Cary, NC – This is an installment in our Candidate 2017 series, in which candidates get to respond in their own words to the same three questions.
We publish the responses in the order we receive them. This questionnaire is submitted by George McDowell, running for a Council At-Large seat on the Cary Town Council.
Why are you running?
I’m running to beautify Cary.
The town becomes increasingly more ugly and more unhealthy because of how we misplant and mistreat our trees.
Chatham Street downtown has actually lost leaf cover in the last decade. And five more misshapen and dying trees there have been marked for removal because their basic care was neglected.
The medians of many of our boulevards and parkways feature stunted trees and junk plantings, most of which are of no value to wildlife or to human beings.
Many commercial parking lots in town, and the buildings they serve, are no more than 10-or 15-acre stormwater-runoff and heat-island generators. Bradford Plaza for example, at the Davis Drive / High House Road intersection, is a wasteland. Parkway Pointe, at the intersection of Cary Parkway and Old Apex Road, is likewise a wasteland. There are many other similar developments.
If elected I will be a councilmember who will insist that trees planted on common land and on land on which the Council has granted permission to build be planted and maintained in accordance with the Town of Cary Community Appearance Manual.
What are your top three priorities and how will you accomplish them?
I have only one priority but it is broad. I propose the consolidation of the various sustainability and environmental initiatives of the town under one office, and to have the head of that office report directly to the Town Manager. The function of the office will be to ensure that the Town of Cary, in all that it does and in every possible and feasible way, serves environmentally sensitive principles.
We will attack the problem of air pollution in Cary. The average, or usual, Air Quality Index reading for Cary is “moderate pollution.” Although any pollution is harmful to all humans over the long term, moderate pollution is only immediately harmful to very young children, the elderly, and those with bronchial ailments. As Cary’s population increases, and more land is developed for that increase, more trees will be cut down. More people means more vehicles. Most of Cary’s air pollution comes from vehicle exhaust. It is vitally important that trees be planted – properly, and properly maintained – to replace what was cut. There are two [and only two] ways for that exhaust pollution to be removed from our air – either there are enough trees to remove it as they engage in the process of photosynthesis, or you and I will remove it as we engage in the process of breathing.
Since the world recently passed the mark of 410 parts per million of carbon in our atmosphere for 12 consecutive months, many environmentalists have simply given up, believing that the two-degree C. [3.8 degrees F.] rise in average global temperature is assured, thus making it impossible for any human action to stop the change in climate.
They may be right.
But so what if they are? I suggest it is better to have it be the official policy of the Town to have its every action underlain with the principles of sustainability. We will attack the problem of carbon in our atmosphere. It is there because of the burning of fossil fuels. It is removed from the air by – what else? – trees. Therefore, we advocate the planting of one million more trees in the Town of Cary in the next decade. These in addition to the trees that will be planted as replacements for the trees cut down to make way for development.
I propose to make the city-center of Cary look like the streetscapes shown in a brief video on the home page of my campaign website, https://beautifycary.org/
I propose to make boulevards and parkways in Cary similar to the image also on the home page of the site. The picture shows a roadway in Damyang, Korea. It is 24 miles long and has trees planted on both sides for that entire length. It is called The Most Beautiful Roadway in the World. Cary could look this beautiful if only we demand that it be so.
I propose to cause the enforcement of the tree-planting ordinance in the Town Of Cary Community Appearance Manual for commercial parking lots. This will have the effect of causing healthier trees with larger canopies, thus reducing the amount of sunlight that strikes asphalt and concrete, and therefore reducing the heat-island effects which now exist all over the Town of Cary. It will also cause the areas in which the trees are planted to absorb much more rainwater, reducing stormwater runoff and adding critical moisture to the land. – And, in but a few short years, when we go to buy groceries in the daytime, and as we return to our cars in the parking lots, they will be cool in the shade!
A vote for me is a vote for trees. Election Day is October 10th.
Give us a brief bio and tell us about your relevant experience
I’m 68 years old. I have lived in Cary for 12 years. I’ve been married to my lovely and very supportive wife Geraldine for 35 years. I’m a former Democrat and former Republican. I’m a member of neither party because I simply don’t want to be associated with, or appear to support, the savage incivility that was shown by, for examples, both candidates for president and both candidates for the North Carolina senate seat in 2016.
I served in the U. S. Army for five years on active duty and three years reserve duty. My job was helicopter pilot. I flew two year-long tours of border-patrol missions on the DMZ in the Republic of Korea, keeping the nutjob grandfather of the current nutjob dictator in check. I went to law school on the G.I. Bill, and practiced law for 30 years. I’m licensed in the state of Maryland, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [which includes North Carolina], and the U. S. Supreme Court.
A long-term client was the Board of License Commissioners for Baltimore City, to whom I provided, when asked, legal advice, and for whom I served as trial counsel when their decisions were appealed to courts. In 20-something years as counsel to the Board, I probably handled 150 to 200 appeals of their quasi-judicial hearings decisions. I mention this because the Town of Cary Council often conducts quasi-judicial hearings, and familiarity with the process will be helpful.
A full bio and resume is on the campaign website.
Read more in the Candidate 2017 series.