Orange County Commissioner, District 1
Democrat, Representing the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Area
An Experienced and Dedicated Leader
As your county commissioner, I have been working hard for Orange County, including past service as the chair of the Board of County Commissioners and as chair of two regional transportation boards. During my current term, I have been building on my previous contributions, and I have endeavored to accomplish several goals.
Three generations of Alice's family are living in Orange County
After reflecting on my years as a commissioner, I believe that one of my most enduring contributions is the initiative to create the nationally recognized Lands Legacy Program. Through this program Orange County has protected over 3000 acres of our most precious natural and cultural resources, and these lands will be enjoyed by county residents for years to come. The other contribution that I think will endure is my work to champion excellent public schools. As part of that endeavor, I have for many years promoted improvements to the older schools and, in particular, have advocated for a science wing addition to Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill. That project broke ground in late 2013.
I have continued to work on these quality of life and other county issues in a proactive and fiscally responsible way, and have tried to have the county provide the important services that support our core values, while recognizing that the county has significant budget constraints.
Alice, shown here at Carrboro High School, has worked for excellent schools
As your county commissioner, I have been a champion for quality education for students all over Orange County. I chaired the county-wide group of elected officials that crafted the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO) to plan ahead for future school needs. Unique in North Carolina, SAPFO helps prevent future school overcrowding. Moreover, I have consistently voted for the funding necessary to support excellent schools, while continuing to remain fiscally responsible, and I will continue to promote fair funding of the schools. My overall goal is to continue school excellence in a climate of scarce resources.
Alice speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony for Culbreth Middle School's Science Wing
Lands Legacy won the Excellence in County Planning Award
from the National Association of County Planners
My most important legacy as an environmental leader will be my initiatives to make environmental protection a separate function of Orange County government. In the past, environmental issues were handled by the Planning Department. To change that I proposed several initiatives, implemented by the commissioners. A fundamental one was the creation, in 1998, of a separate department for the environment to focus on clean air, clean water, and other environmental concerns. I also proposed the creation of the Commission for the Environment, established in 1997, and promoted far-sighted studies of the county's groundwater resources before there was a crisis, like a drought.
The most well-known initiative is the creation of the county's nationally recognized Lands Legacy Program, the first comprehensive county land acquisition program in North Carolina. To implement a Comprehensive Resource Conservation Program, now called the "Lands Legacy Program," was an important task in my 1998 proposal for the new environmental department. The action establishing the department called for the creation and implementation of this long-term program for the acquisition of some of the County's most critical natural and cultural resources, such as forests, farmland, historic sites, and other significant resources. In 2007 this program won the Excellence in County Planning Award from the National Association of County Planners. It was also a finalist for the Leadership in Conservation Award from the National Association of Counties and the Trust for Public Land. Orange County has now protected over 3000 acres of land since the year 2000, for parks, farm easements, and natural resource protection.
In 2006, Leadership Triangle honored me with the Goodmon Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership by an Elected Official. The award citation stated that, as an Orange County Commissioner, Alice Gordon has "proactively addressed regional growth while enhancing the quality of life that defines the Triangle" and it recognized my contributions in the areas of environmental protection and regional transportation.
I will continue promoting initiatives for the protection of our groundwater and air quality, for preservation of our natural resources and farmland, and for responsible land use planning and sustainable growth, and will work for the implementation of our comprehensive plan.
Alice chaired the western Triangle's transportation planning organization.
She helped lead the joint planning effort that won The National Award for Outstanding Achievement in Metropolitan Transportation Planning
As past chair of two regional transportation policy decision-making boards -- the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro (DCHC) Metropolitan Planning Organization's (MPO) Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees -- I have promoted improved public transit and other alternatives to cars, and efforts to improve air quality in the Triangle area. For example, as an officer of the Triangle Transit Board, I spearheaded the creation of the agency's bus route from Hillsborough to Chapel Hill which began operation in 2006, and which is now one of Triangle Transit's most successful commuter routes.
As the DCHC MPO TAC chair in 2007 and 2008, I helped lead the effort to create the 2035 regional long range transportation plan that will guide transportation investments in the Triangle. The DCHC MPO is the regional organization responsible for transportation planning for the western part of the Research Triangle Area. The DCHC MPO is governed by the Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC), a policy board consisting of elected officials.
In 2009 the two metropolitan planning organizations in the Triangle region were honored with a national award for their collaborative efforts in creating this joint 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan. The National Award for Outstanding Achievement in Metropolitan Transportation Planning was presented to the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO and the Capital Area MPO by the Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO). The award citation noted that "starting in 2007, the two MPOs departed from their past practice of creating two separate planning documents for the one region. Instead they came together to produce a joint 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan that was adopted in June 2009. FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) has already commended this effort as an example of 'exemplary practice within the planning process,' and today AMPO does as well."
In the past I received an individual award from the Sierra Club for my work in transportation, and there is still much I wish to do to meet our transportation needs. In the future I will continue my work to promote effective public transit and walkable communities, and other efforts to achieve clean air and energy efficiency.
Buy Local! Support our local businesses and local farms
During my current term I have provided continuity and experienced leadership for important efforts by our county government. The efforts for which I have been an advocate include support for our public libraries; provision of responsive human services for our residents, including youth and those with lower incomes; support for our two senior centers; and provision of effective public safety and emergency services. I have supported affordable housing, Durham Technical Community College, recycling and other sustainable growth initiatives, and completion of planned park and open space projects. Please note that I have tried to pursue these objectives in a fiscally responsible, transparent, and sustainable manner.
Recognizing that the economy has still not recovered, I have done all I could to help craft a lean budget which still delivers essential county services in accordance with our core values. County government is facing extreme financial challenges, with declining revenues and more residents needing safety net services. The commissioners must face these challenges without raising taxes and with every effort to balance competing needs. I have also been an advocate for thoughtful economic development to promote green businesses and provide quality jobs. I firmly support our local businesses and farms, and have worked for a vibrant economy in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
I am a strong advocate for meaningful participation in county government by all residents, including both women and men, to tap the rich resource of diversity within our county.
To recognize my contributions to the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community, the Chapel Hill Historical Society honored me as a Town Treasure in 2012. Then in 2014 I received the Village Pride Award from WCHL as a Hometown Hero for contributions to Orange County.
As your commissioner, I will continue to do my homework, ask the hard questions, and listen to your concerns. You know you can count on me to do what I say. Thank you for your support.
Alice's portrait by Catharine Carter
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