Local elections for dummies

[Editor's note: Alison is a new OrangePolitics volunteer who will be blogging about her journey to figure out the Carrboro races. We look forward to a new perspective on issues from someone who isn't already a politico or activist. -RS]

Someone once told me that the sign of a good government is one whose actions go mostly unnoticed by its people. I supposed he meant that if people could go along with their lives and not have to think about whether the city will suffer a blackout or the garbage will be picked up, things were running smoothly and the job was getting done.

I have lived in Carrboro for 7 years, and been a home owner for the last 3 years. According the definition above, Carrboro's government is a good one for me. I have hardly thought about it in all the time I have lived here. I have always known the Mayor and some of the Aldermen socially, but as for their political beliefs or platforms I have been completely ignorant. I plan to make a change this election season.

Not only do I have a vested interest in the political outcomes of this area, but out of sheer curiosity, I am interested in learning more about how Carrboro government runs. The past two weeks, I have asked many friends living in Carrboro about what they knew in regards to the candidates or the issues, such as annexation, and economic development. I found that those I asked were much like me: unclear, uninformed and generally lacking specific opinions. In fact, all of these people turned the question back on me, and asked for advice on whom to vote for!

So, in an effort to educate both myself and my fellow Carrboroians, I will be gathering information and hopefully forming some opinions about the election. I will post my thoughts here on OrangePolitics as I go along. Please go easy on me - I'm learning!



Hi Alison,
Congratulations on getting a special forum!
It's too bad that you didn't start this sooner. I think you will find that two weeks doesn't give you enough time to explore the issues and educate others.

I started paying attention to Carrboro politics about one year ago; I have much education to go. I'm very impressed with the amount of thought, care, and vision that many former and current elected officials have contributed to Carrboro. Some very special people have gone beyond the ordinary call of duty to make Carrboro the creative, progressive community that it is today.

Good luck!

Mary, you're right that two weeks aren't really enough, but I think it's more than the typical voter spends thinking about local elections!

It seems like almost everyone here on OP has had enough experience with local issues that it's hard to imagine what it looks like to someone who isn't immersed in it like we are. I thought it would be interesting to hear an "outside" perspective that more closely reflects the typical voter's view of things.

Although by the time she's done, Alison will probably not qualify as a newbie anymore. ;-)

At this point the only issue I haven't seen addressed that is a big one for me is what Chapel Hill and Carrboro candidates will do to fight the increasing drug problem affecting this area. Chapel Hill and Carrboro want to act like it doesn't exist and think they can continue to fight it seperately, but as those of us who live on the Chapel Hill/Carrbor border know the dealers only move from one side to the other depending on where the cops are at that time.

Thanks for bringing that issue up, Theresa. As was noted in the DTH, I've been talking about crime as an issue when none of my opponents have. I've been advocating for 10 more police officers in Carrboro, as well as exploring a merger of police and fire services. It's not just a tax saving measure. It would actually make it easier for public safety officers to work without jurisdictional restraints.

Better service, lower prices - what's not to like about that ?

I vote in Carrboro and I'm here. I'd be interested in your answers to the questions posed here, Katrina.

Joan and others,

I've continued these thoughts here:


That was exactly my point. Thanks for recognizing that Melanie.

Just how much savings are you offering, Katrina?

Your campaign sign on Homestead Road reads "Affordable Housing Means Affordable Taxes." Now, let's set aside for the moment that this sign is planted where it will be read by the owners of some of Carrboro's most expensive homes and try to figure out just what you are talking about.

You were at the OCDW forum when Kevin Foy blasted Robin Cutson for making just this sort of claim. He pointed out that the municipal tax on a somewhat affordable house is around $1000/year. You could eliminate these taxes enirely and not make a dent in the affordability of the over $300k market rate home. If you read my column on the forum, you know that Robert Dowling of OCHLT agrees with Foy's conclusion.

So, exactly what are you talking about? The placement of the signs suggests that you are coding a message to the affluent conservatives who are your base, the very people (like your husband) whose politics you disavow on another thread. After all, if you wanted to convey a message about affordable housing you probably could come up with one that had some meaning.

I'll be thrilled to go into details later, folks, but since Dan, Terri and Mary can't vote in Carrboro and I have an election to win, I've got voters to go visit with.

Won't vote for you, I suppose you mean.

No, I think Katrina meant that none of those folks is registered to vote in Carrboro. At least, that is what I thought she meant. Dan, are you registered in Carrboro?


Regardless of the merits of Katrina's banner, Dan is assuredly a Carrboro voter:


Hmm... I suggested that Katrina's “Affordable Housing Means Affordable Taxes" sign was directed at her base of anti-tax conservative supporters. In response, she attempts to move the discussion to a conservative blog run by that very faction. That's pretty clear confirmation of my point.

Nonetheless, my son insists we'll be voting for Mark Chilton, Laurin Easthom, and Will Raymond. He thinks they have the best signs (especially likes Laurin's stars on the purple field). I guess that's why four year olds can't vote.


We should really have a discussion to establish a mutual vocabulary. I always perceived free speech as a liberal value and censorship as being conservative.

I was trying to be supportive of a forum that shares those ideals.

to a conservative blog run by that very faction.

Nice framing attempt. It is my understanding that Squeeze The Pulp is an open blog for all residents of Orange County to discuss a variety of topics and that the posters span the gamut of the political spectrum. STP is moderated when necessary to minimize flame wars, but is not censored to the degree that OP appears to be. I don't think any posts have actually been removed yet from STP.

My theory is that conservative folks have taken more advantage of STP since it allows anyone to post and since they are appear to be unwelcome here. Others post here or there or both.

Apparently, 'free' for Katrina means free to mislead as her affordable housing banner does. Thus, she seeks out a forum that welcomes such a deception.

There is certainly no need for framing. Check out who the more frequent authors and commenters are on stp. These are Katrina's friends and neighbors. It speaks for itself.

It may speak for the more recent posts/comments, but it does not speak about all of the folks who post.

I was going to say--I've posted on STP and I don't think any of my firends/acquaintances would consider me conservative.


Melanie, if you go to STP and click on politics, your name does not appear. Brian Voyce (a neighbor and friend of Katrina, I believe) does 9 times. The site is administered by Rik Faith (also neighbor of Katrina). It really should be no more contentious a point than looking at the OP authors list and seeing me, Ruby, Chilton, Kleinschmidt, etc and drawing the corresponding conclusion. The difference is that OP is up-front about its political orientation.


The political orientation is that there is not one, as evidenced by the FAQ

Squeeze the Pulpâ„¢ is an open forum for Orange County (North Carolina) voters to discuss ideas and information related to local news, politics, sports, and whatever. Squeeze the Pulpâ„¢ is not a blog -- it is a forum, which means that any registered user can start a top-level thread.

Like Melanie, I have posted on STP and none of my friends/acquaintences would consider me conservative either.

This is the basis of my objection to your painting STP as somehow exclusively "conservative".


It's not censorship to chose not to publish things you disagree with on your own website. OrangePolitics is not a publicly-owned or operated enterprise.

Katrina, I would like you to publish this statement of mine on your website:

"Many people consider Katrina Ryan to be the Bunkey Morgan of Carrboro."

If you don't will you be censoring me?

Speaking of Bunkey, has anyone read about the Rosemary Woods like shenanigans going on down in Chatham County?

Dan - Why do your posts have to be so confrontational? You did it with John Herrera last week and with Katrina Ryan here.

That said, Katrina, how can you seriously say you are worried about taxes and advocate for 10 new cops? Perhaps I'm missing something but that does not seem well thought out to me at all. Can you expound with a rationale other than merging services, which at best would be slightly better than a break even proposition?

Jackie, I have sent you my response to the CBA questionaire. I've also posted it on my blog for those who have waited breathlessly for my response. :)

I don't want to get entirely off topic, but may i ask where everyone plans to gather on election night - Tuesday the 8th?


Your house Daniel.

Thanks for asking Dan.

I was going to announce it later, but might as well do it here. After the polls close on Nov. 8, I was invited by the proprietors of The Library to encourage my supporters to celebrate with them. They'll be projecting election returns on their big screen. This isn't a private party, so I hope everyone will join me.

(The library is located in what used to be Taco Bell on Franklin Street)

I generaly work the polls from the time they open untill the time they close.Friends and family will be gathering at our house for chilli and to watch the returns.All are welcome
206 A Maple

The Orange County Democratic Party is hosting an election night reception at Chapel Hill Wine. I'll be there.

I'm wondering why more Carrboro candidates haven't responded to a list of questions that was sent to them earlier this week on behalf of members of the Carrboro Business Association. Carrboro business owners have concerns about the future of downtown Carrboro and are looking for answers to their questions. The complete list of questions and answers so far are at http://carrboro.com/cbaquestionaire. I haven't voted yet and I think many business owners are waiting for a response from the candidates before they cast their ballots.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce has updated our elections website http://www.carolinachamber.org/elections by adding audio from the Chamber/WCHL 1360AM/EmPOWERment forums. Now you can click to hear individual candidate responses to some of the forum questions. Special thanks to WCHL 1360AM for providing forum audio for use on the website.


No offense, but are you joking? "I'm wondering why more Carrboro candidates haven't responded to a list of questions that was that was sent to them earlier this week..."

Earlier this week???? Jackie, it takes time to answer questionnaires. I know the CBA has great intentions and I'm glad they're taking the time to question candidates on the issues. Downtown business owners have alot at stake in our town's future.

But this is very late in the game for candidates to receive a questionnaire. I'm not sure if they have any forums this week or not, but I know they have plenty of other activities on their plates: other questionnaires to answer, door to door, mailings, press interviews, and meetings with campaign workers and voters. On top of that, incumbents had a board of aldermen meeting on Tuesday. And, oh yes, nearly all of them full time have jobs and family responsibilities.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not excusing candidates who are non-responsive to citizen requests. But, having run for office in Carrboro 7 times, I do have enough experience to know that you have to be realistic about what you're asking on such short notice. You're gonna have to give these guys a reasonable amount to time to respond. That's the least they deserve.

I hope the CBA continues to be involved in future campaigns. You all have a lot at stake. My only recommendation is to get the questionnaire out a little earlier next campaign.

I was going to say the same thing Mike just did. The CBA questionnaire is pretty long and this is very late in the game to pop that on candidates. With early voting already started and November 8 a couple of weeks away, their time and energy are going to be pretty booked up.

And for camparison purposes, I sent a request on Saturday for info from all Orange County candidates. I only asked for existing information, not for thgouhtful original answers, and I have only heard back about a third of them.

Jason, thanks for posting the info. It's really exciting to see the Chamber and WCHL starting to use 20th century technology. ;-)


I'm wondering why the Carrboro Business Association didn't get their questionnaire (sp?) together in a timely fashion. Not that it's any skin off MY nose--I live in Chapel Hill--but it DOES seem a bit late in the game.


1. I'll try to get to the CBA questionnaire as soon as I can

2. I don't know what you're talking about, Ruby. You didn't send it to me (or perhaps you feel my answers are no longer relevant?).


Melanie: The issue of moving the IFC soup kitchen to downtown Carrboro wasn't raised until a couple of weeks ago. The CBA questionnaire is clearly in response to that news.

Jackie: You might want to encourage the CBA to find a way of reducing the number of questions if they want substantive responses before the election. I'd recommend no more than 5 questions. After the election they can ask for more detail from the new BOA.

No, I'm not kidding. The CBA questions came as a result of a meeting the yielded very few answers in regard to issues that concern local business owners. I agree it should have been put together sooner, but isn't answering questions what being a candidate is all about? I was under the impression that most of the forums and questionaires had already been completed.

Thank you Jason, it's neat see how you adopted the Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth pioneering new way to communicate with a constituency.

Of course, it would be nice if you also followed the NRG's example and published everyones complete answer to "List up to three specific things you would do to make Chapel Hill a better place to do business." instead of the strangely limited version the Chamber used.

Oh, and maybe when your fixing that you could see your way clear to mentioning to your constituents that I might be this years candidate with the strongest business background. As you're aware from your various interviews and questionnaires, I've served as both a Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer for a couple successful local companies.


Yes, answering questionnaires, etc is part of what "being a candidate is all about."

But I know you well enough to be blunt. In the real world, your questionnaire isn't the only responsibility these candidates have. I imagine that all of the candidates feel a responsibility to respond, and will. But it's also important to be realistic and understand that they have other things already scheduled and planned. Expecting them to respond on a dime just isn't a pragmatic expectation.

Again, I think it's wonderful you all are pursuing these issues and I hope the CBA continues to be politically involved in future elections. I was only trying to educate folks who've never been through a campaign themselves that there are certain realities involved.

I appreciate all of the time and effort that goes into a campaign, and you're right, I really don't have any idea how consuming it is, because I've never been through it. I've seen many friends who are candidates agonizing over the various forums and questionaires. I still think at least making an attempt to answer some of the questions on the minds of local business owners, businesses which are the very lifeblood of Carrboro, should be important to all of the Carrboro candidates.

The late-arriving CBA questionnaire made me sigh at first glance, because it seemed unnecessarily long and somewhat redundant. In the interest of responding swiftly, I decided not to compose fourteen essays but simply to treat the questionnaire like a form. It now serves as a list of talking points.

It's interesting that many folks think the IFC Soup kitchen/shelter ought NOT to be in downtown Carrboro. Do we need to come up with a new acronym? NIMDT? Doesn't flow as nicely as NIMBY....


Melanie, I have agreed with 95% of everything you have said since I've been active on OP, so your views are particularly important to me.

I have been convinced recently by a number of folks here in Carrboro - business people and residents - that on the balance it's a bad idea to have IFC in downtown Carrboro. This was hard for me because I have worked a lot with the homeless, and I consider that work an important service I have given to my community.

I just need you to tell me why it's essential, in your opinion, to have IFC in downtown Carrboro? Is it a moral concern? When we can provide for the basic needs of the homeless away from downtown better than we can by having them downtown, I fail to see the moral high ground in your argument that this is NIMDT.

I am not trying to be argumentative. I REALLY need more information on this to persuade me to what I perceive to be your position, which is that NIMDT is prevailing rather than reasoned and compassionate decision-making.

Please give me facts.

You didn't ask me David, but I'm not shy! :) We need the soup kitchen to be easily accessible to the low-wage earners of the university and the hospitals, the Harris Teeter, and all the other downtown businesses. I don't care whether it's downtown CH or Carrboro, as long as it's easily accessible by walking or by bus during lunch and dinner time. The overnight facility is a different matter. As long as it's on the bus line, it could be outside of either downtown.


I dunno, David. I just remember lots of hooraw and outcry that the homeless would be "shuffled out of sight" when the CH merchants started suggesting that downtown might NOT be the best place for the shelter/soup kitchen. Now that there is talk of moving it to "hip 'n happenin' downtown Carrboro" (where the IFC actually OWNS property, if I understand correctly) it's "not the place." My hypocrisy alarms all went off at once. So, yeah, I think it may BE a moral issue. The phrase "out of sight/out of mind" might be applicable. What do YOU think?

One thing the Carrborians might want to remember--the lawn at WSM is NOT public space. Carr Mill is a privately owned retail location. People can be (and have been) "trespassed" from the property. Just like at nasty South Point Mall. No soliciting allowed. AND a "mall cop" to enforce the point.

I think Terri nailed it--as far as the location of the soup kitchen goes.

I don't think moving the IFC will solve downtown CH's issues. I think the panhandlers will still be there. I've a close friend who has an establishment on W. Franklin. Haven't gotten permission to use his name/comments here, so he'll remain anonymous--but he thinks the things that could help downtown CH are:

1) Solving the parking/ticketing issue
2) More police presence at NIGHT, which is when the panhandling/vagrants/loiterers seem scariest to the faint of heart, and when the fights, gun fire, etc seem to be a problem.

I don't know how one solves the problem of the long-term folks who've been panhandling on Franklin for years. I'm thinking specifically of one particular male who usually has one hand in his sweatpants while he's asking for money. He's been around for years, and I think he's harmless, but I can see how he'd scare some folks. (He stays pretty much on West Franklin--I think that's "his" territory.)

I DON'T think most of these folks are patrons of the shelter--the IFC has strict rules about drug and alcohol use. They may eat at the Soup kitchen during the day. Not that it really matters.

So that is why it looks like NIMDT to me.


Melanie, I want you to know that for me personally it's not an "out of sight/out of mind" or NIMDT kind of thing. I have sat with homeless and eaten with them, although I have to tell you that in Asheville these were hardcore homeless cases I worked with. The poor but not homeless people did not eat at the soup kitchen where I worked, so this is a new concept for me.

Before I grew up and realized that I am not going to save the world, I had this big idea. Don't laugh but at one time I thought I was going to make a lot of money, like an evil amount of it, billions of dollars kind of stuff. The making money part wasn't really the dream; it was what I was going to do with that money.

I imagined I would buy a crap load of land out in Arizona and set up some buildings, kitchens, dormitories, recreational centers, day care centers - an entire town. Then I would start visiting the larger cities and hand-pick some homeless folks, down and out folks who for reasons that had nothing to do with being evil had fallen on bad times. My idea was to bus them to my place in Arizona and give them an apartment, plenty of food, and a chance to leave behind all the crappy things that they had to endure on the streets.

The center would act as new parents: it would teach them some basic social skills they might have missed in life, it would give them vocational training at their own pace, a basic education, life skills, parenting skills, the fundamentals of nutrition, and how to cook a few nutritious meals. It would teach them what it means to be in a loving relationship, to love and be loved, how to gain respect for themselves and their children and others, and how to hope again.

I even came up with a name for it: the Human Renovation Project. I figured these were people who needed a new start, a second chance at life, a fresh beginning with a social support to help them as they would "graduate" and leave the center. Just like we lucky ones have parents who are there to help us out when we fall, I wanted the center to track its graduates, cheering them on, believing in them, helping them with money for signal events like the down payment for a new home, or the first semester of college when financial aid money comes in late.

Isn't that what we all need? Someone to love us and believe in us?

I wanted to build this center out in the Sonoran desert of Arizona because I remembered when I was there a long time ago how the desert made me feel new again. The desolation was complete, the vastness breath-taking, the usual perspective clues that inform our minds about distance and reality absent, the stars within reach, God just a few heartbeats away. I was inspired by the tenacity of the saguaro, the lazy flight of golden eagles riding thermals off the Rincon mountains, the red-yellow sunsets, the trill of the elf owl at night. All these things made me feel closer to God and believe that anything was possible.

And I wanted them to feel this way, these children of God whose care and re-birth has been entrusted to those of us with means. I wanted them to experience what I call the existential moment, the instance when we suddenly understand the enormous autonomy of our existence, the freedom and the responsibility to ourselves.

After that, like a modern-day Moses I would lead them out of the desert, one family at a time, $10,000 in their pocket, to let them determine for themselves the cartography of the promised land.


It's a nice dream. You must have been--what, 17 at the time?

I wasn't accusing anyone of being heartless. Just wanted to remind the people who read this board that when the CH merchants proposed moving the shelter out of downtown there WAS a big hooraw and outcry--in both local papers. (And a small hooraw on this board.) And that there seems to be less angst (to date anyways) about (some of)the Carrboro Merchants and Alderpeople saying they don't want the shelter in THEIR downtown.

That was the only point I was trying to make. I wanted people to THINK about what they said--and perhaps be a LITTLE less likely to accuse others of NIMBYism the next time. It's an easy accusation to toss around. And it DOES get tossed around. On this board. Regularly.


Hank Anderson Breakfast Club Endorsements

Carrboro: Alex Zaffron for mayor and Jacquelyn Gist, John Herrera and Catherine DeVine for aldermen.

Chapel Hill: Kevin Foy for mayor and Bill Thorpe for Town Council.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board: Jean Hamilton, Lisa Stuckey and Jeff Danner


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.