Talk talk talk

The DTH reports renewed saber-rattling from Katrina Ryan over Carrboro's vacant Board of Aldermen seat, but no application yet. So far the applicants are: Dan Coleman, Catherine Devine, Lydia Lavelle, and John Marold (whose web site says he lives in Chapel Hill - oops! - but also that he speaks Spanish and serves on the Carrboro Human Services Committee Advisory Board). Applications are due tomorrow, so don't delay, folks...

While Ryan said she thinks the aldermen are not likely to select her after they declined to appoint her in December, she added that she will try a final time for her neighbors' sake.

Her application will include a letter of recommendation from former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, for whom Ryan campaigned, and a petition from 525 fellow annexees in favor of her appointment.
- The Daily Tar Heel - Ryan to pursue Carrboro fourth seat




John Marold is a former student of mine, and a quality guy through and through. I'm very glad to see he's put his name in!

John Marold would also be the only Republican on the Board of Aldermen.

"John Marold would also be the only Republican on the Board of Aldermen. "

Sounds like a great opportunity for promoting the Carrboro values of diversity/inclusiveness/pluralism/tolerance.

Hmm. A straight, white, Republican man would make the Board of Alderman more diverse?

My comments about John have nothing to do with his party affiliation, which I did not know. They are about him as a person--hardworking, humble, and bright.

Lydia Lavelle lives in Fox Meadow in the NTA. She's an attorney. I don't know her ... So Eric, she's a neighbor of one of your colleagues (you're so connected...)

I truly love Carrboro, the people, and its potential future. It is a place I have chosen to raise my family.

I'm sad to see Joan's comment about a straight, white, Republican having no place in Carrboro politics. I have been a member of the Human Services Advisory Board for some time and I strongly believe that as an Alderman I can make a larger contribution to my community. Yes, I want to make Carroboro more diverse, both racially and economically.

Besides, my sexual orientation should not play a part in the decisions I make. Neither should my political orientation. Carrboro is my first priority. I'm a tolerant person and I teach tolerance to my children. Finally, Carrboro is a tolerant and open minded place to live. I hope to keep it that way and foster that aspect of this community as an Alderman.

UPDATE: I've corrected Lydia's name above. She is a law partner of Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy (as in 'Foy & Lavelle') and also a lesbian, coincidentally. And as Mary pointed out, she is a resident of the annexation area. Hmmm....

I have worked with John for several years on the Human Services Advisory Board.He's a really good guy who cares about people and loves Carrboro

John- I read your brief bio and priorities in today's paper with interest, since you mentioned increasing the affordable housing stock in Carrboro.

With high demand for housing in Southern Orange County in general and Carrboro specifically, the part of the affordable housing crunch that everyone seems to struggle with is where to put the supply of new units.

There seems to be a consensus that there should be more residential units downtown, but there is disagreement about how much more.

Outside of downtown, there is less consensus. Most people who know what Pacifica is either think it's a thoughtful piece of infill development or it's a ghastly disaster that will overwhelm a neighborhood.

I imagine most readers of this website are far more interested in your take on local issues than your party registration. With that in mind, if you feel like sharing your views on where housing development in Carrboro (affordable, market rate, or both) belongs, and where it doesn't belong, know that there are Carrboro citizens eager to hear your views.

In light of the fire chief's unfortunate recent headlines, I hope that the board will ask candidates the following:

1) Have you ever been charged with a crime?
2) If so, what was the disposition of the case?
3) Do you owe any back taxes, local, state or federal?

I don't think that an affirmative answer would disqualify anyone from service, just that the board should have the record clear and the public should know whatever explanation is offered.

P.S. Not sure what Ruby was looking at (maybe his law firm's Chapel Hill location) but Marold's website clearly states that he lives in Carrboro.

While a straight, white Republican *would* add to the diversity of the board, John's right that it really shouldn't play any part in the process.

Look for us to run an editorial on the whole situation on Friday after everyone has gotten their applications in.

That's just the sort of thing a straight, white Republican would say! ;)

Sorry all, and especially to John. I was responding to Frank's snarky comment, quoted here (and directly above my original post on this thread):
“John Marold would also be the only Republican on the Board of Aldermen. ”

Sounds like a great opportunity for promoting the Carrboro values of diversity/inclusiveness/pluralism/tolerance.
John, I would ask you to read more carefully. I certainly did not say anything about a "straight, white, Republican having no place in Carrboro politics." Again, my apologies for the miscommunication.

Maybe this is why I was voted as one of the most serious. My very lame attempts at humor are, well, very lame.

In all seriousness, while we can all make great cases for why gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. should not be considered in individual cases, I think many of us intuitively understand that having a diversity of people makes any government better. And we don't lack for, well, straight white men 'round these parts.

This is not a comment on any particular person. Indeed, I am quite fond of many straight white men, especially the one I married. Also my dad.

Ginny--I am straight, and white--but hardly a Republican--and I said something similar--but my internet crapped out on me and it didn't post. Let me see if i can reconstruct...something along the lines of:

Straight, white and Republican WOULD be diversity on the Carrboror Board of Aldermen. Well, the Republican part, anyway.

On second thought, why should we care about ANY applicant's sexual orientation?

And Ruby--Katrina put in her application--so I think she's doing more than talking. Or saber-rattling.

Am I missing something? What is "coincidental" about Lydia Lavelle's being a lesbian?

I really didn't understand Katrina's candidacy in the election past or her insistence at present.

Don't get me wrong -- I understand that she feels the annexation issue was underhanded and that the people affected had no representation. I even sympathize with that position.

What I don't understand is why anybody else would vote for her, since her basic motivation is that she didn't want to be part of Carrboro in the first place.

Apparently none of us can figure out each other's jokes and should therefore refrain from attempts at humor ;)

I was referring to Chris Cameron's comment since he is also a white, straight Republican male. And also, incidentally, kind of my new boss. But at any rate, I meant to rib him instead of Melanie or John Marold.

Bill- perhaps Katrina is running because she wants to change her new town?

Ruby, why is Lydia's sexual orientation worth mentioning?

Ginny--I got the joke. No worries!

Laura, Melanie and others

An applicant or candidate's sexual orientation is "worth mentioning" because it's part of who they are. We each--whether we're male or female, black or white, immigrant or native-born citizen, Republican or Democrat, gay or straight--we each walk a different path in life.

And, importantly, those life experiences influence how we approach issues, how we prioritize needs, how we communicate with others, and which constituencies look to us to be their voice. An applicant's sexual orientation is 'worth mentioning' because it helps us evaluate not only who they are but also what they will 'bring to the table.'

Most of us, I hope, believe that government bodies function best when they accurately reflect the demographic make-up of the people they represent. The more diverse the voices around the table are, the more accurate and reflective the decision-making.

I believe the greater community is better off when there is an African-American sitting at the table, and a latino, and--yes--a gay man or lesbian. Should folks vote for a candidate JUST because she is African-American or JUST because he is gay? No, I don't think so. I certainly don't want anybody to vote for me just because I'm gay.

But diversity at the decision-making table creates better results. And factoring in a candidate's 'differentness' when evaluating choice seems desirable and appropriate.

So, why SHOULDN'T a candidate's sexual orientation be 'worth mentioning?' I imagine those who take the position that silence would be preferable to have good intentions---ie "A person's sexual orientation shouldn't matter, so why bring it up?"

The problem with that--good intentions or not--is that it is perpetuates the "culture of the closet." I could write a book about the culture of the closet, and in fact books have been written about it. And don't worry, I won't use this space to get into a long discussion about the tools of oppression!!! But, basically, when it comes to gay people, the fundamental tool of our oppression is silence---staying in the closet, choosing not to report hate crimes, secrets, lies. Simple things, like being asked on Monday morning at work what you did that weekend, and feeling like you have to leave large parts of you life out of the answer because your colleagues will feel uncomfortable or won't understand.

By NOT mentioning an individuals sexual orientation, we perpetuate the silence. And we perpertuate, unwittingly perhaps, the notion that sexual orientation is something that shouldn't be discussed, that being gay is undesirable or wrong. If something can't be talked about, or shouldn't be talked about, then a message is being sent that it's bad.

All of this is a long way of saying: yes, it's ok to talk about it! Not only is it ok, but to avoid mentioning an individual's sexual orientation doesn't help anybody---not gay people and not the greater community.

And, in this process of evaluating what benefits individual applicants would bring to the table, it's entirely appropriate and desirable to discuss as a multi-faceted being.

Sorry, for the soap box but this is clearly something I've thought alot about and have strong feelings about!

Michael--I didn't say one shouldn't talk about one's sexual orientation. I don't believe that. BUT--I also don't beleive that being straight/gay/or bi is a QUALIFYING or DIS-qualifying factor for public office. There is a WORLD of difference between mentioning a life-partner or spouse and using the phrase "She is a law partner of Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy (as in ‘Foy & Lavelle') and also a lesbian, coincidentally. " Why was that germaine?
Why even bring it up? There were no references to family, lifepartners, etc.

THAT is my puzzlement.

Michael, what you've written is very important, and I totally agree with the need to combat the culture of "the closet."

As a practical matter, though, I have one problem with what you say.

I think all of us -- certainly those of us who know Ruby either personally or from reading her here -- understand that Ruby's mentioning a candidate's homosexuality reflects something positive from Ruby's standpoint.

But what if somebody you didn't know at all were to post here that "Lydia Lavelle is a lawyer and a lesbian?"

What if somebody you didn't know at all were to publish a letter to the editor in the Chapel Hill News that said, "I want the community to be aware that Lydia Lavelle is a lawyer and a lesbian?"

Is it not also possible that the person's volunteering this information could reflect something negative? (I'm referring to the mention of being a lesbian; we all understand that outing somebody as a lawyer inherently carries deeply negative connotations.) ;-)

Isn't it also possible that the people reading the mention--however its author intended it--will draw negative conclusions?

Can you help me understand how/when it's appropriate and helpful to mention sexuality and when its in appropriate and unhelpful?

Some would take a statement that I am "left-leaning" as an insult on other web sites. So what? Here on a progressive blog we should be able to freely talk about issues that matter to us, and identity politics is one of them.

I think where people live makes a great difference in local politics too, and you can expect me to talk about that as well. If folks don't think it matters, they don't have to pay attention.

Why focus so much energy on challenging the fact that I stated this fact, Eric? If you think it's not important, then let's move on and talk about what is.


Why isn't it germaine?



Sexual orientation gets mentioned in a negative context roughly 1.8 million times a day and we hardly bat an eyelash---by the Pope, by the president, by senators, governors, in movies, tv, newspapers, in songs, etc etc etc. I guess I'm more that a little inured to the negative connotations being tossed around. When the freakin' Pope refers to the gay rights movement as the "Ideology of Evil" you sorta get used to negative crap being stated by leaders. (Additionally, you also learn to live with the fact that most people just shrug and walk away when they read that kinda mess).

So, I guess I don't get why it shouldn't be brought up as a positive or neutral one factor that makes an individual a whole being. What's the big deal? One's sexual orientation is a key component of what makes us "us."

With regard to when it's appropriate vs not appropriate to mention a person's sexual orientation:

It's wrong to put people down because of their sexual orientation, just as it is their race, handicap, religion, gender, etc. But just the mere mention of a person's sexual orientation is not wrong, negative, or inappropriate. It's just part of who that person is, part of the package. Why wouldn't you mention it?

But all this is really beside the point. The real point is that having an elected body that reflects the community's diversity---from the standpoint of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation--is important. Lavelle, whom I've only met twice and don't really know, brings something to the table that the other candidates don't have.
Ruby was right to bring it up.


I'm having a little trouble accepting that just because a person is gay that they will be a strong advocate for gay rights. Similarly, I'm not convinced that a straight person couldn't be a strong advocate for gay rights. I would also say the same thing about blacks, latinos, etc. So while I think it's OK to mention a person's sexual orientation (assuming that they are OK with that), I think it is much more perinent to know what the candidates think about the relevant issues relating to diversity, equality, etc. and how they would act to promote those issues if given the chance. Certainly being gay or black or latino allows a person to have first-hand experience which is directly relevant but I would think that the willingness and ability to use that experience is equally critical and essential for success. Your thoughts?

"The real point is that having an elected body that reflects the community's diversity—from the standpoint of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation–is important." (M. Nelson)

What if these seemingly diverse people pretty much think the same way? In other words, what is the value if the diversity is merely demographic? Would it not be better for an elected board to reflect a community's diversity of opinions and values, life experiences and circumstances, talents, etc?

Ruby, on the "expending energy" issue, here's what I wrote in response to what you wrote: "Am I missing something? What is “coincidental” about Lydia Lavelle's being a lesbian?" I think that took me about 10 seconds to type. (I still don't understand how her lesbianism is a "coincidence," by the way.)

What I wrote in response to Mike Nelson was, as it happens, a response to Mike Nelson, not to you, about some assertions of his that I found really interesting about how to fight the culture of the closet, and wanted to understand better. And now, reading his reply, I do understand them better.

Also filing as of the close of business yesterday was Alena Callimanis.

She's in the annexation zone, as is Stephen Clossick, who filed today.

Katrina Ryan, James Carnahan and David Marshall have all told me they will file, but had not submitted their applications when i called the clerk's office earlier.

You can read a brief synopsis of the candidates who had made themselves known as of press time last night here:

You can also check out Thursday's DTH for some more coverage of the issue.

Yes, a straight person can be a strong advocate for lgbt rights and many are. Just as white Americans can be strong advocates for issues of importance to African-Americans. But a person who's walked in those shoes is the strongest spokesperson for his/her community's needs. Does anyone seriouly believe Carrboro would have had a domestic partnership program in 1994 if a gay person hadn't been there to champion it?

(Chapel Hill followed suit several months later, led by openly heterosexual town council member Mark Chilton).

There are also plenty of gay people who are NOT strong advocates for their own community's rights, George. You are absolutely right to question whether or not a gay person would be a strong advocate JUST because that person's gay. For example, you can't throw a stick in Washington DC right now without hitting a gay Republican---working inside the administration, congress, RNC, etc. While there are some good gay R's who are trying to change their party from within, many of them are lap-dogs and apologists for conservative, bigotted party elders. So, sure. Just because a person's gay doesnt' necessarily make him or her a good leader for lgbt issues.

But, getting back to the main point, the interest of NO ONE is served by remaining silent on a candidate's life experiences when evaluating applicants. There is nothing wrong with or inappropriate with mentioning sexual orientation or factoring it into the decision-making process.

If there were currently no women or african-americans currently serving on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, wouldn't most of us think that an applicants gender or race should be a factor for consideration? It should not be the determing factor---his/her positions on issues, ability to communicate well, experience, work ethic, etc should be the deciding factors. But why wouldn't we use diversity as a filter?

Thanks for asking the question, George.

Quick and dirty scoop on Stephen Clossick from internet snooping: He lives in Meadow Run (small neighborhood on left side of Roger's Rd. near Eubanks Rd.) Looks like he just moved to that neighborhood since the summer of 2005. Probably he moved from Carrboro since he listed Carrboro as his residence when he ran the 'Pumpkin Run' in 2003 (he came in 83rd). Also, line of work seems to be investments..

"If there were currently no women or african-americans currently serving on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, wouldn't most of us think that an applicants gender or race should be a factor for consideration?" (M. Nelson)

It should be only a very minor factor, if at all.

Why not look at more relevant things like personal characteristics, experience, positions on issues, goals, ability to perform the job, etc.? By the time this is done, you should be able to come to a decision without using the criterion of how someone fills out his/her Census form. If we have to "use [demographic] diversity as a filter", it is probably because we have been too lazy to get informed about more pertinent criteria or we have chosen to indulge in petty tribalism.

I had a SGC meeting at 6 pm yesterday. Are you on the Minority Student Achievement Local Team? Curious.

"I had a SGC meeting at 6 pm yesterday. Are you on the Minority Student Achievement Local Team? Curious."

I get the emails and attend the meetings so I guess so. Next one is March 14th.

This is off topic so feel free to reach me directly at:

Just received this email from the Carrboro Town Clerk:

From : Sarah Williamson
Sent : Wednesday, January 11, 2006 5:14 PM
To : Board of Aldermen
Subject : Applications for the Board seat received this afternoon

I have received applications from: Albert Vickers, David Beck, James Carnahan, David Marshall, Katrina Ryan, and Robert Kirschner this afternoon. Mayor Chilton has asked that all the applications be placed on the website. I will
try to have this done tomorrow. In any event, I will send copies of all the applications to you on Friday.

Sarah C. Williamson
Town Clerk
Town of Carrboro

Wow, that makes 10 applicants!

Thanks, Mark for keeping us posted. And good luck in your selection process. 10 applicants is a good problem to have.


Will the town also be putting the applicants questionnaires online?


Ruby, this makes 12 applicants, not ten.

I hope the town posts our questionnaire responses. The papers have access to them and quote from them. The application itself is only a form.

I would be happy to allow people to read my application, etc.; however, I do not want to violate any rules. If I'm allowed to make it available early on my website for people to read, please have the right person email me at . You'll need Adobe PDF Reader to view it.

Recently, I've been busy and haven't been able to visit this site as often as I'd like. Nevertheless, if anyone has questions, please feel free to email me. I'll try my best to respond quickly.

Kind Regards,

John Marold

My view from the other side of the tracks is that the new alderperson should be a left-leaning, baldish, mostly straight, old man with years of exemplary public service.

Dan's got too much hair, so I vote for James Carnahan. As far as I know, he's all of the above . . . and he'd be a fabulous asset for my favorite town in North Carolina.

John Marold thanks for being willing to answer questions. I have one for you and Dan Coleman and anyone else who has applied and doesn't live in the annexation area. Why didn't you run for BOA in November?


Personally, I think it is good to have an appointment once in awhile... It gives those who lack the campaigning gene a chance to serve...

I don't know if I agree with you Mary. Campaigning gives the public the opportunity to have direct access to the candidate and ask the appropriate questions of an individual who is expected to represent the diverse populations that make up a community. The process is incredibly important. I think an appointment to a position that is normally elected is appropriate only in exceptional circumstances. With more and more incumbent candidates interested in running for other positions within local, state, and federal government, I think we should have some "IF" mechanism in place so that the voters can clearly choose a replacement IF an incumbent candidate wins his new post while sitting in a current position whose term does not concurrently expire.

Hawaii has adressed this issue with some provisions in its state constitution--the "resign to run" amendment. It's not a blanket requirement, but in many cases, someone must resign from one office before formally filing to run for another, ---it mainly applies to people currently holding a state or local office who want to run for another state or local office while holding a non-concurrent elected position.

There are many ways that people without the campaigning gene can serve their communities, some of which can be pretty influential, but the principle of elected representation is pretty central to our notions of government.

Yikes, Anita... I wasn't talking about overthrowing the principles of elected representation... I merely don't mind an appointment once in awhile, a point on which we seem to disagree...

This all could have been avoided if we had a vote for four clause (knowing a seat would become available). I believe Catherine Devine would be sitting in the seat if four had been voted for...
We've got some strong applicants. I'd be happy with at least half of them. Of the ones I don't know, Beck sounds very strong...

I think being a good candidate does not neccesarily make one a good policy-maker, and vice versa. There have been plenty examples of this.

I don't think we're in substantive disagreement, but I am convinced we can design a process that allows the voters choice to be apparent about whom they want to fill a predicted vacancy. There's a big difference between a vacancy due to unforeseen circumstances and one due to the voluntary and advance notification of the intentions of the incumbent. In the latter, I think it's possible to have a different mechanism than appointment that allows the voters make their preferences known, respected, and followed and have the outcome less susceptible to charges of bias or influence.

And Ruby you're absolutely right about that.



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