Vacancy: Board of Aldermen Seeks Appointee

On January 19, 2006 the Carrboro Board of Aldermen will host a public forum and interview applicants for the vacated Board of Aldermen seat.

As a group, I think the Board will be looking for two specific attributes in the appointee: 1) the motivation to make positive contributions to the community and solve community problems, and 2) the necessary conviction and capability to do the job well--- but what other qualities will the Board look for?

What other qualities should the Board look for? a community builder?, a peacemaker?, a hard worker?, a visionary?, someone measured and balanced?, someone inspirational?, a relative unknown?, someone experienced and well-versed?, someone with superior analytical skills?, someone non-controversial?, integrity?, wisdom?, social lubrication?, fresh ideas?...

What do people think?

[Editor's note: If you're interested in applying, fill in this application (Word or PDF) and questionnaire (Word or PDF) and return them to the Carrboro Town Clerk by Wednesday, January 11.]



I for one will be looking for someone who can really listen and be open to changing their mind,plays well with others and is mindful that we are a real town-not SIM CITY

That the successful candidate's name not rhyme with "Matina Lyon?"

I would bet that Jacquie is not the only board member who believes in looking at new evidence and sometimes arriving at new conclusions... and even changing one's mind. It's not within thre realm of impossibility that the ryhming candidate could present new evidence and change some minds.

I certainly do not want someone simply because she/he is not controversial. I would hope we can find someone who is informed about issues such as land use planning and financing and interested in other issues such as transportation and economic development. I also hope the selected candidate has the time and commitment to do the job right, i.e., attend a decent % of meetings, read lengthy agendas beforehand, etc.

I wonder if 700+ votes plus 500+ signatures on a petition will have any impact?

This is not to minimize the fervor that some have for seeing that Katrina receive the appointment, but I think the petition is only somewhat significant. The right person with the right spiel could collect 500 signatures for just about any candidate.

It seems to me that the 3 candidates who ran for office are going to be viewed globally as "candidates who did not receive enough votes to win an election", not as candidates who lost in a certain order. Perhaps the Board will look at the votes if it comes down to a tie breaker. I don't quite understand how much context will figure into the decision.

I think it's interesting that Phillip Boyle's writings are part of this application without any notice given to Professor Boyle.

And there seem to be several inconsistencies in the language, for example: question 4 comments on "Mindful" governance, then asks a question about "Inclusionary" governance. Surely the two are related, but why not use the same wording?

As for the final question, why not clarify the point by asking, "give an example of how you would make a good, fair, and sustainable decision to solve a public problem?" approaching a conclusion is a bit elaborate.


Question #4 asks a good question, but it's a bit ironic. The application form and questions in and of themselves probably discourage inclusion.

Just for my education, why is it OK to list activities associated with religion, but not politics?

For the most part, I like the questions, they reflect a decent distribution of theory and actual performance and they cover a good range of issues (budgetary understanding, leadership, attitude, legal authority of town).

But I am still concerned about how each candidate's response will be assessed. In education, we often use rubrics in order to provide students with feedback on their performances. In this case, feedback may be needed for the entire community so that we understand the criteria used by 6 individuals, each with their own unique views of Carrboro. This would be a nod to transparency that might serve the aldermen to good effect if their selection is at odds with a large majority of the community.

As an example of what I mean:

Question #1 asks: What would be your top three priorities if appointed? Answers should provide us with an understanding of each candidate's knowledge of the community & leadership capabilities. In the absence of a concrete rubric, I imagine that each aldermen's assessment of these answers will be based on how well the candidate has aligned to that aldermen's priorities. My question would be: Does the citizenry know the top 3 priorities of each seated alderman? And if not, how will we understand the criteria used in assessing candidate responses on this item?

Or will the aldermen assume a more wholistic assessment strategy (know it when I see it) that is not concretely understood by the citizenry? If that's the case, then what confidence will we have that personal relationships will not weigh as much as questionnaire responses?

"[T}hen what confidence will we have that personal relationships will not weigh as much as questionnaire responses? "

I guess we'll just have to trust them.

Isn't that what we are all supposed to do these days? Trust our government?

Terri asks: "Does the citizenry know the top 3 priorities of each seated alderman?"

I think I have answered that question once or twice recently, Terri. ;)

Mark, Mark--you're the mayor now!

I'm still unclear (or is it unsure) of Mark's favorite movie.

I think that the most interesting dynamic at play here is that the sitting board (brand new member included)evaluates the applicants and chooses the person who will join them based on their criteria, not necessarily the voter's. Do voters use the same criteria when they vote for three or four people? Do they select the folks who will work well together to do what is best for the community, or do voters ...?

I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing if personal relationships come to play in this process. If sitting Aldermen have worked with and know an applicant from his/her having been involved in Carrboro issues over the years I think it would give them a better sense of whether the person would make a positive contribution to the BOA than from just trying to get a sense of them from a questionnaire. Anyone can write anything they want on a questionnaire, but I think a lot more can be learned from the scope of someone's community involvement- in Carrboro proper, or elsewhere in the case of the annexees.

Not saying it should be the deciding factor, just that if I had a vote on this appointment that would certainly be something I would take into account.

I don't see it as a bad thing either and didn't imple that it was. I see it as an interesting dynamic because it reflects two processes that do not necessarily have the same philosophical underpinning.

Without any defined criteria, how will we know that the entire decision isn't being made on some type of affiliative relationship (aka cronyism)? On the Black Box thread, James Protzman worries about the current state of our democracy. Why not put Carrboro far above the fray when making such an important decision? Personally, I trust the Mayor and Aldermen to a great degree, but they have positioned themselves to make a decision that is controversial before the first application is received.

For the sake of community relations and transparent decision making, I think we need to know what criteria and the weights they will be assigning to those criteria for their decision making. I see no reason why collegiality should not be one of those criteria.

Just to clarify-

"Cronyism is partiality to long-standing friends, especially by appointing them to public office without regard for their qualifications." [emphasis added], wikipedia

Thus, appointment of a well-qualified political associate is widely accepted as good leadership and standard procedure. The appointment of a Michael Brown-style incompetent is cronyism.

The Aldermen are trusted to make all kinds of policy decisions every day. Of course there's the potential for them only to vote in their own self-interest, but if they did so I think Carrboro voters would throw them out. This isn't any different. In fact, it's the same procedure they have used for this sitation in the past. That shows me they are following *policy* not making exceptions for personal vendettas.

There is a rich research stream in poly sci on the politics of vacancy replacement. Even with senators and representatives, where the process is "spelled out" in the Constitution, we see the impact of politics. For example, a governor of one party who has the opportunity to choose a successor when the vacancy was created by a member of the other party, a governor choosing the spouse to the job, appointing him/herself, or appointing someone who wanted to run in the future and can now get incumbency/seniority status. On the House side, the governor issues a writ of election to fill a vacancy, but the Constitution is silent on the timing. There are ample examples of governors working the clock on setting the election - and of course, money is often used as the justification.

In state and local level vacancies, the constitutional solutions vary from state to state. Here we see the Carrboro Board of Aldermen have a choice. Note Ruby that they have appointed the next finisher and have used applications, so both have validity as operational solutions.

In the 2006 decision, the members will evaluate candidates and pick the one THEY think is most deserving and can contribute the most. Is that necessarily someone the voters would have selected? Can any of the three who sought seats but were not successful be chosen without there being controversy? Can they choose someone who has never sought a seat without there being controversy? Can a former elected official be chosen without there being controversy? Probably not in all cases, but that's why they are in the job - - - to make tough decisions! Their published criteria suggests to me that in filling the vacancy, they are committed to doing what is best for their community

Well said Fred. Do you live in Carrboro? :)

The other reason for using published criteria is to ensure the legitimacy of the selected candidate. It will not help that individual serve the community if she/he is perceived as being an insider/favorite/crony.

Terri, Carrboro is not a huge town. Considering the potentially small pool of politically active and interested selectees in Carrboro, I can easily imagine one or more of the applicants will have a relationship with one or more of the sitting Alderman.

Should that automatically disqualify her or him?

Terri, whether Fred is a current Carrboro resident or not is irrelevant. The board can always annex his house if they decide he's the best candidate for the job.

...but not the street in front of his house. :-)


You didn't read my earlier statement. What I hope we can avoid is the appearance that this decision is being made solely on the basis of affiliation. Just as good teachers use rubrics/metrics for assessing student work, the BOA should publish something similar to provide all applicants with confidence that their applications will be viewed fairly even if others with closer affiliations to the BOA apply, citizens with the assurance that the BOA members are using criteria other than affiliation, and the selected applicant with something close to the credential that she/he represents the entire community rather than the most vocal of 6 people.

Mebbe nobody saw the discussion, but, those who did will recall that there was some discussion of jettisoning the idea of asking philosophical questions in the applications. I insisted on this in order, again (if anybody paid attention at this point), to provide some background to inform the interview process.

It's easy to be glib and clever when you're providing answers to questions that are designed to provide a thirty-second sound-bite---For better or worse, the coin of the realm in electoral politics---, but a different story altogether, when being quizzed about consistency with written statements that one would assume had some degree of deliberation in their formulation.



Here's the Chapel Hill Herald today:
Some interesting comments.

Having participated in numerous endorsement processes (similar, in a way, to what the Aldermen will be doing), I agree 100% with Alex. It is always a challenge to frame questions that will get at specifics but it is essential to do so.

Alex--I changed channels at eight when the Chapel Hill announcements came on. Checked once or twice shrotly thereater--and the "blue screen of death" was STILL up.

So, no, I didn't see it.


The latest on the 'blue screen of death" is that Chapel Hill is checking with their Information Technology Department to see if a piece of equipment they are planning to order will allow them to program around Carrboro.

It seems for now, we're stuck with the blue screen... unless someone wants to make this their contrarian issue... the screen only lasts 10 minutes... but it feels like 10 hours during high drama sequences...

The minutes from BOA 12/13/05 haven't been posted on as of this morning. I was in the room, however, and can testify that the discussion played out as Alex describes.

Much of the new board's premier debate took place during the reported (lengthy) blue-out. Otherwise OP would have fielded many more comments about that meeting.

Minutes will not be posted on town website until approved by BOA.
There is usually significant lag time beteween the meeting and approval of minutes which make the blue-outs even more frustrating for viewers.

Applications are due next Wednesday. Anyone know who else is likely to apply ( besides David, Catherine, James and John)?

Also, is there any chance Carrboro can run BoA meeting audio during the hourly 10 minute blue outs? I noticed some (?unintentional) audio during a blue out recently...

I haven't heard any rumors.

Recurring glitches in the meeting broadcast might have been corrected by Time Warner by now. Guess we'll find out on the 10th when the Board reconvenes.

Dan Coleman is the only applicant as of this morning. Are you going to make your questionnaire public Dan?

Terri, do you mean Dan is the only applicant so far or so far this morning? If there's more than one applicant, why don't you call for all of them to publish? Or I assume the applications will be public record - maybe you can get copies that way...

Dan was the first and is currently the only official applicant. I assume others will turn in their applications before the deadline. Since Mark C, Alex and Jacqui all read OP, maybe they will address the public records issue at their next meeting. In the meantime, individual applicants can chose to make their own questionnaires public as David Marshall and possibly others did this past fall.

I think Dan, David, Catherine, James and John will have some pretty predictable answers and nothing to hide… I'm sure they won't mind making their applications public after the deadline.

What kind of questions are they asking at the public forum?

Well dang, Dan! Just when I think I am all plugged in, people go and surprise me. I guess I'm not quite as observant as I think... ;-)

All applications will be public records. You can obtain a copy from the Town Clerk at 918-7309. I will ask her to post the applications to the website once they are all in.

Hi Mark.

Just a quick comment to observe that your doing an excellent job in the "mayoral demeanor" department! Thanks for all you do, and how you do it.


I agree, 100%.


John, I am afraid you are going to lose your award...

I like your 'JMK' sign off too ... It has a nice, liberal ring...

I have a question. Didn't you say you were a volunteer firefighter at one time? From the CIP, do you understand why the budget provides for the salary of 15 new firefighters for the new substation, but no new pumper/tankers? I know I often miss things...

Several posters, most recently Charlie Buckner, have referred to Carrboro annexing peoples homes but not the streets in front of them. I don't understand; what is happening here?

Apparently, NCDOT or Orange County haven't kept the roads in the NTA up to standard. Before Carrboro annexes the roads, Carrboro wants the roads fixed (and I assume paid for) by responsible party... I could be wrong about this...

"What is happening here?" The phrase "land grab" leaps to mind...

Seriously, it Carrboro wants their taxes, then Carrboro ought to be forced to deal with the roads there.


I'm confused--both towns have DOT maintained roads within their town limits. Merritt Mill, Greensboro, Estes....all DOT roads vs town roads. I believe the issue is that, in the event of snow, roads in the annexation area may not be plowed as early as in-town roads. Anyone live on a side street in Carrboro? Is it plowed the first day of a snow?

I have serious concerns with many aspects of the annexation, but this isn't one of them. Of course, I'm quite happy to be snowed in.


Carrboro's got a roads problem in-town, too.

It has a 25+-year history of sometimes approving developments with "private" roads. What that means is, the develolper gets to pack more houses in, the town gets more taxes, and the corresponding homeowners have higher costs of living because they pay regular tax rates as well as high homeowner dues. I'm not just talking about townhomes here.

For example, my current Carrboro real estate taxes are $1,067 per year. My homeowners dues are $1,128 per year, for a self-standing house whose roofing and exterior painting I must maintain myself. About half of those dues go to saving for road paving, street lights, and maintaining a pond. (The pond is nice, but we don't live on it, and I wouldn't choose to pay a grand a year for it. The other half of dues is for landscaping. I'm much rather mow and prune my little plot myself.)

My experience is that at least half of covenant-neighborhood homeowners, at least in lower price ranges like mine, would sooner not be covenanted. So many neighborhoods are covenanted around here, and it's a seller's market, so we bought our house despite the covenants and high dues. (I wasn't aware that the Town didn't maintain the roads until a couple years later.)

My neighborhood, Weatherhill Pointe, doesn't have a choice about paving its roads. In part this is because once you've got paved roads, that's what you have to maintain. In our particular case, we're in a flat flood plain and the roads certainly had to be paved from the start.

The house lots are so small in some cases, that the road cannot reasonably be widened to "code." The Town has told my neighborhood that every few years for the past decade. If the law allows us to operate these "private" roads, then the code is nothing more than an excuse for the town to make a separate, willful decision not to maintain them. Same goes for the Highlands.

(Yes, we also pay flood insurance, close to 50% the cost of town taxes.)

My critics could basically write, "too bad." We had access to full information when we bought here. That doesn't mean it's just for me to pay 200% the regular municipal tax rate in order to receive 100% of the services.

Terri, I've never heard the road problem explained by anyone who knows... I could be completely wrong...
Can anyone explain?

Mary, I have talked to several of those 'who know' and their concern is for maintenance. Since the roads in the annexation area are relatively new and in good shape, the most immediate maintenance issue is snow plowing. Fortunately, the Homeowners Associations in those areas are not saddled with the burden of road maintenace per Jeff V's post.



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.