District 6: Kasey v. Aycock
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 15, 2012 1:50 AM
District 6 Councilman Jackie Warrick's decision to not run for re-election this year has led to a race in the northeast portion of the city between two city government newcomers in Gene Aycock and Fran Kasey.
Both candidates have expressed concerns about what they called the city's excessive spending to reach lofty goals, with Aycock, 62, aiming to cut out costly consultant work by finding internal ways to determine the feasibility of projects.
Mrs. Kasey, 76, while new to city politics, has been an active participant in discussions concerning business expansion in and near her district, especially as it relates to surrounding neighborhoods.
Most recently she voiced opposition to a rezoning request for a property at the corner of North Berkeley Boulevard and Ridgecrest Drive. A developer is hoping to open either a retail store or a retail store combined with a sit-down restaurant.
Mrs. Kasey spoke out during the public hearing on the matter on June 18, saying she feared the rezoning would take a "nice, sweet neighborhood and turn it into an undesirable place." It was similar to rhetoric she had used in 2005 when she emerged as a spokeswoman for neighbors opposing rezoning on North Berkelely Boulevard at its intersection with Lisa Lane.
"We want to keep it a nice neighborhood and want to thank the city for this," Mrs. Kasey said in October 2005 after the council voted to deny the request that would have resulted in an insurance office.
Mrs. Kasey said those in her neighborhood -- her house on Boyette Drive is less than half a mile from that property -- had formed a petition that she signed then, mostly because she felt the operations the developer had proposed wouldn't be as limited as advertised. The developer said his insurance work would be done mostly over the phone.
A daycare center is now housed at that property, which Mrs. Kasey said was a welcome alternative to the insurance office.
"It's not because I want to stop progress in Goldsboro. I just don't want it to look like Lejeune with just restaurants, stores and tattoo parlors," she said, referring to the area outside Jacksonville that caters to those on the Camp Lejeune Marine base. "I think it would be appropriate to put that restaurant someplace else. There are other places to put it where it's suitable without disturbing the neighborhoods."
"I would understand if they wanted to put a modest office in that space," she said.
She said she felt concerns about traffic at the Ridgecrest property were legitimate.
"We don't need another restaurant there," she said, explaining she felt traffic to the businesses would use the stoplight at Langston Drive leading to more cars traveling in that neighborhood. "It's going to be a hub of activity.
Mrs. Kasey also reiterated the statement she made at the June 18 public hearing after being told by Mayor Al King that she had already exhausted her one opportunity to address the council. Defying King and the city's agreed upon parliamentary procedure, she stood and yelled from the audience that there were already 35 eateries between Ash Street and New Hope Road.
"I know it looks like I'm against progress," she said last week. "I'm for progress. I know these places are going to go commercial. You don't have a choice, that's progress. I just think there should be a little more consideration of the residents of Goldsboro."
Aycock also said he has mixed feelings about the development, noting that the property owners were aware of the zoning code attached to the property when they bought it. To rezone it, he said, would change the makeup and privacy of the nearby neighborhoods.
"In years to come, without a doubt, that will be more commercial property than it is now, but right now, no, I wouldn't change the zoning," he said. "I would leave it as office and institutional.
"I'm not going to jeopardize a neighbor's right or property owner's right just so that a (business) property owner can make more money. Human rights and economic rights sometimes clash and I think this is a case where the two clash."
He said he understands continued development along the Berkeley Boulevard corridor is likely, especially with the highway expansion, but would like to mitigate any effects it may have on existing neighborhoods.
"I know it's inevitable, but I'm opposed to it now," he said.
Mrs. Kasey said she would like to see increased recreation and job training, especially for youth and to see more moderate goals set for downtown's revitalization.
"Downtown is never going to be thriving," she said. "But we can try to make it self-sustaining."
She said she wants to see "fresh blood" on the council to get rid of the remnants of the "good ole boy" system she believes is in place.
Aycock also said he was not "100 percent opposed" to the Center Street Streetscape project, Goldsboro's signature downtown revitalization effort, but said he is opposed to the magnitude of it and the cost associated with it.
He said he isn't a fan of using taxpayer dollars to develop privately owned businesses, although the project seeks only to renovate the infrastructure and public right of way of the street.
He would like to see more responsible spending of public money and reduced debt services, he said, but all of his concerns aren't financial -- he's also worried about the crime rate in the city.
"I am really concerned about the number of murders that have taken place in the city this year," he said. "Whatever it takes -- more officers, more money for undercover work -- we need to nip it now because it's already becoming unmanageable."
Mrs. Kasey lives with her husband, Jim, while Aycock resides with his wife, Sherry.