Candidate Questionnaire: Majid Mohadjer

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 Majid Mohadjer, running for District A on the Cary Town Council.

Why are you running?

Cary needs improvements in many aspects. We all are aware (and a bit worried) how fast our town is growing. Growth is good but only if it is planned right. For at least the last 10 years, our schools have been overcrowded and many capped or not accepting transfers. Wake county school district, being the 15th largest school district in the country is forced to make decisions that tend to not be beneficial to our town. It is time for Cary residents to start thinking about having their own school system. The quality of schools should be the highest priority for everyone. It does not matter if one has school age children or not. Good schools are the most important factor that differentiates a great town from other good towns.

There are many other issues that I am not happy with. Our town no longer can boast about safety. Break-ins have become so common that people are just not surprised any more when they hear about them. Number of accidents on our roads are increasing rapidly while town refuses to admit or do anything about it. The list goes on.

Most council members have been in their tenure for over a decade and some for more than 4 terms. It is obvious that we need a change if we want our issues get addressed which is why I am running.

What are your top three priorities and how will you accomplish them?

Improve Schools   

It is perceived that Cary schools are generally good. I disagree with that assumption. The reason the schools appear perform better than many other schools in the district is because of the involvement of parents and different demographic that lives in Cary. The schools themselves are not doing any better job than schools in Durham or other municipalities in our district.

As soon as our family moved to Cary, my friends at work told me “welcome to madness”. They were referring to the school system and how in Wake county, your school assignment or type of calendar each year could change. For 4 years in a row, our requests to have our son to be transferred to the school closest to our house was denied which forced us to send two kids to year-round elementary while their older sibling attended traditional middle school. You don’t want to know how our summers were spent. I can’t see how someone in his right mind would be fine with that situation but we were given no choice.

Schools in Cary struggle to keep class sizes at the level mandated by the state. If it was not because of this mandate, we would be seeing kindergarten classes with 30-35 kids (as it is now for 4th graders who don’t have that mandate). How could it be that our schools are doing a better job while they are the most crowded ones?

I believe we need to secede from Wake County school district similar to how Chapel Hill Schools left Orange county’s school system and now everyone agrees they have the best school system in NC. The only advantage of being part of Wake County Public School System is saving some money. Cary is not a poor town and the saving (if any) comes at a very high price. Cary Town Council has repeatedly mentioned that it has no power to make any improvements when it comes to schools. That is just not acceptable to me and it should not be to any Cary resident. Schools are one of the main reasons people move to our town and we need to have a saying on how they are run.

Make Cary the Most Kid-Friendly Town in US 

North Carolina is assumed a good place to raise a family. That is mostly due to the fact that the cost of raising a family here is much lower than other parts of the country and few other factors. The assumption really has nothing to do with kids. Those who have traveled to Europe know that we simply don’t have a kid friendly town.

I like my kids to play outside the house, ride their bike around the neighborhood, and have fun with their friends. That is what my kids do every day after coming home from school. But I know even though most families like that idea, it simply is not a possibility. Instead kids stay home staring at TV or playing video games.

I believe town council can play a major role in changing this situation. It frustrates me to see Cary allows new subdivisions built without having a sidewalk. The sight of bike stands at schools always depresses me. A few years ago, I was at an elementary school in Chapel Hill and there were over a hundred bicycles parked. It was a sight that made my day. It can be done.

There are almost no sport activities organized by town. The very few youth activities offered by town are embarrassing for a town like Cary. You almost never meet a child or an adult who is participating in any sport activity organized by town. With so many parks that we have, why parents should be forced to enroll their children in private sport clubs, pay a hefty fee and drive them across town, instead of playing at a field close to their home. The latter will help forge a much-needed sense of community. Our fields are being rented out to private clubs instead of being used by our residents. Many of our facilities are not being used and that is only due to short-sightedness of people who run the town.

As an example, compare Cary’s SK8 park to the skate park that Apex has. Ours is gathering dust but the one in Apex is always full of kids of every age. We made the investment to build the park but forgot that we need to make sure it gets used.

Make Cary Safer

I recently saw a study that did not have Cary listed among the top 25 safest towns in North Carolina. I am not sure how accurate that study is but I can tell you that I am not surprised. Unfortunately, many people compare Cary to cities surrounding it and because Cary is doing better or at their level, they think there is no reason to be concerned. We need to keep ourselves to higher standards.

A month ago, our two cars got broken into and when the officer arrived at 8am, he told me I was the 4th case he was attending to that morning. I remember when I moved here in 2007, Cary’s safety was the first thing someone would mention about our town. There is a lot that can be done to improve safety. Investing on our police force will be among my highest priorities along with using latest technology in innovative ways to reduce crime.

Give us a brief bio and tell us about your relevant experience

I immigrated to US in 2000 to join Microsoft in Seattle as a Software Design Engineer. From my tenure at Microsoft I learned valuable experience on how to run a successful team. In 2007, I moved to NC to get married and start a family. My children, daughter (7), son (9) and my stepson (16) all attend public schools. Most of my time after work is spent being engaged with my children in some type of outdoor activity. Some of my hobbies are playing and organizing soccer games, playing table tennis and working on my BMW when I have some free time.

Before moving to North Carolina, I lived in some of the top-rated cities in the world (Seattle, Vancouver, and Freiburg Germany) and I believe those experiences along with my pragmatic engineering approach to solving problems could be put to good use in Cary Town Council.

Website:  http://www.majid4bettercary.com/

Email: majidmo@gmail.com


Read more in the Candidate 2017 series.

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14 replies
  1. Harold
    Harold says:

    Majid,

    First of all, thank you for running for office. It is important that we see interest in local government.

    Please allow me to address some of your comments.

    – You mentioned you would like to have a separate school system. That would take legislative approval and is not a Cary decision. In addition, a separate school system would require Cary to buy the facilities, create administration, and then hire teachers. This would basically double our tax. I can tell you that your council members have thought of this LONG ago and have discussed this. Even if we would like to do this I can almost guarantee the legislature would not approve it.
    – You mentioned that Cary should stop/limit growth to allow infrastructure to catch up. That was what I was elected on in 1999. It is called Adequate Public Facilities. The courts ruled that was illegal (be careful who you vote for in the judge races). In addition, we do not have authority to stop anyone from developing their property. Any land owner can develop their property at any time. What we do have control over is the density and we do pressure them to go with the lowest density possible. While is seems like there is a lot of growth, mainly because it is happening in one area, the fact of the matter is that we are growing at less than 2%. We also have the largest stream buffers in the state and have a champion tree ordinance to protect mature trees.
    – You mentioned roads. Please understand that almost all major roads are NCDOT roads and that neighborhood roads are Cary roads. It would be beneficial to review our transportation plan which already requires sidewalks on both sides of the street for thoroughfares.
    – You also mentioned safety. We are constantly working to get better and better with this. Most of the crimes we have in Cary are crimes of opportunity (doors unlocked, valuables in plain site, garage doors left open, etc). It is very important to understand that crime prevention is a partnership with citizens and local officials. Neither can do it alone.

    I hope this information helps. I would encourage you to sign up for the town’s School of Government to learn more about what is and is not done in Cary government.

    Thanks again,
    Harold Weinbrecht

    Reply
    • Majid Mohadjer
      Majid Mohadjer says:

      Harold,
      Thanks for responding. As you mentioned, I am aware that legislative approval is needed but I don’t see that a reason to not even try. You also mention our tax will be doubled. I don’t know where that number is coming from. I am certain if we want to keep our schools at the same level that they currently are we actually will save on our taxes. The only reason Wake county is against Cary separating is that they are collecting more in taxes from Cary residents (per student) due to demographic that is residing in Cary. We only need to ask ourselves why they are against it and then everything becomes clear. Also as I have mentioned town of Chapel Hill right next door to us has done this before and they have tremendously benefited from their decision. I know this will not please many people in Wake county and I think that is the main reason it has not happened before.
      In regards to other issues, I am glad that you are not saying we don’t have these problems but I don’t agree that we are handling them in the best way and definitely not in a way to be proud of.

      Reply
  2. Nadeem Iqbal
    Nadeem Iqbal says:

    You are right about the uncontrolled growth of the Town leading to unnecessary crowded roads and rising accident rates and saftey issues.

    Reply
    • Harold
      Harold says:

      Nadeem,

      I find it very hard to understand that a growth rate of less than 2% is “uncontrolled”. We are doing all we can to hold the down the density. As I stated above we do not have authority to stop growth because of infrastructure. That is what they call an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance which has been ruled unlawful by the courts. What within our authority do you suggest? Also, your information about rising accident rates and safety issues is not factual. That just must be your perception.

      Thanks,
      Harold

      Reply
      • Robert Bush
        Robert Bush says:

        Another point that Harold did not mention is that a good portion of the traffic in town is from residents from other towns using our roads to get to their destination. Cary is nearing buildout as most vacant land has already been developed. However, traffic will continue to increase as Apex, Holly Springs, and Fuqua-Varina now become the growth magnets in western Wake County. It’s good to see Majid’s enthusiasm for his new hometown, but it’s also important to have a clear-eyed view of what is possible within the North Carolina governmental system.

        Reply
    • Majid Mohadjer
      Majid Mohadjer says:

      Thanks for your comment Nadeem. There is no need to look at numbers (not that they will say differently) when there is at least one really bad accident every other week on one of the 4 intersections around the subdivision that I live in (Amberly). Town keeps saying it has been built to code but everyone who has been through McCrimmon and Green Level Church once, knows only a blind would say it is built to the code.

      Reply
  3. Bob C
    Bob C says:

    My family moved to Cary in 1955. The population was approximately 1500. Today I believe it is estimated to be around 173,000. Considering the responsibilities that our State Legislature delegates to the municipalities, Cary has done an outstanding job of making this one of the best cities in this nation to live. I guess that probably was one of the reasons you selected us as neighbors. Good advice from his Honor.

    Reply
  4. Dan Evarrs
    Dan Evarrs says:

    Just to clarify, the 2% growth figure cited is a town wide average. The growth rate in District A and NW Cary is far higher and has been above 10% for many of the past 10 years. As such, concerns related to “growing too fast” are legitimate in my view.

    I have long advocated that the town adopt a citizen satisfaction survey that examines results on a more granular level in order to better understand the different needs in different parts of town. Understandibly the needs where there is new growth are different from more mature, developed parts of town. Not suggesting the needs for one part of town supercedes that of other areas, but there is a need to better understand the differences. I hope the town will commit to an expanded survey to engage a broader swath of citizen. Imagine Cary certainly was an effort toward broadened engagement but an expanded citizen survey is an opportunity to do more to facilitate better informed governance.

    Reply
  5. Dave Upton
    Dave Upton says:

    I have lived in West Cary since 1996 and I find Majid’s top priorities and associated actions very interesting and misguided. We have raised our children here and consider Cary a GREAT place to call our home. I’m not sure how many residents you have talked to, but here is my view.

    Schools – The schools are owned and run by Wake County. In a previous post, Harold Weinbrecht explained the situation with the state legislature and potential impact on taxes. My family lived in Harris County Texas for a couple of years and I can assure you that you don’t want an independent school district in Cary. In Texas, the school taxes in each school district were extremely high and the school systems were not consistent. I think this would significantly raise taxes in Cary and I would be totally against it.

    Parks – Majid seems to think Cary has no activity for children. I’m not sure where he has been looking, but Cary has more Parks , Rec and Cultural Resource activity than I have ever seen anywhere. At the following link, you will find program guides for Cary Parks and Rec. http://www.townofcary.org/recreation-enjoyment/programs-classes
    There is a general program guide that is 57 pages. There is also a guide for seniors and teens. If someone can’t find something to do in Cary, they aren’t looking. My children grew up here and both participated in numerous sports and art programs run by the Town of Cary.

    Safety – I have lived here since 1996 and find Cary to be an extremely safe place to live. You rarely hear of any significant crime in Cary and the police are extremely responsive. I have had occasion to contact the police recently and they were here within minutes. I also don’t hear the police complaining about lack of support from the Town or the current town council. In fact, the North Carolina Police Benevolent Association recently endorsed Jennifer Robinson. Here is a quote from the Division President, Randy Bird. “”We are proud to endorse Jennifer Robinson for Cary Town Council in District A. She has a solid understanding of the issues that are important to our Chapter and a proven voting record that has led to additional officers and resources to combat crime. A vote for Jennifer is a vote for the men and women of law enforcement and the citizens they serve.” Here is a link https://www.facebook.com/NCPBA/posts/10155709471279532

    I would like to know what involvement this candidate has had with the Town of Cary. Has he been on any of the town boards or commissions? Has he every voiced his concerns at a Town Council meeting? It’s interesting to me that someone who just arrived in Cary a few years ago thinks it is such an unsafe and terrible place to live. If that is the case, why did he move here?

    Reply
    • Majid Mohadjer
      Majid Mohadjer says:

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for your feedback. In regard to school, you are giving an example from Texas and I am not seeing why we cannot repeat what Chapel Hill has already done. I never said it is easy but it is possible and definitely worth a try.
      Also in regard to parks, I never said Cary does not have enough parks. What I said is that they are not being used as best as they could be.

      Reply
  6. Jenny Rowen
    Jenny Rowen says:

    Majid, keep pursuing your objectives! I love where you’re headed. The WCPSS is too big, for sure, and seems to be focused on resource optimization (understandably) at the expense of student experience (school proximity, stability, intellectual needs, support…). Creating a Cary school district will certainly have high start-up costs, but perhaps it’s worth considering that our children and our community would likely reap a proportionate benefit, especially over the long-term. Best of luck to you!

    Reply
    • Majid Mohadjer
      Majid Mohadjer says:

      Thanks Jenny. Regardless of me getting elected or not, I will be pushing to get our own school system. This is something that eventually will happen but like many other things here, we are slow in making the right choices.

      Reply
  7. Nick
    Nick says:

    With regards to the growth in west Cary, it has been astounding. Almost every project to develop gets approved, with incredible clearing of trees. Clear cutting along the Tobacco trail so you can now see houses that want to advertise that they are “close” to the trail. Not much sustainable growth, and restaurant options do not reflect the healthy lifestyles of the residents, even have to drive to Morrisville to get great Indian food. My wife and I drive to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill almost every weekend because of the health food desert that has been created. Keep it up Majid, the connected council members that support unsustainable, big development growth need to go before the area becomes another Atlanta. We’re already seeing the decline in home values.

    Reply

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