DTH Endorses in Chapel Hill... and Carrboro

The DTH has announced its endorsements in the Chapel Hill Town Council Election. They are: Kevin Foy for Mayor, and Laurin Easthom, Mark Kleinschmidt, Will Raymond, and Bill Thorpe for Council.

You can read the endorsements here.

UPDATE: Carrboro endorsements announced.



Katrina, I agree with you. Local governments should give residents loads of warning about future annexation. In a previous posting, you stated: "Anyone who'd like an outline of how a responsible municipality annexes new neighborhoods need only look at Charlotte, who announces its annexation plans at least two years in advance."

Indeed. And for an example of responsible government closer to home, we could look at Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Orange County. These three governments entered into the Joint Planning Agreement (JPA) in 1988. This agreement, amongst other things, spelled out which areas would be annexed into Chapel Hill and which would be annexed into Carrboro.

By my figuring, that's 17 years warning your neighborhood got that you'd be annexed. 17 years! Now, THAT's responsbible government.

And, yes I understand that you and your neighbors may not have been alerted by your real estate agents about the annexation area. That's too bad. But real estate agents lie (er, I mean, "are selective which facts they talk about). That's what they do. Sorta like some Texans I could mention.

They could do worse. But I thought this statement was pretty outrageous since I often say the same about them!

But despite political science major Jason Baker's hustle and deep understanding of University affairs, it's obvious in talking to him that he still has much to learn about the town.

I'm sorry, but Jason has a way better understanding of local issues (and local solutions) than has been demonstrated by this year's DTH editorial staff. I suspect thay are falling into the typical journalist trap, where they feel the need to demonstrate their free thinking by rejecting even the most common sense idea, just to show off how independent they are.

But... other than Jason's omission I can live with these endorsements. But not endorsing Jason is a HUGE, glaring mistake which calls into questionwhether the Daily tarheel actually supports the idea of student engagement in local issues.

Answering Mary's question below, in 2003 3 out of 4 candidates the DTH endorsed won- Strom, Greene, Ward. They also endorsed Rudy Juliano. I don't know any further back than that.

I don't know whether the DTH endorsements brings a lot of votes with it or not, but I do know that we're seeing a very clear trend in who is picking up the endorsements- Kleinschmidt, Easthom, and Raymond are cleaning up.

It will be interesting to see the Indy on wednesday.

Of the four, this endorsement will help Will Raymond the most. I'd heard he was spending a lot of time on campus which struck me as odd given the meager student vote. But this endorsement is a big payoff for those efforts, something he can show the voters along with other endorsements to assert his stature as a strong contender.


You've fallen into the dangerous trap we (rather consciously, I think) pledged ourselves not to fall into: Endorsing a student for the sake of endorsing a student. That's something students on campus -- people who are active and engaged at both the University and town levels -- were wary of, and frankly, I'm proud that the board resisted it in favor of what it thought were the four best candidates for students.

Speaking of which: It is my firm belief that we could write an editorial tomorrow calling for the scrapping of Carolina North, expanded Bolin Creek buffers and the razing of Meadowmont and you would still find a way to take umbrage with it, attacking the messengers as opposed to the message.

And I'm OK with that. Used to take it personally; now I'm sort of glad we get under people's skin. (If being right of uber-liberal is wrong, I don't want to be right, though on the other hand I bet you'd be shocked at how much criticism from long-time readers affects how and why we think about things.)

If you want to prove me wrong -- and see that the people I work with do work extraordinarily hard, do pay attention and are fine, engaged residents of Chapel Hill -- our board meetings are open to the public provided that you invite yourself a week ahead of time. 5:30 p.m. just about every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. (That applies to everyone, of course.)

And yes, Dan -- we appreciated Will's on-campus presence combined with his insistence that students also exercise some pro-activity in getting involved, something we've been preaching all semester.

And if it's a close race, perhaps our endorsement will mean something even with a meager campus turnout. I hope so, anyway -- it's taken up a lot of my time in recent weeks. ;-)

Finally -- you know, because I don't have to shower or go to class or anything -- in 2001 the DTH endorsed Bryan, Harrison, Kleinschmidt and Wiggins. So 3/4 again.

I've tried following the campaign from afar I(though I'm ocassionally on campus and came to one of the candidate forums and talked to all the candidates). As a political scientist, I can say that interest group representation is one of the more important political dynamics. I know when I was on the council, I worked hard to get OTHER students involved, appointed to town boards and commissions, etc.

Chris's states that the board did not want to endorse a student just because a student was running, saying "I'm proud that the board resisted it in favor of what it thought were the four best candidates for students.". They may be the best four candidates for the Town Council in the view of the editorial board, that is their opinion and it may be the correct opinion. But to say they are the best four candidates for students makes the paper less than credible.

Ruby isn't endorsing a student for the sake of endorsing a student, and neither are many of the other Chapel Hill citzens who are supporting Jason.

I agree with you that endorsing a student because they are a student is wrong, but if your fear of not being taken seriously because you endorsed a student led you not to choose Jason, then how can people trust the endorsements you have given?

And please, tell us what each of your endorsed candidates have done for the university, because I certainly cannot think of anything for a couple of them.

Correction to my last sentence: I meant "for the students of the university", not the university administration itself.

I agree, Gerry. I can also speak from experience of the era when Mark Chilton was an undergraduate (and then recent graduate) on the Town Council. Back then, there were quite a lot of students either serving on advisory boards or speaking to the Council on issues of concern. Now, I can't think of a single undergraduate on any advisory board in Chapel Hill, and the only time you see them in Town Hall is when it's required for a class (besides DTH reporters).

Other than not having more name recognition and a rich campaign, Jason is everything you could ask for in a student candidate. He is as informed and articualte as any challenger in the race. If the DTH doesn't support that, then I have to think maybe student engagement just isn't a goal for them.

BTW Chris, I criticize. It's what I do. We all have our unique talents...

Yes, and mine is apparently to anger townsfolk.

At any rate, our endorsement stands, I think, on its own. That said, we welcome opposing viewpoints, and at some point (closer to Election Day) we'll likely reserve a large part of the editorial page for endorsement letters. You can carry on the conversation on my DTH blog until then.

One final point I would like to make, though, and then I'll let others continue the discussion: We had no fear of not being taken seriously by picking a student. Far from it. Rather, I think our bias was in favor of student candidates from the start, but when interviews and questionnaires were over and done with, we acted based on what we believed instead of what would have been popular or expedient or in line with our own built-in biases. That's what I'm proud of -- the DTH's editorial independence.


I would like to applaud the DTH for providing their rationale for and against each of the candidates. Your endorsements are much more useful than those that simply list a names. While I don't agree with all your analysis, by providing us with that window into your thinking we can object from an informed perspective rather than simply reacting.

Endorsements, schmorsements...

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others." ~Groucho

The part I dislike most about endorsements is the "And we've even told you who to vote for." part.

Bless the free thinkers who rely on their own analysis!

Tomorrow, my bets are that the DTH group will produce Chilton, Gist, Haven-O'Donnell and Herrera.

This takes me back to a DTH editorial board meeting in March of 1972. We were deciding on endorsements for the Democratic primary for state house. A UNC junior named Pete Tripodi was running for State House. (yes, I was NOT the first student candidate for local office in Chapel Hill, Pete was) The DTH endorsed Trish Hunt and Ed Holmes (Trish and Ed won the Democratic primary in May). Pete came shouting into the paper that morning, wagging his finger at me, saying that the real reason that the DTH did not endorse him was that we (the DTH) and I wanted to control student opinion and that we didn't want an independent voice. The next year, Pete put a gun to his head.

Ow, Gerry.

Mary, are you trying to play on their "independence" and do some reverese psychology on the DTH? ;-)

Honestly, there isn't a single endorsement that guarantees success for a candidate, even the Independent. They're interesting, and sometimes they help, but it takes a lot more hard work and good ideas to win.

Gerry, I don't think my take on the DTH endorsement is quite so, err, grim.

Tom, this reminds of another non-endorsement earlier in the year when the DTH made the similar claim that a certain someone didn't know enough about the issues because he wasn't an insider, and that standing your ground on principled progressive issues would be unproductive at best and dangerous at worst?

I don't want to enter an argument over this. It's not the first time I disagree with their editorial board and I'm sure it won't be the last. Below is the letter to the editor I just sent in.

October 24, 2005


Since yesterday's DTH endorsements were released, I've received dozens of emails and calls from my supporters saying that I should respond by explaining why I'm more qualified than candidate X, Y, or Z, or to lash out at the DTH editorial board for having such poor judgment.

But that's not what I'm about - I'm not running for Town Council to oppose any person or organization.

I'm running to bring a better quality of life to the 50,000 or so of us who call Chapel Hill home.

I'm running because environmental preservation, sound transportation policies, affordable housing, responsibility in the budget, and a comprehensive plan for downtown development need a strong advocate on the Council.

I'm running because town/gown relations could be greatly benefit from including the perspective of a qualified student councilmember, especially as we look forward to the plans for Carolina North and other looming issues.

I'm running because I think it's more important to take a principled stand than to follow the whims of the moment and throw to the wayside the very qualities that make our town unique.

I'm running because adding diversity to the council should include socioeconomic status, age, background, and stature as much as anything else.

And I'm very grateful for all of the praise and assistance my campaign has received from citizens of all walks of life. I'd like to publicly thank Students for a Progressive Chapel Hill and Democracy for America for supporting my candidacy.

But although I appreciate any endorsement, I have faith that the people of Chapel Hill are independently-minded enough to make their own decisions about their leadership, and I humbly ask that they consider me to represent them for the next four years.

Jason Baker
Candidate, Chapel Hill Town Council


Hopefully you'll do better in your election than I did in mine :)

excellent LTE Jason. I hope you'll also post it at
http://apps.dailytarheel.com/blogs/bullhorn.php as Chris suggested above.

Full disclosure: I've donated $100 to Jason's campaign and offered him (hopefully) helfpful suggestions. And the reason I got involved was one of the things my political mentor Al Lowenstein (UNC '49) told me that in return for helping me, I had to do the same for another student at some future time. In fact is was BECAUSE Jason is a student, but also because he understands politics and understands the town and university. I don't apologize for that. Al had applied those criteria to me.

Al was one of the reasons I came to Chapel Hill as a student in 1968. He also in his annual trips to Chapel Hill talked me over the edge SEVERAL times into running for office, saying that "good people never give up". I believe Al also talked to a number of folks in Chapel Hill on my behalf in 1973 even though he had been gone for a quarter-century.

Besides being the pre-eminent student politician at Carolina in the late 1940s, Al started the Dump-Johnson movement in 1967 and served in Congress.
More on Al at:

Reverse psychology on the DTH? I would assume the DTH made their Carrboro decisions days ago. I'm merely making a public prediction-- kind of silly of me...

Great letter Jason--- very heart-felt and deserving of a seat on TC.

Gerry, I didn't write the “And we've even told you who to vote for” line, the DTH wrote that.

I like to think of endorsements as useful information, not instruction on how to vote.

It is ironic: Everyone keeps talking about Jason's youth and he keeps proving his maturity.

Ditto Mark.

We did, in fact, make Carrboro decisions a week and a half ago.

At any rate, I have nothing but good wishes for Jason and his candidacy. We might not have endorsed him, but that doesn't mean we don't recognize his sincerity and his hard work. At the least, he deserves a lot of credit for offering legitimacy in the form of a student candidate, and in retrospect, we should have written that in today's editorial because it is important to Chapel Hill.

Here's a little perspective in the Tar Heel staff. Six weeks before I filed, a reporter from the Tar Heel called my home and asked when we planned on announcing. At that time, we had to respond with no comment, since we were still very much trying to recruit other candidates to run for the board and for mayor.

So, of all the local media sources, the DTH had the best read on what's going on in the annexation neighborhoods, and I imagine that saavy would extend to their endorsement process.

That said, I'd vote for Jason if I lived in Chapel Hill. Having attended numerous forums with him, he would be a great advocate for not just students, but anyone outside the traditional town power structure.

I would put it this way: perhaps the DTH had the most interest in following up on a statement Katrina had made in the paper earlier in the year. The statement basically said that Katrina was part of a small, cohesive group looking for a candidate to sponsor. I personally would not call this follow-up the best read or saavy.

or is Katrina telegraphing to others outside the power structure that they should support Jason BECAUSE he is clearly independent of the power structure, as evidenced by the DTH and Sierra Club passing him over?

I think you are right Gerry. Jason became much more appealing to me today! Get the message he's out, and he might just get in!

Gerry: The DTH is part of the same power structure that includes the Sierra Club? I think Tom and Dan might have some qualms with that …

Oh, and the news and editorial sides of the paper are entirely separate, and neither I nor anyone who works for me had anything to do with calling Katrina about a potential "annexee" slate of candidates. (Is that even a word?)

Saavy, though -- I like that. ;-)

Everyone I've spoken with, in or out of the "power structure", likes Jason, appreciates the manner of his campaign, and welcomes his participation in local politics. His stated positions actually are pretty consistent with those articulated by other challengers who've been elected the last couple of cycles. Few, however, are willing to go as far as Ruby and overlook Jason's utter lack of experience in and knowledge of local affairs to endorse his candidacy.

Dan, are we ... agreeing on something?

Thanks for that point, Chris. It is a bit surreal to disagree with the almost every DTH editorial on town-gown affairs and still come to the same candidate endorsements. That was not true in 2003 and I believe reflects the weakness of this year's unendorsed candidates.

An utterly irrelevant trivia point, I'm sure: according to the Herald's Votebook, all four of the DTH's town council endorsees hold UNC system degrees. Of course they wouldn't endorse the lone Duke grad in the crowd.

Duke grads are automatically disqualified, don't you know.

You know, it is not like Jason was running for US Senate with no government experience, or running for President of the United States with no experience. This is town council of a small town. I watched Jason working in a project in 2004 that I was very involved in, and was impressed with the way it ran, his energy level, and with his ability to absorb the details and do it right. I'm experienced enough to know what kind of people can absorb and transfer information, and Jason got an A from me for that, and that's why I decided to help out. Even if it was true as Dan says that Jason has an "utter lack of experience in and knowledge of local affairs" this would not have affected me one bit. Other than being an advocate of the proposed bus system, as a student candidate I CERTAINLY had an "utter lack of experience in and knowledge of local affairs" in 1973, I was active in two issues: 1) voter registration; and 2) getting students involved in politics. The municipal election was the first brass ring that went by me, and Al Lowenstein encouraged me to run.

Oh, and if you want to know if my comment "it is not like Jason was running for US Senate with no government experience" is about John Edwards, that's for a different thread.

Jason has about as much experience as Mark Chilton did when he first got elected in 1991. I'm not saying the two of them are the same, but the experience level in off-campus affairs is equivalent.

About this time of year, fourteen years ago, I kept meeting all sorts of people who would say things like "Good luck, Mark; you can always run again in two years." I hated that.

Good luck, Jason. You can always run for re-election in four years!

Gerry, I'm not exactly sure what your point is since I can't believe that, as a rule, you are suggesting that Council candidates ought not to have experience in town affairs (like even testifying at a town council meeting from time to time?). "absorb and transfer information"? I don't get it.

I know from your posts that your memories of 1973 are very important to you and I would never begrudge you them. Are you trying to relive your "glory days" via Jason? It doesn't make a very compelling argument on his behalf.

When Chilton ran in 1991 his was already a familiar face around town hall. Not so Jason. Chilton made connections with activists and key organizations. Not so Jason. Chilton spoke knowledgably of town issues from the get-go. Not so Jason.

Even so, Mark won a pretty close victory the first time out. He did so because of his campaign but also because he got very strong and active support from key people who understood that he had the experience, values, and ability to take a seat on the Council.

I mean no disrespect to Jason (who I do like) in saying that I feel quite comfortable predicting that my position (and that of the DTH editors, dammit) will be validated on election day. But, I would not be unhappy if I were wrong.

as with those before me, I'm trying to help develop leadership when I see someone I believe has leadership skills.
I'm not reliving anything, and my glory days from my perspective were AFTER I got off the council.


I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to earn your support this time around. But I'm here for the long haul, and I hope to build the experience over the next several years to gain your trust, whether that work is done on or off the Council.

I've lived here for as long as at least one of the other candidates who you are supporting. But admittedly, I didn't start out with local affairs when I first moved here. My progression in politics has been from activism on state and national issues, to campus affairs, and then finally expanding my horizon, as I hope students eventually do, to include municipal politics. In retrospect, of course I wish I had gotten involved with local issues and made many more local contacts from day one. But I can't change what I've done; I can only tell you about what I'm going to do. I don't think we differ all that much on the issues and I hope that my actions over the next several years validate my positions as more than just words.

As a student, I didn't support Mike McSwain and I don't support Jason now. Although I think Jason's politics are closer to where I am and Jason has done a better job than McSwain, Jason still hasn't done a good enough job to support.

I personally like Jason quite a bit, but his campaign has been run -- well, like a student. Jason's support is not very strong on campus, even among the students who are voting. In fact, I think he's actually lost student support over the course of the campaign. His facebook group (for the non-students, this is a college networking site) contains only two people, other than himself and Erin. He's been a very visible presence in the pit, but only to students who know him already. He has cultivated great relationships with select town opinion leaders, but hasn't proven that his grasp on issues extends beyond the "right" position. Lots of folks running for Town Council have the "right" position -- you have to distinguish yourself through vitality, support, character, intelligence and maturity. He hasn't done a great job actually campaigning and in trying not to be the "student" candidate, he has failed to activate or interest students. (To be quite honest, McSwain did a better job activating the campus.) And you can't chalk this one up to student apathy: Mark Kleinschmidt, for example, is wildly popular on campus.

I think that Jason has potential, but he certainly showed to students that his run was a little premature. Good luck to him -- he's a quality guy who will do well, but I just don't see myself supporting him for this position this year.

Overall, good call by the DTH -- having a student on town council who is not prepared will hurt the student cause.

Big, Big Congratulations, sincere and heart-felt, to Alex, Jaquie, Randee, and Katrina for receiving the DTH endorsement!

DTH, on why it chose not to endorse me: "But he faces considerable time constraints as a father, a grad student at Duke University, a law student at UNC and a reservist in the military."

Hey, guys, I'm finishing school in December! I also gave up my job working at a law firm and my consulting business so no one could make the “considerable time constraints” argument against me.

It is true that I am a single parent, but it would be more accurate to say that I am a single co-parent. Morgane's mom, an incredibly gifted mother and good friend (and she's smart, too, working at a lab that does leukemia research at Duke and preparing to start medical school next year) is as much a part of Morgane's life as I am.

As for the military, I am sure there would be some head-scratching going on at my unit if they were informed that I was spending a lot of time there. Yes, I can be deployed at any moment. Yes, I would go if called once again. No, the chances are pretty slim that I would be called again.

The ironic truth which the DTH editorial staff has failed to appreciate is that I will be out of school, unemployed, and marvelously free of any distractions come mid-December. It is the truth by which I timed this entry into municipal politics. It is precisely because I had the foresight to understand that I would finally have the time and ability to give back to this community that I chose to enter this particular race.

All behind me already. Chris, many thanks go to you and all the hard-working members of the editorial staff. I know you guys spent an inordinate amount of time deliberating over this matter. I would hope that you would take a much needed break, but I know that a paper never sleeps, and that the people charged with the enormous responsibility of running it rarely do either. So I'll say, keep up the good work.

Again, congratulations to Alex, Jaquie, Randee, and Katrina!


You are extraordinarily gracious. And you really shouldn't be, because for some reason, the editorial is actually missing an entire paragraph that is sort of central to the argument.

If I can resurrect it, I'll post it here/on the blog.

Shall we all plotz?
Again, what gets me about endorsements is that the endorsers apply some principles to some, other principles to others.
I like the first three choices--- and I suppose the selection of Katrina proves that hard work pays off. Did the DTH staff pick up on Katrina's often disparaging attitude towards Carrboro government? Do you think she is someone who can work well with others?
BTW, my powers of prediction are as off as ever...

Chris, I'm wondering if the DTH's endorsement of Ryan implies endorsement as well for her off-stated interest in making Carrboro "a funky neighborhood in Chapel Hill." To whit:

The towns should merge. It's pure hubris on the part of both town councils not to be investigating the viability of a merger
Comment at 12:43pm 4/1/2005

And as a final note, Mary, I think the deafening silence in response to my merger proposal is due to the lack of logical opposition to the plan.
Comment at 1:34pm 4/1/2005

I come back to my point of town merger. The intial estimates indicate that the town budget could be cut by over 20% if Chapel Hill and Carrboro merged without cutting a single program. Yet not one elected official brings this up, ever. Why?
Comment at 12:59pm 2/14/2005

How about this ? Instead of cutting services, what if we merge the two towns?
Comment at 6:02pm 2/3/2005

So why can't Carrboro be the funky neighborhood in Chapel Hill? What possible reason can there be for maintaining two redundant town bureaucracies
Comment at 11:29am 2/4/2005

There's really no reason not to merge the towns. It's the best fidcally sound answer.
Comment at 6:18pm 2/4/2005

if we get rid of redundant expenditures like two fire chiefs, two town planners, two town attorneys, two mayors, two town councils. We have nothing to lose but our bureaucrats.
Comment at 1:31pm 2/6/2005

Also, do you agree with her that Carrboro should not support wifi or the Farmer's Market (as per her many comments to that effect on OP)?

[Note: yes, the above quotes are taken out of longer statements. KR's meaning is consistent and clear.]

I have to say I think Katrina has a point...I think merger of town governments should at least be explored...

I thought everyone was making too big of a fuss yesterday, but I feel like doing the same with Carrboro endorsements. I do think the DTH has drifted to the right in the past few years (or decade?) but generally am impressed with their quality coverage, especially of the local elections.

But I really don't get the Ryan endorsement at all. And I'm surprised they endorsed Alex over Mark, especially because Mark's long ties to UNC and Chapel Hill would seem like an asset.

I do get the Gist and Randee endorsements, and I do get why they didn't endorse Herrera. Reasonable calls on that.

I do also commend them for doing such extensive coverage of Carrboro in particular.

Chris, I'm a bit confused. The DTH editorial blows off David with the comment:

"“But he faces considerable time constraints as a father, a grad student at Duke University, a law student at UNC and a reservist in the military.”, and David rebuts this by saying he is graduating in December and will not be a student at all,
but your repsonse to his rebuttal is simply that "You are extraordinarily gracious".
If two of the facts in the editorial concerning David are simply wrong (and the comment that he is a father seems totally irrelevant and a standard not applied to other candidates) than perhaps does your board either rethink what you have done or at least run a correction?



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