Carrboro has a challenger

Both the Chapel Hill News and the Chapel Hill Herald (happy, Ray?) report that a challenger has filed to run for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

The new guy's name is David Marshall. He is 41, latino, a veteran, a single (?) parent, a self-described "technocrat," and is pursuing joint law/masters degrees from UNC and Duke (impressively bi-partisan, but depressingly driving a lot, I guess). I've never heard his name before. He doesn't appear to have served on any town boards or commitees. Does anyone here know him or have any additional information to share?

With only two incumbents running for three open seats, it looks good for Marshall so far. But filing doesn't close for about 3 more weeks, so who knows...



Is it just me, or does it seem like this is a guy who woke up in the morning and on a whim drove over to Hillsborough and filed? It's a little bizarre, but who knows...

At the very least, this should make Randee, Catherine, and James more comfortable about filing!

Just because he has never served on one of the town boards or committees does not mean that he "woke up in the morning and on a whim drove over to Hillsborough and filed."

Shouldn't those who have had no voice in the process be encouraged to become active?

Unless, of course, you are scared of the "reasoned, measured approach considering the costs and benefits" he plans to use once elected.

You seem to have a strong opinion about this, Allan. Do you know David Marshall?

Of course anyone with energy and ideas to share should get involved in the process. The few things I know about this guy so far sound fine, but looking at the current Board of Aldermen it's hard to see why Marshall thinks he represents some constituency with "no voice." If he was in Chapel Hill, then yeah - but Carrboro?

Anyway, when someone decides to get involved, a good place to start is volunteering around town with local government and nonprofits. Personally, I think filing for office is a weird first step, but it has worked for some.

Among those it's worked for: Mark Chilton, Mark Kleinschmidt and Cam Hill.

Elections are mostly about deciding who will serve on the board but they serve to stimulate conversation about the town and it's direction.With that in mind having "new" faces in the race is a healthy thing for the town.

Sorry, Ray, the only one on your list who counts is Kleinschmidt. When Chilton ran in '91 he was fairly well-known around town hall thanks to his role as student government liaison. Hill only won on his second try.

Sorry, Dan, Mark C. may have been well-known around Town Hall but I daresay the SG liasion doesn't get a lot of recognition among the electorate at large (can anyone name the last three?). In any event, it's not really the sort of volunteer experience I think Ruby had in mind (serving on town advisory boards or with the nonprofit community).

As for Cam, his 2001 mayoral run was the springboard for everything else he's done. Had he not gone that route first, I don't see him getting one of the town's appointments to UNC's Horace Williams committee, or becoming an odds-on choice for Town Board in 2003. His last-minute endorsement of Foy in '01 didn't exactly hurt, either, although I don't think Kevin needed it.

I'm glad David Marshall is in the race. I bet each candidate in the race will bring out some interesting ideas and issues (win or lose.)

Sorry, Ray, who can name the last three chairs of the board of adjustment? Like any board position, SG liaison is what you make of it. Chilton made a lot. The fact that no one else has done so does not negate that fact. Hill was on the HWCC when elected to the Council. He was also prominent from having held the well-respected and influential position of Herald columnist.

Join the race and find a space! Welcome, David!


"He was also prominent from having held the well-respected and influential position of Herald columnist." Is that one of the "nonprofits" Ruby 's talking about? :-)

Hmm. I read the article, and it seems to me spending 10 years in the Army, a law degree ( pending one assumes) and an education in public policy make for a resume well suited to elected office. I'm just glad to see someone other than the usual suspects running. Maybe we'll hear some fresh ideas this campaign season.

Congratulations, David on taking the plunge.

While I'm all for having candidates with prior service on town boards or in non-profits I'm much more interested in their positions on the issues and their solutions for the problems we face. Sometimes a totally fresh look at a problem is the best answer. Even if David decided to take the plunge on a whim he might bring some refreshing perspectives to the race.

Ruby - I'd never heard of David Marshall before being directed to the newspaper articles by this board.

I just find it a bit too dismissive to assume someone acted on a "whim" because they haven't worked their way up through the local community establishment.

Did John Edwards act on a "whim" when he ran for Senate without ever holding elected office? Would it have been better for him to seek an appointment to Raleigh's Appearance Commission first?

And, I am also happy to see "someone other than the usual suspects" joining the scene.

As I said in my last comment, the little I know about him seems fine, and getting involved by running for office has worked for some (of course, I disagree with Ray about who that was). I think Mary's comment was responding to the fact that Marshall had no opinions or issues to share with the press after filing for office. He says he's working on that.

Until he has some positions, it's difficult (for me anyway) to discuss his merits as a candidate. As a person, he seems like a nice guy. And I look forward to hearing more from him.

Several of you make the point that more candidates and more choices is a good thing. I agree, and I hope we get some more challengers in Chapel Hill! I have given up hope on having a contested mayoral race here, so I guess I have Carrboro-envy...

I know Mr. Marshall; would you like me to get him over here to answer questions?

Absolutely, and tell him my 'whim' comment was not meant to be taken so hard...

David Marshall would be the SECOND UNC law student and former military veteran to be elected to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. George "Pete" Beswick who was on the Carrboro Town Board from 1973 to 1977 was a second year law student at Carolina, an army veteran whyo came to Carrboro to go to law school (he may have been 32 years old when elected to the Board of Aldermen) and he had no Carrboro town government experience. I know this because he sat next to me in two classes at Carolina Law that year and I paid his $5 filing fee (he was constantly carping about Carrboro Town government and I dared him to run and handed him the $5 at the end of his class one day)

First, I want to thank everyone who has welcomed me so warmly into this race. Although I did not wake up one morning and on a whim drive over to Hillsborough, that sentiment deserves attention and I appreciate Ms. Rabinowitz for making it. It is not mere political adventurism that has compelled me to run for the position of alderman. Rather, it is the sentiment that sometimes it is our turn to give back. Politicians at every level of government have certainly earned the cynicism painfully extant in political discussions today. Yet, the language of my candidancy will be infused with all kinds of easily targeted statements like those of gratitude in action, "I want to give something back to my community," or inclusiveness, "I want to include as many voices in my decision-making," or compassion "We need to look out for the good of those least able to look out for themselves," or altruism "Let's do the right thing because it's the right thing to do." To many these may seem facile, hackneyed utterances. Believe me, though, when I tell you that they are earnest statements from a political neophyte who believes that the best political statement is the honest one. As I reveal my positions on various issues in the next few weeks, understand that they are fluid views, answerable always to contrarian arguments. I may not always agree with you but I will always listen to you and consider your point of view in my deliberation of an issue. Thanks again to all of you. Looking over the postings I am impressed with the people who have made them. You may not know me, but I know many of you as influential members of the community. I hope to talk to each one of you individually about issues you find important. Thank you for the time you have taken to read this longish posting.

I apologize for my poor web posting protocols. This venue is totally new and foreign to me. Polymathy is my username for most things Internet. Although it is obvious, let me state clearly that my name is David Marshall and I am the subject of this thread of discussion.

interesting handle:
n. 1. The knowledge of many arts and sciences; variety of learning.

Hi David, I noted in the articles about your candidacy that you didn't specifically address your take on important issues in Carrboro. When you have something ready, I'd be interested to see it.

Also, Ruby, there are tons of grad students around Carrboro (many disguised as normal residents, often with families)... were students the constituency you meant?

Then again, I wouldn't assume that a grad student would be any more capable of representing me. I'm not sure the student voice is still as important once you're, oh, say 30 or a house owner or a parent, etc.)

Good luck, David!

I too jumped into local politics on what many might call a whim, running for office without having paid proper dues. Some days I think it was the most important step I've ever taken in my life. Other days I imagine I must have been temporarily insane.

If you do have the good fortune of getting elected, I hope you'll bring fresh thinking to the job, along with unwavering integrity and principled stands.

Thank you, sir. By the way, I enjoyed your My View article in the Chapel Hill News a few days ago.

Hey David. I say this only as constructive criticism and to give you a chance of becoming mayor of Carrboro.

You said, "As I reveal my positions on various issues in the next few weeks, understand that they are fluid views, answerable always to contrarian arguments. I may not always agree with you but I will always listen to you and consider your point of view in my deliberation of an issue", and "To many these may seem facile, hackneyed utterances."

Wow. It sounds like a lawyer making a closing argument and Mr. Burns of the "Simpsons" rolled into one. How often have we heard politicians say that they will "consider" other points of view but do as they want in the end? And sounds like "hackneyed utterances"? Saying that they are not hackneyed is hackneyed.

Just lay off the logic angle a bit (which might understandably be hard for you) and you will do fine.

Don't get me wrong. We all need mathematicians and lawyers. We just don't need them to run Carrboro.

FYI for 'polymathy' and everyone's benefit: you can always change how your name appears by logging in (see the link above the search box on the right) and editing your user profile. Thanks for registering!

David,welcome to the race! I look forward to meeting you and getting to know you.My questions for you,and anyone running for office in our town:Why do you love Carrboro? And what issue(s) would you be willing to lose an election over? These questions easily lend themselves to fluff answers but when answered honestly can be very helpful.
Thank you- I really appreciate your willingness to offer yourself for service to the community

Update: Carrboro has TWO challengers.

Former Planning Board member Randee Haven-O'Donnell filed today.

Randee will be a great canidate!

I still haven't heard your responses to the questions I asked last week.Have you had a chance to think about them?

David Marshall already sounds more logical and qualified than any other candidate that has filed so far. Does anyone have his information so that free and progressive folks can actively support and finance his campaign? Carrboro sure does need a breath of fresh air and he may just be the first of many earth-bound folks who seek change from the good-ole-boy system!


So far, polymathy's platitudes give me no idea at all of how he might vote on a single one of Carrboro's contentious issues.

I can understand that he might need time to pull together a platform. But I could also read his comments as the result of a bet as to how well he could do running an entire campaign like that. We'll see.

Don't forget that Val Foushee ran successfully for County Commissioner without articulating a platform. Perhaps that's what Marshall is banking on: that what worked for Foushee, what will probably work for John Roberts, might work for him.

My perspective. As someone who has moved around a lot and focused on national politics, I can understand some of the hesitancy in David's position. OP has opened my eyes to a number of issues that are of importance here in CH, Carrboro and the county. It has made me more aware and more concerned. But, I don't know that I have hard and firm convictions on any of those issues. That would take a fair amount of conversations with REAL residents, not just with us virtual residents.
Having said that, I wouldn't announce a run for mayor, or any office before having had at least some of those conversations. The Democratic Party (and I know not everyone here is from that party) suffers from not having enough "young" people running for office - the farm team idea. In OC that is no problem, but when I was in S.C. there were a plethora of offices which went unopposed by the local Democratic Party. The national focus is on getting "young" people to run. I'm not supporting anyone before I hear their ideas, but I will also not turn a deaf ear to anyone because they lack "experience" in politics.

Well, gang, it's getting even more interesting over here: This morning, Appearance commission member and Carrboro Music Festival impresario Catherine Devine filed for Carrboro Alderman. Welcome to the fun, Cat.


It is interesting to speculate the extent to which this has now become a three-way race for two seats. As things stand, I would grant Gist another first place finish (although I know she won't take that for granted!). The question then becomes: how strong is Herrera as an incumbent given two very strong challengers in DeVine and Haven-O'Donnell?

I'm probably not the only one who took note of the following comment to the Herald when Herrera filed:

"These past few years, I have learned how the system works," Herrera said. "It takes a while to learn and build relationships, not just with staff but with neighboring communities, state legislators and the county commissioners, to be able to deliver and get important projects done."

But it should take six months or one year to do that, not four years. In fact, much of that learning and building should take place before one first runs, through advisory board work and the like.

It's not a question I would venture to answer without seeing what Herrera does with his campaign but to beat these challengers he may have to demonstrate that he's already delivered some of what the voters are looking for.

I've seen John Herrera over here at the legislature several times this year, he's stopped by my office twice to talk about legislation

Welcome to the race, Catherine. Should be a fun race to watch this fall!

Mark, I'm sure you meant "fun to participate in." It's hard to imagine you sitting down long enough to watch much of anything (except maybe your kids at play).

Dan, Val Foushee started broadly, but ultimately took a position against schools merger, at least during her four-year term. Since that was the key issue of the primary, she clearly had a platform.

I do recall Foushee taking a vague "waiting game" position on merger, one that at the time I could not distinguish from Margaret Brown's position but that nonetheless seemed to please the nomerger folks.

But her platform was little more than a bland statement of principles of good government. Consider, for example, her Herald guest column of 6/21/04 titled "toward better efficiency." This was her one shot to articulate a developed position in some hundreds of words to thousands of Herald subscribers and voters. It included such pronouncements as "Citizens [should] know and understand their roles in the process." In that column, as in her web site, she laid out no explicit position on the many matters of concern to the BOCC. On merger, she wrote "there is still no timetable for a vote or closure on this divisive issue" but did not suggest a timetable or how to develop one (nor has she since taking office that I am aware of).

Now, obviously the majority of voters saw something there that I did not. But, I hope at this point all can at least agree that 2004 BOCC was a complicated election with many factors coming to bear on the outcome.

My point here, raised perhaps too glibly, is that I don't think you can win an alderman seat in 2005 Carrboro with that kind of vague campaign, especially coming out of nowhere like polymath. I could be wrong but I'd be willing to wager a beer that I'm not. In your case, Jeff, I'll buy you a beer even if I'm right.

When she ran for commissioner, Valerie Foushee had a voting record and a reputation as a sitting elected official. I think it's very different from David Marshall's situation.

But I should add that I agree with Dan's conclusion. Most voters want at least a little substance to wash down the platitudes.

I have sent a press release to members of the media. If you would like a copy of the press release, please let me know. David Marshall.

David, I would like a copy of your press release. Please send to

Jackie Helvey

Jacquie, your questions--and the questions of every Carrboro citizen--are important to me, which is why I made the press release. You can read this release on Jackie Helvey's website, I know that this press release only begins to answer your questions. Yet, as with every political race, positions on issues are best discussed one at a time. When all the dust settles just before elections, I guarantee you that every one of my positions on key issues will be known, dissected, discussed, debated, and either accepted or rejected by the citizens of Carrboro. Let me tell you that I am impressed by many of your accomplishments on behalf of our town. Thank you for your service and for challenging me to be transparent and forthcoming.

direct link to David's stuff on Jackie's website:


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