Should the new Council decide the 5th seat or should the current council ?

I believe the decision should be made by the new council. If you believe that as well, please sign this online petition today before 5 PM. It will be presented at tonight's Town Council meeting.

Background (Preamble):
Mayor Foy has stated his intent to call a vote on the selection of a candidate to fill the remaining two year term of Bill Strom's council seat at the November 9 Council business meeting.

Many citizens of Chapel Hill believe that the NEW Council, four of whom will have been newly selected or re-elected by the voters, should have the right to appoint the replacement member and that this decision should not be made before the first organizational meeting for the new Council on December 7th.
We the Citizens of Chapel Hill believe that the voting public should decide who represents us on our Town Council.

However, since the unfortunate timing of Mr. Strom's resignation date has prevented us from having his seat filled in the November 3rd election, we believe that the newly elected Town Council should select the replacement Council member since they reflect the most recent values of Chapel Hill voters.

In order to accomplish this, we are hereby petitioning Mayor Foy and Council on this day of October 28, 2009, as follows:

We request that one member of the Council make a motion to table the vote until the next scheduled business meeting, and that the vote be continued as necessary until December 7th (and certainly not before), when the new Council sits for the first time. Following the motion, we request that another Council member second the motion and that the Council and Mayor vote on it.

We believe Chapel Hill voters deserve clarification from Mayor Foy and sitting Council on this matter and their assurance that the NEW Council will select Strom's replacement.






I would like to see the new council select the replacement.

Thanks ! Just cut and paste and then email this link to others :  

I have asked all of them to do so .

We would like to see the replacement council member selected by the new council.  No one should object to this, no matter who you are for.  It makes no sense for an outgoing mayor and council to make this selection.  It's bothersome, frankly, that Mr. Strom made his announcement weeks after he purchased a home in NYC and just days after it would have been possibly to democratically elect the new member in this current upcoming election.  Mr. Foy's move to select the replacement before the new council is seated seems quite wrong.  Matt Czajkowski was the only one on the current council to speak out against this and this is one of the four reasons he has my vote for Mayor.   Dissatisfaction with the incumbent council on this and the really ridiculous health care coverage "consent" vote they pushed through last year  are the reason that Gene Pease, Matt Pohlman and Jon DeHart will have my votes for council.   Thank goodness some citizens were paying attention and gathered over 600 signatures to force the entire council to reverse its decision.  The lone vote against the fiscally irresponsible and self-serving move was Matt C.  GO MATT!

It's too bad this petition wasn't started a long time ago.  It could have a lot more signatures by now.  And I'm not clear if Anonymous on the petition mean entirely anonymous or rather just that the name is not shown online but it is recorded for submission.  If it's the former then it's pointless to even allow that since obviously those will carry no weight. I watched part of the Town Council meeting online tonight.  When the introduction of this petition came up on the agenda Kevin Foy's voice changed markedly.  It still had that mellow sound it always does but suddenly the tone was dripping with contempt.  How dare anyone challenge the wisdom of the great Kevin Foy!  It reminded me of the Wizard of Oz right before Toto pulled back the curtain.  If you think I'm kidding about the tone of voice change then watch the replay on TV or online if you can.   The guy that introduced the petition got the number of signatures wrong (he said 287 instead of 270).  Some of the names said "Anonymous" as Foy looked at the list.  (I still can't tell if that is all of the ones or part of the ones that were Anonymous online.)  And the town/county was unlisted for some. All of this tremendously offended the great Foy.  Of course, the fact that none of it would be an issue in the first place had he done the common sense fairness thing and not proposed a vote after the election but before the new council was brought in went entirely unmentioned.The guy that introduced the petition asked that at a minimum the council members put their position on record.  Ed H. said he was for waiting.  Then Laurin E. did too.  Matt Cz said he was also for it and that if the council at that moment decided to delay the intro of the new candidates until Dec 7 then the whole matter would be solved.  And Mayor Pro Ten Jim Ward said he was for waiting to.  But no, it wasn't to be. And then as the mayor started to go on to anther topic, Mark K chimed in to say, hey, I'm for waiting too.  Of course he is, since he, like all the others, are running for election.  Anyone in a position of having to be sensitive to voters is in favor of waiting.  But the outgoing mayor doesn't care.  He doesn't have to because there are no repercussions if he doesn't care.  He has political power and he is going to use it.  Or in this case, abuse it.  I don't know how the election process for the new council member goes but if there has to be a majority of votes to vote in a new council member then the four that said tonight that they were in favor of waiting until the new council was brought in in Dec should just vote "no" or decline to vote at all for every candidate on Nov 9.

Jose, that was a good description of Mayor Foy's petulant reaction to the request for the new Council to determine the successor.  However, the petition signers prevailed.  Only Sally Greene hung with Kevin Foy.  All of the other Council members indicated they preferred to wait.  And so, when the Strom succession came up again later as a staff-prepared agenda item, Mayor Foy formally acknowledged the postponement.  The petition supporters were a coalition of several groups and many individuals - nice to see (and feel, as one of the participants) the good cooperation and hopefully an indication of positive citizen participation to come as we approach some changes for Chapel Hill government.

Since this denied the original will of the people, this seems a like small request after this fiasco.Someone complained that this was "politicized" but you know it might just be that people are a little smarter and more aware of actions than labels.

I would have signed this petition if I had seen it in time and if it wasn't being promoted as "anti-incumbent" or pro-Matt Czajkowski. It's a plain good idea to let the new Council decide, it has nothing to do with which politicians one likes or dislikes.  I do think the appointment has been politicized by supporters of the Czajkowski-Polhman-DeHart slate for their perceived political benefit, and I think that is an obstacle to objective discussion of the matter.

"It is a plain good idea to let the new Council decide, it has nothing to do with which politicians one likes or dislikes."  Yes, I agree completely.  That's why Kevin Foy should have taken that stance from the start, which was about three months ago.  The only reason it became an anti-incumbent thing is because an incumbent did something that looked shady and then the incumbent with the most power backed him up.  Whatever anti-incumbent-ism there is associated with this whole situation would have been a lot less had Foy taken from the start the stance that he finally took last night. The supporters of the other guys didn't politicize it.  It was Bill Strom that did that.  As a result, Foy then had to make a decision that would have  political ramifications one way or the other and he chose the politically unpopular path.  Of course the non-incumbents took advantage of that and pointed it out to whoever would listen but the fact that even the incumbents agreed testifies that a different decision should have been made from the beginning.

So, don't vote for Foy for Mayor.

Carol Ann,I did not speak out against your petition last night. It makes sense to me, and I'm happy to participate with the new council in the selection. I did not speak out in favor because I was processing the information, trying to understand the petitioners' claim that this solution is the "most democratic." I don't know which is the most democratic. The most democratic would have been for Bill to resign in time to open another seat. I'm as angry as anyone with him for that. What happened as a consequence of his resignation was just a series of unhappy choices. So, I was not ready to publicly embrace the premise of the petition (that it's the "most democratic"), and like Kevin I was troubled at the number of names on it with no city of residence attached, plus the anonymous ones. But to be clear, I certainly do see the logic of giving the decision to the next council, and I support that outcome.  Sally Greene

Well said, Jose. I would like to add that I don't see myself as pro-development, nor did I realize that I was part of a coalition, but I digress... The petition was a political response to a tactical move on Strom's part to have like-minded council control the selection of his replacement versus a general election. Sally Greene is right, one council choosing is at best only marginally more "democratic" than the other, but it's the best we've got so I'll gladly take it.It is still quite possible that Strom's replacement will be someone Foy would have originally selected. It's also possible that it will not, but at least the voters will have been given the opportunity to chime in, if even only indirectly. 

"He has political power and he is going to use it.  Or in this case, abuse it." I think this characterization is quite unfair.  I took a look at the petition it was full of anonymous signers, fake names, people who didn't live in town, etc.  My position on the subject is the council should follow the existing rules in a middle of an election, and if the current council is charged with finding a successor then they should do their job.  If you want to petition to change the rule for the next election, but its not fair to change when we're almost ready to vote in this election.  Just because Mr. Foy doesn't agree with your position is no reason to smear his motivations. 

I'll agree that it was somewhat unfair but I won't agree that it was quite unfair.  I shouldn't have used the word "abuse" but I like wordplay so much that I couldn't resist it since I had just used the word "use."  But as far as I know, no rules were changed.  Council isn't charged to pick a new member within X days AFAIK.  Strom resigned with suspicious timing that raised hackles and Foy had discretion on how to proceed and he decided to proceed in a manner left hackles raised instead of lowering them.  (BTW, what the heck are hackles anyway?)  He chose the same "technically legal but unfair by common sense standards" approach that Strom took to start this whole affair and then backed off only after public reaction.

And why do people usually abandon a ship ? in filling seat is requestedCHAPEL HILL Mayor Kevin Foy stood alone Wednesday against a political movement aimed at changing the makeup of the Town Council.Members of the pro-development group Citizens for Responsible Government delivered a petition asking the council to delay appointing former councilman Bill Strom's replacement until after newly elected members are seated Dec. 7."It's clearly political," Foy said. "The people that are concerned about this are hoping that the new council will appoint their friend, someone who's more sympathetic to development." The council did not act on the petition, but six of eight members promised to delay the appointment."If I'm not there to do it, then I'll miss the fun," incumbent Ed Harrison said.Fellow incumbent Laurin Easthom followed suit."Potentially, times are changing, so we need to allow whoever's working with that person the opportunity to select the new council member," Easthom said.Mayoral candidate Matt Czajkowski and his rival Mark Kleinschmidt both agreed, as did Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward and incumbent Town Council member Jim Merritt."They're all abandoning the ship," said Foy. or 919-932-8760  

Given other recent stories, I would not be too quick to assume Kevin actually made that statement.

or that the quote had any relevance to the sentence above it in the story

I have withdrawn my name form consideration .

Jon,I want to thank you for taking the time and effort for running for Council.  I know that it is a significant commitment of time and energy (both physical and emotional) and I am appreciative of that commitment by you.

Thank you.

Gene Pease began the discussion by outlining 3 options for making the decision: selecting by race per the NAACP letter, appointing based on experience and knowledge (which would be either Will Raymond or Joe Capowski per Gene), or appointing the 5th place finisher. It's Gene's preference to appoint Matt Pohman.

Sally Greene followed Gene and spoke elegantly to her preference for Donna Bell to ensure that the historically black community has someone who is competent and who looks like them on the council.

Matt Czajowski is now speaking. He noted that last year he voted with the other 8 council members to appoint Jim Merritt to fill Bill Thorp's seat. At the time, he says, it seemed like the right thing to do. But he doesn't feel that need is as compelling this time. He points out that while diversity is an important issue, 2 years from now, the people can reinstate that diversity. In the meantime, he is supporting the appointment of Matt Pohlman.

Penny Rich notes that if she had had 5 votes she might have made different choices. Therefore she does not feel that appointing the 5th place finisher is a compelling argument. She will be voting for Donna Bell. She is African American, she is a woman, she is very competent, and will bring a voice and face to the council that is needed at this time. Penny also spoke to several emails she received that said a woman with small children could not possibly commit the time for public service and that she was offended by those emails. The same concerns was not applied to any of the male candidates.

Lauren  will be voting for Donna Bell because she is competent and a woman and because she represents diversity. This was not a done deal for Lauren. She is making a personal choice and she was elected to do that. If she choose the 5th place finisher, she would be abdicating her responsibility. Like Penny, she thinks the outcome could have been different if voters had gone to the polls with the choice of 5 instead of 4. She's now reading an article from the N&O that says the numer of woman policy makers have not improved much over the past 20 years. (Note: the article was not talking about elected positions but to state-wide appointed boards and commissions that set policy.)

Jim Ward got involved on Council when he had small children and is happy to serve with those who do. This is not an easy, straightforward decision. Different people can reasonably disagree. Everyone who is part of this process, both the candidates and those who contacted council, did the right thing by getting involved. However, he has decided that Donna Bell is the best choice. Not because of her race, her gender, or any particular volunteer role she has played for the town. It's all of those things. He does not feel that his decision disenfranchizes the 3,000+ individuals who voted for Matt. This past election alloted candidates into 2 sides, most clearly represented by the mayor's race. He thinks it is possible that someone who aligned with the current mayor could have plausibly received the most votes had the 5th place seat been on the ballot.(Personal aside: Jim Merritt did not finish 5th despite his alignment with the current mayor.)

Ed Harrison quotes Ellen Reckow as saying making the tough decisions is why they get paid the big bucks. The toughness of this decision is due to the quality of the candidates and the number of contacts they have had from citizens. Ms Reckow also advised him to try and represent everyone; however, try and he might, he cannot do that, especially in the case of minority citizens. He evaluated candidates on how likely they were to be able to step up and be productive right away. Four candidates stand out in his analysis. Aaron Shaw gave an impressive presentation and is working with community youth in a very important way. He encourages Aaron to stay involved. Will Raymond, Ed's friend, is the person Ed frequently calls to find out what is going on. Will may not fit on this council, but he certainly fits in this community. Some of the notes he has recently express on social justice have been very moving and he, too, is encouraged to stay involved. Matt Pohlman is also impressive. The community has experienced Matt but based on those forums he was not in the top 4 vote getters. If he had been elected, Ed would have been happy to work with him. Thanks for running, applying and staying involved. Ed knows Donna Bell from a social event in another city years ago. He voted for her appointment to the Planning Board, and he saw Donna and Gene Pease as stand outs. Donna is also livening up the sustainability visioning task force. He will cast his vote for her.

Mark Kleinschmidt notes that someone is going to be angry regardless of what decision is made. Hopefully the service of the selected individual will dissipate that anger. He supported the postponement of the appointment decision so that the sitting council could select the individual they could best work with. Like others, he doesn't think appointing the 5th place finisher is a compelling argument. What matters is how approachable the council is when minority populations face a problem. When he faced that problems, he would look for someone that looked like him, even when it meant he had to go to another town. The lack of representation is a problem for this community. The problem can be solved by appointing someone who is African American, who is a committed volunteer to town boards, etc.

Final vote is 6 (Donna Bell) to 2 (Matt Pohlman).


This deserves its own blog entry, but in the interest of expediency, congratulations to Donna Bell on her well-deserved appointment to the Council vacancy!

I took notes last night on the rationale of each council member and posted them here. Guess I must not have been logged in since they aren't showing. Drat!Anyway, the speeches made were fascinating.Congrats to Donna on winning the appointment process.Thank you to each of the candidates, especially Will Raymond and Matt Pohlman who cared committed their time, money, and energy to the electoral process.

Thanks for the notes. I've approved the comment now! (I was wary because it was a lot of detail for an unverified source.)


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