Triangle Central Labor Council

Questionnaire for Mayoral and City Council Candidates

  1. What do you believe are the most important issues facing your city in the coming years?
    1. Implementation of our comprehensive plan and responding productively to development pressures in a way that is aligned with our values.
    2. Managing the fiscal challenges arising from reduced state and federal support especially in transit and public housing.
    3. Meeting needs of low income residents, public housing residents, and our youth (particularly those not on a four-year college track in high school). While these issues garner few headlines, much of my time and energy over the several years has been focused on issues such as these.
    4. Pivoting our economy toward one that is decreasingly reliant solely on our largest employers—UNC and UNC Hospitals—and creating a community that attracts a more diverse array of employment opportunities.
  2. What is your view of the role that unions and union members play in the city?

As the child of a union family, I wish unions played a larger role in our city.  I know, and have seen communities where unions engage in a variety of social and fiscal issues that impact the quality of life for their members.  In a broad sense, I wish unions were more active in community events, public processes, and philanthropy.  Internal to our town’s operations, I believe there are few cities where unions and employee organizations have more influence on city policy than in Chapel Hill.  This is largely due to the presence of a Mayor (me) and several council members who are strong union advocates, who do not recoil and the mention of unions as so many politicians and managers do.  I am proud of the environment we have created for unions within our organization and am committed to being responsive to any effort or suggestion for how we can continue to make them an even more important player in developing policies for our community.

  1. Do you support city employees having the right to engage in some form of collective bargaining?

Yes.  I am and always have been supportive of this and have been active in efforts to encourage it.

  1. Do you believe public safety employees (police, fire, and rescue) should have the right to take grievances to binding arbitration?

Having just recently (earlier this year) transformed and modernized our town’s grievance policies, I would be anxious to learn more about how we this idea could be incorporated. The policies we have currently were the product of a great deal of work by town employees and community members and I would seek their input.  As a general matter, these are the members of our organization for whom binding arbitration would be most appropriate.  I certainly understand the level of skill, dedication, and sacrifice required of our public safety employees as well as the reliance our whole town has on the quality of their performance.  Binding arbitration for this class of employees is certainly appropriate.

  1. Do you support dues check-off for public employees who join unions?


  1. Do you support the concept of “living wage” for city workers and those workers employed by companies with city contracts.

Yes.  I have a strong more than a decade-long record of supporting this.

  1. Do you support tying tax incentives offered to companies relocating to your city to a requirement that those companies pay a living wage with benefits.

Yes.  We have only provided incentives in a very few cases and our incentives were tied to number of jobs, wages and benefits.

  1. Given the growth of the city, how would you improve public transportation?

First Chapel Hill transit needs to implement its long-range fiscal stability plans.  We are well on our way and will soon begin implementing new financing models for bus purchases.  We have the second largest transit system in North Carolina, behind only Charlotte and provide a level of service few cities, outside of our nation’s largest cities, provide.  Our next steps are improving our connections to the regional transit.  That is why I was a strong supporter of the .5 cent sales tax increase for transit which has already helped us enhance service in Chapel Hill and Orange County and provides the local share for the regional light rail plan.  Some running for office are advocating to eliminate support for the light rail plan.  I equate that to the grasshopper and the ant parable.  Our investment in the long-range plan will reap benefits for generations to come, those who would plow the revenue into the system as it currently exists: 1) fail to appreciate the changing transit needs of future residents of our region; 2) apparently do not realize that voters approved the plan largely because of the light rail investment component; and 3) appear attracted to meeting immediate desires at the expense of future needs.

  1. What are your campaign plans; specifically, what are you plans to win your race?

I have run five city-wide races, two for council and three for mayor.  I was not appointed to office, and I have drawn opponents in all but one of my races.  In this, my sixth campaign, I will draw on the lessons of my experience and do what I have done in the past, not only during campaign season, but throughout my time in public service – be accessible to everyone in the community, listen to concerns of our community members, and share with residents how I believe we can achieve our shared goals.

  1. If you have the opportunity to name or recommend an individual to a board or commission would you consider naming a labor union member?

Of course.


Mark Kleinschmidt

102 Boulder Ln.

Chapel Hill, NC 27514