What we won and lost

Jon DeHart didn’t lose last night. All of us in Chapel Hill lost.

DeHart has the financial expertise, knowledge of debt and ability to analyze risk that Town Council will need for the foreseeable future. He is a coalition builder and team player who ran a clean, transparent campaign. He can rise above snarkiness. We can bank on his integrity.

Yet on a gorgeous fall day, not enough people took time out from their busy day to go to the polls and ensure him a seat on council. We will live to regret it.

Matt Czajkowski retained his seat and the lonely position of holding council members accountable for their actions. Donna Bell won her first election. Jim Ward, the stealth candidate, returned for a third term. And Lee Storrow, the novelty candidate, will get to view the world from the dais.

How is it that in this dire economy, with a field of strong candidates who have years of life experience and career expertise among them, we selected someone whose diploma is probably not yet back from the framer’s?

Mark Kleinschmidt, who continues as mayor, will have the opportunity to serve as father figure to this ambitious pup. Kleinschmidt, a Carolina alum, as is Storrow, has logged a decade on the dais and knows that being young and bright and cute will only take you so far when you need to make decisions as part of a team that includes some very strong personalities. Kleinschmidt, we suspect, knows how much council will miss DeHart’s down-to-earth leadership style and business expertise.

But looking to the positive, Nathan Westmoreland, president of UNC’s Young Democrats, assured me that Storrow and Czajkowski are a lot alike and that they stand for the same things. Westmoreland and I were electioneering at the same precinct today, and every time I told a voter why I supported Czajkowski, Westmoreland would follow up with, “Everything she said applies to my friend Lee.”

So we’re buoyed by the expectation that every time Czajkowski raises his hand yea or nay on a vote, Storrow will follow suit.

But we’ll miss what DeHart could have added to the discussion.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. George C

     /  November 9, 2011

    Nancy, we never lose when citizens take the time out to go to the polls to vote. Some may be disappointed by the results, but we don’t lose. We’re only two days away from the day we have chosen to honor all the men and women who have given so much of themselves to allow us to keep that right to vote. Every time we exercise that right it is a victory for them. My disappointment is that so many citizens fail to appreciate those sacrifices and use what has been preserved for them. We make such a big deal about the moving of an “early voting” site and yet we’re lucky to get a 15% turnout. Maybe we need to lose – lose the right to vote in order to learn to appreciate and value it again.

  2. Terri Buckner

     /  November 9, 2011

    In survey research, you need something around a 30% return for results to be considered valid. With a voter turnout of 17.46% (17,848 out of 102,224), I think we have bigger concerns than the age of one of the selected.

    As I’ve said before, I think Lee will do an excellent job. He knows how to study, he has a lot of energy and drive, and he is honest, intelligent and caring. Congratulations to him and all the other winners. And thank you to all of the candidates who cared enough about this community to run for elected office.

  3. Mark Marcoplos

     /  November 9, 2011

    What happened to the “Chapel Hill Watch bump” for Sookram?

  4. John Kramer

     /  November 9, 2011

    Mark,Terri- who did you vote for CH Town council?

  5. Nancy Oates

     /  November 9, 2011

    Mark, perhaps the 4% Sookram got was the Chapel Hill Watch bump.

  6. Terri Buckner

     /  November 9, 2011

    Mark–since you were a Green Party member, you must be intimately familiar with supporting losing candidates. But you did it any way to stay true to your values. Why would you mock someone else for doing the same thing? This animosity toward people who support non-mainstream candidates has to stop. Diversity in thought and preference is a good thing for the community.

  7. WJW

     /  November 9, 2011

    The increase in sales tax passed (on the third try?). Is there any possibility that a citizen petition could put a reduction in sales taxes on the ballot?

    Or are we never going to see that issue on the ballot now that an increase has passed?

  8. Mark Marcoplos

     /  November 9, 2011


    I’ve supported losing candidates in my time, but I always considered them to be qualiied for the office they were running for. Not to split too fine a hair, I’m not averse to entertaining mockery. I would consider my comment to be mild mockery and not at the level of derision that is found so frequently on this site.

  9. Clark

     /  November 9, 2011

    If someone is not too young to risk life and limb in Afghanistan or Iraq, they’re certainly not too young to work for the betterment of Chapel Hill. Lee Storrow met the requirements for office, and he prevailed. Live with it.

  10. Terri Buckner

     /  November 9, 2011

    I agree Mark–your mockery was fairly low key. Personally, I’ve supported a few candidates just to oppose the majority choice. I think you have too.

  11. John Kramer

     /  November 9, 2011

    I did not realize Lee Storrow was a veteran. Wow, how impressive!

  12. Lynne Kane

     /  November 18, 2011

    This November 2011 election demonstrated bigtime the understandable lack of attention Chapel Hill residents in general are able to pay to local politics. Thus many do not even watch videos of the candidate forums nor read the various candidate questionaires with answers placed on websites and/or printed in newspapers (Friends of Downtown, Chamber of Commerce, Daily Tar Heel, Chapel Hill News, Friends of Bolin Creek et al.). What happens? Many who do vote simply follow the Sierra Club endorsees, which are immediately repeated by the so-called “Independent.”
    Proof? I recall several years ago when the Sierra Club did not endorse the re-election of Ed Harrison because they did not like one of his votes. The Independent quoted that and said therefore they were not endorsing Ed Harrison either. Further: an educated adult male told me he did not want to consider my personal list of this year’s endorsees because “that’s not the Sierra Club-Independent list.”
    Big question: Why does the Orange County Democratic Party not endorse candidates, when for at least a decade it has been clear that the Sierra Club, which will only consider registered Democrats, becomes the de facto Democratic Party endorsement list?
    John DeHart, a registered Democrat, was exactly the kind of candidate needed with the intelligence, experience and character to lead Chapel Hill at this turning point. Many in Chapel Hill recognize that over a decade of Town Council leadership with no business experience or expertise – and many boards and committees to match – has chased business away from Chapel Hill, but too many remain unaware of the destructive role of the Sierra Club-Indy endorsement list in our elections.