WAKE FOREST — The town’s mayoral candidates have competing visions of how to manage Wake Forest’s growth for residents and businesses.
Mayor Vivian Jones, who is seeking a fourth four-year term, said she wants to build on the foundation she has helped put in place during her tenure.
“I have kept the promise that I made years ago to be a positive leader,” she said recently at a forum hosted by the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jones highlighted the town’s top financial rating, the greenway system and the growth of downtown as evidence the town is on the right track.
But Challenger Bill Randall, a Navy veteran and business consultant, said he doesn’t think Wake Forest is as ready as it could be to welcome new businesses.
“We need to look at the future, and the future is not as bright as we would like to see it,” said Randall, a Tea Party favorite who won the GOP primary in 2010 for a U.S. House seat but lost in the general election to Democratic incumbent Brad Miller. He also ran in the 2012 GOP primary but did not win.
Randall said he would take a close look at whether the town’s zoning rules and taxes could be changed to make the town more welcoming to businesses.
Jones said that if re-elected she would rely on the town’s Community Plan, a comprehensive set of goals for how Wake Forest should develop, to guide her decisions. She added that residents’ priorities should drive the town government, as long as they can be implemented in a financially responsible way.
“We need to be doing those things that our citizens are asking us to do,” she said.
Randall focused not on the Community Plan but on the recently approved Unified Development Ordinance, a document that consolidated and streamlined the town’s land-use and development rules. He said the ordinance, which was designed to address issues such as stormwater management, historic preservation, subdivisions and zoning, should have focused more on business development.
Randall also said he has reservations about the town’s sustainability efforts, which he compared unfavorably to the United Nations’ Agenda 21, a policy that encourages governments to be aware of human effects on the environment.
“The end game for sustainability is government control,” he told reporters after the forum.
The town election is Nov. 5.