5 candidates seek seats on Wake County Board of Commissioners | The Wake Weekly
The Wake Weekly

5 candidates seek seats on Wake County Board of Commissioners

Posted on May 8, 2022

Updated on May 11, 2022

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The five candidates seeking seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners shown clockwise from top left are: Lisa Mead, District 3; Donald Mial, District 1; Shawn Pollenz, District 1; Cheryl Stallings, District 3; and Cynthia Sinkez, District 3.

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The five candidates seeking seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners shown clockwise from top left are: Lisa Mead, District 3; Donald Mial, District 1; Shawn Pollenz, District 1; Cheryl Stallings, District 3; and Cynthia Sinkez, District 3.

jsmith@wakeweekly.com | 919-424-1778

Two seats are up for grabs on the May 17 ballot for the Wake County Board of Commissioners. The seats are in District 1 and 3.
The nonpartisan race in District 1 includes Donald Mial and Shaun Pollenz. District 3 includes Lisa Mead, Cynthia “Cindy” Sinkez and Cheryl Stallings.
All candidates provided responses to The Wake Weekly 2022 Board of Commissioners survey. Their responses appear below, organized by district in alphabetical order by the candidates’ last names.
Candidate Questions: District 1: Candidate MIAL and Candidate POLLENZ
Briefly list your education background and other relevant experiences 
MIAL: My government background and other relevant experience that I would bring to this position are numerous. As someone, whom father and grandfather were sharecroppers they taught me the important of hard work. They also taught me the need and value of education of which I will bring to the position of County Commissioner. My many years of experience as a leader, as an Army Officer, Probation Officer, Parole Case Analyst and Juvenile Facility Director are just some. I will also bring other life skills to the position and education. Presently, I hold a Certification as a CPR instructor and Certification as General Instructor through N.C Criminal Justice Standard Commission. I have also served as a member of N.C Victim Compensation Commission, Member of Wake County Board of Elections and I presently serve on the Raleigh Board of Adjustment and the Wake County Board of Adjustment. 
POLLENZ: I am an attorney with experience in criminal defense and securities litigation. I am also a FINRA arbitrator, a small business owner, and public education advocate. I have served as the Wake County Young Democrats’ Treasurer, on the Democratic Party State Executive Council, and I stay active with my precinct, 13-10. In the past, I have volunteered at the Wake County Animal Shelter and have served on the board of the Capital City Clauses (a local children’s charity).
Why are you qualified to hold the office you seek? 
MIAL: The reason that I am qualified to hold the office I seek is because of my many years of experience as an Army Officer, Juvenile Facility Director, Raleigh Board of Adjustment (Secretary) Wake County Board of Adjustment (Vice Chair) and my experience on the Wake County Board of Elections. I have also served as the Wake County Vice Chair and Precinct Chair 17-04. As well as my appointment by the Governors Office to the Victim Compensation Commission. I also hold a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice, Masters in Public Administration, B.A History and Government as well an Associate in Paralegal Technology. Retiring from the N.C Department of Public Safety receiving the states highest civilian award, The “Order of the Longleaf Pine”.
POLLENZ: I’m qualified to hold this office because I’m smart, I care about this community, I want to help people, and I’m willing to work hard for Wake County. Also, I was raised by a teacher.  She taught me to be creative and to think critically. Having lived in DC and southern California, I know the importance of public transportation, affordable housing, and smart growth policy because I‘ve seen what happens when these issues are ignored. I can help us avoid the mistakes other growing areas have made and help Wake County thrive.
Why are you running? 
MIAL: I am seeking this office on the Wake County Board of Commissioners so I can continue advocating on behalf of the public interest, continue fighting for change, and continue making the Wake County the best for our community, because I have seen what happens when government fails its people. As your County Commissioner, I will work to strengthen our schools by working with the Board of Education to retain the best teachers possible, expanding access to quality pre-kindergarten programs, and addressing the achievement gap. I will strive to ensure that we are addressing the Community safety concerns through improving our County law Enforcement, EMS and Fire Departments. Work with the County Human Services section to address our continued concerns for Affordable Housing as well as Health.  I will also work with the Wake County Legislative delegation and the Business Community to deal with the challenges resulting from the County’s explosive growth and work to create economic opportunities. 
POLLENZ: I’m running because I love Wake County, and I want to make sure it remains one of the best places to live, work, play, and raise a family.  When I look at our local elected officials, very few are under 40.  Very few are members of the LGBTQ+ community.  Almost all are homeowners.  Very few of them live paycheck to paycheck.  In other words, most of our elected officials are not reflective of the communities they represent.  It’s time we give voice to a new generation of leaders who are ready to tackle the issues that will impact them and their children in the decades to come. We must elect bold, creative leaders, and I’m running to give Wake County that option. 
What three issues are the most important to your campaign and what are your positions on each? 
MIAL: Education- Supporting raising per pupil funding for all schools to at least the national average, raising pay for public school teachers to at least the national average and reinstating masters and other relevant advanced degree pay. Furthermore, supporting additional pay for teachers who achieve nationally recognized certification and pay for teachers who take on additional duties and responsibilities. Equally, I support working with the Wake County Legislative Delegation on fulfilling our N.C Constitution Article 1, Section 15 and Article IX, Section 2 (1). Leandro v. The State of North Carolina. Safety – I will strive to ensure that we are addressing the Community safety concerns through improving our County Law Enforcement, EMS and Fire Departments.  Wake County just increased the pay raise for our EMS staff, and we must continue to seek qualified staff and the increase in pay will go along way with that recruiting process. Also, continue to work with our Wake County Sheriff Office to recruit and hire enough staff to cover the 856 square miles that make up Wake County. Our County is presently at 1.2 million people (about the population of New Hampshire) and growing. Health and Human Resources – Large gaps remain in health access and health outcomes by race and ethnicity.
POLLENZ: Affordable Housing: This may be the biggest crisis facing Wake County today.  As someone who has been on the cusp of home ownership for the last two years, I have been chasing the American Dream and watching it run away from me at a quickening pace. I know I am not alone.  When elected, I will be the only board member who is not a homeowner.  While everyone’s situation is different, I understand the many barriers to homeownership our friends and neighbors are facing. I will work to eliminate these barriers, create a larger stock of available housing, and protect vulnerable residents from losing their homes due to unprecedented property tax increases. Education: As a former candidate for our Board of Education, and as the son of a WCPSS teacher, I pledge to support a bond package that will fully fund our school system’s capital improvement needs.  I also pledge to raise our supplemental pay to school staff and lobby the NCGA to increase its contribution to our schools.  
If elected, what changes would you make within the first 100 days of being in office? 
MIAL: When, I am elected in my first 100 days, the one thing that I will work on improving and bringing more attention will be our Veterans population. This population is not just males, we have many homeless female veterans as well and many with children.
POLLENZ: My first 100 days will be spent learning, studying, exploring, and listening.  I plan to have meetings with local leaders, county and municipal staff, community organizations, and voters to hear their concerns.  During those 100 days, I will learn where I can add the most value to Wake County, and I will get to work moving us forward.
What is one issue that does not get talked about a lot that concerns you? 
MIAL: The Veterans in our County and their Health needs and concerns. Wake County presently have about 50,000 Veterans, many with mental health, substance abuse issues and homelessness.
POLLENZ: The current proposal for a commuter rail line linking Wake County with RTP and Durham County is inadequate.  It doesn’t provide service to southwestern Wake (Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina), nor to eastern Wake (Wake Forest, East Raleigh, Knightdale, etc.), nor to North Raleigh, all of which are heavily residential, full of commuters and traffic issues.  Critically, the commuter rail line does not provide service to and from RDU Airport.  Failure to establish a stop at our airport will guarantee a miserable airport experience for everyone in the future.  This has been a disastrous misstep for every populous area that has failed to provide efficient public transportation to and from the airport, and we must do better.
Why should voters select you as the candidate to advance? 
MIAL: As a military officer my career, spans over 30 years, serving during the Vietnam War, Cold War, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraq Freedom. I have also served as a Member of the Wake County Board of Elections, N.C Board of Victim Compensation Commission and presently I am a member of the City of Raleigh Board of Adjustment serving as the Secretary of the Board, Wake County Board of Adjustment serving as the Vice Chair, N.C State Employees Association, and N.C Association of Educators. I have given over thirty years to this state serving the people of North Carolina as a State Employee and receiving the state’s highest civilian award, The Order of the Longleaf Pine. In addition, I have held a number of positions in state government while serving the people of North Carolina, but I have had only one career – public service.  
POLLENZ: We need leaders who understand the struggles facing our community right now, and who are willing to invest in creating long term solutions to these issues.  For decades, Wake County has failed to prepare for our present housing crisis, to manage growth and suburban sprawl, and to invest in public transit.  We are too far behind the curve to continue electing leaders with a mindset stuck in the past.  We must elect forward-thinking, bold progressive with the creativity and conviction to lead Wake County into the future.  I am that candidate in this race, and I promise to bring something different to the table. 
District 3: Candidate Mead, candidate sinkez and Candidate stallings
Briefly list your education background and other relevant experiences 
MEAD: I have a long history of doing community service and volunteering. If elected as County Commissioner, I would be serving the community with the same dedication and thoughtfulness I put into all my efforts. I serve on the Cary Town Council Information Services Board, I spent 4 years as the WakePTA Advocacy Committee Chair, and am the current President of the NC Grant Professionals Association.  My full list of qualifications can be found here: https://www.lisaforwake.com/about-9. I am a former teacher, current substitute, native of this area, and parent of three children currently attending WCPSS schools.
SINKEZ: My relevant experience is that I am currently President of Cary Town Band and Past President of the following organizations: Salem Middle School Band Boosters, Mills Park Middle School Band Boosters, Mills Park Middle School PTSA, Downtown Cary Children’s Museum, Democratic Women of Wake County, and The Reserve HOA. I was twice nominated as Cary’s Hometown Spirit Award nominee (one nomination was from the committee itself), won Cary’s volunteer group of the year, served on Cary’s Citizen Issue Review Commission, ran for Cary Town Council District C in 2009, and was an Institute of Political Leadership Fellow.
STALLINGS: I currently serve on the Apex Town Council. Additionally, I have served on the Town of Apex’s Finance Committee and currently serve on the Town’s Economic Development Committee. I am also the Council liaison to the Town’s Environmental Advisory Board. Professionally, I am a psychologist who has worked in a number of North Carolina public schools (including Wake County) providing mental health services to children and adolescents, and consultation services to teachers and administrators. Currently, I co-own a business in Raleigh that provides mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults throughout Wake County.
Why are you qualified to hold the office you seek? 
MEAD: I bring a variety of lived experiences to the role. As an educator, and substitute teacher, I know what our schools need.  I have also worked in human services, including a local domestic violence shelter and homeless shelter. I was born in the triangle, and I know the way growth and changes are having an impact. As the legal guardian for my elderly aunt, I am also familiar as a consumer of the social services that comprise a large part of the county budget.  I am an experienced leader, coalition builder, and advocate for our most vulnerable citizens.
SINKEZ: I’ve been working and volunteering in Wake for 20 years. I founded both Salem and Mills Park Middle Schools’ Band Boosters. I’ve been PTSA President, School Board Advisory Council Chair, room mom, and volunteered with numerous nonprofits. I understand the benefit of public-private partnerships and will steward collaborative opportunities for project success in Wake. Having worked for a Fortune 500 transportation company makes me uniquely qualified to reimagine public transit in our community. I’m mom to three WCPSS graduates, my infant granddaughter’s caregiver, a loving wife, and a champion for ERA passage. Most importantly, I’m a staunch believer in people. 
STALLINGS: I am the only candidate running for the District 3 Commissioner seat who has local government experience. While serving on the Apex Town Council, my colleagues and I worked for the past two years to help mitigate the negative impact of the Covid pandemic on our residents, business community, and Town staff. Additionally, we are working to address our infrastructure needs; housing affordability; diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; and responsible development within the context of environmental stewardship – while also monitoring carefully our school capacity and traffic needs.
Why are you running? 
MEAD: We all care about education. We all want to feel safe. We all want our voices to be heard.  We all seek a prosperous economy with ample opportunity for everyone. We all expect our public resources to be used in a careful, transparent, and forward-thinking manner. Inspired by my experience as a public-school teacher, parent, outdoors enthusiast, and longtime resident, I am running for Wake County Commissioner, serving the county where I have lived for 16 years. I’m running as the Democratic candidate to make a difference in the ways that matter most to the citizens of Wake County.
SINKEZ: I champion ERA passage because I believe in equal pay for equal work. As Commissioner, I’ll champion paying folks living wages, ensuring we’re prioritizing equity and creating a future where just surviving isn’t a struggle. This goes hand in hand with ensuring there’s enough high-quality, affordable housing; safe, walkable communities; a robust, accessible, reliable public transit system; a reformed justice system where we’ve reimagined policing and prioritized community wellness; as well as strong public schools and job opportunities no matter what zip code someone calls home. People can’t thrive if they’re worried about their next meal or gentrification displacing them.
STALLINGS: I am running because I believe strongly in public service working for the public good. Additionally, I believe my professional and local government experience gives me a strong skill set for the County Commissioner role. I want to partner with the current Board to help provide more equitable opportunity for a healthy and sustainable economy, community, and environment for all in Wake County. We also need more women in elected positions, in an effort to have more diverse viewpoints and lived experiences when making public policy decisions.
What three issues are the most important to your campaign and what are your positions on each? 
MEAD: The service provided to our country by our military members should not be ignored. Funding and establishing a Veteran’s court to address the specific needs of those who served our country and better supporting our large Veteran population that resides in Wake County would be one of my objectives. As the daughter of a retired educator, a parent, a former teacher, graduate of public schools, and a current WCPSS substitute, I know first-hand that a robust public education system is the foundation of our community. One of my priorities would be to expand early childhood educational opportunities by working with local agencies to ensure needs are met for all families.  Additionally, we need to hold our state elected officials accountable to fully fund our public schools, so that we can maintain quality teachers and staff. 
SINKEZ: By taking care of the needs of folks who already call Wake home through continual investments in community services including transit and housing, environmental spaces, and public education, we show the world we have the infrastructure and capacity necessary to continue to grow. Investing in transit ensures opportunities and benefits of growth are available to wider populations, further enhancing Wake’s attractiveness to outside investors and businesses. Creating affordable, accessible, reliable public transportation demands a concerted, multi-pronged effort. Envision transportation as a wheel, while education, affordable housing, and renewable energy are spokes. Everything ties into transit. Equitable affordable housing that’s truly an investment in our community requires transit so residents can get to work or visit urban cores. Our intent should be to increase ridership through streamlined, timely service. We must create a system people actually want to use that doesn’t bring stigma to its ridership. 
STALLINGS: The three issues most important to my campaign are working to create equitable opportunity for a healthy and sustainable economy, community, and environment for all. A healthy and sustainable economy involves continued work on the economic development front attracting diverse businesses to our area that provide good paying jobs for our residents. Another component of a strong economy includes affordable and accessible high-speed internet for homes, businesses, and schools. And finally, having a variety of cultural events and festivals throughout the year is an investment in our local economy as well as opportunity for community and relationship building among residents. Secondly, a healthy and sustainable community includes several initiatives to promote wellness for our residents. These include continued investments in education from preschool to community college, housing affordability, and health care / mental health care. And finally, a healthy and sustainable environment involves staying on track to meet the County’s climate and renewable energy goals by 2050. Additionally, I will continue to advocate for greenways/trails and open spaces in our county, as well as public transportation improvements (bus and commuter rail).
If elected, what changes would you make within the first 100 days of being in office? 
MEAD: I want to expand services to Veteran’s Wake County is home to a large population of individuals who served our country. We can work together to improve mental health services, directional signage to facilities specifically serving this population, and improve veterans’ interactions with the justice system by educating law enforcement officers on veterans’ issues and creating a dedicated veterans’ court. Additionally, I would like to see Wake County have a free-standing DNA analysis lab so we are not dependent on the state to process sexual assault kits. If we create this, processing would significantly reduce the wait time for results.
SINKEZ: We’re facing an affordable housing deficit. Former Commissioner Jessica Holmes had a brilliant idea we must pursue. She proposed using the school system’s surplus property as locations to build affordable housing. This boosts diversity without the stigma and issues of busing. Placing affordable housing near campuses helps balance the system, expanding children’s school choices while families can reside in areas where transit investments will be made sooner because of density. Offering land to nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity is a step in the right direction. We should solicit community involvement and support affordable housing work groups to continue developing creative solutions. 
STALLINGS: If elected, I would like an assessment of our County’s mental health service delivery compared to the needs identified among our residents. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of children and adults. I am interested in working with our current Board members and our community/regional partners to strengthen mental health service delivery (including substance misuse) to our residents.
What is one issue that does not get talked about a lot that concerns you? 
MEAD: On the campaign trail, I have been meeting with many people from all parts of the county, including mayors, town managers, landowners and farmers.  I also took a tour of the Holly Springs landfill.  The current facility will be full in about 20 years, and we do not have a site identified to replace it.  The amount of land needed is about 800 acres, which is substantial.  This is a decision the county commissioners would be making in conjunction with other stakeholders, so electing someone who is an advocate for all citizens is important.
SINKEZ: I’m committed to environmental justice. There are marginalized groups who are more vulnerable to the effects of pollution due to their proximity to toxins, which is a result of racism and redlining. Commissioners should ask how every policy we plan to enact will affect not just the environment, but people living in these environments. We should communicate and interact with folks potentially impacted by policies. Equity and inclusion in governing mean we don’t just ask people to attend the dance, we ask them to dance and give them every tool necessary to ensure they can participate without facing undue burdens. 
STALLINGS: Firearm safety and gun violence prevention. This issue also falls within my campaign framework of a healthy and sustainable community. I recognize that equitable investment in our communities can strengthen economic mobility, educational and recreational opportunities, and healthcare/mental health care access for residents – which in turn can have a positive effect in reducing gun violence. This is a serious issue that I am willing to study and discuss with Board colleagues and community stake holders  in an effort to promote more community safety and wellness.
Why should voters select you as the candidate to advance? 
MEAD: In Wake, few parents of younger children hold elected office, especially at the municipal level, and especially women. As a mom to 3 kids attending WCPSS’s public schools, I have a front row seat to the needs of families, because their needs are mine too.  As a former educator and substitute, I also know the challenges and strengths of our public education system, which is 58% of the county budget. I would be the youngest woman on the commission at age 43, we need to elect candidates that represent the voters who elect them, with diverse lived experiences and backgrounds.
SINKEZ: This is about each of us growing and thriving in a community we’re proud to call home. I’m the candidate that’ll help us invest in the promise of our collective whole through tending to policies that make us whole – from supporting teachers and students by ensuring great public schools; to funding accessible, reliable public transit; to enhancing veterans’ services; to protecting environmental spaces. To quote Nelson Henderson, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” This election is about creating a legacy of thoughtful policy and progress that’ll endure for generations.
STALLINGS: I am the only candidate who has local government experience. I have worked with government finance; budgeting; economic development; diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives; housing affordability; development decisions; and environmental policy. While working with my Apex Town Council colleagues to help mitigate the negative impact of COVID over the past two years, we also accomplished a number of other tasks such as approval of a downtown improvement plan, housing affordability plan, and environmental advisory board; facilitated an infrastructure bond that voters approved; and hired new diverse staff to support Council initiatives and service delivery to residents.

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