very positive tone setter in many regards. I know a lot of people complain and say, well, it doesn't have teeth. But I also don't think we're looking for something that is super punitive. We're looking for something that sets the tone of inclusivity. This does have action steps and the opportunity for mediation, which really is the way a community action should work. It engages people in conversation to try and find healthy ground. I believe that all of the things that are listed in that NDO are things that we should support and provide inclusive environments for. I don't think any of them are a big ask. It includes a huge, wide swath of our community. I think a lot of the conversation around the NDO has been framed as largely just around the queer community, because I think that's where some of the opposition has been. Ultimately, the NDO includes people of color. It includes natural hairstyles, it includes people who are pregnant. It includes religious belief, non-religious belief. It's such a beautiful spectrum of diverse things that are included within it I have a hard time understanding why we're not already there.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

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

Jack Turnwald:

Sure, so far I have the endorsement of the Wake County Democratic Party and the National LGBTQ Victory Fund. I am hoping to hear about a couple other endorsements in the near future, which people would be able to find those either on my Facebook page, Jack for Holly Springs, or on my website, www. J ack4HS. com. So, Jack4HS. com, okay.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And similar question when can listeners connect with you and find out all the latest information regarding your campaign?

Jack Turnwald:

Absolutely so. The website, the Facebook page, are two great options. I'm also on Instagram Jack 4 HS similar moniker for all of these and I also am having regular drop-ins Thursdays from two to three at Fera'wyn's on Holly Springs Road, and I'm going to be starting not this Friday but next Friday Walk-and-Talks at Bass Lake. So I'm trying to get my steps in and stay healthy while I'm doing all this political work. But if people want to come chat with me while I walk around Bass Lake, I'm happy to do that as well. The time is going to be in the mornings, 10am on Fridays.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Okay, perfect. Do you have any last thoughts you'd like to share with those voting in the upcoming election?

Jack Turnwald:

I will simply say that I consider it a great responsibility to run for public office. That if people vote for me, I will take that responsibility seriously. That I look to engage with as many people as possible. That if a voter is someone who thinks that we have very different points of view, I would invite conversation because I strongly believe that we can find ground to move forward together with and that I really believe all of our communities need to do more of that engaging in those conversations. And kind of a gift to be a part of this campaign because it's given me a lot of opportunities to engage in those kinds of conversations. So thank you, residents of Holly Springs.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Awesome, al right, now we have a lightning round of questions, non-political, no right or wrong answers, so you can just shout out whatever comes to mind. What is your favorite book?

Jack Turnwald:

This is the worst thing ever to ask a former high school English teacher. So my favorite book, I Love Wuthering Heights. It's an interesting anti-villain story but it also has a love story but it's sort of a love hate story and it's just very. I love the complexity of characters. It's a fun read for me. But my favorite book to teach was probably Grendel, which is a modernized take on Beowulf from the monster's perspective, and it's a really fun examination of what happens when you change the point of view in a story. It also has some really deep philosophy in it and I found it exciting to read with seniors in high school as they're sort of examining their own life philosophies and points of view and it's fun to get people thinking that's awesome.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

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

Jack Turnwald:

There are a number of people. So I think so often we make role models famous people or people who are of a very different age differential than us. One of the people that I look to as a role model is my 10-year-old son. He says some incredibly insightful and brilliant things at times. He once told me. He said you know, I like you, Jack. And I was like okay, where are we about to go, right now? And he said, "I like that, if you do something wrong and I'm getting in trouble, that you admit to the wrong thing that you've done." He's like. T"he other day mom yelled at me because I was making a lot of noise and you were like oh no, I was tickling Jimmy, that was my fault." And he's like. So often he's like adults when they do something and you get in trouble for it, they just let you take the blame. I love the way that he sees the world. I love that he sees other people and the value that they bring to a space. I love that he holds empathy for other folks and he also leads with humor so often, which I think diffuses folks and brings people in. So yeah, he is a lovely role model.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

I love it. What's your favorite way to relax and let go?

Jack Turnwald:

I have four dogs and now I also have a kitten, because our veterinary office knows a sucker when they see one. We came in and they were like would you like a kitten? And I love to just spend time with them. Animals are so intuitive and I've got one of my dogs right now. He's curled up on a squishmallow over here. I would like the application for that job. Just so relaxed and fun. And our animals all have such different personalities and I enjoy watching them and seeing them do the funny things that they do and the ways that they interact with each other.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Yeah, what's one thing that fills your heart with joy?

Jack Turnwald:

In general, spending time with my family. I am very much someone who thrives off of community as well, and really participating in this campaign has given me extensive joy, because I have seen people connecting with each other and really excited about the future and working together in ways that they haven't before, and it's thrilling to watch. It fills my heart. It also makes me feel a lot of hope during a time that it is sometimes hard to find, that the beginning of this week we had a shooting at UNC. Prior to that, only just a few days before, we had another shooting in another state, and I think so many people live day to day in a state of fear because there are so many factors that we have very little individual control over right now, and so seeing people feel engaged and feel like they have agency in something I don't know, that there's something that makes me feel better than that.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

People having a purpose and finding a way to come together.

Jack Turnwald:

Yeah.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

What's your greatest weakness?

Jack Turnwald:

So my greatest weakness is probably that I feel so much empathy. I want to be able to help everyone, and I know that every scenario in government, in decision-making in general and this was true in the classroom too you can't find the perfect solution. All of the time, and sometimes you don't have all of the resources available to you to help for a particular situation that someone is asking for. But I hold those things, I hold them in my body, I hold them in my mind, I hold them in my heart and I replay them and keep trying to find what is the thing that we could do differently and that can be really stressful. And so working to find the balance between holding that empathy and space and seeking solutions and also maintaining my own personal health is an important balance that I continue to work on.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Yes, what was one thing you wished for as a kid?

Jack Turnwald:

Whew, that's a tough question that I'm gonna have a hard time not getting emotional about. So I have learned as a late in life diagnosis that I am neurodivergent. I also came out late in life as trans non-binary. There were so many things as a kid that I felt internally, but I was not provided education or information about until I was much older and sought that information myself. And even now, as a 43-year-old adult, I experience grief about ways I might have been able to navigate my young adult life easier if I had access to that information and affirmation of my identity when I was a young person.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Ah, you're making me emotional too, because that question, for so many people, it is the word's not coming to mind. It is like a toy, a gift, something tangible that they could hold in their hands, something

Jack Turnwald:

A

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

And yours was simply information, information, education and as someone who sees other people like I can see how that has impacted some of your path into education and making sure people have that ability to have some of the simplest things. So I thank you for sharing that vulnerability and thank you for reaching my heart today. What's something on your bucket list?

Jack Turnwald:

Oh, so bucket list for me always includes travel. I feel like going to other parts of the world, meeting people who have different experiences. Actually, even when you think about local government, like everywhere I've ever been in my life, I've seen a different way of functioning, and there are places all over the world where people do things better than us, where people do things worse than us, and also just like the rich cultures that are all across the world that we have the opportunity to experience and honor. And so, yeah, travel is always going to be one of the number one things on my bucket list.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

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

Jack Turnwald:

It's funny because I think my favorite thing about myself is also my least favorite thing about myself, which is an interesting dynamic. My brain is very interesting and I have had this conversation with lots of neurodivergent people. I have a very unique gift in the way that my brain works in that I can pull out and see a much bigger picture and I can also zoom into the tiniest microcosm of a thing. And I'm not sure when I talk with other people that there are a lot of folks that have the experience of being able to do both. So many people see the world either from that big picture view or from that very sort of centralized looking at the smaller dynamics of a thing. And it can sometimes be a real struggle too, because I've found over the years in different jobs that I've worked and in different relationships that I've had, that I often see kind of the future ahead of other people because I see that big picture and I see the way that the micro things are working and I'm like I know where this is headed but other people don't see it yet. And helping folks learn or get the information and point to the different parts of that microcosm to see the macro thing that's about to happen can be very challenging, and it can sometimes put you in conflict with people too. So, yes, it is, I think, both my favorite and least favorite thing about me.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

We are similarly aligned in that every time I think about my greatest weakness, it is also my greatest strength and it goes back to that balance of finding those healthy boundaries. But I definitely understand the whole big picture, little picture and that not necessarily everybody has the capability to see both simultaneously and it can be difficult to navigate and sometimes it's frustrating because you're like, OK, this is great, but if this is your goal, that it's not going to get us to the goal by taking these particular steps. Are we adding to the steps? Are we adapting? And then sometimes people are big picture people and they want something. We see this a lot. They want this thing. Ok, are we willing to put forward the steps so that we can get there?

Jack Turnwald:

The micro steps that have to occur in order to get to that big picture, because it doesn't happen by magic.

Amanda Benbow Lunn:

Well, thank you so much, Jack, for being with me today, trusting me to deliver on this podcast and just being part of the candidate segment and choosing to run for office. I really wish you the best of luck with your campaign.

Jack Turnwald:

Truly a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, and I enjoyed the conversation.

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. HollySpringsDeepDive. 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 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.

2023 Municipal Election Candidate Interview
Service, Campaigns, and Housing Affordability
Important Decisions
Improving Community Spaces and Funding Options
Inclusivity and Accessibility in Town Matters
Favorite Books, Role Models, Relaxation