Compiled by Jesse Wood
Matt Long for Boone Town Council
Matt Long is running for Boone Town Council. Below is a prepared candidate statement drafted when he filed his candidacy earlier this summer. Following the statement is Long’s responses to a variety of hot-topic questions at the Boone Area Chamber’s “Candidate Forum” held in early October.
I was born and was raised in Boone by Noyes Capehart Long and Barbara Carter at 166 Glendale Drive. I attended Hardin Park Elementary School, graduated from Watauga High School in 1995 and earned a BS Degree in Construction Technology from Appalachian State University in 2000.
Me and my wife, Sarah, and our two children, Sadie Rose and Levi, live in downtown Boone on 435 Grand Boulevard. Matthew is a partner in a local construction business, Capehart & Washburn, LLC. I am a NC licensed general contractor and has worked in the construction industry for 16 years. I am a LEED Accredited Professional by the US Green Building Council.
I have served the last three years on the Board of Directors with the High Country Home Builders Association and served as President in 2012. Also, I served on the Town of Boone Sustainable Development Task Force and is currently serving on the Town of Boone Planning Commission.
I feel that with my experience in owning and running a business, as well as my experience and certification in “Green” building and development, I can be a valuable leader for the Town Boone.
Video: Closing Statement from Candidate Forum
CANDIDATE FORUM Q&A
Moderator: Given the fact Boone operates a multi-million dollar budget, what is your business experience and how will that benefit you in this position and what’s your best financial experience as well?
Matt Long: My business experience started upon my graduation from Appalachian State. I moved to Charlotte for a job there and ultimately ended up starting a branch office for a commercial company based out of Atlanta. I managed that office and throughout that course of that experience became very hands on with the accounts receivable, accounts payable, estimating project management, scheduling. So I feel like that was a great initial experience to work for a company and move back to Boone and start my own company with a business partner. I currently do that know. I have worked very hard to survive these lean years with hard work and a lot of understanding for what goes into the money that is received for that hard work.
Moderator: Having witnessed disturbing and disruptive conflicts between the Boone Town Council and the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, what is your plan to work with other governing bodies with the best interest of the taxpayer and greater community in mind?
Matt Long: As our town’s leaders came together and our county’s came together, and they had a issue at hand that they didn’t find common ground on, it was very frustrating for me as a citizen to see our town’s and county’s unwillingness to meet together. The county wanted to meet publicly. The town wanted to meet privately, and no meeting took place. My opinion as publicly elected officials, we should meet publicly and be able to meet and discuss openly with citizens issues at hand. So, I believe that our town council should be able to meet publicly with our county and work together and collaboratively on issues, and I look forward to the opportunity to meet publicly with our county and try to help improve that relationship.
Moderator: Do you support moving forward with New River intake project and if not what do you see as alternative plan to ensure adequate water availability for growth and development of the area?
Matt Long: I am still trying to gather information and completely educate myself on the current status of the water intake project. I have heard arguments from both sides that it’s necessary, that it’s moving forward. I’ve heard arguments that proper due diligence has not been done to date, and we’ve spent upwards of $2 million to date and tried to inquire with some folks on the water board that really don’t have an understanding exactly where things stand. I really don’t want to say I am for it or against it until I have an opportunity to be brought to speed. I understand the need for water in development certainly, but like John said I thoroughly understand that there are a lot of measures that can be made to conserve water with low-flow fixtures and water-saving toilets. I truly don’t believe our town has put forth an effort to seize some of those benefits, and I would like to see that happen first before I comment further.
Moderator: How do you see the change to the ad valorem sales tax distribution and the pending real estate revaluation impacting the town’s budget and how should it be addressed?
Matt Long: Well, I believe the immediate impact on the Town of Boone, like Quint said was about $2 million. I remember receiving the letter from the mayor telling me that as a citizen I may no longer have police protection, fire protection and snow removal due to this cut that we were imminently seeing as a bullying tactic by the county commissioners and I was very unhappy to receive that letter and read that letter. I think ultimately what that means is the council has to do as much with the budget that they have to work with as possible and be good stewards of that tax money and not waste resources in anyway. I very much look forward to the opportunity to rekindle that working relationship with our county commissioners and would love to see the opportunity to come our way and get that money back to town of Boone.
Moderator: The Chamber, of course, is very interested in what happens to business here in this community. How do you see the UDO impacting the business that currently operate in or wish to operate in the Town of Boone, for example, the old Watauga High School property?
Matt Long: The revamping of the UDO was a platform item four years ago, and it is now currently undergoing the revisions, the streamlining as far as formatting to be more user friendly, to be less language, less of a document to have to read. It’s in that process thanks in part to staff with the planning and inspections department, planning commissioners, council. All of the above. But it is time to make sure that effort is fully complete as far as the language. The code language in that UDO must be right and not just all this effort in streamlining a document. The language has to be right to promote sustainable, smart development. Real affordable housing options. There are a lot of things there that we need to make sure are included and revised correctly before it is just adopted and everybody thinks the UDO is done.
Moderator: Many vacant properties exist in Boone what would seem desirable tracts and many on major roads near the center of town. What would you propose to help move these properties from eyesores to useful properties?
Matt Long: I think that you know finishing this revamping of the UDO and getting this development code language right will be the first thing, the first step that needs to be made, so that a potential developer, a potential buyer of these blight properties that we are talking about has a clear understanding of what they can and can’t do with the property. Nobody would want to buy a half-million property to then come to find out that after closing that they can’t develop on it. I think there are a lot of people waiting to see what our town leaders do with the UDO and the quote newly adopted UDO whenever that happens. I believe that we will see a rebuilding and redevelopment of some of these properties, which is as Quint says, is the foundation of green building. Building on a previously developed site or a brownfield site is a gold.
Moderator: In the Town of Boone long-term plan related to economic development, it states area residents support different and more expanded economic activity only if it increases the opportunity for stable, higher-wage jobs and enhances the quality of life for existing residents. What specifically would you propose to do to accomplish this type of development?
Matt Long: I guess it goes back business owners being to be profitable, being able to operate businesses in the town of Boone. I think it kind of circles all the way back to what we’ve talked about being a town that wants to promote business and allow business owners to succeed. I think incentives like we’ve talked about to promote new businesses. I think some of the impact fees that business owners have to absorb are excessive. I think all circles back to being a town that wants to encourage business, so that those business owners are profitable and can pay a fair wage. It also circles back to being offer affordable housing for workforce. So I guess those two things would be ways to improve the quality of life. That was a long question and I don’t know if I answered it all correctly.
Moderator: What are your views concerning the Daniel Boone Parkway to relieve traffic congestion in the Town of Boone?
Matt Long: Like everyone else, I would not be fore a Daniel Boone Parkway bypass from 321 to 105. I would like to see all that effort and resources put towards something else like sidewalks within the Town of Boone so pedestrians can safely navigate throughout our town. That is all.
Moderator: In light of projected 10-20-100 year flood maps, what are your thoughts on surface water mitigation in the Town along U.S. 321?
Moderator: Share your vision on how you would like the town and ASU work together in the future. What major issues do you see htat need to be addressed and how would you work toward solutions?
Matt Long: I think our town needs be the leader in a collaborative effort with property owners, business owners, state, federal agencies the town needs to take the lead here and help these individuals having financial hardships every time their business or property floods out. We are having public safety issues with these flash floods. We are polluting streams and rivers with the runoff from these floods, so I do think it’s an issue that, we’ve known that Kraut Creek, 321 has been a flood problem in the past, and I don’t really think the town has ever put it on the forefront and it sounds like everybody here is interested in doing that and I think that is exactly what needs to be done.
Moderator: Regarding Howard Street: You know the only change taking place in 22 years is a one-way road from Depot Street to Water Street. As a businessperson in this community, I am frustrated that there is an awful lot of talk regarding and not a lot of action. Comments?
Matt Long: Well I am glad to hear that our relationship is as strong as it has ever been. I think it could still be improved upon. I think that our town needs to show the university that we do want to be a partner. I think there are opportunities to allow the university to be a very valuable resource for the town. We heard a lot of those opportunities already. Continued committee participation from faculty and students, continued internships if they do exist with the students and the town. A partnership with the university for events, for festivals, for energy and resource conservation efforts, community improvement efforts. I think that the town can continue to show university that they want to be a partners and want to work with them, we will be able to reap some of those benefits.