Name: Billy Maddalon
What office are you running for? City Council at-large
Neighborhood: Plaza Midwood
Political Experience: I served on City Council in 2013 representing Dist. 1, filling the unexpired term of Patsy Kinsey, who became mayor; I have served on and/or chaired 11 civic and non-profit boards of directors (CRVA, Alexander Youth Network, Meredith College, NC State University, Eastland Area Strategies Team, East-West Coalition, etc.); I worked as a legislative staff member in 1989/90, during the period that became known as the "Mavretic Coup", where disgruntled Democrats allied with back bench Republicans to toss out Liston Ramsey as House Speaker and usher in an entirely new leadership team. It was a remarkable moment in NC history and an adventure to navigate.
Family: My spouse of 16 years is Brooks Shelley. We've been therapeutic foster parents with Alexander Youth Network for the past 9 years. We've fostered 17 maltreated and abused children and adopted two of them, Jed and Jack. We will soon adopt our third, Paul.
Work Experience: NC Legislature 1989/90, intern and then staff support; Sigma Phi Epsilon, Regional Director, 1990/91; NC State University, Director of Volunteer Services, 1991-1993; Simpson's Beef & Seafood, senior wait and floor manager, 1991-1993; Unique Southern Estates, founder and Managing Owner, 1995-2015
1) Why are you running for office?
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience on City Council in 2013 and the chance to learn and serve my community when there was a need. Today, I feel called to serve once again. As a native Charlottean, a parent with children in CMS, a small business owner and civic leader, I am fully invested in this community. My life experience lends itself to leadership and producing measurable results. City Council needs someone with my experience and background to help facilitate the difficult conversations we need to have in the coming years. There's little question that my collaborative experience can be instrumental in bringing differing perspectives together as we balance the mutual imperatives of livability and affordability.
2) What would be your top priorities if elected?
I am troubled by three specific trends in our community, where I'm certain I can provide leadership in finding solutions:
-Growth of concentrated poverty and an economic development strategy that seems inadequate to disrupt the complicated cycle. We cannot continue to be ambulance chasers and deal with symptoms after the fact. We need to address entrenched poverty through our policy choices;
-Housing and growth policies that appear to be feeding into the re-segregation of our schools and an imbalance in outcomes. These policies need to be fully integrated into county and CMS strategic planning;
-Insufficient funding for the 2030 transportation plan and the lack of sufficient progress toward remedying the shortfall and creating a path forward. Recent years have been marked by incrementalism. It's time to focus on the much bigger and much more costly 2030 plan. With our city expecting 400,000 new residents by 2040 and with interest rates at historic lows, we're running out of time. Without completion of the plan, our growth is going to be scattered and drift in ways that will put even more pressure on our schools, public safety, roads and quality of life.
3) Would you support the city's proposed expansion of its non-discrimination ordinance to include the LGBT community, including a provision that would allow transgender residents to use the bathroom of their choice?
Absolutely, without question. Charlotte is a community that's always erred on the side of fairness and inclusion. We should do so again.
4) Do you support the N.C. DOT's plans to add express toll lanes to Interstate 485 in south Charlotte and U.S. 74? Or would you prefer to widen the highways with general-purpose free lanes?
My 'preference' would be for NC DOT to find ways to do the badly needed expansions as general purpose free lanes. However, the data derived from the studies presented to Council suggests that the fastest and most efficient way to alleviate the disastrous conditions along those defined segments of 485 and 74 would be to add express toll lanes. If the plan is modified or rejected at this point there will be further delays. If the 74 and 485 corridors aren't addressed quickly, the issue will go from exacerbating to devastating. The 74 corridor in particular cannot endure the indecision much longer.
5) Would you support spending hospitality tax dollars to renovate or rebuild the county owned Memorial Stadium in hopes of the city winning a Major League Soccer franchise?
I would support this type of investment, as long as the proper buy-in from the hospitality industry is acquired. I do not think the jury is in on whether or not Memorial Stadium is the appropriate location for a project like this. Parks and Recreation, along with the various stakeholders must determine the answer and fashion a proposal for moving forward. I do not generally agree with the characterization that this project or others like it are "expenses". These are truly investments in infrastructure that pay for themselves many times over. The hospitality community agreed to the imposition of these taxes on our customers and our industry many years ago so that we might be in a position to market, expand and evolve our 'destination' as opportunities arose and as our city grew. I've heard some very exciting possibilities about Major League Soccer coming to Charlotte, based upon the experience of other peer cities. It's also important to restate that these tax funds cannot be used for general purpose budgeting in Charlotte and are completely restricted to hospitality and travel/tourism purposes.
6) Would you support an increase in the general sales tax to support more transit projects, such as additional miles of streetcar and a commuter train to Lake Norman?
I would not be supportive of a sales tax increase for this purpose, if it were the sole funding source under consideration and only part of a Charlotte conversation. I would be willing to consider supporting an increase in sales tax as a part of a broader funding plan that included other sources of revenue (TIFF/special tax districts/naming and advertising dollars/public-private partnerships, etc.), as part of a regional plan to solving a regional challenge.
7) There has been a significant amount of redevelopment in neighbors close to uptown, with older, sometimes historic buildings being demolished for new apartments. Would you support more restrictions on tear-downs?
Given the nature of my business and my track record with historic preservation, I'm obviously very inclined to support various alternatives to tear-downs. This is a very complicated question, since NC statutes currently don't give municipalities much discretion in addressing much beyond land-use issues. It is made more complicated by the expressed desire of our planners to see our close-in communities become more dense and offer a wider variety of housing choices. This is a conversation that must essentially include the building and development communities, as well as the legislature as we seek solutions that are uniquely relevant to urban communities.
8) A goal of the city is to increase affordable housing. In some instances, however, the City Council is asked to approve rezoning requests for low-income apartments, even when an area plan says single-family homes should be built on a site. Should the council follow the area plan recommendations or approve multi-family projects to increase affordability?
This strikes me as being somewhat of a false choice. It's not clear to me at all that affordable housing has to or will necessarily conflict with area plans. The logical answer is that if we intend to promote greater density and affordable housing initiatives, we need to address our area plans to reflect that and allow for it. To the extent conflict emerges, I am inclined to support more affordable housing, especially in instances where it will lead to a greater mix of incomes and workforce, which directly affects our schools and the outcomes of our students.
9) Should the city change its guidelines for offering Business Investment Grants for companies considering expanding or relocating to Charlotte?
The city should always be looking to adapt its Investment programs to meet current conditions and fill current needs. To the extent we determine that our policies and guidelines aren't driving and delivering the desired results, we should change the inputs and the processes. When I was on Council previously, there was a constant tension between the desire to only incentivize companies who were promising higher paying jobs vs. those who were offering badly needed jobs on the lower end of the skill and pay scale. I tend to approach every business grant request individually, based upon the conditions on the ground at the time: location, industry type, job volume, needs assessment, and broader economic conditions. No set of policies or guidelines can possibly contemplate every scenario or national economic condition.
10) What makes you the best candidate?
What differentiates me most from others running is my strategic and executive level experience in both the civic and corporate space. Everything I've done in my life has been about producing positive results. I'm a ferocious advocate because I use my skills carefully to create consensus where possible. I am a real believer in crafting solutions based upon cost/benefit analysis and not tired ideology. I have a rare gift of being able to have difficult conversations with people without alienating them. And because great things are only possible when people come together around shared values, that's a much needed asset on City Council right now. When the focus is on what's right vs. who's right, better outcomes are almost guaranteed.
11) What else should voters know about you?
I've successfully made almost 700 payrolls in my company. I uniquely understand risk/reward and I never take for granted that what worked yesterday is going to work today. My perspective as a small business founder and operator is badly needed in the Charlotte conversation. I'm told my greatest strength is my ability to empathize. This has likely come in part from my childhood when I was a resident at Alexander Children's Home and from my role as a therapeutic foster parent today. Empathy makes the hard work of leadership easier. When you have the ability to vigorously disagree with someone about issue X, valuing their perspective and understanding that you'll likely need their help and collaboration on issue Y, there's nothing you can't achieve. It's the only way to achieve truly bold, transformative things.