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Nunnally promises to listen, solve problems, guide growth

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Chris Nunnally talks about his guilding philosophy during a candidate forum at the Willis Building Monday, Oct. 2, 2017.

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By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Friday, October 20, 2017

Chris Nunnally said growing up in Greenville and the work he has done for the city is the reason he is the best At-Large candidate.

“The work that I’ve done, the work that I'm doing and the work that I want to do,” he said in an endorsement interview with The Daily Reflector on Oct. 10. “I think that anytime you think about running for public office there’s a lot of things to consider, and obviously one of the most motivating factors for me was having been from Greenville, having seen Greenville going through growing pains, through ups and downs. Really, I want to add a voice to what I think is going to be the conversations that happen in the next 10 years that will really dictate where we move as a city.”

Nunnally, 37, attended elementary, middle and high school in the city, graduating from J.H. Rose. He attended and graduated from East Carolina University’s School of Music, before moving to New York City in 2002 where he worked as a professional musician. He attended New York Law School with the intention of returning to Greenville and trying to improve his hometown. Since returning in 2008, he established a law practice that specializes in dental and medical mergers and acquisitions. He also founded and directs the West Side Strings School on Manhattan Avenue. 

Nunnally said building the city for the future — like other candidates he thinks the city should be planning for another 100,000 people in next couple of decades — will require careful planning and smart fiscal management.

“It’s really easy for a citizens to sit back and criticize municipalities for spending money without a lot of information, and I’m just not going to do that,” he said. “One of the reasons I wanted to get involved with city government is so that I can be a part of that conversation, but in a real way, so that we can say ‘We’ve got to be smart fiscally, we’ve got to take budget concerns seriously, we don’t need to throw all the money in the world at things that just aren't getting the job done.’ But we have to build stormwater systems, we have to build efficient roadways, we have to make sure our bridges are standing, we have to make sure our power grid is up and running. If we don’t, then we’re not going to attract businesses, we’re not going to be able to attract the next 100,000 people to this region. The price tag is big, but the cost of not doing these things, is greater.”

He said one of the biggest challenges finding a way to organize and transport all of the current and additional residents the city will see.

”All you have to do is go out to Atlanta, Charlotte, some of those other places that have really grown before us, and there’s a lot of parking lots out there during rush hour,” he said. “What are we going to do as a city to manage our transportation systems? Are we going to make a decision to grow dense, where we keep a lot of our growth near the city center so we’re able to manage people to and from work a little better, or are we going to take a beltline approach where we’re going out to the surrounding communities. That’s a conversation we need to have, there’s no one solution.”

He said part of the solution to fixing Greenville traffic problems is understanding how the character of the roads have changed. He said one of the issues might be with high speed limits on roads that are no longer thoroughfares, but are populated with businesses on each side. He also said that he thought the recent addition of red light cameras was a small positive step, but maybe not enough.

“I personally think if you have high speed intersections, you’re going to have serious accidents. I think you do show some reduction of traffic accidents with red light cameras, but if you have people moving 45-55 mph in your city center, you’re going to have some serious injuries,” he said. “But that’s got be balanced with you want to be able to move through your city safely and efficiently, that’s why it’s a complicated solution. You can’t just say, ‘Hey it’s all going to be roses if you reduce the speed limit.’ It doesn’t work that way either.”

Finding solutions is a process, and he thinks the city should not be afraid to try new things to fix them.

”Use our public works department. We’re paying people salaries to make these kinds of informed decisions inside our city government, it’s not necessary to go out and pay $1 million for an outside consultant to do it. Let’s use our resources and use our people to get creative on the ground and find a solution. If it doesn’t work and people aren’t happy, take it back,” he said.

While the city is addressing infrastructure concerns, he said it should continue to be focused on quality of life, namely, the parks system.

“One of the crown jewels of Greenville is our parks system. Years ago we were named Sports Town USA. Years ago I grew up playing little league baseball in Greenville,” he said. “I think when we talk about parks we’re talking about kids, and we’re talking about families being able to have their people in places where they’re safe, and that they can really enjoy healthy, productive activities. I think one of the major criticisms of modern life is that kids spend too much time plugged in and not enough time outside. Well it’s hard to be outside when you don’t have. One of the reasons it’s hard to be outside is that you don’t have access to a park.”

He said the addition of parks like the Dream Park near his school in west Greenville are invaluable to the community and business owners alike.

“I mean you’re talking about kids playing on playground equipment having good healthy fun, and that is an American pastime that I don’t want to see die in our city as we grow,” he said. “So I do think we have to invest in our parks as we grow; it’s a thing that is not only beneficial for our kids but increases property values too.”

Reaching out to the community is the key component of the council’s job, he said, and the biggest part of his job would be listening to the people he serves.

“I think the thing that I really want to bring to the table is that we need to find ways to find problems and find solutions to those problems. That involves really actively engaging with our city,” he said. “Effective representation in my mind is that you know, not your problems, but the problems of the people that you serve and that’s what I really hope that conversations like these can really help bring those to the surface.”

Contact Seth Thomas Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579.

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