Education is the foundation of our future and an integral part of our county’s economic success. We need to support our public schools and community college’s capital and operating needs to ensure that all of our citizens have access to a high-quality education that will enable them to compete in the 21st century economy. Last year the Wake County Board of Commissioners appropriated the largest increase in local funding to Wake County Public Schools, allowing them to make much needed investments in teacher pay supplements, staff raises, program support and classroom supplies.
In addition to providing strong schools, we must make sure that our students are healthy and ready to learn. Caroline successfully advocated for the much needed expansion of the school nurses program. Today our schools have 20 new nurses with an additional 20 nurses being added in the next two years. She also supported the expansion of school breakfasts for our children so they can start their school day ready to learn.
As a longtime supporter of early childhood education, Caroline advocated for local investments in Smart Start to expand pre-K programs. With almost 70,000 students, Wake Tech’s workforce training programs are an essential part of the county’s economic development efforts. Caroline is a strong champion of Wake Tech, supporting their building programs, increased classroom capacity and additional technology needs.
Caroline serves on the board of directors for Alliance Behavioral Healthcare, which provides mental health, substance abuse, and developmental disability services to Wake County’s Medicaid and uninsured citizens. She created the Wake Directors Group, which brings together community leaders in education, law enforcement, the justice system, physical and behavioral healthcare, and social services in order to improve outcomes for Wake County’s children, families and adults experiencing challenges with mental health or substance abuse issues. This collaborative effort provides greatly needed additional mental health crisis services our residents.
Caroline also advocates early intervention, de-stigmitization and system awareness in the arena of mental health. She has encouraged the county to promote Mental Health First Aid which is a national program that educates citizens on mental illness and what to do when someone is in crisis. She also advocated for an internet-based service directory which will allow first responders, mental health professionals and citizens to access information on resources in our community as well as evidence-based information on mental illness and substance abuse.
Caroline supported the expansion of prenatal clinics to ensure that more women in Wake County deliver healthy babies, and she worked with the Commission for Women to conduct a broad report on the Status of Employment for Women in Wake County, which examined key demographics, income disparity in the workplace, returnship programs, and impediments women face when seeking employment. Caroline is also working with community partners to build a multi-services center for our homeless citizens in Wake County and she advanced the addition of 25 shelter beds for single women in Wake County.
Caroline has been a strong advocate for the Wake County Open Data Portal which launched in 2015, putting our county at the forefront of the open data movement. In July 2015 she joined county staff on a panel at the annual conference of the National Association of Counties to discuss the program. Wake County’s open data portal gives the public access to as much information as possible which increases government transparency and encourages citizens to develop improvements to county services as well as solutions to complex public policy issues to make our county a better place to live.
She also supported efforts to make Wake County government a great place to work by approving anti-discrimination ordinances and providing a living wage for county employees.
Wake County is growing by 63 people each day and will have a net gain of 250,000 residents in the next 10 years. It is crucial that we plan to alleviate traffic congestion and allow our citizens mobility choices today and in the future. The recently released Wake County Transit Plan is the result of a collaborative and comprehensive approach to engage the community in addressing the short and long-term transit needs of our county. Caroline supports this transit plan because it is feasible, efficient and robust and important to our county’s future.
Wake County continues to maintain a AAA bond rating from all three major rating agencies – Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch Group. This allows the County to receive lower interest rates on debt for capital projects, saving taxpayers money. Capital improvement projects benefit all Wake County citizens and include such things as expansions to Wake County Public Schools, Wake Tech, EMS stations, enhanced emergency dispatch tools, libraries, jails, court houses and transportation services. Caroline has—and will—make sure Wake County has sound fiscal policies to keep its AAA bond rating and ensure our continued financial stability.