Let the games begin!

Reports indicate that all three of our Mayors and all four members of the Chapel Hill Town Council will file for re-election sometime after the filing period opens at noon today. Zzzzz. So what's up in Carrboro and Hillsborough? How about the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board?

To recap, a list of the seats that are up this year is at http://orangepolitics.org/elections-2007. We'll be watching the filings page at the Board of Elections and report any updates here. I'll probably wait until the end of the day to update the OP elections page. Anyone plan to watch the action in Hillsborough first-hand?

Issues: 

Total votes: 95

Comments

Alex Zaffron's decision not to run is a significant blow to Carrboro IMHO. Anyone who watches BOA meetings is well aware of the knowledge and experience Alex brings to the board's disussions and deliberations. Typically it's Alex who crafts the language to address the divergent concerns of the board. His ability to see beyond the simplistic and into the complexities has always impressed me . I will miss his leadership and his integrity.

Headed up to H'boro for the noontime gaggle.

Awesome, Kirk. We'll be watching your blog...

Kirk got everyone on tape - the noon showing at least, so the Citizen is indeed the destination for those interested.

I caught a ride to H'boro with Cam, Bill, and Sally. No other candidates were there by the time we left.

Kevin Foy and Lydia Lavelle have officially filed as well.

Tom Stevens has filed for reelection as Mayor of Hillsborough.

I've gotten to know Tom pretty well through my job and he's as good a person as anyone will ever meet.

One more addition: Evelyn P Lloyd filed for re-election to the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners.

A quick check of the county web site (http://www.co.orange.nc.us/elect/2007filings.asp) shows that Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton filed to run for re-election as expected. Apparently he's planning to spend less than $3,000 on his campaign, as are Mayor Tom Stevens and Board Member Evelyn Lloyd of Hillsborough.

Couple more Hillsborough Town Board filings- incumbent Brian Lowen and challenger Bryant Warren, who ran in 2003 and has served on a variety of town advisory boards.

Just a thought here - all these elections are non-partisan and work just fine. The citizens lack nothing in terms of information and the issues are the sole focus. If only the county elections were set up the same way...

Anyone know if David Marshall will again seek election to the Carrboro BOA? Seemed like the BOA was on the verge of electing him to fill Mark's open seat.

Anyone know whether Jim Ward will run again?
If he does, then all the CH council incumbents are running
and my bet with Neil Offen -- whether they will all win --
kicks in. Which local restaurant serves good fried crow?

This is what Jim said in April:
_____________________
Ward said Saturday he wasn't yet certain of his plans.

"I haven't decided 100 percent," he said. "If I had to put a sense of likelihood on it, I most likely will run for re-election, but that's not my final decision."
____________________

I believe he is out of the country so that is probably why he hasn't filed yet. Which side of the bet were you on, Joe? I will bet they all get reelected :)

A David Charles Nash has filed for Chapel Hill Town Council.

Here are the three things I was able to piece together about him:

-Retired tennis coach

-Disappointed about the bus to the library being eliminated (wrote an lte about it in May)

-Has not voted in a town election since 1991

Here's who Nash was when he ran for mayor in 1985 (according to the Herald):

David C. Nash, 43, of 380 Tenny Circle, an investments Counselor and sporting good salesman. Before Nassif said he would not run again, Nash was the only announced candidate. He said he was running so Nassif would not be unopposed.

BTW, that was the year when Bev Kawalec duked it out with Jimmy Wallace, the latter victorious. There were four also-rans, notable among them Wes Hare, now active in the impeachment movement.

In a WCHL interview Mr. Nash criticizes the Council for moving too slow to approve tall buildings downtown:

http://wchl1360.com/details.html?id=4061

BIll, I (and others) counselled David Marshall to join some advisory boards so he could add some knowledge about Carrboro government to his smart and thoughtful approach to public policy. However, when I ran into him last year he said that life's pressures had intervened he had actually had to step back his public involvement. I would like to see him run, but only if he is prepared.

Joe, which of you thinks any of these incumbents would lose? (I'd bet against that.) What amazing challenger do you know about?

WillR,
If you choose to run again the voters can have a Goldilocks scenario for candidate opinions on downtown redevelopment: too slow (Mr. Nash), too fast (WillR ?), and just right (incumbents ?).
BTW, any plans to head to Hillsborough in the next 8 days?

Any chance Will R will move to Carrboro and file for the BOA before next friday? :)
Jacquie G

I remember David Nash vaguely from town politics in the late 1970s, I am pretty sure he was moderately active in local campaigns back then. If I am not confusing him with someone else, I think he did some volunteer work for me in at least one campaign.

Ruby asks me:
"Joe, which of you thinks any of these incumbents would lose? (I'd bet against that.) What amazing challenger do you know about?"

I don't know of any amazing challenger, though I understand
that Jim Black is looking for a new spot. Perhaps he can
duplicate Mayor Curly's feat.

To find out which sides of the bet Neil and I are taking,
please join us at the crow-serving restaurant.

GeorgeC, from what Tom and Joe are saying it doesn't make sense for anyone but the incumbents to run this year. From what I've gleaned, it's a "snoozer". Maybe we should just declare the election over based on insider pundit acclaim...

I've heard at least one local business person expressing his intention to run and his hope that others from the business community would also.

Any word on Joal Broun's decision?

Joal was most recently quoted saying she hadn't thought about it yet. This was a couple of weeks ago.

Had a nice chat with Mr. Nash yesterday. He's been in Chapel Hill since 1947. Retired teacher. I managed to get a few comments about the race in this week's paper.
Interesting bit of history:
His mother, Ethel, was a school of public health lecturer and a scholar in marriage and family issues. His father, Arnold, was a founder of the UNC religion department and a key faculty player in the Speaker Ban controversy. They were both from England, but moved here by way of Toronto.

Anyone know if Terri Tyson is considering running again?

Am I the only one that finds Neils "bet" a bit off-beam for a leader of a local media powerhouse?

The last election cycle I heard Neil call the race before the race even had begun. Over the next few months the CHH's coverage tracked his initial prognostication - big on the folks he said he would win, little or none on the candidates he continued to marginalize. It followed the pattern he set in 2003 (the first time I really tried to analyze coverage). On the flip-side, the CHH and HS loved Ed and didn't publicly evaluate (in fact, published) statements he made that didn't align with his record.

Now, no problem with Neil having a personal opinion or broadcasting it in his paper's editorial section, but it does seem noteworthy when he appears to be shaping a desired outcome through the news side of his business.

This is a small town with multiple media outlets with varying ties to the folks running.

Jennifer Strom and the Indy, Kirk and the CarrboroCitizen, Mark and the Chapel Hill News, Neil and the CHH, the DTH's fall editor and whomever is running the show at WCHL have a lot of power to influence these races. Each has their own unique ties to the cliques, candidates and organizations involved - each can shape, to some extent, the race by their reportage.

Maybe a disinterested party would care to track this years coverage in light of all these entanglements and maybe try to keep an objective scorecard - way beyond Tom's google-mania - of how each candidate does by the local 4th estate.

Is Katrina Ryan running for BOA?

Also, if Alex isn't running, that means the door is open for at least one new person in Carrboro.

Will, I'm selling my (Carrboro) house if you're looking to relocate.

Well Joan, I feel that I've somehow over the years become an honorary citizen of Carrboro but I'll just have to continue to spend a good chunk of my time and money visiting that fair 'berg as Ellie and I made our choice years ago - Chapel Hill to stay.

We almost did start out in Carrboro those many years ago. We even looked a house that the agent claimed was in both Towns! Imagine that - the best of both worlds ;-)

If I can be somewhat nosy, where to Joan? Not to far I hope....

"from what Tom and Joe are saying it doesn't make sense for anyone but the incumbents to run this year." -- Will Raymond

I won't speak for Tom, but I can't see how you reached your
conclusion from from what I wrote.

"Now, no problem with Neil having a personal opinion or broadcasting it in his paper's editorial section, but it does seem noteworthy when he appears to be shaping a desired outcome through the news side of his business." -- Will Raymond

Neil did write an editorial about the election a few days
ago, which you have no problem with. But how is he
shaping the desired outcome through the news side of his
business? And what is his "desired" outcome?

The filing period isn't even closed yet, so we don't know
who all the candidates will be. Isn't it a little early to
accuse the media of bias?

Joe, I suggest folks review coverage by all the outlets of the 2003 and 2005 elections (much of which has been locked behind the CHH and CHN's paywalls). Maybe some enterprising UNC J-School folks would care to evaluate that coverage to see if there was a bias in the NEWS reportage.

I'm not a journalist but I am a close and long time reader of these local media producers and, by my estimation, the election reportage in the CHH did track Neil's pre-election calls quite closely. And what of Ray Gronberg's 2003 love-fest for Ed?

In any case, what I called for was a closer scrutiny - especially considering the incumbent factor - of this year's election by disinterested parties (which eliminates Ruby, Tom, myself and several other frequent posters on OP).

Given time, I do expect to weigh in on the media's coverage this round as open and transparently as I can but what I have to say, I hope and expect, should be weighed against my own interest.

followed Kirk's lead on Arnold Nash (David's father):

http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/htm/04910.html
Arnold Nash was born in England in 1906 and was educated at the University of Liverpool, Ripon Hall, Oxford, and the London School of Economics. He held graduate degrees in chemistry, philosophy, and sociology and was a minister in the Anglican church. His particular areas of interest were philosophy of science, sociology of science, and the sociology of religion. He also studied the relationship of the university to society. In 1939, he moved to the United States and embarked on a series of guest lectureships at various universities that ended with his taking a position as professor in the Department of Religion at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1947. He was the author of The University and the Modern World (1944) and numerous articles. Nash frequently lectured at other institutions, both in the United States and throughout the world. He served on many committees and in groups on campus, and his papers indicate his concern with issues that affected the University.

Nash married Ethel M. Nash in 1933 and they had two sons, Keir and David. Ethel Nash graduated from the University of Liverpool and then obtained a graduate degree in guidance and counseling from the University of North Carolina. She traveled around the country lecturing at various universities and published articles on marriage and the family.

In the correspondence files are letters to and from the friends he left in England; topics discussed in these letters include the experience of living in London through World War II, the Lend Lease Program, and the Speaker Ban at the University of North Carolina. Also included is a letter to Nash from Albert Einstein.

Jim Ward filed this afternoon.

Will, I do hope you weigh in on the media coverage
of the election. I also hope that the coverage is unbiased.

There is another side of the story, however, and this is
NOT an argument with Will. It is that the better candidates
do a better job handling the media. I took
a course in how to handle the media early in my tenure
on the council, and it made me change some things that I did,
with the result that (at least I think) my media relations
and coverage were good.

The basic message for a candidate is to recognize what
the media is, what their constraints and deadlines are,
to bend to them, not expect them to bend to you,
and to treat the reporters (all media genres) with respect
and recognition of the difficulty of their jobs.

One quick story of what not to do is illustrative. Several
years ago, a less-experienced candidate for CH council asked me to drink a beer with him (I'll call the candidate him, but
it could be a woman). Among many things, he
expressed his frustration with the media, especially
how he would speak three paragraphs,
but the reporter would only print a partial sentence.
He continued that someday he would actually get
a reporter to explain in the article everything
that he actually said. Clearly, his expectations
were not realistic and he was violating the bromide
"Never argue with anyone who buys ink by the barrel".
His results in the papers matched his results at the
ballot box.

"It is that the better candidates do a better job handling the media. I took a course in how to handle the media early in my tenure on the council, and it made me change some things that I did..."

But isn't there was incumbents have such a huge advantage? They already have at least two years of experience with the media and have learned to craft their message so they get better coverage. Attending a class may give you book knowledge, but it's the practical experience that really makes the difference.

Personally, I agree with Will. Incumbents already have an advantage from more hands-on experience with current issues, they have advantage from their experience with the media. When bets are made, that is just additional PR. Throw in press endorsements that don't have (or publicize) their evaluative criteria, and it would be truly amazing to see an incumbent in this community lose. ESPECIALLY when our local media is so very prone to sound bites rather than asking probing questions.

For anyone wondering, Joe and I have sat down for coffee before, but not a beer (though I'd be happy to buy a few rounds for him anytime he asks in return for his usually solid advice).

One of my distinct failings, as both an "activist" and a candidate, was/is to try to provide too much background, explain in too great of detail and flesh out the nooks, crannies and nuances of various issues so that my audience - be it a voter, Council, etc. - not only knew/know where I was coming from but would understand how I got there. It's something I feel I owe folks. Something I was/am embarrassed not to do.

Probably comes as no surprise to frequent OP readers either...

I did learn, I believe, to compress some of that nuance, etc. into the standard 45 second response the other, more experienced, incumbent candidates seem to handle as second nature.

Of course, that acquired skill didn't matter much as the incumbents were frequently quoted, usually to some great extent, many more times than any of the other candidates. Looking back, I'd say Bill Thorpe, Laurin and myself did much better than Jason, Robin and the rest of the crew but were out-distanced by miles by the incumbents.

Another thing I observed was how uncritically the statements of both Mark and Ed were reported by the various press.

These folks had specific, documented positions and statements on various issues that had come before them on Council. Yet when one (greatly) or the other (to a vastly lesser extent) mischaracterized their established record - nary a word or follow-up from most (not all) of the press.

Now, as someone that was a close observer of the Council before running, someone that directly witnessed both the particular incidents and then heard the electioneering revisioning of those events AND as a candidate with a vested interest in getting the comparison/contrast established, well, I might have been overly sensitive to those discrepancies.

But one of the great powers an incumbent wields is their record - "look what I did - 100 affordable homes, publicly-financed Downtown condos for the jet-set, etc." - a chip that greatly out-weighs the "what I would do or would've done differently" of a contestant.

Sure, it's not the job of the press to do the job of the candidate. It's on the candidate's shoulders to communicate to the community their stands on the issues, to draw the distinctions between those positions and those of the folks they wish to replace.

But the press, better than anyone, should know the record and if they don't examine the deltas, ask for some follow-up, who else - the online punditry?

OK, my "funny" story on media coverage for 2005.

Quick background.

I knew most of the reporters covering the election prior to becoming a candidate. When I ran, I contacted them and their editors to make sure they had all my phone numbers, direct "media-only" email addresses, home address, etc.

I also said I'd be more then happy to discuss issues at their convenience. On the campaign trail I would make sure that these folks still knew how to get hold of me and that I welcomed their inquiries (I suggest any candidate running do the same AND have a card with all the info to hand out).

A particular reporter, "who shall remain nameless", sent me one email with six questions soon after I filed. I answered each to the same tedious detail you guys have become accustomed to from my posts. I sketched out my stance, how I got there, etc.

Pretty much very "quote" that Mad Dog (name changed to protect his/her identity) used from me after that point came from that email. It was worse than the Chamber's "omitting" to mention I had been a businessman (CIO/CTO at Reged.com) or truncating my online "nuanced" responses to their survey.

I would see Mad Dog on the trail and say something like "Hey M.D., I'd be happy to discuss the issues, how the election is going, the weather, sports, your dog Waldo, what have you, at any time convenient to you should you want a fresh (i.e. less than 4 month old) response for your articles".

I would also press my contact information upon him/her once again thinking that he/she might've just forgotten how to call.

Yeah, maybe pollyannish but I preferred to believe the best of her/him than any alternative.

Now, what I should've done was what was suggested by Ruby, et. al. at the recent excellent CAN "so you're going to run" forum (a copy of the video of which is available here).

That advice? Contact the editor.

In that particular case, the editor had refrained from calling the election before anyone had filed (and to my knowledge, hasn't done so yet).

And, so, circling around to my original observation, I'm not quite sure how effective contacting an editor that's already made the call will be.

That said, if I'm ever in the same situation, I'll take the CAN panelists advice.

Will, to answer your very nice question: my family is moving overseas, so far, in fact, that I think I still get to vote locally.

Joan, hope you keep an eye and ear on our fair 'bergs even from afar.

BTW, for anyone thinking about running against the incumbents this year, don' t worry over much about the press. Sure, I'll miss Rob, but we got a great new crop of folks that are digging in.

From my experience, the local folks generally get it right, sometimes get it wrong, sometimes get it really, really wrong and, at the best, sometimes bring form to the formless and will restore some coherence and brevity where it barely existed before.

One tool I used during 2005 was a small digital recorder to capture my forum "performances". First, it helped me work on delivering the message. Second, it gave me an opportunity to review other participants responses. Third, it helped me realize that at some points within the pell-mell rush to spit out my five year plan to reduce energy usage in Town, for instance, within my allotted 45 seconds, I actually made some sense.

One last example, at least for tonight, of how a candidates message can go astray from the most innocent of remarks (Laurin and Robin will probably remember this).

I was invited to the Republican Women's lunch down in Fearrington Village to meet this politically active group. Laurin, Robin and I had an opportunity to introduce ourselves and answer a few questions.

I was talking about reducing and then eliminating the general use of "leather-seated SUVs" by our Town. I was going on about challenging staff to a targeted %10 reduction in fuel usage, rewarding departments and employees that me the targets, etc. when one of the women piped up and said "You want to ban OUR SUVs? You want to take our SUVs away?"

She thought I was talking about some kind of ban against the sale and use of SUVs in Chapel Hill. Wow, how did she get that from what I was saying I still don't know but it made me realize that clarity is not always enough.

As that campaign went on, candidates, at least it seemed to me, started to adopt a verbal shorthand for various issues. I thought at the time we were not giving the voter their money's worth but, later, I realized it was more the nature of the beast. Contemporaneously, the press also started to use a "shorthand" consolidating folks positions along the "pro" and "con" of this and that, missing some of the great eloquence and discourse I saw ALL the candidates exhibit throughout the process.

Joe, I took your comments, Tom's and the apparent pre-game prognostications of Neil as a kind of a damper on the local "small-d" democratic impulse.

Hard to say how many folks will read what we've written on this thread.

I would like to think that a potential candidate for this year's Council, Board of Alderman or Student Board race would walk away from a quick read thinking that, should they be inclined, a run is a difficult but not a hopeless act.

I think Joe's comments about dealing with the media are pretty much right on. There are a lot of constraints -- space and time -- on reporters, especially those filing for dailies. Understanding those can be very helpful.
This doesn't mean that vapid coverage or presumptive coverage is valid, but it does, usually, follow the leadership at the paper.
If the message comes down from the top that something is not important, trying to fight the current is difficult.
I was very upset at the way my old employer turned its back on Chatham and cut election coverage in general just as Bunky was making his power play. The reporter assigned to cover the race had no interest in the county. That was bad, but the fact that those higher up didn't see that and do something about it was worse.
Elections are where ideas get to the table. Whether they come from a seasoned incumbent, a hotheaded newcomer or someone who can't for the life of them speak in short sentences, the electorate should know about 'em.
I have a stock answer to the questions 'when is this all going to change' or 'when are they going to listen to us?'
The answer is: First Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
This is how democracy refreshes itself. The role of the press is so vital to it, that the industry itself was given a constitutional protection.
In my mind, elections are where we earn our keep.

I hope this means the Carrboro Citizen will give a more critical (as in a detailed analysis of candidate platforms) than what we saw in the last election. I'm sure we're going to hear a LOT about economic development, CN, and environmental issues. And for each of those issues there are multiple perspectives. Having help understanding those different perspectives will be very useful. Having someone repeat what the candidates say is a waste of good writing talent and paper.

Terri, when you wrote "Having someone repeat what the candidates say is a waste of good writing talent and paper.", you were right on. Too often, the reporters simply pass the short
quotes from the candidates to the readers, without investigating
whether the quotes matched the voting records of
incumbent candidates or previous statements by all candidates.
On the national news, we often see a reporter challenge a
candidate's statement by saying "oh, back in 2004 you
took a different position on.....". I don't think I've ever seen
that locally. Sometimes, letters to the editors will fill that
role and keep candidates consistent, so they can't say
what is politicallly expendient at that moment.
Why are local papers not more challenging?
LIkely because the reporter turnover is high, with
consequently little institutional memory,
(not surprising given reporter's paychecks), coupled
with precious little time to do the research.
Kirk, do any local papers actually have researchers
that help reporters?

Joe,
The sad fact is that institutional memory in reporting is not as highly valued as it once was. Most of those with a long perspective on the area have either moved on or are in management/editor roles now.
There are few dedicated researchers even at at most large papers and they seldom do work for the bureaus. For the most part, reporters have to do their own leg work.
Past voting records are not easy to come by for local elected officials (the legislature does keeps track and they're easy to find). So all of us need to hear from people who do remember where the bodies are buried.
I believe it is important to get what candidates are saying in the paper to get them on record. But the idea is to use that record to hold them accountable, not just be a stenographer.
As I said before, leadership is key. If the emphasis is on the importance of an election, then reporters will put energy into it. If it's on clever features that will amuse the general readership, well, that's what we'll get.
I expect that most papers are just going to run lists of candidates, do occasional wrap ups and wait for a man-bites-dog-story that might interest the rest of the Triangle. (Reason #5,012 for starting a locally-owned and operated newspaper.)
We'll try to be challenging for the candidates and not the voter.

kmr

Joe,
If you win the bet and get paid, let me know. I made a bet with Neil years ago at a CHCCS retreat over the site location of the third high school; I said southern site, he said no way, Eubanks Road.

He still owes me a dollar. Actually, with interest it's probably around a buck and a quarter by now.

Tom, are you suggesting Neil doesn't make good on his wagers? Youch!

Unlike influencing the school site selection, he might actually be able to steer this bet his way ;-)

I will be filing to run for Chapel Hill Carrboro School Board this afternoon!

Right on, Mia! Tell us more. Do you have a campaign web site?

Thanks, Ruby. I don't have a website yet. For starters, you can find my press statement on Orange Chat.

Well that's nice of them, but you can't count on the media to reach voters for you. See discussion above...

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