Hello, my name is Junious Smith III and I’m a writer with The Wake Weekly. We’re putting together candidate surveys to help voters learn about who you are and your platform heading into the primaries. We ask that you answer these questions and send a head shot as soon as possible.
Briefly list your government background and other relevant experience. (100 words or less)
I am an attorney with experience in criminal defense and securities litigation. I am also a FINRA arbitrator, a small business owner, and public education advocate. I have served as the Wake County Young Democrats’ Treasurer, on the Democratic Party State Executive Council, and I stay active with my precinct, 13-10. In the past, I have volunteered at the Wake County Animal Shelter and have served on the board of the Capital City Clauses (a local children’s charity).
Why are you qualified to hold the office you seek? (100 words or less)
I’m qualified to hold this office because I’m smart, I care about this community, I want to help people, and I’m willing to work hard for Wake County. Also, I was raised by a teacher. She taught me to be creative and to think critically.
Having lived in DC and southern California, I know the importance of public transportation, affordable housing, and smart growth policy because I‘ve seen what happens when these issues are ignored. I can help us avoid the mistakes other growing areas have made and help Wake County thrive.
Why are you running? (100 words or less)
I’m running because I love Wake County, and I want to make sure it remains one of the best places to live, work, play, and raise a family. When I look at our local elected officials, very few are under 40. Very few are members of the LGBTQ+ community. Almost all are homeowners. Very few of them live paycheck to paycheck. In other words, most of our elected officials are not reflective of the communities they represent. It’s time we give voice to a new generation of leaders who are ready to tackle the issues that will impact them and their children in the decades to come. We must elect bold, creative leaders, and I’m running to give Wake County that option.
What three issues are the most important to your campaign and what are your positions on each? (300 words or less)
Affordable Housing: This may be the biggest crisis facing Wake County today. As someone who has been on the cusp of home ownership for the last two years, I have been chasing the American Dream and watching it run away from me at a quickening pace. I know I am not alone. When elected, I will be the only board member who is not a homeowner. While everyone’s situation is different, I understand the many barriers to homeownership our friends and neighbors are facing. I will work to eliminate these barriers, create a larger stock of available housing, and protect vulnerable residents from losing their homes due to unprecedented property tax increases.
Education: As a former candidate for our Board of Education, and as the son of a WCPSS teacher, I pledge to support a bond package that will fully fund our school system’s capital improvement needs. I also pledge to raise our supplemental pay to school staff and lobby the NCGA to increase its contribution to our schools. I will also work to form a broad, statewide coalition of county and school board leaders to aid Wake County in our lobbying efforts.
Quality of Life: For many, Wake County has become unlivable. Rising costs and stagnant wages have exposed the fragility of stability for many of our neighbors, especially those living paycheck to paycheck, or on a fixed income. We must make sure our rising tide in Wake County lifts all boats. At the same time, we must continue to invest in smart growth, land conservation/park development, and public transportation, all of which are vital components to a healthy, inclusive community.
If elected, what changes would you make within the first 100 days of being in office? (100 words or less)
My first 100 days will be spent learning, studying, exploring, and listening. I plan to have meetings with local leaders, county and municipal staff, community organizations, and voters to hear their concerns. During those 100 days, I will learn where I can add the most value to Wake County, and I will get to work moving us forward.
What is one issue that does not get talked about a lot that concerns you? (100 words or less)
The current proposal for a commuter rail line linking Wake County with RTP and Durham County is inadequate. It doesn’t provide service to southwestern Wake (Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina), nor to eastern Wake (Wake Forest, East Raleigh, Knightdale, etc.), nor to North Raleigh, all of which are heavily residential, full of commuters and traffic issues.
Critically, the commuter rail line does not provide service to and from RDU Airport. Failure to establish a stop at our airport will guarantee a miserable airport experience for everyone in the future. This has been a disastrous misstep for every populous area that has failed to provide efficient public transportation to and from the airport, and we must do better.
Why should voters select you as the candidate to advance in the primary? (100 words or less)
We need leaders who understand the struggles facing our community right now, and who are willing to invest in creating long term solutions to these issues. For decades, Wake County has failed to prepare for our present housing crisis, to manage growth and suburban sprawl, and to invest in public transit. We are too far behind the curve to continue electing leaders with a mindset stuck in the past. We must elect forward-thinking, bold progressive with the creativity and conviction to lead Wake County into the future. I am that candidate in this race, and I promise to bring something different to the table.
Please try to stay within the word limit. The Editor will have the right to edit any responses that exceed the word limit.
Thank you again and have a great day!
Junious Smith III