During the election season we heard a lot about why Voter Owned Elections (VOE) were needed in Chapel Hill and how it would put power in the hands of the voters instead of some unnamed "big money forces." We now have had the election and the next test is the appointment to fill the Strom seat.
So for those who say the voters should have control, will they now re-frame their arguments to preclude the voters from engaging in a Voter Owned Appointment (VOA)? The facts are simple; there has not only been a debate over when to have the Council make their decision but also who should be appointed. Some wanted the newly elected Council to make the decision. Some want the candidate on the ballot who came in fifth to be appointed.
I don't know why Mr. Strom timed his resignation as he did or what advantage he was trying to achieve, but I assume he believed that his sitting colleagues would fill the seat. We have even been told by Mayor Foy that the person should have Strom-like values. We have not been told which ones should or should not be included, but the departure "game" is not one that I think we should champion. But as I said, we don't know or understand why this was done, just like I don't understand why Mr. Hill would put his character, integrity or honor on the line to send a questionable message on a postcard to voters. As a former candidate and Council member he knows the Board of Elections has rules, and one would think he would check before writing his check. So, there are many things we don't know.
We do know that we need to make an appointment. The person who finished fifth had more votes than any non-candidate had. Why would we not appoint him, unless we have a non-VOA goal in mind. Mayor Foy has been open in expressing his social engineering goal. It appears from the election that our voters will elect African Americans; they put two more on the School Board, suggesting that it is really about the candidates that they have to choose from.
To not select the fifth place finisher says we don't believe in Voter Owned Appointments. To try to engineer the Council to reflect a social goal will offend citizens of every race; it ignores what voters just said. So this is not like the situation in prior appointments because we have just voted. And I want to also believe, like President Obama said, that those we elect should be capable of speaking for the entire electorate.
So, very soon we will learn how the members of our new Council of eight , six of whom voted for VOE and/or ran as a VOE candidate, will answer the question. We can only hope that they also believe in VOA.