And The Winner Is...

...the people of Orange County! Sorry for the cheese, it's been a good night.

So here's your quick-and-dirty results, for much much more info check the Board of Elections site (which was a huge flop on election night, but is back up now).

Town Council: Sally Greene, Bill Strom, Cam Hill, Jim Ward
Mayor: Kevin Foy
Bonds: Yes on all 5

Board of Aldermen: Mark Chilton, Joal Broun, Alex Zaffron
Mayor: Mike Nelson
Bond: Yes

SCHOOL BOARD: Elizabeth Carter, Ed Sechrest, Michael Kelley, Gloria Faley



Here are my two lessons from this election (so far):

1. Hard work pays off. Sally and Mark seemed to have the most energetic campaigns in their respective towns, and they were the top vote-getters in their races. In Chapel Hill, this meant Sally was working press releases, had her own e-mail listerv, etc. In Carrboro, Mark simply talked to everyone by going door-to-door in almost every neighborhood. I also note that Sally comformed to the optional spending cap for candidates, while Mark probably spent much less. Maybe less than any of his 'opponents.'

1.5. I saw most of the incumbents coasting this year, and they were all re-elected, but some of them just barely. Challengers beat some incumbents in every race except the Mayors'.

2. Chapel Hill voters clearly - for the second election in a row - sent a message that they want a Council who will stand up to UNC and protect our interests while working toward the common good of both. I wonder if they will get what they asked for this time?

I'm sure everyone has their own take.

In light of the victors (and even Vanke's 40% to Nelson's 58%) I would say....

1. people want growth to be minimal/well devised and tied to the area no matter who is doing the developing. (I don't think everything is as hunky dorry with the Carrboro master plan as people think - the winmores and 5 story buildings) I think 40% in a write-in is awesome.

2. Don't introduce a major traffic corridor or a megadevelopment and claim to be for neighborhood preservation or not expect to upset the neighbors.

3. you better explain what "state of the art" and other vacuous terms mean if you run on them. Also, there did not seem to be merger confusion.

4. people who did bother to vote were more informed or followed voter guides.

5. The INDY endorsements seem huge in both Orange and Durham. To me it is a bit scarry to have so much power in one place.

6. The Weaver Dairy precinct came out huge for the 3 progressives - in fact the most votes for Greene and Hill and tied for first for Strom. don't mess with road widening.

I'd delighted, of course.

To me there are several sidebars:

First that Cam beat Dianne by 1200 votes, even though she

ran an excellent campaign. To me this means that the

UNC growth issue was paramount, and the near-to-both-campuses

neighborhoods garnered lots of support. I hope that the

Chancellor and BOT are watching, not because the town

can now control UNC, but because the town can now negotiate

from a stronger position to minimize the impacts of the

growth and that the UNC planners will now have to actually

build what they represent, e.g., no more interior parking

decks while preaching state-of-the-art transportation.

I don't think most people have a clue just how big Carolina

North will be, and whether it can be financially successful.

Second, the mediocre performance of Jim Ward.

In this case, mediocrity is not failure, for he maintained his seat,

but for an incumbent, especially one who finished 1st four

years ago to finish 4th today shows that the voters were not

happy with his mixed performance since 1999. Also that

both the Indy and the sierra club endorsed him in 99 but

would not do so today confirms this point. Now Jim is a

smart guy and understands all this, so it will be interesting

to see if and how he changes the way he votes.

Third, I look forward to reading the final campaign

finance reports in January to see who actually funded

the Bachman campaign and to what level. From a higher

viewpoint, I was always disappointed how the finance

reports were structured, obviously designed to protect

the incumbents and to hide the true sources and

spending of funds until after it is too late to have an

impact. But that's our state legislature for you.

Joe C.

Joe C,

In 1999, neither The Indy or the Sierra Club endorsed Ward. Could he not also conclude from his victory that people liked the way he voted?

Actually e-p-u, according to the Indy they did endorse Ward in 1999 ( ) "We've decided not to back incumbent Jim Ward, a former Indy endorsee who seems to have lost his resolve in preserving neighborhoods and civil liberties."

I would guess it's more a matter of being able to compare what he says with what he does, since he now has a record as an incumbent.

Thanks for the correction. Is it correct that the Sierra Club did not endorse him.

In that link from The Indy, found this interesting quote in their statement about Ward:

"We've decided not to back incumbent Jim Ward, a former Indy endorsee who seems to have lost his resolve in preserving neighborhoods and civil liberties. .. But given the stakes this council faces in dealing with the university and preserving economic diversity, we need council members who will stand up on such crucial issues."

Who is the "we" that The Indy is referring?

Nothing bothers me more than when those who represent a very narrowly tailored interest for a small portion of Chapel Hill talk about what is good for Orange County. I think the facts have shown that what you want is seldom good for the town, rarely good for the County, and never good for the State of North Carolina.

The Gang of Three elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council represent this narrow set of special interest groups, and as a whole they demonstrate just how far things have sunk in our neighborhoods. Any reasonable person understands that the University must expand. It should go about this process by seeking compromise from the Town yes, but expand it must. Any reasonable person understands that this town must grow. Even these candidates talk about it when they discuss revitalizing downtown. But I don't know how many people in Chapel Hill understand that you don't improve your community by doing things that increase the cost of living and the cost of operating a business in your area. You don't refuse to widen roads that need it, and you don't try to stop you biggest single employer (The University) from getting bigger and offering more jobs.

This was an election where only 20% of the registered voters turned up at the poles. Maybe in two years we can do something to change things. For now, we just have to live with what we've got, and I, for one, hope these people learn to govern with a bit more sensability than their rhetoric might indicate.

Were "low cost" elections a winner? Joe C. talks about getting the spending data in January, but will it show what groups spent to get the "neighborhood bloc" elected? Newspaper ads, signs, etc. by the groups supporting the three meant that they could spend less, so how does that money get accounted for? What else did they spend that we will never know about. It's easy to call for a $7500 spending limit when you can get others to absorb some of the normal campaign expenses.

Great quotes to remember, assuming that the CHH reported accurately:

"Its a wonderful feeling to know that I've got such broad and deep support throughout Chapel Hill." (Sally Greene) Deep? 20% of registered voters?

"I think the reason I got elected and Bill and Sally got elected is that we're intelligent, informed and passionate. I'm not going to say this means we'll do this or that right away. We were the best candidates. That's why we won" (Cam Hill)

Just have to wonder if the above statements are testable, given some of the "best candidates" who lost in previous elections, or were they influenced by the "party" atmosphere at Crook's Connor. Now I don't know about anyone else, but isn't that just a delicious image of the three "neighborhood bloc" winners celebrating at a place named Crook's Corner!

I would like to comment on the amount of money I spent opposing the red-light cameras and supporting the 8 candidates opposing the red-light camera system.

$9.80 at Kinkos for a Festifall flyer.

$2.40 (maybe a little less) for additional posters for downtown Halloween

$3.79 for 3 pressure treated 10'x2"x1" from Lowes for a sign

$1.96 for additional run of another run of flyers for election day.

And about $15,000 worth of time.

So, parts, no labor, I spent about $2.25 per candidate on materials against the red-light camera system and, incidentally, in support of those candidates willing to defend our constitutional rights, protections and freedoms.

Unlike a particular candidate, I would've been happy to disclose those expenses anytime prior to the election (of course, if anyone had asked).

John A. makes a good point. When the Voter Owned Election proposal comes back up the question should be asked how PAC spending might affect limits and public financing.

He also makes some bad ones:

1) Is Sally Greene's support "broad and deep"? how about broad in winning in every precinct? How about deep in coming in first in 14; second in 5, and third in two.

2) riddle: the so-called neighborhood bloc candidates were celebrating at one of Chapel HIll's best known businesses. Where were the "business" candidates celebrating?

answer: Crook's Corner! With the possible exception of Doug Schworer, Strom and Hill had the most business experience in the race. Sorry, Mike McSwain, serving coffee doesn't count.

Chapel Hill News on CH Council

sorry didn't mean to leave them out.

OK, it does matter what the definition you want to use for "broad and deep."

Do you agree with Cam's sentiment?

As for "business" candidates, nobody, including Bill, Cam, and Sally, seemed to protray themselves that way or use such experrtise as a plus. BTW, what is Bill's business background? I don't think I ever saw anything about it.

Actually, had the Herald allowed me another column on the election I would have like to wonder publicly why the Chamber doesn't identify candidates with business background through its questionnaire. That seems to come up in a lot of other races. Perhaps a Chamber voice will respond to this point.

Being "intelligent, passionate, and informed" is not a sufficient reason to explain an election unless the opponent is clearly none of the above, not demonstrated in this case. But, it is certainly arguable that a meaningful definition of "best" candidate is the one the most citizens vote for. Thus, Al Gore was the best candidate in 2000, even with the disenfranchisement (literally in this case) of thousands of African-American Floridians.

Bill was an executive of some sort in the dairy industry. Don't know the details.

Speaking of Voter Owner Elections, what about preferential voting?

In an election where %20 of the electorate voted, a preferential system would have helped answer whether a particular candidates support ran deep and broad or not.

In a preferential vote election we could see how many voters selected her as their 1st,2nd,3rd, etc. choice. Based on that, you might be able to infer the strength of her support.

Based on an informal survey of voters yesterday, I'd say Councilwoman Greene's support was both broad and deep.

Just a few ruminations with an accompanying parlor game on the Carrboro races:

Ruby's lessons learned are bang on. The folks in my campaign as well as Joal's, however, might take exception to the analysis that the incumbents 'coasted'. While my campaign's organizational structure was decidedly sketchy, resulting in game plan changes necessitated by the fact that some key campaign elements flopped due to spotty campaign management by Yours Truly. And no, I won't tell what they were--(Add Lesson #3: The definition of a fool is a candidate who has him/herself as a campaign manager-I'm not doing that again).This defect was compensated for by simply Busting A--:(rolling credits) Frances Shetley, James Carnahan, Baxter Sapp,Jackie Helvey, Brian Taylor, and several others put in a tremendous number of hours at breakneck pace doing all the necessary campaign work in a compressed time frame:issue research, candidate prep, begging for bucks, website design and maintenance, bookkeeping, mailings, those wretched, bloody signs(sorry, got carried away), and a massive literature drop. All under the direction(sort of) of a candidate answering reams of questionnaires, prepping for, and attending forums, meeting with voters, and doing all that other candidate stuff, while performing the duties of an incumbent (oh, yeah, that too...).

The analysis that there weren't no coastin'(sic) going on here is, in my view, further bolstered by a comparison of my campaign and Joal Hall Broun's performance using the following little analytical tool--(Logic majors, don't freak--it's not s'posed to be scientific, just a postulative device)--:(a)identical policy platform consistent with current board's policy thrusts; (b)similar voting record and aggressive defense of same; (c)same 'Bust A**' factor; Joal's organization, however, was efficient and well run--good propoganda,good letters to the editor(free press), good endorsement trolling--so we'll add(d)strong organization, and you have (a+b+c+d) =1649 votes. Mine gets an (a+b+c), but no (d)--hinky organization-- So you get 1551--roughly 150 down from the top spot .While a second place finish, Joal was only 50 votes shy of Mark Chilton's 1709--virtually a statistical dead heat.

As for the challengers, Mark's campaign embraced the general policy goals of the incumbents, and succeeded on all levels: great organization, aggressive, door to door campaigning. So, using our little formula, it was an (a+c+d) campaign, with the added advantage of being unencumbered by recent controversial votes, (e.g.:the Winmore and Pacifica approvals, as well as the revision of allowable building heights to implement the Downtown Vision project),so subtract (b-voting record)), and add ('e'-no incumbent baggage). This allowed Mark the flexibility to campaign using a focus on general themes in a way that embraced the policy thrusts of the current Board while critiquing the processes (the 'they're not listening' theme) used in reaching these decisions in again, a general sense, appealing to those who either disagreed with the specific decisions and/or their underlying policies, without having to defend these decisions--an inherently specific exercise, and a difficult task, as eyes begin to glaze over when referring to the arcana of ordinance specifics in answering criticism. So, Mark gers an a+c+d+e= 1709. Steve Rose, on the other hand, ran a campaign that was directly critical of the incumbents' policy direction as well as the processes used in decision-making (the 'They're not listening' theme again),

so we'll leave off (a), and as a non-incumbent, (b) and substitute ('f'-contrarian platform). It was, however, highly organized--First signs up, early mailings, good press action (c); aggressive--Well prepped candidate, LOTS of mailing, some lit drops and a group highly motivated by disaffection with recent board decisions(d:'Bust A**' factor), So Steve gets a (c+d+f). And what happened? Steve finished fourth, 200 votes behind my campaign and 350 off the top--20% off the pace. Ouch.

So what does this tell us? To review, using our little analytical tool--I believe that, in the mean, all of the campaigns were well run and aggressive (everybody picks up 'c':'Bust A**' factor). Given the similarity of content of Joal and my campaigns, and commensurate effort, we can infer that my organizational bumbling cost me roughly 100 votes(no 'd'). Mark's ability to fish in both ponds canceled out the enthusiastic support of Joal's advocacy and voting record, and got him another 50 (substitute 'e' for 'c'). Steve's substantial deficit(350) can then be traced to no (a) and the fact that he did not take advantage of any potential crossover appeal (no e): Steve was fishing in only one pond, and it was the wrong one. So, our analytical tool shows us that ('a'--platform consistent with current board policy) and ('f'--the contrarian approach) were the factors that swung the greatest number of votes, and that (a)was the winning component, and (f) tanked. Therefore, I humbly submit that this race hinged directly on policy and platform, and that all things being relatively equal, the outcome was a reaffirmation of the board's current policy thrust with a note attached to improve communication.

Just thought I'd toss this out there for everyone to kick around. I'll apply our little postulative device to the Mayor's race later, and see what pops out (or you can too. Aint this fun?)



i think that's about the size of it.

-mark chilton

Dan has a good point about the Chamber not ferreting out candidates' business experience through our questionnaire. Next time, it would be a good idea just to ask the question: "What experience do you have in business, management, finance or public administration?" (I'll take suggestions on phrasing.)

We likely won't do a questionnaire on next year's county commissioners' race (or at least, we haven't in the past), but I'll throw the idea out there in 2005.

P.S. Ruby, your site is awesome.


Since parlor games seem to be the order of the day

(a+b+c+. . .+n) let's play "What If". I've seen comments

much like Alex's "...the outcome was a reaffirmation of the

board's current policy thrust..." in several newspapers.

Currently there is an outstanding lawsuit concerning the

Pacifica development and I believe the Winmore decision

is also in litigation. WHAT IF (humor me here for a moment)

the judiciary decides that either or both of these decisions must be revisited?

What will that say about the Board's current "policy thrust"?

Opinions anyone? This curious mind wants to know.


Well, for starters, such an action removes the decision from the realm of political and democratic process, and places it in the hands of the legal/judicial. What this means, is that the 'policy thrust' is no longer necessarily what the board or the voters say it is but what the lawyers in the suit argue, and the presiding judge concludes. The decision then, is to determine whether the processes followed by the board followed proper legal procedure and the decisions reached were consistent with the ordinances codifying that 'policy thrust'. As such, the sentiment of the voters and any factors of this action contributing to the results of the election are irrelevant to this process and possibly rendered moot. In short, this does nothing to change the factors in the election. The purpose of my little exercise is to attempt to construct an objective tool to quantify the discreet elements that led to the results for folks to play with and see what comes out. Would you reach a different conclusion using the model? (the basic procedure is outlined in my post on 'And What Does All This Tell Us), and the 1st example above. Anybody wanna take a crack at it?

PS. We may need to develop a 12-step program for this blog--

'Hi, I'm Alex and I'm an addict..."



Any reactions to the pretty strong editorial in today's CHH? "That said, the campaign and its results were strangely disquiting. There was too much sloganeering, too much loose talk and not enough wisdom. Too often, opportunism ruled the day."

Well, it looks like enough blame to spread around. The winners now have the opportunity to be "work horses" instead of campaigners and provide some leadership in resolving the issues that face us as communities. Clearly, the issues are not just UNC related and the menu of issues extend beyond just neighborhoods. It will be interesting to learn what "Chapel Hill First" means when the work of governing begins next month.

It sounds like they don't like Mr. Hill. I mean, comments like, "...third-place finisher Cam Hill seemed to tailor his notions of conflict of interest for different audiences, criticizing Bachman, Jim Ward and Rudy Juliano in terms that stopped only a little bit short of saying every UNC employee is a potential snake in the grass." seems rather overwrought. First. it also seems rather a long leap to go from Mr. Hill's statements raising concerns about one candidate who was working hard to obscure how much involvement she had in UNC development decisions to inferring that Mr. Hill had the same concerns about Rudy's and Jim's university roles to repeating Ms. Bachman's smear claiming Mr. Hill tarred all UNC employees. Second, "...snake in the grass..."? When you hear rhetoric like this or WHCL's repeated characterizations of Ms. Bachman's 5th place finish as strong, you have to wonder "why the bias and rancor?"

Or what of this comment? "This list is not exhaustive, and it doesn't even address the insular, "Chapel Hill First" outlook that seems to suggest the interests of Chapel Hill residents are the only ones that count in the town-gown debate." This does double duty slighting Mr. Hill (Chapel Hill First) and those citizens concerned about UNC's penchant for unilateral 'bargaining'.

It's "insular" to be concerned about UNC either strong-arming proposals through the council detrimental to residents or the numerous times UNC has broken deals with the town in the last 4 years? Haven't the interests of UNC dominated, by a large margin, those of residents in the last couple years? Geez, I guess it's parochial to worry about the UNC administration running the university more like a 'winner take all business' instead of the grand North State institution so many of us remember fondly?

Of course this is an editorial, so you expect a POV, it's just that the CHH doesn't usually come off as so sour.

Just food for thought, since WCHL was so nice to Bachman, do you think it had anything to do with Jim Heavner's contribution to her campaign? Or maybe with how much money she gave them for advertising?

Interestingly, the only radio advertisements (WCHL) I heard were for candidates Bachman, Tyson, and Faley.

Were there any others? Will their losses in their respective races have an impact on future candidate decisions to use broadcast media advertising? Can we prevent the use of this media from increasing the costs of campaigning for local office? Should we?

personally, I believe radio advertising in a community like this is a waste of money. Think about, how many listeners does CHL really have? (No, offense guys....but CHL doesn't exactly have the listener base of G-105) If a candidate is going to spend a couple of hundred dollars or a thousand dollars on advertising, newspaper ads reach many more people in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. Better still, taking your message directly to the voters via mailing or leafletting in the neighborhoods is much more cost effective.

Bite your tongues, people! Having WCHL back is the best thing that's happened to this community in years! Who cares if advertising on the radio gets a candidate more votes than other methods? We need to encourage people to support our local station, not dissuade them. Imagine shivering in an ice storm with no power updates or encouragement from Ron Stutts.

Which leads me to this:

Thank you, WCHL, for your fantastic, thorough coverage of this campaign and election. If there was ever any bias shown, I missed it. Election night was just like the good old days.

P.S. to any business owners contemplating radio advertising: People certainly do listen to WCHL! Don't pay attention to the posts above (even though I love Mike Nelson).

CH Lover has again shown her cards.

Yes, "Election night was just like the good old days" on WCHL. Fortunately, it was like the good new days at the polls!

I agree with CH Lover that having community-owned media back in town is a good thing. I also think that for the most part WCHL's coverage was by in large equal is not balanced. There have been some serious twists, notably the Mr Hyde side of community-minded Lee Pavao which made me embarassed for him ( this is not a family opinion; solely mine).

But that was made up for by the nice meals that we've won from word of the day and the trivia contest.

Rather than spend on WCHL, our family budget has shown a net profit from the experience.

And how did you get your election returns once the Elections Board computers failed?

copyeditor needed! 2nd sentence should read:

I also think that for the most part WCHL's coverage was by in large equal *if* not balanced.

Gosh, Dan is a suspicious sort! I read that comment and took it to mean that in the "good old days" there was coverage as the polls closed, interviews with various people, and in general, real election night coverage. The fist election that I was here there was no WCHL and the Board of Elections seemed to be a little slow getting information out.

It is sure difficult to get a good working definition of "media balance," and I for sure don't accept the FOX News definition of fair or balanced!

I agree the WCHL provides excellent coverage of both our community and of the elections. Their pre-election efforts should serve as an example of how the media can play an integral part in a functioning democracy. I would also hold them up as a counter-example to the extremely poor coverage other 'on-air' outlets provided.

Considering their fairly balanced coverage prior to the election, it was somewhat surprising to here various commentators opine Tuesday evening, Wednesday and Thursday on how Candidate Bachman ran such a close race and held a strong 5th place position. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but it seemed that the implication they were trying to make was that the community DID respond positively to Candidate Bachman's platform, just not enough by some slight margin. This, of course, is demonstrably not the case.

Oh come on. All our media outlets have some sort of bias. Just because WCHL's bias is toward the Chamber of Commerce crowd, doesn't mean that it is a bad station. Personally I patronize many of their advertisers (Chapel Hill Tire for example).

Looking past WCHL, let's talk about the cost of campaigning generally and the value of paid media advertising. Truth to tell, I have never placed a newspaper ad (I think?) or radio ad and I am three for three in local elections.

I also spent the least in the Alderman race (I think?) and came in first place. So what about that?

-Mark Chilton


Your recent candidacy was attractive to:

(a) anti-incumbent voters

(b) voters who voted for the incumbents (and who had a third vote to spend on a progressive candidate)

(c) voters who are familiar with all the good work you've done over the years

There is no surprise you finished ahead of the pack in that race. But I'm not sure that your unique situation offers much in the way of meaningful data on the correlation between campaign spending and outcome.

For the record...

My comments about radio advertising was meant to spark conversation about how it might increase the cost of running a campaign --

My questions were not meant to be a comment about bias at the station...just to point out that the only radio ads I heard were for candidates who lost -- illustrating that it might not be a great way to spend campaign money

Who was the cadidate who used telephone messeging? Was it seen as effective?

Tally of key Council/Alderman votes

During campaign season there the need for information on who voted for or against various issues. This can be time comsuming to collect retrospectively. Would it be possible to have a 'Key Votes' section on this site to record this information as votes occur so it is easily available. It is also useful to guage trends as issues come before the Council.

The UNC chiller/deck vote was so close to the election, voters remembered. What about other key votes such as panhandling ordinance, red light cameras, co-location of the third high school and town park, the expansion of the plaza theatres and widening of Weaver Dairy Rd. All these had significant citizen comment.

Do people think this compilation would be helpful?

(Ruby, if the response is affirrmative, I'll offer my assistance with this.)

True, Jeff. And for that reason not too much should be read into my finishing in first place (even more so since it was only 60 votes).

But the fact that I was a well-known challenger only reinforces the point that campaign spending just didn't have that much to do with the outcome of the election in 2003 in Carrboro. I don't think spending had that much to do with the outcome in Chapel Hill in 2003 either.

It has been clear to me since before the filing period opened that Sally, Bill and Jim were going to win (tho maybe not in the order that actually occurred). While it was not as easy to know who else would win, I certainly thought that is might be Cam and looking at the vote tallies now, I would say that it was almost certain to have been Cam. The voters understood the differences between Cam and Dianne without ads, signs etc. etc. I think they pick it up from newspaper coverage, the LWV voter guide, letters to the editor, group endorsements, the candidates' campaign finance reports etc. All of which is absolutely free (to the candidates).

Granted there have been other Chapel Hill Town Council races that were very close (see my post at ). In years when the issues are murkier or the electorate is more closely divided, spending can be important. This just doesn't seem to have been such a year.

Even in years when spending makes a big difference, I don't think radio ads, newspaper ads or yard signs are very important. Personal contact with the voters is a better way to a) persuade voters that you are a reasonable choice and b) get inconsistent voters to turnout at the polls. Obviously, this is easier to do in small town elections and much harder to do in County Commissioner or larger races.

-Mark Chilton

Mark says that he doesn't think that radio or newspaper ads

or yard signs are very important, rather personal contact

with the voters is better. What this shows to me is that there

is no one best way to run a successful campaign. Mark and I went through two campaigns together, first as novices then as incumbents,

and we both had excellent results. In neither campaign did

I emphasize personal contact, rather I found that the most

important things were the televised forums, the yard signs

(actually street signs) and the newspaper ads, especially

those with the list of endorsees. I'm not sure about WCHL

ads, because I don't know how many listeners there

are. My sense is that WUNC and G105 vastly outdistance

WCHL in Chapel Hill listeners. I remember in 1991 attending

a Sunday afternoon coffee in our neighborhood with Ken

Broun. A dozen people were there, most of whom I already

knew and most of whom would already vote for me. I decided that

this simply was not an efficient way to spend my time and

never did another such tea party. One Sunday afternoon I

did spend a couple hours going door-to-door handing

out my brochures, but the results were spotty as few people

were home and even fewer people were registered and planned to

vote. I never did that again. I don't think I'm any better or

any worse than Mark in discussing campaign issues, so the

issue was not our personalities. Yet like Mark, I was very successful.

So there are various ways to structure a campaign that

will get you elected.

Bottom line: candidates who are in sync with the electorate are more likely to win. Joe C's success(es) demonstrate that.

Campaign tactics and strategies can only influence the outcome of relatively close elections - my strategy benefitted me in the 1991 Town Council race; Joe C's success that year was had more to do with the fact that he was a good candidate whose views were in sync and whose credentials were sound, in my opinion.

I think we could have held the election the day after the filing period ended and both the Town Council and Board of Aldermen races would have come out very similarly (with some variation in order of finish).

-mark chilton

I would second Joe's comments, with the Following: Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I sense an undercurrent in this conversation that I find a little bit troubling: Namely, the notion that there is some sort of moral superiority attached to those who run a campaign without using traditional campaign tools--Particularly those that cost money, and more specifically, that those who use certain media outlets or techniques are necessarily 'selling out', and/or contributing to the ever-escalating cost of campaigning(which I readily acknowledge is a problem in some jurisdictions that needs to be addressed). Maybe, maybe not. But some unalterable facts are: Perhaps the greatest challenges facing non-incumbents are to establish early name recognition and a positive image to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Absent copious positive free press(more about that later), this is an extremely difficult task, and like it or not, traditional means such as signs (which are hideously expensive and ugly, and I loathe with every fiber of my being, but whatcha gonna do?) and mailers are absolutely essential. Good content is also essential, but if nobody gets it, or associates it with the candidate, you're going nowhere fast.

To elaborate on Joe's points above, it is equally important that the candidate tailor their strategy and tools to their strengths. For example, If I were managing a candidate who appeared commanding and confident in a group setting or behind a podium, but had been a miserable failure as an Electrolux salesman, it's likely that she would be less effective on the doors, and would probably steer her away from that strategy and use other techniques. Similarly, if working with someone who was warm and engaging in person, but suffered from 'deer in the headlights' syndrome in large group settings, I would employ the converse .

A few words about free press: It's commonly known that positive free press is worth its weight in gold. Unfortunately, depending on that is a chancy and dangerous game. Warm and fuzzy doesn't sell papers. Controversy and scandal do. As such, the only press release paid much attention to from campaigns are the initial announcement: Unless you've got something that'll really knock their socks off, subsequent releases are generally treated like a skunk at a garden party (How many of you have done this:You schedule an all-singing, all-dancing dog-and-pony press conference at a poignant setting with reams of press kits, all ultimately, for the benefit of a half-comatose kid from the DTH still reeling from a long night at Player's?--Oh, No.). OK, you can all put your hands down.

Rather, what they're waiting for is for you to say or do something shatteringly stupid, or controversial, or both(Take it from the Master). At which point, you're immediately scurrying about in damage control mode, and deviating from your message. This dynamic also applies when someone makes accusations of nefarious intent that are not immediately deflected. This is most recently typified by the Dianne Bachmann-Cam Hill dustup. Without going into the actual merits of the discussion, I submit that the ad itself (I wouldn't have done it) was a marginal factor. Rather, an accusation involving a hot button phrase such as 'conflict of interest', when targeted, functions much like a fishing harpoon: Once it finds it's mark, the damage is done, and the more the fish struggles, the more it bleeds, attracting...You get the idea.

Now, an exception to all this is the rare case when by good fortune, or strategic positioning, a candidate has, through a professional or organizational affiliation a built-in p.r. machine generating a steady stream of positive articles and photo ops prominently featuring said candidate, before and during the campaign. You can't buy this stuff, and if one were to attach a dollar value to it, I submit, it might change the picture substantially. Most folks who have to deal with mundane encumberances like bosses and just getting by are not in a position to avail themselves of these resources, and hence, must use more standard techniques.

So what am I getting at with all this? Acknowledging again, that campaign escalation is a serious problem, and that self-restraint, and even structural reforms are called for, Simply that these are some things to think about that might give us pause before engaging in a Piety Derby revolving around Who Spent Less Than Whom.

PS. I'm 6 for 6 (2 for Ellie, 4 my own, if you include 1999-unconested- and the late unpleasantness of '96)



Mark says, "Bottom line: candidates who are in sync with the electorate are more likely to win."

If the electorate is a body of people entitled to vote, then we can only say that candidates who are in sync with the electorate THAT VOTES are very likely to win. We can only guess about the large majority that didn't vote; why they didn't, what they might have done if they had, etc. If they are truly indifferent, then that says something; if their preferences match the minority that voted, then that says something else.

One of our analytical problems is that challengers who are elected and run again after four years are then incumbents, and a comparison of the two events is not valid. Incumbent defeats happen, but it is also difficult to say why, given voting history, the issues, other incumbents and challengers. Until we do exit polling, these things remain pure speculation. Maybe the "Sierra Party" would fund it.

According to Dan, who apparently writes a column in the Herald, Bill Strom was an executive of some sort. He says he doesn't know the details, although he certainly seems to know a lot

of details when it comes to pontificating about other candidates.

Actually, Bill Strom was a commodities trader fifteen years ago. Strom probably can fill Dan in on this if Dan really wants to know. More recently, Strom has been a developer in Chapel Hill.

Bob H.

Andrea, I like the idea of a "Key Votes" tally. I can't contact you since you posted anonymously, so please reach me through the "contact us" form at


I think "importer-exporter of dairy products," which aren't traded on the commodities exchanges, is a more accurate depiction of Strom's previous work history, but "commodities trader" will do. "Developer" is a loaded term around here of course, and if you consider "more than a decade ago" to be the equivalent of "more recently" (except for the occasional small, affordable house), then perhaps "developer" applies too. You'd be in good company on that score -- the N&O still likes to call him a "developer" every once in awhile, just for the naughty, giggly thrill of it.

Hello to everyone who is interested in the just-completed CH Town Council election. One of its candidates asked me for some precinct-by-precinct analysis of the election; I got curious. I wrote a program that analyzed the voting performance and posted it on my website in its section about the town council.

For each candidate, the program shows how well he or she performed in each precinct.

For each precinct, the program shows which candidates the precinct supported.

The program does NOT compare candidate to candidate.

There are no subjective decisions that could influence the results;

it's purely mathmatical.

Results for candidates who received very few votes are volatile and less meaningful.

It runs with late versions of Netscape, but performance varies with Internet Explorer.

Joe Capowski

Hey, Joe,

What versions of Netscape are required? I can't get the bloody thing to run.




Sorry to be statistically ignorant, but could you explain what expected vote if linear meants? Thanks.

It runs with Netscape 7.1 both at home and at UNC.

It runs with Internet Explorer 6.0.288 at UNC but not

at home. Go figure.

Here's what the program does, and I hope this

doesn't confuse people more:

For each candidate, it calculates his/her expected vote in

each precinct. This is based on his total number of votes

spread out over the size of the precincts.

As a very simple example, if there are only two precincts,

A and B, and candidate Bob gets a total of 300 votes.

The total vote in precinct A is 1000 and the total vote in B

is 500, Bob's expected vote in A is 200 and in B is 100.

The program then compares the actual vote to the expected

one, and displays the results in colors depending on how

much the true vote is above or below the expected one.

Hence, by reading vertically, you can see how a candidate

performed in all the precincts and by reading horizontally

you can see how the precinct performed, i.e., who it supported

and who it didn't.

Remember this does not compare candidates; as a

striking example, Jim Ward did extremely well in the

WeaverDairySatellite precinct and Bill Strom did OK there,

even though Jim received a few votes less there than Bill Strom did.

I hope this helps.



Would you be interested in running the same program for past elections? I'd like to see if Estes Hills, East Side, and Dogwood Acres are always such good predictors of how the votes will fall, and whether Cedar Ridge and Weaver Dairy always go their own way, or whether they're just experiencing temporary, issue-related deviation.

And the winner is....Sally!! I just found out about this site from the News and Observer, and I'm really glad to see it.One thing that bothered me about the election is how Sally was portrayed. Yes, she's a neighborhood candidate and she has fought to help our neighborhood! But I'm tired of seeing her have to defend her vote for the chiller plant and parking deck near the Paul Green Theater when she was the chair of the Planning Board. She voted for it because the university's first plan was to put it in our neighborhood (and Sally's - Morgan Creek), and there would have been many more cars than are going to be in the Gimghoul neighborhood. People who say they are concerned about neighborhoods near campus ought to be thinking a little more about the rest of us.

Sally did when it counted, and I'm glad.



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