Incumbents

Let’s dispel rumors right from the get-go: Sally Greene’s decision not to seek a third term on Town Council probably had nothing to do with freeing up her Monday nights to watch “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” series. Rather, Greene said she has accomplished what she set out to do: convening the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness; voting for the inclusionary zoning ordinance; creating seven Neighborhood Conservation Districts since 2004; and preserving 92 acres of open space under a permanent conservation easement. One memorable moment came recently from her “no way, no how” comment as she argued against an urban archery program to reduce the deer population. The remark was the closest thing to an outburst the otherwise even-keel council member has uttered. We’ve appreciated that over the years she has rid her voice of an early peevish edge, and we wish her well in her future endeavors.

Three incumbents are running.

This will be the first campaign for Donna Bell, whose name was put forth after the 2009 election because incumbent Jim Merritt did not get enough votes to stay on council, and council members wanted a black member. Initially, Bell brought a fresh perspective to council and asked interesting questions. But as time went on, she had less availability and displayed less independent thinking. She has missed more council meetings than anyone on the dais.

Matt Czajkowski has done a yeoman’s job of trying to turn around the Titanic. Before he was elected to his first term in 2007, council votes routinely ran 9-0. After he was elected, we began seeing votes of 8-1 or 7-2, and in recent years, as the town has struggled with the sagging economy, council members are listening to his financial acumen, and some votes have gone 5-4. He has taken common-sense approaches, remained steadfast despite sniping and sarcastic comments from other council members, and urged council members to heed findings and recommendations from the experts on staff and advisory boards. With plenty of hair left to pull out, he’s willing to take on another term.

Jim Ward is seeking his fourth term on council. We’ve watched him become less didactic and more thoughtful in recent years, and we respect his ardent protection of plant life. Not known for rabble-rousing, he nevertheless pushed hard for the county to pony up more money for the library and spoke out against the railroading of two sanitation workers fired after lobbying for a union.
– Nancy Oates

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8 Comments

  1. Ph. Johnson-Sledge

     /  July 19, 2011

    Thanks for the accurate characterization of what passes for elected wisdom in Chapel Hill. As an African-American I was horrified when council appointed Donna Bell just because she is black–one of the most blatant racist acts I’ve seen. I was even more horrified when she suggested (snidely mind you) that the Chapel Hill Museum should “have more cupcake sales” to raise $ in order to maintain the town’s building AND remain a viable resource for the community. Insult to injury was that a) she had never actually ever been to the museum and b) she was referring to a family friendly event at the Preservation Society that is more friend-raiser than fund-raiser. She is an embarrassment and needs to be removed from any position of power–elected or otherwise. Her attendance record alone should sweep her right out into Town hall’s parking lot. Perhaps she’d have more time then to educate herself on the struggles facing the town’s non-profits, learn to appreciate the town’s history and value the work of the volunteers and professionals who were so devoted to conserving CH
    history through education and exhibits.

    Matt is the only reasonable incumbent. Even when I’ve not agreed with his position, I respected his knowledge, his business sense in a crowd of officials who can’t read a profit and loss or a balance sheet, and his level -headed responses to the moronic utterances of his fellow members. If Matt had been elected mayor rather than the current boy-wonder in our midst, we would be living in a very different town, with a very different future and all of it likely would be far improved.

    Don’t get me started on Sally Greene–so glad to see the back of her …fingers crossed that her political ambitions are satiated, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  2. Terri Buckner

     /  July 19, 2011

    I did not agree with the decision to appoint Donna Bell but I have been favorably impressed by her comments and opinions in the two issues I have followed closely (Northside moratorium and new Community House for men). I appreciate the calmness and intelligence she has brought to those discussions as well as the humanity and compassion. If I lived in Chapel Hill, I would definitely vote for her. I find it hard to believe she has missed more meetings than Gene Pease.

    I’ve also been very happy with Matt C. I don’t always agree with him, but I like the fact that he pushes to get answers instead of assuming he knows the answers based on his personal opinion. I’ve also been impressed with the good graces he displays when certain others on council are denigrating him/his opinions. My hope is that during the next season, all members of the council will accept each other and when they disagree to do so respectfully. Matt is the model for that behavior.

    Jim Ward also gets my support. He led the way in bringing the Sanitation 2 discussion to the council. If he hadn’t cast the first vote to discuss the issue publicly, I feel sure council would never have discussed it. I also appreciated his contribution to the deer hunting discussions and many others. Like with Matt, I don’t always agree with him but I appreciate the calm demeanor in which he comports himself and the way that he can stand on principal when it’s really important.

    I have always liked and respected Mark K, but I supported Matt in the last mayoral race. However, I will support Mark this year because I have watched him grow into the position and feel that he deserves another term (at least) to mature further into the position. Watching him has made it clear that there is a very steep learning curve when going from council member to the mayoral role. And he’s had some real challenges, especially for that two month period where they were dealing with the Sanitation 2 and Community House. During the first round of protesters, I thought he was too aggressive in shutting down the protests. But he got better with experience. Balancing out his natural humanity with the responsibility of maintaining order in chambers isn’t something anyone could do easily without practice. I also appreciate the serious way he has changed some of his beliefs to focus more on creating a positive business environment. He recognized problems and rose to the occasion. That’s positive leadership in my book.

  3. Runner

     /  July 19, 2011

    Terri,

    Your post was moot when you said you didn’t live in Chapel Hill. I suggest that you start attending the County Commisioner’s meetings.

  4. Terri Buckner

     /  July 19, 2011

    I work and spend a great deal of my time in Chapel Hill. As long as this council and the one in Carrboro impact my day-to-day life, I’ll continue to attend their meetings and share my opinions. If you don’t like it, please feel free to ignore my posts.

  5. John Kramer

     /  July 19, 2011

    Well said, Runner. “Get yer own blog!” LOL thanks for that.

  6. Duncan O'Malley

     /  July 19, 2011

    Out of curiosity, what is Donna Bell’s attendance record when compared to council members?

  7. Duncan O'Malley

     /  July 19, 2011

    Out of curiosity, what is Donna Bell’s attendance record when compared to other council members?

  8. -K

     /  July 19, 2011

    The townsfolk want to solve CH’s financial problems by rezoning the ETJ (Orange County) as a commercial district, and annexing it. And the ETJ’ers have no place in that discussion, and don’t belong at the CH council meetings? Sheeesh.

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