Cynthia Brodhead, wife of President Richard Brodhead, has been appointed as one of three co-chairs for a Durham-sponsored committee that will push for the passage of bond referendums worth $110 million.
Brodhead joins longtime Durham residents and fellow civic leaders Nathan and Wanda Garrett to lead the "8 Bonds for a Better Durham" Committee. The committee is seeking passage of the eight general obligation bond issues in a Nov. 8 referendum.
The bonds would cover more than 80 municipal projects-including street and sidewalk repairs, neighborhood improvements and infrastructure upgrades to cultural facilities, city properties and water and sewage systems.
"These are all basic, fundamental things you have to do," Brodhead said. "Anyone who lives in a community has an obligation of stewardship to ensure that these things get done."
Although the improvements at stake are not necessarily glamorous, Brodhead noted the importance of the committee. "You don't want people to be so nonchalant about these issues that they don't go out and vote," she said.
In a letter posted on the municipal government website, City Manager Patrick Baker wrote that the passage of the referendum might result in a property tax increase of about 5.7 cents for every $100 of assessed property value.
Since moving to Durham last year, Brodhead has become involved in the local community. She serves on the boards of the Ronald McDonald House of Durham, the Historic Preservation Society of Durham, the Durham Arts Council and South Eastern Efforts Developing Sustainable Spaces, Inc.
"I feel so privileged to live in the University community, and I think it's very important to build bridges [to the Durham community]," Brodhead said.
The city held a rally to mark the bond campaign's start Oct. 3 at the Hayti Heritage Center. For the past two years, a panel comprised of city officials and 28 community representatives has been reviewing and prioritizing a catalog of over 200 potential projects to decide what will be funded if the bonds pass.
Baker said he is optimistic about the campaign. "What the voters should consider is whether or not they agree with the issues," rather than the actual price of the bonds because bonds are the best funding method available, he said.
Durham is one of fewer than 40 cities nationwide with a top 'AAA' credit rating given by all three major U.S. bond rating agencies. As a result of this high rating, the city is able to borrow money at the lowest possible interest rates. The rating was reaffirmed last month.
"[Brodhead is] extremely smart and very attentive to what it is we're trying to accomplish, especially for only being here a year," Baker said. "I think the Brodheads get it."
The appointment of Brodhead, an attorney, fits into a long tradition of community work by the spouses of University presidents. Brenda Brodie, wife of former President Keith Brodie, has served as president of SEEDS, which she co-founded in 1994, and the Durham Arts Council. She was also on the boards of the American Dance Festival, the Durham Academy Board of Trustees and North Carolina Arts Advocates.
Margaret Rose Sanford, wife of former President Terry Sanford, was on the boards of Eastern Carolina University and the North Carolina Symphony and sat on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in Service.
Mary Reamey Thomas Few, Class of 1906, wife of William Preston Few-the first president of Duke-was active in the state and national Republican Party and served on the board of the Darlington School for Boys in Rome, Ga.
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