New Council starts today

Tonight, the Chapel Hill Town Council will swear in the four folks elected this fall: Jim, Sally, Bill, and Matt. Hopefully, this will lay to rest the Chapel Hill News' obsession with picking on Cam Hill. Presumably, you can look for Matt Czajkowski - who promised to ride his bike to all Council meetings - pedaling up Franklin Street tonight.

In spite of Cam's less-than-energetic campaign, he lost by only 60 votes. You can make the case that this demonstrated that Cam's support was weaker than he thought, and that Matt had reached more voters than it seemed to "the establishment" (whoever that is, OP included for now). However, I don't think it's accurate to describe this as a major tectonic shift in Chapel Hill's politics. Matt gives much credit to others who preceded him on the Council such as Pat Evans. While they might not be described as "conservative" outside of Chapel Hill, on the relative local political spectrum, these folks are clearly closer to the center or right than, oh, say... me. (I'm trying to keep the judgments safe here.)

Since they don't like being called conservative, let's call them "moderates." (Binary political descriptions certainly fail us here.) Anyway, they've been on the Council before, and they obviously will be again. The sky is not falling.

For some reason, the News has been repeatedly dredging up a comment that Cam made at forum, which seemed remarkable to no-one at the time. Cam, a progressive, said that people in Chapel Hill shouldn't vote for Republicans. Cam knows we don't get to tell our neighbors how to vote, he was expressing his opinion - one which many of us share. I know I certainly wish no-one here or anywhere voted for Republicans. ;-)

At the time it seemed that the only person who took offense was candidate Matt Czajkowski. I'm still not clear on whether his problem was the appearance of being called a Republican or the assumption that Cam was advising people not to vote for him. After Matt made a fuss, we saw the News rehashing this incident several times in articles and columns making him out to be the leader of some kind of new conservative (or at least clearly anti-OP) wave in town, and depicting Cam as a lazy good-for-nothing.

Not only are these articles misleading, I think they're really going overboard with the Cam-bashing. How many people do you know that grew up in Chapel Hill? Now how many of them actually care enough about the town to stay here and work to continually improve and innovate instead of simply clinging to the memories of a historic Chapel Hill that we can never have back?

Cam is a true asset to the Chapel Hill community, and I sincerely hope that he rises above this opportunistic griping and continues to serve, especially the downtown area which he knows so well as the only candidate/official in Chapel Hill who actually lives there. Many of us who remember and love Chapel Hill's past will still be working for Chapel Hill's future.



Ruby, I think you have some of this wrong. I was sitting there the night Cam made that statement, as were a number of others whom you know. I think that the initial reaction was that some giggled and many others wondered if he was joking or just trying to be cute in answering an important question. Matt was not the person who took offense at this unless you have information not available to me.

AFTER the election, because of the conservation HERE, Jesse went back to his notes and put the story on their BLOG. That's what gave legs to the story.

The problem here is we have this strong desire to place labels on people, just as you are doing above. Further, you and others want to decide what the label should be, rather than what people might label themselves.

I also think that a number of people in town felt Cam WAS guilty of bashing and therefore bashed back on the N&O Blog entry placed there by Jesse. Not a very surprising behavior in my opinion. And for the record, Cam also bashed Durham, and that never made it into print.

Another thing that never made the paper from that forum was Sally's rejection of even considering the idea of offering incentives to businesses to locate in Chapel Hill. Does this reflect the majority opinion here?

You can listen here to Part I and Part II of the forum as recorded by WCHL

Make that "conversation" not "conservation."

Fred, I wasn't there and I accept your description of events as probably accurate. I don't mean to impugn Matt for something he didn't do. My main complaint is with the paper for harping on the comment (consistent with your description), and for the way they repeated Matt's lines without including a response or a different perspective.

Congratulations to Jim Ward for being elected as the new Mayor Pro Tem!

Bill Thorpe is now speaking. He says that it used to be that the person on the Council the longest automatically had the opportunity to be Pro Tem. In many other communities there is a big fight about this, he says. Chapel Hill's Council has been giving this position to he top vote-getter in recent years, though.

The Mayor read a very nice proclamation honoring Cam, which was passed unanimously.

Now they are passing committee appointments, see list at:

Bill Thorpe is telling people how it is again.

For the geeks, the order of seats is now: manager, attorney, Bill T, Matt, Laurin, Jim, Kevin, Bill S, Mark, Sally, Ed.

Now the Council members are making brief speeches, as is customary.

Matt C has his helmet sitting on the table in front of him to show that he rode his bike tonight. He says he sees the error of his pledge, but will try to keep to it. He says that everyone who runs for Town Council does it because they want to make Chapel Hill a better place, although they may disagree about how to do that. (I certainly agree with that. In fact, I've probably said so myself somewhere in these pages...) I think his point is that he wants to try to get along with the rest of the Council in spite of having been very critical of them during the campaign.

And... that's a wrap. The Carrboro Board of Aldermen will swear in new members tomorrow. I hope it's on TV as it conflicts with basketball...


For the record, I don't recall Mr. Czajkowski taking offense or causing a fuss about Mr. Hill's comment, but if he did, we were not aware of it, so it certainly did not influence our decisions to publish the comment, to note letter-writers' responses to it in our blog, or to editorialize about it. Mr. Hill's comment only became interesting after Tom Jensen started speculating about the relative weight of Republican votes on Mr. Czajkowski's success, perhaps casting Mr. Hill's contrast with Mr. Czajkowski in sharper relief.



What I thought Councilman Thorpe said was that the Mayor Pro Tem was the member with the longest service WHO HAS NOT already served in the position. He said it WAS NOT about who got the most votes in an election. Other communities turn it into a devisive thing and he was glad that Chapel Hill avoided that and that the Mayor was continuing that tradition.

They had a very nice reception afterwards, by the way.

At the WCHL forum on 10/9 the question was asked whether a voter should consider the whole person when they considered whom they were going to support for town council. I was the first candidate to answer the question. I said that I enjoyed being a politician in Chapel Hill because I was free to be myself. I could say things like “don't vote for Republicans, don't vote for people who appear to be Republicans”. I was referring to candidates on the national level. I was not referring to Matt or anyone else specifically, (Will Raymond asked me later if I was referring to him, go figure). It was a comment reflective of my personal politics and what I believe(d) are/were the politics of Chapel Hill. The Chapel Hill I grew up in led the state in integration, in protesting the war in Viet Nam and all kinds of political and environmental activism. I said don't VOTE for Republicans, I didn't say kill them. I always thought the essence of politics was “vote for me, not for them” so this really doesn't seem like that “out there” a comment to me. My mother was a Republican. I respect people's right to be Republicans, I just have a hard time supporting anything that is aligned with George Bush or Dick Cheney. If this makes me an “intolerant bigot” guilty of hate speech with my “outrageous” statement, sobeit. People need to get a life.

For the record I am a registered Democrat because that is the only way to have any influence around here. The Democratic primaries are often more important than the general election (Ellie/Howard, Orange BOCC, etc.). It may have changed but it used to be that you had to be a registered Democrat to vote in the Democratic primaries, so I switched from Independent many years ago. The Dems can be/are boneheads too. I have voted at ever opportunity since I came of age. I believe if you don't vote you can't bitch. I can truthfully say that the only votes that I ever cast that I was completely unambivalent about were the one for liquor by the drink and all the ones against Jesse Helms. Every other vote was a lesser of two evils sort of thing (with the exception of the votes I have cast in local elections).

Anyway it says a lot that two of the biggest issues of the council election were the incumbents endorsing each other and my comments about Republicans. They won't be difficult for the new council to deal with, Good Luck to them!

Well said, Cam. It reminds me of the nut-case Christians bleating about the War on Christmas.

"Incumbents endorsing each other?" I think it was much more than that!

This is the way you roll Fred. You ignore the main substance of a post or statement and glom on the aside or the insubstantial comment and chase it. EVEN if it "was much more than that" as you say, is it really any big deal?
Why don't people discuss how the commercial tax base could realistically be expanded? or why storefronts downtown are really empty? or how much money UNC has spent on Carolina North with nothing to show for it? or what people are "really" talking about when they mention panhandlers downtown? Or whether wasting well water during a drought is OK?

I agree that we should be discussing the larger issues Cam, but to some of us the incumbents endorsing each other was a larger issue than it is to others.

As for "how much money UNC has spent on Carolina North with nothing to show for it", as much as I dislike the idea of Carolina North, I like the plans they have invested in and don't see any of that investment, such as the natural resources assessment, as waste. Besides, since the Council requires a concept plan before they will even consider a new development, it forces a fairly significant upfront investment just to move forward.

Congrats to Matt on his new role in the community and to Jim as the new mayor pro tem.

"to some of us the incumbents endorsing each other was a larger issue than it is to others"


I am not ignoring the main substance Cam, I think I have written a lot about it, especially how "the ticket" approach seemed to result in less than a full discussion and debate of significant issues during the campaign.

If it had been simply a case of endorsing one another, it would have been an entirely different matter. What was your response to what I wrote here about t no one seeming to want to talk about our growing debt as a percent of our budget? Other issues received the same lack of attention and I have consisently said that.

So, I guess Mark M can use the above to come up with another way to insult people for what they believe, but that also seemed to have been ignored.

In the Chapel Hill election, people may run as a "ticket" but they still have to be voted for individually.

I think you should be more concerned about the institutionalized authentic ticket (note that this is not in quotes) voting that occurs in the county commissioner elections. It's a huge fraud.

Cam, I was sad that you didn't attend the meeting last night.
I do want to thank you publicly for your service to Chapel Hill
for the last four years -- your activities and point of view on
the council will be missed.

I don't think it is possible to calculate why Matt beat Cam.
Back in 1995, I took a Poli Sci course entitled
"How to run a campaign" taught by a visiting faculty
member from BYU who had managed successful campaigns for
Orrin Hatch and a Utah governor whose name I forget.
His relevant message was that there is no one
issue that determines the outcome of an election.
Rather it is the sum total of lots of little details; advertising,
forums, GOTV, media coverage, etc. While it may be
fun to analzye the results, it isn't very productive.

Thanks Cam, and please remain involved.

Just to clarify one matter: Chapel Hill's tradition is that the Mayor Pro Tem generally goes to the most senior member of the Board of Aldermen who has not already been MPT, which happens to be Jim Ward. The results at the ballot box are unrelated. For example, Bill Strom was elected MPT in 2005, but he did not even run that year.

In any case, congratulations to Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward!

Also, I think I noted an error in the Herald article. The MPT is a two year appointment, not 4. So the MPT will presumably change again following the 2009 election.

With the rate of incumbents seeking reelection, I will be on the council for decades before I even get the chance for Pro Tem! :) Congratulations to Jim and I am sure he'll do a fine job.

Assuming if I ran and won, that is....


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