Candidate Questionnaires: BOC Dist. 3

David Delaney, candidate for Chatham County Board of Commissioners — Dist. 3

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Editor's Note: All candidates were sent two questionnaires by the News + Record. The first asked general questions about candidates and their goals. for each role. Questions are indicated in bold, any question left blank was unanswered by the candidate

David Delaney is the vice president and assistant general counsel for cybersecurity and privacy for Truist Bank. His current involvements include Chatham County NAACP and co-founding Innovate Chatham.  He is seeking to replace Diana Hales , who is not seeking reelection, as a Democrat on the Chatham County Board of Commissioners in Dist. 3. 

The questionnaires provided to candidates are being posted here with some editing for grammar and privacy. 

David Delaney

How long have you lived in Chatham County? (If you live outside Chatham, please elaborate). Five years. 

Age on election day: 51

Occupation (where you work, what you do): Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Cybersecurity and Privacy, Truist Financial Corporation.

Campaign website/social media: https://www.facebook.com/DelaneyForChatham 

Party affiliation (even if your race is nonpartisan): Democratic

Current and previous elected offices held or sought & terms you served: First candidacy for elected office

Campaign manager (if applicable):

Campaign treasurer (if applicable): Virginia Cleary

Why are you seeking this office?

I’m running to ensure we advance smart, strategic development, protect our environment, and promote equity for all county residents. Those goals are not in conflict. Chatham County planning processes continue to improve. The emerging unified development ordinance, master plan for parks and recreation, and wastewater commission report are positive signs. We must keep innovating and improving in those areas, and we must take a strategic approach to the education, public health, economic, and technological inequities that limit many residents’ lifelong opportunities. All of that takes community-minded partnership, and I would like to bring that perspective to our efforts.

What makes you the best candidate on the ballot?

I have a passion for public service and have developed a wide range of legal and policy experience that can help Chatham County. That experience includes cybersecurity, law enforcement, emergency preparedness and response, strategic planning, and leadership development. My knowledge of the county and its future needs stems from my engagement in professional and civic groups like the NAACP, Chamber of Commerce, and Innovate Chatham, a nonprofit I cofounded to help serve the county’s digital equity and inclusion needs. 

What three specific, measurable and attainable goals would you pursue if elected?

  1. Create environmental, social, and governance goals for residential developers to aspire to, above and beyond basic state legal requirements, to match residents’ goals and values.
  2. Allocate new funds and align government and nonprofit programs to sharply reduce today’s equity gaps in broadband access, digital equity, K-12 disciplinary practices, and juvenile delinquency reports.
  3. Elevate public health as a primary factor in community wellbeing and equity, from preschool nutrition to K-12 mental health services, addiction, poverty, racism, and other factors.

What are the biggest challenges in Chatham and/or N.C. right now — and how would you address them?

That depends largely on where you live. Rural areas like the south and west lack broadband access that enables economic and educational opportunity. In the north and east, large residential developments have substandard wastewater systems and overcrowded roads. Environmental concerns abound, from Haw River water quality to polluted feeder streams, development threats to native habitats and species, and near-term climate change impacts. The county and state are also confronting the ugly, difficult American legacy of inequality and racism in many forms. I would address these challenges by fostering collaboration, learning, visioning, and engagement.

Chatham County is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. What do you see as the major challenges/opportunities coming from this growth and how would you address them?

Growth challenges us not just in the infrastructure and environmental ways I have mentioned, but also in social and economic ways. Our tax base is heavily residential, which limits our ability to build public infrastructure that will attract larger businesses. The arrival of Wolfspeed, VinFast, and other companies is welcome news to create jobs and increase the business tax base. I will work toward more regional and state-level collaboration so we can plan effectively with neighboring cities, counties, and utilities. We must also enable small-business growth and innovative ways to preserve and use Chatham’s rural landscapes.

What’s your overall view of the role of the elected body you’re seeking to join? Is it fulfilling its mission now? If not, what needs to change?

The Board of Commissioners is doing excellent work and most certainly fulfilling its mission. The county has an admirably strong financial position, and the board collaborates well with all municipalities, government entities, and advisory bodies that serve our residents through public programs. In particular, the board also has an enviable relationship with the Board of Education and Chatham County Schools Superintendent. In my experience, our commissioners and other county officials live the motto I learned in federal service—public service is a public trust. We are poised to make Chatham County a statewide leader in many respects. 

Do you believe the 2020 Presidential election produced fair and legitimate results? (Please respond with a “yes” or “no” answer, then, if desired, you have 100 words to support your response.)

Yes. 

Fast facts:

  • Political/government hero:  Abraham Lincoln
  • Favorite book:
  • Book most recently read: “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” by David W. Blight
  • Favorite film:
  • Hobbies:  Any family activity, running, skiing, hiking, camping.
  • Community/civic involvement:   Lifetime member of the Chatham Community NAACP Branch #5377, founding director of Innovate Chatham, member of the Judicial District 18 Racial Justice Task Force.
  • Favorite thing about Chatham County: The people I’ve met through my community engagement and professional life. 
  • Personal motto or one-line philosophy: 
  • Strongest childhood ambition:
  • Most significant life goal you’ve accomplished:

Office-specific questions

1. Chatham County historically faces large socioeconomic divides between the eastern and western sides of the county. What can be done to mitigate that divide, and how do you foresee County Commissioners aiding in that process?

A growing, diverse economy is a primary need to reduce socioeconomic divides across Chatham County. While some of that growth will come from new investments like Wolfspeed and VinFast, a significant portion must also come from within the county. Chathamites need opportunities to found and grow businesses. Older commercial centers like Siler City and Goldston can be remade through entrepreneurship and increasing ties to a global, digital economy. The Board of Commissioners can enable that kind of thriving, diverse economy through sound zoning decisions, investment in public infrastructure, and planning with cities and other government and regional entities. 

2. Increased development in the county has put strains on its stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. What can be done at a county level to ensure residents have access to sustainable and clean water sources? 

The county’s water, stormwater, and wastewater needs are known or knowable with first-rate forecasting and other expertise. Strategic planning for these needs is essential, and the recent report of the northeast wastewater commission is one important starting point. Municipal, regional, or perhaps new county facilities are possible to serve existing and near-term needs. And we may find that new municipalities are an essential way to serve residents’ public interests. The county’s longer-term water needs are linked to growth along the Carolina Core (U.S. 421) and interior. The Rocky, Deep, and Haw rivers all factor heavily in that planning, and collaboration with surrounding counties and cities like Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Cary, and Sanford will be essential. 

3. With major investments in the county from the likes of VinFast, FedEx and the CAM site, how do you believe the county should manage growth while ensuring the interests of existing residents are heard?

It is important to note that economic growth IS an interest of existing residents. A lack of growth would mean stagnation and declining income and opportunity while the national and global economy thrives. Chatham residents can see many ways—including public infrastructure, housing, and healthcare—in which their quality of life improves through economic growth. One important way to approach this set of issues to ask how all sectors of Chatham’s economy can realize growth and innovation together. In Chatham County, a prosperous, balanced future economy does not have to mean manufacturing or agriculture, compact communities or natural spaces, big business or small business. All of those things can be part of Chatham’s future. 

4. Increased economic growth is projected to cause a population boom as well, many of whom will need middle- to low-income housing. How do you think the county should address its looming affordable housing problem? 

The affordable housing problem is already with us, as it is with surrounding counties. Unfortunately, the many developments already approved for construction in Pittsboro, Siler City, and unincorporated areas will not significantly improve the problem. The most important step the county can take to reduce the affordable housing gap is to ensure that the unified development ordinance enables new land uses. However, similar changes must be made in Chatham’s incorporated areas. In conjunction with those changes, the cities and county must plan together to ensure that residents have high-quality infrastructure to serve their needs.

David Delaney, Chatham County Board of Commissioners, District 3, candidate questionnaire, elections 2022

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