On Saturday, April 17, Jane Harrison hosted a stream cleanup in Raleigh’s District D to get the word out about her Raleigh City Council campaign, while also celebrating Earth Day. The date of the election is scheduled for Oct. 5, 2021.
Harrison is a professor at NC State, where she teaches agricultural economics and other agricultural resource classes, and a North Carolina Sea Grant coastal economics specialist. She is currently running for Raleigh’s District D, which covers NC State’s campus and many surrounding student housing areas. Harrison’s campaign adopted the Bushy Branch Stream behind Kentwood Park and plans to host events similar to the stream cleanup in the future. This kind of forward thinking not only demonstrates Harrison’s commitment to the community but also her commitment to the ecosystem the community inhabits.
Caring for and considering the ecosystem is an issue that many politicians are pushing to the side as tensions are held over social justice and COVID-19 issues. While all of these issues are important, it would thoroughly benefit Raleigh residents to have someone in the District D seat who fights for multi-faceted change and improvement on these issues but also brings a fresh perspective to Raleigh politics.
Though Harrison has never held office before, her unique background and experience with city planners could bring innovative change to our campus and community. Going into office, Harrison has two top missions: investing in community engagement as well as protecting waterways, greenspaces and the tree canopy through reimagining storm-water infrastructure.
“I want to champion the voices of the people who live in District D,” Harrison said. “I want to listen to the residents.”
This was reassuring to hear. From the summer protests to wellness days to COVID-19 constantly disrupting our lives, many students at NC State are struggling to feel heard.
Harrison believes the best way to listen to residents is to reinvent a citizen advisory council (CAC) that represents District D demographics, with full resources and a virtual option, as they were formally disbanded by the Raleigh City Council in February 2020. CACs kept the people of Raleigh informed about what was going on in their neighborhoods and surrounding areas. They were disbanded because of the demographics of the people who showed up — older homeowners, which is not representative and therefore not effective in carrying out helpful change for all.
While Harrison has many hurdles to overcome in creating an effective CAC, her willingness to foster these conversations in the first place is admirable, especially to those of us who didn’t even know CACs existed. However, community engagement goes much further than neighborhood meetings, especially in the wake of the Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo protests in downtown Raleigh in coalition with the habitual disrespect of Raleigh’s police advisory board. Fortunately for District D voters, Harrison believes community engagement includes rallying around the police advisory board and even advocating for an African American affairs board. Harrison envisions a board that addresses issues like affordable housing, gentrification and police relations.
It is important we elect someone who is willing to truly advocate for social justice, not just someone who posts a black Instagram square. Adding checks and balances to the Raleigh equation through powerful boards will empower marginalized groups and create a more inclusive community. We should be holding the Raleigh Police Department and city council to the highest standards, and this is where that begins.
If you also hope to see protection for water resources and greenspaces, a stronger police advisory board and the creation of an African American affairs board, you can contact and follow the Jane Harrison campaign on social media. If you just want to clean up streams, rivers and forests, the Jane Harrison campaign will be hosting similar events every month. Either way, find out where your nearest polling station is and register to vote in the Oct. 5, 2021 election!