Our Platform to
Build a Better
We are committed to Building a Better Burlington by tackling key issues head-on:. Community safety, economic opportunity for all, immediately cleaning our contaminated drinking water, affordable housing / smart growth, and supporting our public schools are all vital to build a great city. At the same time, we must be sure to listen to all communities of Burlington to make sure all priorities are heard. Here’s the plan:
Our Top Issues
Every resident, regardless of their background, deserves to live in a neighborhood with safe streets and secure public schools. While our dedicated police department is actively working to keep Burlington safe, certain neighborhoods face specific challenges that require our undivided attention and a strong partnership between the public and law enforcement. Community safety is everyone’s responsibility and requires a meaningful partnership between the community and police who serve the community. Everyone must contribute to addressing the issue of youth violence.
The following challenges demand immediate attention:
Addressing Youth Violence: Burlington is grappling with persistent youth violence, and urgent action is needed to save lives.
Ensuring Safe Schools: Alamance-Burlington County Schools had the 8th highest crime rate among all 115 public school districts in North Carolina during the 2021-22 academic year.
Combating Drug Overdoses: Drug overdose deaths in Alamance County decreased by 39% in 2022 compared to the previous year, but fentanyl-related deaths remain alarmingly high. More people are dying from fentanyl-related drug overdoses in North Carolina than are dying from guns.
To effectively tackle these problems, we must implement both short- and long-term solutions:
Adequate Resources for the Police: Burlington needs a responsibly funded and fully staffed police department. Our law enforcement agency should be equipped with modern training and expertise to operate as a 21st-century force that reflects the diversity of our communities. Staffing shortages must be eliminated.
Cultivating Accountability and Transparency: It is crucial to foster a culture of accountability and transparency within our police department. We must prioritize proactive crime prevention strategies and be responsive to the needs and feedback of our diverse communities. Comprehensive training in de-escalation techniques for officers is essential.
Investing in Youth: Our communities need long-term investments and resources to provide hope and opportunities for young people at risk of turning to crime. We must forge partnerships with community groups that have a proven track record of meaningful work in keeping our youth engaged in positive activities. Additionally, the Parks and Recreation Department should offer additional education and recreation programs for at-risk youth.
Build a 21st Century Police Department: The men and women of the Burlington Police Department are dedicated to ensuring the safety of all communities. However, it is crucial for Burlington residents to actively support our community safety efforts by collaborating with police to build mutual trust and understanding. Together, we can establish a law enforcement agency that is professional, well-trained, proactive in crime prevention, and responsive to community needs. It is essential that our police force represents the diverse communities it serves and is committed to a culture of transparency and accountability to the people.
Grow a Local Economy and Jobs for ALL of Burlington
Burlington’s jobless rate is low - less than 4% and wages have grown tremendously in recent years - up 13% since last year and up 35% over the last five years, according to The Milken Institute. Milken this year ranked Burlington as the 14th best small city in America for economic growth, based largely from data from 2021 under our previous mayor’s tenure.
Economic challenges persist which must be addressed. All residents are not sharing in the economic growth, and Burlington lacks high-tech jobs, as noted in the Milken report.
We must make sure our economic development efforts include all of Burlington and all residents of Burlington.
Small businesses are the biggest job creators in America. The City of Burlington should work hand-in-glove with the Alamance Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Foundation and Alamance Community College Small Business Center to create jobs in all areas of Burlington.
Teens in low-income areas need summer jobs, internships, and mentor programs. This will help them learn marketable job skills.
Clean Water & Making Polluters Pay
Wherever you live or whatever your income, if you live in the City of Burlington, you deserve access to safe, clean, reliable and affordable drinking water.
City Leaders Must Acknowledge a Major Drinking Water Concern.
Burlington’s water supply continues to register high levels of PFOS/PFOA, which are industrial “forever chemicals” that are linked to cancer and will never break down in your body once ingested.
In October, the PFOS levels in Burlington’s drinking water were the highest in the state among the 50 municipal water systems tested by the state. The PFOS chemical levels in Burlington’s water registered more than 6 times higher than the level at which the federal EPA says is safe.
Burlington’s own 2022 Annual Drinking Water Quality Report (p. 4) shows alarming levels of these chemicals which trigger federal EPA health advisories and do not meet the EPA’s new clean water standards.
And Burlington’s Mayor and City Council are silent on holding polluters accountable.
This is unacceptable.
These man-made chemicals in our water are coming from industrial polluters in Burlington and Greensboro. Burlington’s water treatment system needs costly multi-million dollar upgrades to clean our water from these harmful chemicals and to protect our residents, The City of Wilmington and Town of Pittsboro have made these improvements to protect their residents.
Burlington must do the same. But the question is: Who will pay for the upgrades?
The answer should be simple: Make the polluters pay. Industrial polluters are contaminating our rivers and drinking water. Burlington’s water rate-payers should not be left to hold the bag. The City of Burlington needs to be honest with citizens on the contaminants in our drinking water and fix this problem NOW.
Affordable Housing & Smart Growth
Housing costs continue to rise in Burlington, and many people are
struggling to keep up with spiraling rents. Monthly wages are not keeping up. Some recent stats from the NC Housing Coalition are alarming:
47% of renters in Alamance County are paying more than 30% of their income to housing
9.3% of renters in Alamance County faced eviction in 2022
Alamance County’s eviction rate is the 16th highest in the state
Burlington’s housing policies should be guided by a couple of simple values:
If you work full-time in Burlington, you should be able to live in Burlington, and
New developments should protect the integrity of existing neighborhoods
The Fair Market Rent in Burlington is now just over $1,000/month, which requires an annual income of over $40,000 to comfortably meet that housing cost. Many people employed in vital industries of construction, healthcare, and child care in Burlington do not meet that annual income. Burlington’s housing supply must meet the income needs of these people who are vital to our local economy.
At the same time, Burlington’s growth must protect the integrity of existing neighborhoods. New developments must take traffic, public school enrollment, and water / sewer capacity into account. Burlington should grow evenly and new housing should include mixed use-development with a blend of single-family homes, townhomes, and apartments.
Burlington’s growth is inevitable and needed. But we must grow responsibly to build a healthy city.
Support Our Public Schools
Strong public schools are a cornerstone of healthy communities. The City of Burlington must work closely with the city / county school district to ensure our schools have the resources they need to make sure students are attending schools that are absolutely safe.
Some students have had a hard time adjusting back to full-time in-person instruction after the pandemic. Burlington / Alamance Public Schools had the 8th highest crime rate of all public school districts in the state last year. Incidents of crime inside Alamance / Burlington Public schools were up 37% last year compared to 2018-19, the last full year of in-person learning before the pandemic. That is unacceptable.
The City of Burlington must partner Burlington / Alamance County Schools to ensure school safety. Students must feel safe in our public schools. Parents must have confidence that their elected leaders are doing everything they can to ensure school safety. The City must partner with the public schools to bring resources and programs to bear to help students. If the schools inside the city limits need more SROs, the City should find a way to staff them. Our schools do need more counselors and social workers to help students through times of stress and mental health anxieties. We all should call on our state legislature for more funding for these critical support staff professionals.