At a recent Town Council meeting, several members encouraged Chapel Hill voters to put the county commissioners candidates’ feet to the fire about the public library funding inequities.
It was great political theater, hearing Jim Ward and Laurin Easthom bob their heads and look at one another and do their “Uh huh! Yeah! It’s an election year for the county!” routine.

So when the first filings rolled in last week and commissioners Alice Gordon and Barry Jacobs filed, I was curious what their candidacy statements would be.

No surprise with Gordon as she said she would run on her environmental record as well as improving public transit in the region. Umm, did Gordon not get the memo about county spending? About how the folks in Hillsborough have overspent to the point where the county has reached its debt limit? And that Gordon voted in favor of all that ruinous spending, the same spending that keeps the county from paying its fair share of Chapel Hill library costs? Maybe Gordon should revise her platform and run on something a bit more pertinent to the average county resident, such as how the commissioners plan to return the county to solvency.

Jacobs in his filing statement at least acknowledged that the economic landscape is “unsettled” and that he is committed to government that is “cost-effective and customer-oriented.” Those sentiments are refreshing, given that a whole lot of county folks believe the Board of Commissioners is the last group that cares about its “customers.” Otherwise the board wouldn’t have spent tax dollars so extravagantly and then come back demanding more. The candidates should take to heart the tax revolt of last winter and heed what a whole bunch of those “customers” were saying. If I recall correctly, Jacobs pooh-poohed the protests in as good a Marie Antoinette imitation as he could project.

So, it’s time to put the incumbents on notice – business as usual just ain’t gonna cut it during these terrible budget times. Any serious commissioner candidate must be one who is concerned about county spending and willing to rein it in. And the serious candidate had better get a grip on not raising taxes and on being honest with taxpayers — even with the so-called “revenue neutral” revaluations of last year, my property tax went up 6 percent.

I plan to sit up front at as many campaign forums as possible and remind the incumbents about their disastrous spending history. I would encourage others in the county to do the same. The commissioners are accountable and, I suspect, need to be reminded of that.

–Don Evans

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  1. Ned

     /  February 12, 2010

    I sure hope someone runs against the incumbents. It is pitiful that Barry Jacobs can talk about “doing something new”. He and Gordon have been around too long and have gotten us into the debt mess we are in.

  2. Terri Buckner

     /  February 12, 2010

    What ruinous spending have the commissioners pursued? They do spend a lot of schools, but then again, county/city residents seem to demand the level of spending we get when it comes to education.

    I know it makes for good political theater to accuse elected officials of wasteful spending, but in the case of the commissioners, I think theater is all it is. If you want to criticize the commissioners, let’s focus on the lack of economic development or the failure to simply say no to the Chapel Hill Town Council’s demands for library funding when there is a county-wide budget crunch. They did undertake an infrastructure building year with the new library, animal shelter, and county office buildings, but have you been in the buildings they replaced? They were long past needing to be replaced.

    Please, let’s keep this upcoming election about real issues. We need reliable sources of revenue generation in this county. We need to address transportation. We need to protect our local farms. We don’t need to make up false accusations about profligate spending.

  3. Fred Black

     /  February 12, 2010

    Education is really required to help people understand the Districts and what it means in the Primary Election. In the Primary Election, only residents of a District may vote for the Commissioner candidate or candidates of their political party who reside in that District and seek to represent that District. All eligible voters in Orange County may vote in the Primary for At-Large candidates of their political party.

    BUT — for the General Election, all Orange County voters can vote for the candidate(s) to represent District 1, District 2, and At-Large.
    for info on the Districts.
    to follow who has filed for what.

  4. Fred Black

     /  February 12, 2010

    Terri, is not the assumption of $5.112M in new debt a legitimate election issue?

  5. Terri Buckner

     /  February 12, 2010

    Money is always an election issue. But that doesn’t mean debt is always the result of “disastrous spending.”

    During the last election, the incumbents all said that the county had invested so much in education that it’s infrastructure was failing. Anyone who had been in the old library or the old animal shelter could attest to that fact.

  6. Ned

     /  February 13, 2010

    “What ruinous spending have the commissioners pursued?” Ms. Buckner, you obviously do not live in Hillsborough or you would drive past the new $25M county office complex that was built without being competetively bid. Have you already forgotten that the BOCC has chosen the most expensive solution to our landfill problem? I could go on and on but why bother- you should inform yourself as to the reckless spending of the BOCC.

  7. Bill

     /  February 15, 2010

    Well, anyone who is a “budget disaster denier” should read the articles in yesterday’s papers about the deficit that Orange County is facing. Yes, it is a big deal and yes, it should be a big campaign issue. The incumbents have all been around long enough, they voted for the mess we are now in. And of course, what is one proposed solution?

    Raise property taxes, of course.

    Another solution?

    Raise sales taxes, of course.

    Cut the budget??? Stop spending??? No, way,no how as the local politicians like to say.

  8. Glenda

     /  March 25, 2010

    Speaking of accountability, where were you last night when the commissioners discussed green jobs, prioritized spending, and equitable distribution of resources? Not in the front row…