My first involvement in the Durham Community began more than three decades ago as a Duke student working with children in the St. Teresa and West End neighborhoods. I volunteered several afternoons a week with Operation Breakthrough’s program in the St. Teresa Community helping children with their homework and leading afterschool activities. I also worked as a counselor with summer programs in St. Teresa and the West End neighborhoods and took children on excursions around Durham such as first dips in the Eno River. These experiences were an integral part of my inspiration to become a public school teacher.
I am strongly committed to public education as the foundation of our democracy and the most important tool for improving the social, economic and cultural welfare for all in our society. After graduating from Duke, I received my certification in intermediate elementary education from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and taught fifth grade at Holt Elementary in Durham Public Schools and then at Anderson and Bartlett Yancey Elementary Schools in Caswell County. As a former public school teacher in Durham and rural Caswell County, I am keenly aware of the challenges facing public education in North Carolina such as the effect that availability of community resources and socioeconomic conditions at home can have on educational achievement.
As a parent of three Durham Public School educated children, two currently enrolled and one recent graduate, I have been a committed and active parent in Durham Public Schools. My children, Caleb, Eliza and Zach, have been students at Forest View Elementary, WG Pearson Middle Magnet, Rogers Herr, Githens, and Jordan High School. At each of these schools my involvement has ranged from room parent to the leadership level on PTA Boards, Site Base Committees and Principal Selection Committee. I have the honor of serving my second year on the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee. As a member of this committee, I have gained in depth knowledge of the complex federal, state and local funding process, the economic challenges we face in the years ahead and assist in making difficult funding decisions that affect our teachers and children in the classroom.
In addition to my passion for public education in Durham, I have a strong interest in land use and transportation issues and recently completed six years of service on the Durham Planning Commission. Like my involvement with the children in our community, my interest in land use grew out of grass roots experience. As chair of the Erwin Area Neighborhood Group, I led the successful New Hope Preserve Campaign that resulted in an historic four government partnership between Durham City, Durham County, Chapel Hill and Orange County to create the 100 acre Hollow Rock Access Area along the New Hope Creek Corridor. This process also included citizens, The Triangle Land Conservancy, local land owners and Duke University. I served as chair of the multi government Hollow Rock/ New Hope Preserve Master Plan Committee which created a park plan that has been approved by all four jurisdictions.
I have also gained considerable first hand knowledge and experience about local and regional transportation, environmental, land use and planning issues as a member of the Durham Planning Commission, Durham -Orange -Chapel Hill Work Group, Committee on Environmental Enhancements to the Unified Development Ordinance, Durham Bike and Pedestrian Commission and New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee.
Historic preservation is another passion that I share with my husband, Dr. Michael Meredith, and we have just completed renovating the historic Rivermont Springs property which is now our family’s home. I am also chair of the Hollow Rock Store Project which is overseeing efforts to renovate and relocate the historic Hollow Rock country store to the future New Hope Preserve park.
My record on the Planning Commission speaks for itself. I worked diligently to represent the best interests of Durham. I work hard and do my homework. I prepared for meetings, met with developers and citizens, consulted with staff, and made site visits so that I could make the most informed decision possible. I tried to be fair and balanced taking into consideration the pros and cons of each situation and considered the costs and benefits to Durham citizens now and in the future. While I try to be detailed in my analysis of each proposed rezoning, plan amendment, text amendment or master plan, I also keep the big picture in mind and to take into account the future implications of each proposal on Durham’s future generations. I am an advocate of smart growth planning principles, and upholding our adopted land use, transportation and Greenhouse Gas plans. I take pride in having worked side by side respectfully with my fellow commissioners who come from all walks of life in Durham. We may have differing views but we can still learn from each other and are united in our desire to serve our community and our love for Durham.
Over the past decade we have taken great strides and seen many positive changes in Durham in which we can all take pride. We are a diverse, unique and vibrant community. Yet we still struggle with poverty, unemployment and crime as we must meet the educational, safety, healthcare and economic needs of all members of our community. Durham is poised to be one of the best places to work and live in America. In the years ahead we have important decisions to make that will affect our land use and transportation, economic growth and quality of life far into the future. At the same time we must deal with the critical need for jobs for our many unemployed and underemployed citizens.
After more than three decades of involvement in the Durham community, I am ready to put my experience, knowledge and leadership to work representing the citizens of Durham as a Durham County Commissioner. I hope you will support me and give me the honor of representing you and helping to take on these challenging issues so that Durham can achieve economic vitality and be a great place to live for all of its residents.