Newly minted county commissioner (and former Chapel Hill Town Council member) Penny Rich just sent a letter (quoted in its entirety below) to Chapel Hill mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. In it she takes strong exception to the behavior of Chapel Hill Planning Board chair Del Snow, who attended a county commissioners meeting last month to speak against the implementation of the Orange County transit plan. (See OP's live coverage of the meeting and discussion of the transit vote.)
While I wholeheartedly share Penny's concerns about Del misrepresenting the town, her call for the town to remove Del from the Planning Board will probably provoke a defensive response about municipal sovereignty, which will make it politically difficult for the town to actually do anything about it. Frankly I'm even more bothered that someone in a position of planning leadership such as Del is working to undermine the large-scale community transportation planning that is so critical to our future. Either way I'd like to see some new leaders on the Planning Board, preferably who appreciate both planning and process. But only the Chapel Hill Town Counil can make that happen.
All of us in the local political chattering class have been talking about who will be the successor to Penny Rich, since Penny will be resigning from the Chapel Hill Town Council soon to take her new seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners. A lot of qualified names have been tossed out, including Maria Palmer and George Cianciolo.
But there is a new candidate in the mix that I believe will eclipse the competition. I heard from a friend that former Town Council member Sally Greene was interested in the seat. I was so excited to hear this that I called her this weekend and she confirmed that she really is interested in returning to the big curved table at Town Hall.
In a tight Democratic primary involving 3 candidates for 2 seats in Orange County's district 1, civil rights attorney and former Carrboro alderman Mark Dorosin came out ahead with 10,474 votes. He will be joined on the Board of Commissioners by current Chapel Hill Town Council member Penny Rich (9709 votes). Because there was no Republican primary in district 1 this year, Dorosin and Rich will take their seats after the general election in November. They will replace outgoing commissioner Valerie Foushee and incumbent commissioner Pam Hemminger (9167 votes).
It is important to recognize that the goal of Voter Owned Elections is not simply to reign in campaign spending but to put government back into the hands of the public. Voter Owned Elections help to ensure that politicians are accountable to the voters and not to well-funded special interest groups that donate large sums to campaigns. Public campaign financing also ensures that marginalized groups, such as women, minorities and low-income citizens who may not have access to special interest funding or the ability to loan themselves large sums of money still have an opportunity to participate in the electoral process.
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