Part IV: What NC Should Tackle Next
"North Carolinians have different desires, needs and preferences that all should be respected."
As North Carolina continues to grow and evolve, the issues that impact the state will intensify. With politicians being pushed out in the midterm elections, rallies in major cities and a continued divide on what is next for the state, North Carolina has plenty of challenges to face.
As global companies consider North Carolina for their next headquarters, many North Carolinians question how we will manage the growth.
"We want our community to grow, get more different people in here — loving that, but it’s a balance,” Neptune said. “It’s a fine line where you could easily, let’s say, take on an Amazon or take on the second headquarters of Apple. I understand that it doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens more quickly than you would imagine.
"Suddenly, you have 100,000 plus people in your backyard that you didn’t have the infrastructure for."
One of the specific issues many residents, including community leaders, already see as a concern is how to make housing more affordable.
"The reality is that the growth continues to outpace the city’s ability to inject affordable housing stock into the community,” Neptune said. “Of course, as we know, this is complicated by this added layer of embracing the truth of our history, where populations of people decades ago were very deliberately told you have to live in this neighborhood."
During Baloch’s campaign for Raleigh city council, finding a solution to housing inequality was a priority. Though, she knows it’s a complex issue that is interconnected to other problems the state faces.
"You have to tackle affordable housing and public transportation,” Baloch said.
"There’s no point of building affordable housing if there’s not public transportation there. If you want people to be able to get out of that situation, then you have a way for them to get to their jobs."
Neptune said he has spoken to community leaders, and they are crafting a solution.
"The city is doing quite a bit to address it, but it’s a difficult issue to untangle," Neptune said. “There’s a lot of layers to that. Could we do more? Absolutely, but I want to be very clear the city is doing quite a bit."
Olverson said whatever issues North Carolina addresses, the state shouldn’t use a one-size-fits-all solution due to the diversity of cities and counties.
"North Carolinians have different desires, needs and preferences that all should be respected," Olverson said. "However, the state has had issues in the past with imposing its will on the different municipalities, telling cities as well as small towns what they can and cannot do. It sends a mixed message to the outside world if a town that an outsider wants to move to is seen as progressive, but they don't think the state is progressive enough. The town starts to look less progressive and less desirable. Of course, the same can be said on the other side, where a conservative town can feel misrepresented by the state and forced into policies that the vast majority of the town does not agree with.”
For Blackburn, he doesn’t think his representatives are representing him and his community in Morrisville.
“I would like things to be better as far as the representatives representing me — that have invested in this or want to stay here for the long haul, that do consider myself a native. Listen to me, listen to what’s going on and if you don’t want to listen just observe, just look out their window and see what’s going on,” Blackburn said. “That way, they can get the perspective of everybody. That’s what really needs to happen from their point to connect with me, connect with my kids, see what my kids are doing, go to their community, go to their schools and see what’s going on. How my son, even though he’s Caucasian, there’s so many mixes of people, and that’s a good thing.”
Neptune said he agrees with leaders needing to step up and listen, but also for the community to speak up.
“Sometimes I’m told, Neptune it’s like you’re preaching to the choir,” he said. “Well let me tell you something the choir can be loud. We can sing more boldly. If they were truly listening and hearing us, then I would respond differently.”