Carrboro Live

I just got this announcement by e-mail:


Thursday November 3rd, 7-8 PM - TONIGHT!!!

"Carrboro Live" hosts Mayoral candidates
Alex Zaffron and Mark Chilton

Call in with your questions - 929-9601

Tune in over the airwaves at 103.5 FM
or on the 'net by clicking on the link at



Do they mean call in with your questions during the show or can you call your questions in early?

Thanks for posting the notice. We will be taking calls during the show 929-9601; we have collected some questions from the community- you may call ahead and leave your question.

We will rebroadcast the show tomorrow at 9 AM and also have it on our website as mp3 for download.

We are streaming on the 'net, BTW, link on our home page.

All note that WCOM is 103.5 (not 105.5) on the FM dial.

That's so cool you're posting an mp3 of Carrboro Live on your site. How about a podcast RSS feed? :) save webcasts as mp3's

Alex was great, and I completely believe that Alex is the right person to be next mayor of Carrboro. Sierra, Indy, and CHN got it wrong.

Also, did Chapel Hill catch Mark's comment about Carolina North? Something to the effect of: some of our local governments haven't taken the tone and approach to be influential with UNC... Ruby, Dan, what do you think?

Man, that was fun! Thanks to WCOM for doing it, and y'all for listening.


I'll admit I was only listening with one ear, but I think what Mark said was that UNC wasn't paying enough attention to local governments. I like his idea of being proactive and developing a joint small-area-plan-type-thing for the Horace Williams tract.

Mary quotes Mark correctly on the Carolina North issue re municipal "tone and approach." Ruby infers correctly that he's not satisfied with the amount of attention UNC pays to local governments.

I too listened to the program this morning and while I agree with Dan that both of the candidates presented themselves as well informed and thoughtful, I think Alex's leadership experience came through loud and clear, especially on Jacqui Gist's question about administrative experience. Not only has Alex been on the BOA longer, including a stint as mayor pro tem, but he also has more leadership experience with regional committees, such as the MPO which he chaired. Much too little attention has been given to the experience factor IMHO.

I had a chance this morning to listen to the program. I can't figure out what Mary heard that underlies her implication that it favored Alex. What I heard were two smart, well-informed guys that we are fortunate to have on the board. Both largely defended current policies and both looked to ways to improve them. They often complimented one another's points. I just can't see how you can parse the policy matters discussed in the program to form a preference.

The encouraging aspect of the program, so soon before election day, is that despite some sniping earlier in the campaign Mark and Alex clearly respect each other and seem ready to work together win or lose.

Well, it is great to hear that these two candidates are civil and respectful to each other. Nobody wins when the dialogue gets negative. It sounds as though the folks in Carrboro have two strong candidates.

Thank you, Dan, for (maybe) asking for some elaboration.

You are right, both Alex and Mark came across well last night. They were intelligent, respectful, thoughtful, considerate, and both showed that they listen and hear.

In my opinion, though, Alex presents ideas more clearly, and is the more talented group communicator. I personally find Alex much better at summarizing and repeating back other people's thoughts and ideas. Alex is very skilled at moving a conversation forward by articulating the consensus about where things stand and where things need to go.

It was Alex's communication skills, specifically, conversations I had with Alex on issues in my own backyard: annexation, Winmore, and the Homestead Road sidewalks, that initially impressed me and ultimately led me to support Alex for mayor. Alex is a good listener and very skilled at dialoguing.

Of course, my reaction last night has much to do with my disappointment that Alex did not get deserved endorsements.

It is sad to me that on Election Day some citizens who know little about the candidates will vote solely on endorsements. They will take their Indy crib sheets into the polls, and vote the Indy way.

Personally, I find it odd that the CHN and Indy ultimately chose Mark over Alex, despite what I consider Alex's finer qualifications and record.

In terms of years of participation, commitment to Carrboro, dedication to community-building, initiatives, and accomplishments, Alex's record is superior. The Indy said, “(Zaffron)…his experience serving the town is unparalleled and his longstanding ties and steady efforts have rightly earned him admiration.” (Indy October 26th)

If you remember, the CHN said, “You can't make a bad choice in the race for mayor of Carrboro. Mark Chilton and Alex Zaffron are both terrific candidates.” (CHN October 29th)

And the Indy said, “If they were running against virtually anyone else, either of these candidates would be a slam-dunk. This is one of the closest calls we've ever had to make.” (Indy October 26th)

Both papers seem to say that they ultimately chose Mark because we are entering a tumultuous period of growth, and that we will need a leader who can bring us to consensus and work for the interests of all stakeholders. Quite honestly, I believe Alex is exactly the right person to perform this task. Alex has a long history of leadership, collaboration, consensus-building, community-building, and a thorough understanding of growth issues. He seems like the obvious choice to me.

There is no point in speculating on why Alex lost out on endorsements, but I will say that I did have the sense that Alex's philosophy of growth has been misconstrued.

For those in doubt, the record does show that Alex does take a measured, deliberate approach to growth. He supports economic development that is neighborhood friendly and environmentally sound.

To further relieve anyone's anxiety, I can also attest that Alex freely admits that not every policy and ordinance he has supported has been a success. Alex is the first to admit when things need to be changed or improved, and he proactively makes changes where needed. This is the mark of a leader, and a mark of good character.

I'll end on a character note. One of the first things I ever told Alex is that he is a different kind of politician: honest, forthright, and fair, and truly committed to social, economic and environmental justice. We are lucky to have Alex working for our community. We have much to thank Alex for.

Ultimately, Alex and Mark can do the job of mayor. I will be supportive of whoever is elected. Obviously, my opinion is that Alex is the superior choice.

I just got the news! Alex got THE endorsement---
Hank Anderson Breakfast Club!

Mary, My husband and I are long-time friends of Mark and his family, and we have supported him from the start. I know he'll make an excellent mayor.

But I do ask this quite directly: I don't know Alex personally but have heard he can be a tad confrontational and unwilling to compromise. Of late, as well, both here and at Squeeze the Pulp, he's seemed a bit ... snippy. Hard to read online, of course, but maintaing grace under pressure seems key to success in all this. This has me a bit concerned, not just for Mark's campaign but also for Carrboro.

Also, I took the liberting of quoting you and making a few edits that seem to work really well (just to make a point).
[Mark] freely admits that not every policy and ordinance he has supported has been a success. [Mark] is the first to admit when things need to be changed or improved, and he proactively makes changes where needed. This is the mark of a leader, and a mark of good character.

[Mark] is ... a different kind of politician: honest, forthright, and fair, and truly committed to social, economic and environmental justice. We are lucky to have [Mark] working for our community. We have much to thank [Mark] for.
Everything you said about Alex seems to work for Mark as well, really.

Alex, I know you're probably reading this too. Awkward, indeed, but OP seems to be the place to have these conversations. Thanks again to Ruby for providing this forum.


I too like Mark, but I don't think liking someone is assurance he will be a good mayor. I really can't identify anything Mark has done for Carrboro--not a criticism since he's only been on the BOA for 2 years. Can you or anyone else tell me what projects or policies he has initiated or taken the lead on as a Carrboro alderman? What experience he has in negotiating tough situations while in Carrboro? What stances has he taken that engender your trust? What is it we in Carrboro have to thank Mark for?

These are hard questions for me to ask. I've wanted to ask them for months but hoped they would be addressed here or in the media without my blunt questioning. Unfortunately, from the text of the media endorsements, all I have read about is what Mark did in Chapel Hill a decade ago. While I believe that he might be a good mayor for Carrboro sometime in the future, I would like to have more evidence to understand why you and others think he will be so good now.

As to Alex's being confrontational and unwilling to compromise, I would say that Alex is direct. He does his research and goes beyond surface level understanding of the issues he pursues, taking a long view rather than a short view. I imagine from an outsiders perspective that standing up for what he knows is right could look like an unwillingness to compromise. But a constant willingness to compromise can be perceived as a lack of confidence or weakness. I don't think it's all in the eyes of the beholder but a big part of it is.

Leadership does involve listening, but it also requires someone who is willing to make tough decisions, including knowing when to cut off discussion. I trust Alex to listen and I've watched him make tough decisions. Like Mary, I believe he is the best candidate for the job----this year.

I am not a long time friend of Alex, and I am evaluating Alex on interactions of a political, not social, nature.

I personally do not judge people I have never met on negative heresay. However, if I did, I can honestly report to you that back in the summer when I ran into acquaintances at Weaver Street and asked these people their opinions of the candidates, I got mixed reviews.

I heard as many unflattering things about Mark as I did about Alex. Mostly, people didn't have strong opinions.

So much for heresay and gossip... It's really not an evaluation tool that works for me.

Your point though, that everything I say about Alex works well for Mark, is precisely the point that leads me to support Alex.

What do I use as my evaluation criteria, when both candidates are intelligent, fair, and have good communication skills? To make my choice, I fall back on the candidate's record of years of service, leadership, and accomplishment.

I simply believe Alex is better qualified.

Also, I think it is safe to acknowledge that this is a year of grief for Alex. Coming to terms with the loss of a parent is hard work-- especially the first year, as each season of the year brings back memories of the final year. I think Alex has performed well under the circumstances.

PS In all fairness, if you search the archives of OP, you will find that Mark is capable of being 'snippy' too-- but you are right, it's hard to read 'snippy' online. I've always believed that OP posts should be a small part of one's evaluation tool of candidates.

Mary and Terri, perhaps I wasn't clear: I mentioned my family's long friendship with Mark's family only to be straight-forward. I wouldn't vote for someone I "liked" if I didn't think they'd do a great job.

Mary, there has been little media coverage of this campaign, and talking to people I trust is an important way for me to gather information; the suggestion that I'm relying on gossip is, frankly, patronizing. You also mentioned some things about Alex's personal life and perhaps made an incorrect assumption that Mark isn't, sadly, in the same boat.

Terri, in response to the specific issues you raise in regards to being direct, confrontational, etc.: sometimes, forging strong relationships with folks goes a long way towards the big picture. That doesn't one is always compromising or being indrect. Alex is very effective as an alderman. But do those same qualities make someone an excellent mayor? Not necessarily.

I have already voted so there's no need to convince me of anything. I just wanted to raise some issues I had heard through the fall. If either of you wants to speak more about these issues, I'd be happy to do so off OP.

Sorry Joan, I did not mean to be patronizing, but it sounded like you were talking about the word on the street. Thank you for clarifying that you were refering to conversations with trusted friends.

You are right, it is good to talk about these things in person, not on a multiblog.

Also, I make no assumptions about Mark's personal life. I am sorry to hear that Mark too has suffered a loss.

Clearly, different people prefer different personal styles. I see no right or wrong personal mayoral style in this race. All styles have strengths and weaknesses. Alex will make an excellent mayor, and I have confidence in his communication skills and sense of fairness.

referring-- I hate spelling errors!


I wasn't insinuating that you voted for Mark only because you like him. Clearly you know him on a different level than the public has had access to, like the media endorsements, letters of support, etc. that say nothing other than what a nice guy he is. By contrast, the non-endorsements & letters for Alex are glowing in terms of his commitment, experience, and knowledge. It could well be that many prefer to cast a vote for someone with no record to oppose, but claiming nice guy status as the equivalent of leadership capabilities is somewhat disingenuous. Too bad, as Dan said, the news media has done such a poor job of covering this race.


Terri, to answer your question about what I have done in Carrboro, here are a few things that come to mind:

I spearheaded the movement to have closer review of downtown developments (recently adopted).

I was the chair of the Carrboro Childcare Study Committee (report and reccomendations forthcoming in November).

I helped redirect state childcare subsidy funds to ensure that more 4 year-olds from low-income families get a full year of pre-school before entering kindergarten.

I assisted OPC Foundation for Mental Health in the establishment of ten new permanent homes for chronically homeless disabled people.

I secured a $100,000 grant to finance the renovation and opening of the Club Nova Thrift Shop.

I set the wheels in motion to change the zoning at the Cement Plant downtown and got town government focused on how to resolve the difficult transportation issues presented by the vicinity of the Cement Plant.

I also blocked an effort to downzone (and devalue) properties in the historically black community around White Rock Chapel.

And I have been representing Carrboro in the development of the Orange County Solid Waste management plan, working on getting the county to focus on waste reduction as the first and foremeost goal of the plan.

Thank you!

Uh, Huh--
I recieved an e-mail with the following disturbing content tonite:

"Mr. Zaffron:
I received a postcard from your opponent, Mr. Chilton, and it raised an issue I feel strongly about. In the card he is qouted as stating that 'The Board of Alderman has to decide where roads go an how to collect garbage - there is no role for an ideologue in making these decisions.'

Let's hear it for "consensus building".

I hope this is not true.

I can't believe Mark would send out postcards strongly implying that his opponent is an ideologue.

If this is true (I tend to think that Mark is above making a statement like this) it is the first campaign-sanctioned negative campaigning I have read. It's really quite ugly, and an unfair and hyperbolic assessment of the truth.

Did I spell hearsay wrong too? Ughh...

On the subject of campaign mailings- I got one in the mail with endorsements from the Independent the other day that looked very similar in shape/color/cardstock to the one I received from the Sierra Club.

Did the Indy mail its own endorsements out ( a very activist step, even for an activist newspaper, and if so, are they reporting how much they spent) or did the Sierra Club send the Indy card, or did some other group send the Indy card?


Does it not say anywhere on the card who it's paid for by?

Excellent question, Tom.
BTW, I have received no postcard from the Sierra Club with endorsements--- 27516 zip code. Interesting. (I did get the Nov/Dec Sierra Club newsletter last week.)

Does the Sierra Club always send out endorsement postcards? Did I get skipped because they fine tune mailings to very targeted zip codes?

It would be very unusual for the Indy to send that out. Often the endorsed candidates will pool their resources and pay for the card together since it benefits all of them.

Tom- I trashed the card, and it only occured to me later how strange it was.

I know that the Sierra Club endorsees split the cost of a mailing, and I imagine you got skipped, Mary, because you're not a Carrboro voter.

Typically in campaign mailings, they'll send out cards only to "habitual" voters to save money. Since you didn't vote in the 2003 muni election, you wouldn't be part of a "targeted" mailing.

My guess would be the Indy endorsees did the same, and they used the same print template and just switched the names.

The "idealogue" postcard is an entirely different issue, but it does seems that Mark's supporters have chosen to go negative ( I won't pin it on Mark), since I've been targeted by Chiltonites as well. Being called "stupid and mean" comes to mind, as do the acts of those sign thieves that ripped my signs from their stakes and replaced them with Chilton signs, as was documented in the Herald last weekend.

Shows the ugly underbelly of local "progressives", doesn't it ?

One of the cards that we received yesterday says, "The Independent Weekly and Daily Tar Heel agree: Laurin Easthom, Mark Kleinschmidt, Will Raymond, Bill Thorpe for Chapel Hill Town Council on November 8!"

The card also has their web pages and on the back has quotes from The Indy. It was paid for by the four committees.

I don't see what's wrong with candidates sending postcards promoting themselves and touting their endorsements. Wouldn't you do the same?

I have no problems with the endorsemnet postcards. I was just explaining to Mary how they most likely came to be.

The "idealogue" postcard is another matter. Many people would perceive that as not in the spirit of fair play. The sad part about negative campaigning is that it usually works.

Since Mark is perceived as being ahead, I think it's probably unnecessary, and may end up hurting him since you don't kick a guy when he's down in a small town election. It would be like John Herrera attacking David Marshall ( since they are probably targeting the same demographic).

To whom is you comment directed, Ruby?

If the postcard was sent by a consortium of endorsed candidates, that makes sense, and I have no objection.

I was mostly curious if the card was sent by the Indy itself.

To anyone who can imagine being a candidate, Fred. To the reader. To you.

Is this how it worked: Endorsed Carrboro candidates pooled their money and mailed out first, a Sierra Club endorsement postcard, and, second, an Indy endorsement postcard. These postcards went to 'habitual' Carrboro municipal voters.

And, yes, Ruby, I would do the same thing. I was confused. I thought the Sierra Club had paid for the postcards.

It's good to know how all of this works.

I'll just say this, and then leave it alone: Last-minute, negative postcards are not a new technique: It was pioneered by Carter Wrenn and the Congressional Club when the technique was used on behalf of Jesse Helms to (successfully) defeat Harvey Gantt in the 1990 U.S. Senate race.


So is a reputed "negative" postcard worse than a candidate comparing his opponent to Helms?

No subjective comparison, merely a factual recitation of the development of the technique.


I did not read any comparison in Alex's statement. I read that going negative can be effective.

Joan, you call the postcard 'reputed'. I haven't seen it. Has anyone seen it? Does it exist?

One way or the other, it seems pointless to continue negatives. Everybody loses.

I saw one of those postcards, and it took me about 30 minutes to get over seeing "The Independent Weekly and Daily Tar Heel agree" on a printed piece of paper. ;-)

While too late to influence anybody's opinion, it has occurred to me that Mark has been silent on the question of the 'ideologue' postcard (as opposed to the others, which we all agree, are just fine). So, just for our edification---and posterity, How about it, Mark? Was that your piece?


The nonresponse from the Chilton campaign indicates to me that the negative postcard does exist and was campaign-sanctioned. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I want to be wrong.

Actually Mary, I think it indicates that Mark isn't reading OP right now because he is a little busy with the election. In fact he told me as much yesterday.

But as I wrote above, I don't see what's wrong with it. He wasn't neccesarily talking about Alex, he could have been responding to ideological concerns expressed about himself. I haven't seen it, but I havent heard anyone say that Alex's name or even the word 'opponent' is on the card. I think it's pretty typical camapign literature with the candidate talking about what he sees as his good qualities.

And most importantly as I've said before, no-one is required to read or respond to OrangePolitics. If you really demand an answer, best to do it in person. I especially wouldn't expect a candidate to be wasting time indoors and online today.

You're right Ruby, he was probably talking about himself.
And I agree about talking to people in person. Multiblogs don't foster much peace and understanding, do they?


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