To be rather than to seem

Elections in Chapel Hill are when the esse meets the videri. The election filing period opened in Orange County last Friday, and residents have until next Friday to register their intent to run for public office.

Chapel Hill will elect four Town Council members and a mayor in November. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt has filed for re-election. Town Council members Gene Pease and Laurin Easthom announced earlier this year that they would not seek re-election. Sally Greene has filed to stay on the dais. Ed Harrison has not yet declared his intentions.

Since the last municipal election, in 2011, the town has been consumed by development issues and debt. We’ve gone through the CH2020 visioning process, which included a goal of making room for even modestly paid people to live in town, but even after CH202 became the town’s new comprehensive plan, elected officials and town staff have struggled to implement it. Now the steering committee for Central West Focus Area, the first of six sections of town ripe for redevelopment, reports a similar disconnect between town residents, staff and outside consultants.

We took on about $16 million in debt to expand the library, because as a university town, we pride ourselves on being a little more bookish than our neighbors. Yet that debt keeps us from finding police and fire stations free of mold, pressures the town manager to bust unions to keep a lid on personnel costs, delays extending the greenway and sidewalks, and puts off adequately funding retired municipal employees’ health care expenses.

During election season, we’ll hear plenty of talk about what we want Chapel Hill to be: inclusive, cutting-edge, artsy, bustling, innovative, cool. I suspect the Invisible Middle (those 25- to 55-year olds who collectively pay the most in taxes yet didn’t make the cut in Kleinschmidt’s sound bite that he was mayor of a town of 20-year-olds and 80-year-olds) might have their own list. But once the votes are counted and the yard signs plucked from intersections, we have virtually no control over whether elected officials do what they say they’d do on the campaign trail. We’ve seen that from our state legislators and governor in recent months. And Town Council newbies face a continual fight with the “we’ve always done it this way” old guard.

Chapel Hill needs to become a verb rather than an adjective. If you’ve got the backbone to stand up for what you believe, Chapel Hill needs you in public office. The filing period closes at 5 p.m. July 19.
– Nancy Oates

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  1. Bonnie Hauser

     /  July 12, 2013

    Terri – Patrick’s twitter account has his photo.

    you seemed to have missed the point – its not about TTA – its about public comments from people who work anywhere in public service. The most inspired comment came from Many – and we should all consider it
    “dismissive responses toward legitimate discussion will not be tolerated. That is just good policy”

    Unfortunately we allowed free speech to distract us from an important opportunity to discuss whether the infrastructure is adequate for the planned development.

    Nancy – can you plan a new post on the implications of the great flood – maybe with bibilcal references? What shall we do about the bugs!

  2. Let's get real

     /  July 14, 2013

    Mr. McDonough (a 2004 UNC grad, “virtual media specialist” and TTA senior planner) exploited the misery of flood victims in an attempt to silence legitimate discussion and to promote his employers agenda. When his tweet is criticized and despite the nature and intent of the tweet, Ms. Buckner (very quickly and persistently) cries “free speech!”

    Where is Ms. Buckner’s outrage about Rutgers University professor John Pucher’s free speech being trampled by UNC and transitively the TTA? UNCs abrupt action to cancel Mr. Pucher’s visit is a worrisome example of suppression of benign free speech at an institution who claims “Light and Liberty” as its motto. …………..nary a word about Mr. Pucher’s free speech from the selectively outraged Ms. Buckner……….

    what could the reason for that be? Is it merely a symptom?

    UNC needs to be rather than to seem…….their system is past being out of control; Academic credit for plagiarism and no show classes. Personal travel on the taxpayers dime (a Hansbrough finally got called for traveling). Sacrificial prosecution of an academically focused, good, decent, but naive Chancellor; Holden Thorpe. UNC Honor courts attempting to shame and silence the messenger of safety and sexual assault problems. Attempts to silence differing views from visiting professors. Now what?……”wheels for heels”.

    Something is rotting in the southern part of heaven and Carol Folt really has her work cut out for her.

  3. Fred Black

     /  July 16, 2013

    As of today’s filing by Loren Hintz, there are now seven on the CH Town Council ballot. Maybe two more by noon Friday? Note that the age range is 51 to 64 and the mayor is younger than all of them at 43.

  4. Don Evans

     /  July 16, 2013


    The line-up for this election year depresses me.

    Doesn’t matter how many are running if none of them have the capacity to think forward. Retreads such as Sally Greene, Ed Harrison and George C will not take this town in a responsible direction. The council needs critical thinkers and people who are willing to ask for the studies and numbers and not mindlessly accept the status quo.

    If Greene and Harrison are the best we can find, then god help us!

  5. Antisthenes

     /  July 17, 2013

    Fred, I’m not sure why the candidates’ ages are that important. As you point out, Kleinschmidt is already a pretty young mayor, and Bell and Storrow are even younger than he is.

  6. Diogenes

     /  July 17, 2013

    Welcome Antisthenes of Athens, who once said cities were ruined when they were unable to distinguish worthless citizens from virtuous ones.

  7. Many

     /  July 17, 2013


    Say hi to Gorgias for me……..remind him that “I know that I know nothing at all.”

  8. Diogenes

     /  July 17, 2013

    “Fifteen years ago, a few residents of Talkeetna, Alaska — a tiny town of 900 — didn’t like the candidates who were running for mayor. As a joke, they told people to vote for Stubbs the cat as a write-up (sic) candidate. Somehow, he won and they’ve been re-electing him ever since.” (source for Fred: Business Insider)

  9. Many

     /  July 17, 2013

    Why not Incitatus?

  10. Diogenes

     /  July 17, 2013

    If it was anything like the original introduction It would be quite a press conference.