Who chooses?

The Central West Focus Area steering committee starts work next week, on Dec. 19. Only 16 members will gather in the first-floor conference room at Town Hall that night at 6 p.m. Seventeen people were recommended for appointment, but a little political gerrymandering went awry, and council members, in a vote by secret ballot, approved only 16 people to serve.

A council committee with Matt Czajkowski, Ed Harrison and Jim Ward met Nov. 19 and chose members from among those who had filled out an application and formally applied. The committee operated under certain restrictions – it had to appoint four business owners, focus area land owners or nonprofit representatives; one renter; and seven residents from the planning or impact area (out of 20 who applied); and state a preference for a representative of the Bike and Pedestrian Board or the Greenways Commission. A representative each from UNC, the school system, the planning board and the transportation board would complete the committee.

For one of the resident seats, the council committee selected Rudy Juliano, a pharmacy school professor who has long been active in town government advisory boards. But shortly before the Dec. 3 Town Council meeting started, council members received an email from Juliano stating that he thought former council member Julie McClintock would be better suited to serve in his stead. During the public comment phase that night, a couple people spoke endorsing McClintock for the seat. Whit Rummel, who owns an unimproved 14-acre parcel along Estes Drive near the MLK intersection, spoke against appointing McClintock; he had found her to be a roadblock in meeting with neighboring property owners about his development plans. Rummel was appointed to the Central West steering committee in a landowner seat.

The notion of appointed representatives swapping out their seat didn’t sit well with council members, especially the three who took the time to sift through the applications and piece together a group with diverse viewpoints and skills. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt called for a ballot vote by the entire council on whom to seat. When the votes were tallied, council members had opted to go forward with a committee of 16, rather than appoint a replacement for Juliano.

Next month, council will appoint someone to finish out the remaining term of the vacancy created when Penny Rich left. A few people with lengthy resumes of service to the community indicated their interest. But when former council member Sally Greene tossed her hat in the ring, George Cianciolo and Jason Baker backed out.

From council’s response to staffing the Central West committee, I’d say council members would not want any potential candidates serving up another in their stead. Cianciolo and Baker, and everyone else with the desire to serve and a tolerance for PowerPoint presentations, should formally apply, regardless of who else joins the candidate pool.
– Nancy Oates

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7 Comments

  1. Jason Baker

     /  December 10, 2012

    Nancy,

    At least in my case, it’s not quite that simple. Serving on the council is a major commitment that requires a lot of free time. Since coming up short in the election last year, I’ve made other choices that have affected my ability to serve. Not the least of which was my decision to move from part-time to full-time status in my graduate program. Now that I’m nearly done, my top priority is finding full-time employment again. Whether or not it’s a good thing, there’s no doubt that serving on council is currently a close to full-time job with a part-time stipend. I hope every potential candidate weighs their decision very carefully.

    That said, if I were unhappy with the options the council has, I’d consider putting my name in and trying to make it work. But fortunately, it sounds like there are plenty of qualified candidates this time around. If there’s a vacancy or election somewhere down the road where I don’t feel like there are enough candidates I can support, I might put my name in the hat again, if my situation allows. The council, of course, does not have to follow George and my recommendation to appoint Sally Greene. But I hope they do.

    As for the Central West group? Rudy has every right to lobby for his replacement. And the council has every right to decide to follow his recommendation, or not.

  2. DOM

     /  December 11, 2012

    Re-seating Sally Greene on the council seems more like a lurch back to the past rather than a step ahead to the future. I’m just sayin’…

  3. Ed Harrison

     /  December 11, 2012

    Correction: The reason there was a balloting for the Central West appointments was that I pulled it from the consent agenda — as Mark very clearly stated. He had put it on the consent agenda — in my 11 years on Council, an unprecedented action for an appointment.

  4. Ed, will you work to appoint the final resident representative from the original list of applicants? I had the support of folks in my neighborhood as did others, so it’s difficult to understand why you wouldn’t appoint from the applicants who have already volunteered, have support and are well qualified to take on the task.

  5. phsledge

     /  December 15, 2012

    Have to agree with Dom’s assessment of having Sally Greene back on council. This is an opportunity for a new voice and new perspective–don’t waste it.

  6. Thanks for commenting on the Council’s selection process. It’s the Council’s job to make the selections to the Central West Steering Committee and I was an applicant along with a number of other well qualified individuals. A number of people wrote the Council requesting that I be appointed. I missed by a 3 (in favor) – 4 (blank I assume) votes. I did not follow Matt’s argument that the Council should not follow the advice of an applicant who preferred to withdraw. One would hope the Council would listen to the neighbors and see who they want to represent them. However the Council receives and can dismiss any advice it wants. The Council could have appointed me or any of a number of other applicants, so the fact they did not do so only means they did not have a majority for any particular person and the slot remains open for the first steering committee meeting next week. I expect the 7th slot to be filled soon.

    There are a number of interested residents like me who will not sit on the steering committee but who will want to be involved in the deliberations for the future of the Central West focus area. If interested you can tune in to centralwestcitizens.wordpress.com or ask to be added to our newsletter list.

    Whit Rummel’s comments were unfortunate. The Mayor should have shut down his unfair attacks on me on the spot. It is ridiculous for a prospective developer to single out one person as the “roadblock” to his plans.Our neighborhoods chose to ask the town to do a small area plan rather than to “negotiate” with Whit. IN the past we have had a cordial relationship, as he approached me years ago and discussed with me ways to encourage UNC to move the airport. He had just recently purchased his land underneath the runway betting the airport would close. Until UNC does close the airport, Whit’s land remains in the airport hazard zone and is not an appropriate candidate for rezoning. Further he is now in a position to advance his ideas for development on the Central West Steering Committee which is the ideal and proper forum for discussing what future uses we want to see in our area.

  7. Fred Black

     /  December 17, 2012

    “He had just recently purchased his land underneath the runway betting the airport would close.”

    Underneath?

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