Cary, NC – This is an installment in our Candidate 2017 series, in which candidates get to respond in their own words to the same three questions.
We publish the responses in the order we receive them. This questionnaire is submitted by Majid Mohadjer, running for District A on the Cary Town Council.
Why are you running?
Cary needs improvements in many aspects. We all are aware (and a bit worried) how fast our town is growing. Growth is good but only if it is planned right. For at least the last 10 years, our schools have been overcrowded and many capped or not accepting transfers. Wake county school district, being the 15th largest school district in the country is forced to make decisions that tend to not be beneficial to our town. It is time for Cary residents to start thinking about having their own school system. The quality of schools should be the highest priority for everyone. It does not matter if one has school age children or not. Good schools are the most important factor that differentiates a great town from other good towns.
There are many other issues that I am not happy with. Our town no longer can boast about safety. Break-ins have become so common that people are just not surprised any more when they hear about them. Number of accidents on our roads are increasing rapidly while town refuses to admit or do anything about it. The list goes on.
Most council members have been in their tenure for over a decade and some for more than 4 terms. It is obvious that we need a change if we want our issues get addressed which is why I am running.
What are your top three priorities and how will you accomplish them?
It is perceived that Cary schools are generally good. I disagree with that assumption. The reason the schools appear perform better than many other schools in the district is because of the involvement of parents and different demographic that lives in Cary. The schools themselves are not doing any better job than schools in Durham or other municipalities in our district.
As soon as our family moved to Cary, my friends at work told me “welcome to madness”. They were referring to the school system and how in Wake county, your school assignment or type of calendar each year could change. For 4 years in a row, our requests to have our son to be transferred to the school closest to our house was denied which forced us to send two kids to year-round elementary while their older sibling attended traditional middle school. You don’t want to know how our summers were spent. I can’t see how someone in his right mind would be fine with that situation but we were given no choice.
Schools in Cary struggle to keep class sizes at the level mandated by the state. If it was not because of this mandate, we would be seeing kindergarten classes with 30-35 kids (as it is now for 4th graders who don’t have that mandate). How could it be that our schools are doing a better job while they are the most crowded ones?
I believe we need to secede from Wake County school district similar to how Chapel Hill Schools left Orange county’s school system and now everyone agrees they have the best school system in NC. The only advantage of being part of Wake County Public School System is saving some money. Cary is not a poor town and the saving (if any) comes at a very high price. Cary Town Council has repeatedly mentioned that it has no power to make any improvements when it comes to schools. That is just not acceptable to me and it should not be to any Cary resident. Schools are one of the main reasons people move to our town and we need to have a saying on how they are run.
Make Cary the Most Kid-Friendly Town in US
North Carolina is assumed a good place to raise a family. That is mostly due to the fact that the cost of raising a family here is much lower than other parts of the country and few other factors. The assumption really has nothing to do with kids. Those who have traveled to Europe know that we simply don’t have a kid friendly town.
I like my kids to play outside the house, ride their bike around the neighborhood, and have fun with their friends. That is what my kids do every day after coming home from school. But I know even though most families like that idea, it simply is not a possibility. Instead kids stay home staring at TV or playing video games.
I believe town council can play a major role in changing this situation. It frustrates me to see Cary allows new subdivisions built without having a sidewalk. The sight of bike stands at schools always depresses me. A few years ago, I was at an elementary school in Chapel Hill and there were over a hundred bicycles parked. It was a sight that made my day. It can be done.
There are almost no sport activities organized by town. The very few youth activities offered by town are embarrassing for a town like Cary. You almost never meet a child or an adult who is participating in any sport activity organized by town. With so many parks that we have, why parents should be forced to enroll their children in private sport clubs, pay a hefty fee and drive them across town, instead of playing at a field close to their home. The latter will help forge a much-needed sense of community. Our fields are being rented out to private clubs instead of being used by our residents. Many of our facilities are not being used and that is only due to short-sightedness of people who run the town.
As an example, compare Cary’s SK8 park to the skate park that Apex has. Ours is gathering dust but the one in Apex is always full of kids of every age. We made the investment to build the park but forgot that we need to make sure it gets used.
Make Cary Safer
I recently saw a study that did not have Cary listed among the top 25 safest towns in North Carolina. I am not sure how accurate that study is but I can tell you that I am not surprised. Unfortunately, many people compare Cary to cities surrounding it and because Cary is doing better or at their level, they think there is no reason to be concerned. We need to keep ourselves to higher standards.
A month ago, our two cars got broken into and when the officer arrived at 8am, he told me I was the 4th case he was attending to that morning. I remember when I moved here in 2007, Cary’s safety was the first thing someone would mention about our town. There is a lot that can be done to improve safety. Investing on our police force will be among my highest priorities along with using latest technology in innovative ways to reduce crime.
Give us a brief bio and tell us about your relevant experience
I immigrated to US in 2000 to join Microsoft in Seattle as a Software Design Engineer. From my tenure at Microsoft I learned valuable experience on how to run a successful team. In 2007, I moved to NC to get married and start a family. My children, daughter (7), son (9) and my stepson (16) all attend public schools. Most of my time after work is spent being engaged with my children in some type of outdoor activity. Some of my hobbies are playing and organizing soccer games, playing table tennis and working on my BMW when I have some free time.
Before moving to North Carolina, I lived in some of the top-rated cities in the world (Seattle, Vancouver, and Freiburg Germany) and I believe those experiences along with my pragmatic engineering approach to solving problems could be put to good use in Cary Town Council.
Read more in the Candidate 2017 series.