Geography matters

Last week I created a Google map of all of the candidates in Orange County in this year's municipal and school board races. Now excellent electoral map maker Damon Seils has added two very helpful resources: a map of every polling site in the county, and another map of the voting precincts. All of these maps will be permanently available on the election info page:

Now watch what happens when I combine the candidate map with the precinct map. Pretty cool, huh?

Here are some of the interesting comments from a previous thread about maps and geographic distribution of the candidates:

Can someone explain why most of the school board candidates cluster on one side of the town? Is there something I'm unaware of about the structure of the election or is it just an intriguing happenstance?
- Priscilla Murphy

I had the same question about the map, Priscilla. It's interesting to see the geographic clusters of candidates. School board in the far northeast of town and Chapel Hill folks (roughly) between Estes and Franklin. There are also all those Carrboro candidates in the northern area, but that I can understand.
- Ruby Sinreich

My only observation from the map is that I couldn't possibly afford to live on that side of town. :)

I would be curious, however, to know which schools that candidates raised their children in. Which schools are ‘unrepresented' in the contest, or on the school board in general?
- Jason Baker

Jason, with seven seats, nine elementary schools, four middle schools, and two high schools, representation would be difficult. It might be worth looking and the feeds (elem to ms to hs) over the years, but they change as a result of redistricting. [...] Does anyone think we need districts for the School Board or the Town Council?
- Fred Black

As much redistricting as is done as I don't see any value in district wide seats for the BOE.

Rather than districts for the TC or BOA, I'd like to see us actively recruit and support candidates who are lower income.
- Terri Buckner

The distribution of reps does matter. For two years of my term on the council, I was the only person who lived on the south side of CH, while the council was primarily composed of people who lived in the north. It was hard for me to get people interested in problems of South Columbia Street when they rarely used the street in their daily lives. On the other hand, I was never an expert on Weaver Dairy Rd and its development issues.

What I found was that, while we had no formal districts, we did yield to other councilmembers who lived near the housing project, road widening, etc., for their daily experiences. Ruby's map is superb, and I would be concerned if the bulk of the school board members came from one area of the district, especially with all the effort the school board puts into redistricting, to mix and match the kids in specific schhols by various categories.
- Joe Capowski

It's certainly possible to have a representative board without districts, but part of the responsibility for ensuring this falls on the voters, who lack options without geographically disbursed candidates. It's certainly no fault of the candidates, but it's still important to examine it. A lack of equal representation does not mean poor results or poor decisions, however I hope that people lend a slightly higher level of scrutiny to the candidates to ensure that we continue with high standards for all of our schools.

To echo what Joe said, from my experience as a council candidate and a transportation board member, I certainly have been able to bring more to the table when considering projects downtown and along the Franklin Street corridor, having never lived more than a five minute walk from Franklin. I would hope to be able to defer to someone else for ground-level advice on areas I spend less time in. Diverse representation doesn't just prevent unfair attention to a particular area/class/race/etc, it helps make sure that all decisions made are the best, most informed decisions possible.
- Jason Baker



I wonder if the oddities in the map this year aren't balanced by where the folks whose terms aren't up this year live? For example, Laurin Eastholm certainly lives in a different part of town than all the TC candidates for 07.

Thanks for doing this Ruby. Any chance you could add the legend in from the previous thread (to show which race the different color pins reference)?

You should be able to see the key when you look at the map in Google, but yellow=city school board, blue=Chapel Hill, purple=Carrboro, green=Hillsborough, and mayoral candidates have a dot on them.

Now what I would like to see is to see is candidates overlayed with a map showing the average density and average income of each precinct.

Ruby, how about adding current folks - Laurin, Ed, Bill T., Mark to the map?

Good idea, Will. Please have at it. It couldn't be simpler: just go to, "My Maps," give the map a title ("OC elected officials?") and start plugging in addresses. I'll do it next week if no one gets to it first, but I am kinda slammed right now.

As a non-Orange County person, I have a question. Is the school board race county wide? and if it is, why does it look like most of the candidates are from one area of the county? Is there something contraversial going on it that area?

Gray, we have two schools districts in Orange County, one is the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and the other includes the rest of the county.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro district operates two high schools, four middle schools and nine elementary schools which serve more than 10,000 students. A third HS and 10 elementary will come online shortly.

The County has 2 HS, 3 MS and 7 elementary schools, with about 7,000 students.

Please don't ask why we don't merge - just check the archives for that story!

For Will & Ruby.

Awesome, thanks Robert! I'll adding this to the election info page.

Now we just need someone to do school boards. It would be fun to also include a map of all the schools.

Fantastic Robert! Now, when gCensus is back up we can mashup census data against your and Ruby's efforts.

I will be adding on the school boards. I could do the schools too if a couple days doesn't matter.

Somewhere along the way on my John Edwards Mashup, there was the option of letting other people add icons. But, I can't find that setting, or I would open it up for others.

The map of Orange County polling places now includes markers for the recently announced "One-Stop No Excuses" early-voting locations.


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