Candidate Forums

Here's a list of public candidate forums. Anyone know of others?

Pa'lante (Hispanic Youth & Journalism group)
Friday, Sept 9, 6:30pm, Club Neon, Carrboro and Chapel Hill (very small space)

Sierra Club

  • Monday, Sept. 19, 7:00 - 9:00 pm, Carrboro Town Hall, Carrboro Mayor and BOA
  • Thursday, Sept. 22, 7 - 9 p.m., Battle Court Room, Hillsborough Mayor and Commissioners
  • Tuesday, Sept. 27, 7 - 9 p.m., Chapel Hill Town Hall, Chapel Hill Mayor and Council

Morgan Creek Neighborhood Event
Saturday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m.

Coker Hills/Colonial Heights/Booker Creek Neighborhood Event
Saturday, Sept. 24, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.


  • Wednesday, Oct. 5, 6:00-8:00 pm, Carrboro Town Hall, Carrboro Mayor & BOA (broadcast live on WCHL)
  • Tuesday, Oct. 11, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, Hargraves Community Center, Chapel Hill Mayor and Council

Orange County Democratic Women
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 7:30 pm, TBA, Carrboro and School Board



The Pa'lante event tonight has been moved to Carrboro Town Hall.

Moved and time changed to 6:30pm.

October 27 is a "multiple neighborhoods located on the north end of Chapel Hill will be hosting a candidates forum."
From 7-9 p.m. at East Chapel Hill High School. I live in a north end of Chapel Hill neighborhood (Northwoods, Parkside, Vineyard Square, and Larkspur area) and haven't heard about this otherwise, but got a letter in the mail. It must be neighborhoods east of MLK Blvd, around the East Chapel Hill High School area.

Tonights forum was really quite good. The questions, which were well crafted and covered specific areas of concern. They initiated some very spirited, lively debate and discussion (by most candidates at least).

As one candidate pointed out, it was an excellent evening to ferret out the philosophical bent and character of a candidate.

Besides the give-n-take, I especially enjoyed the opportunity to challenge a group of involved youth to step up and take on even greater responsibilites. The Palante Paper is great for community outreach, and it needs to be commended, but I have a feeling that this group is ready for a broader challenge.

Finally, the DTH deserves to be commended for covering the forum. Still, I missed the HS, CHN and WCHL.

Here's some pics of the candidates and the crew from Palante.

I was very impressed tonight with the three Carrboro candidates who were there. I know tons of stuff about all the Chapel Hill candidates, and the forum pretty much just confirmed what I already thought about them.

But I think the biggest question mark for many people in the area is David Marshall. He seemed like an incredibly passionate person- it was abundantly clear that he cared about the children there tonight and about fair treatment of minorities. Win or lose, I hope he will get more involved in the community- he is a definite asset.

I was also impressed with Jacquie Gist- I can see why she's been reelected time after time- although I hope she won't be embarrassed to learn that I was in Kindergarten when she was first elected and I am now a college senior!

And of course Mark Chilton remains passionate, informed, and articulate.

I'm sure the other candidates are great too and I will look forward to seeing them in action over the next few weeks, but based on tonight I definitely think Carrboro voters have some good choices in November.

Thank you, Tom, for your kind comment. Win or lose, I will get more involved in the community.

BTW, I chuckled at what you said about Jacquie until I did the math and realized that I was a sergeant in the 82d Airborne Division and already a combat veteran when you were born!

Just to elaborate a little for those who were not there about what happened tonight...

the kids asked some really great questions about a variety of issues that are very important to people in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, but that are beyond the immediate purview of local government- things that really affect us but are under the jurisdiction of the state legislature or the US Congress.

These issues included:

-Passing a resolution against Republican legislation that has made it harder for hispanic immigrants to get driver's licenses.

-Passing a resolution against a bill (WillR can fill in the exact name I think) that would force immigrants to show their papers to receive the benefit of police protection during emergencies

-Looking into allowing immigrants in the process of receiving citizenship status to vote in local elections, a practice which has worked in Cambridge, MA and Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD among other places.

These questions inspired some very heated and passionate dialogue about whether it's really an effective use of time for the Chapel Hill and Carrboro Boards to advocate on these issues.

A few people stood out during this discussion.

Jacquie Gist pointed out that during her service on the Board of Aldermen there have been several instances where they were the first government in the state to speak out on an issue. For instance, Carrboro was the first municipality to speak out in favor of a death penalty moratorium. Dozens followed- communities don't necessarily want to be the first to speak out but many felt more comfortable doing so after Carrboro took the lead. I thought this was a compelling argument in favor of lobbying the legislature on these issues.

Mark Kleinschmidt also made some very salient points about how Democratic candidates for Congress and Governor have no choice but to take seriously the views of Chapel Hill and Carrboro's elected officials since we provide such a huge percentage of primary votes in Southern Orange County. Speaking out as a body really does make a difference to higher ranking elected officials.

I continue to be impressed with the outreach Laurin Easthom has done through all segments of the community. She seemed exceedingly knowledgeable about the issues that were of concern to these kids and made a full commitment to advocating for what's right in Raleigh as a council member. She, along with David Marshall, spoke very passionately and sincerely about the importance of Town Council providing moral leadership on these disturbing issues.

Really almost all the candidates had pretty good and meaningful things to say.

Robin Cutson provided a strong voice of dissent. She thinks that the role of town council is to provide core services- garbage pickup, water, etc. She thinks that taking stands on issues beyond its immediate jurisdiction is a waste of time, and that this activism would be better done by private citizens.

She got very frustrated with other candidates who were critiquing her perspective and got up and left the forum before it had finished- that was definitely the oddest scene of the evening.

Anyway, these were the highlights of the forum as I remember them seven hours later- I will try to take my laptop and live blog the rest of the forums that I go to so as to provide a more detailed account.

Thanks Samantha (and Terri), the date and time have been updated above.

I'm liking David Marshall.
Now, if David could present a platform with which I agree; I'd be happy to have him on the BOA. David is clearly a deep thinker, and I would welcome his different life experiences at the table.

I was very impressed with the quality of the questions asked by the Club Neon kids.They are a thoughtful informed group who really care about our community.I've been though a lot of debates and last night's was among the most informative.Several of the kids asking the questions had strong public speaking skills and all of them asked well considered questions.
Thanks Club Neon

Will there be any forums of Carrboro candidates only? We have so many candidates--it'd be nice to have a chance to hear just from them.

There will be a Sierra Club Carrboro forum. See above.

Don't ya'll just love Jacquie! I'm so proud of my wife.

Tom, I'd like to think my speaking to the gaps that exist between our communities and the effect the CLEAR Act (Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act) would have on driving a wedge into those gaps was memorable ;-)!

CLEAR was soundly defeated by a grassroots effort that built a coalition between traditional rights activist, law enforcement professionals (who are really our first line of defense in defending our Constitutional Rights), local municipalities and sympathetic State representatives.

If you don't believe local elected folk have a responsibility to stand firm on attacks against the very fabric of both our society and our Constitution, a proposition that a number of us at the forum passionately disagreed with, there's still a responsibility to be selfishly ruthless in providing good fiscal policy.

A community that trusts its law enforcement is a safer community.

A federal grandstanding act (another one co-sponsored by Zell Miller - that guy gets around!) that does nothing to enhance our safety, squanders the expense and effort incurred bridging that "trust" gap and denies those Town communities more structurally vulnerable and susceptible to crime "equal protection", demands a local response if for no other reason than fiscal responsibility. Safer is cheaper.

More on the CLEAR nonsense here and here and here.

Even though CLEAR was defeated, we can expect more regressive legislation of its ilk to roll out this year. More on that here.

Finally, we should celebrate a small victory against another bit of Federal nonsense, the Patriot Act. The FBI has been ordered to remove a "gag" from a librarian to allow a public disclosure of their fishing expedition into

“a wide array of sensitive information about library patrons, including information about the reading materials borrowed by library patrons and about Internet usage by library patrons.”

I'm sure most OPrs are well aware of the resolutions, championed by the indomitable Peggy MIsch, passed by our local elected bodies of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County, reaffirming this communitys unwavering support of the Bill of Rights and calling for the end of the abominable Patriot Act.

Thanks, Dan--I hadn't noticed that. Thanks for pointing that out.

Might there be other Carrboro-only forums? (I'll be out of town on the 19th.)

Ruby--can you change the date for the Orange Co Women's Forum. It should read Thursday, Oct. 6 (instead of Wednesday).

Anybody know about a SURGE event? I got half a message on my answering machine

The date for the Carrboro Candidates Forum sponsored by the Orange Co. Democratic Women has been changed to Tuesday, October 4 at 7:30, location TBA. We are making this change because there is a CCHCS School Board meeting on the evening of October 6, and we wanted those candidates to participate in our forum as well.

Also, Terri Buckner, I have been attempting to reply to your emails, but your service will not accept my replies. They all keep bouncing back to me.

Samantha Cabe
OCDW, President

Saw an activist from Carol Woods today, they are planning to have a forum, date not set. In the past their forums have been late, fairly close to election day.

Sorry I couldn't be there. It was organized fairly recently, and I had a long-standing engagement at the annual St.Paul's AME/Chapel of the Cross sister congregation celebration. Sounds like it was very informative.


The Carrboro Board meets on tuesdays -We can not participate in a debate on a board meeting night.

Jacquie: There's a SURGE "house party" at my house next Saturday (17th), late afternoon. Hope you and others can come.

For all our non-elected officials, this is a fundraiser. $20.

D'oh! Good point, Jacquie. I guess the OCDW will have to go back to the drawing board.

I read the CHN coverage of the OCDW forum. I really liked what you had to say about where we should provide wireless access first.
The schools are in the middle of their 6 year strategic technology plan. Under this plan, objective #3 states that, “All children and teachers have access to technology at school and home.”
I don't know the costs involved with wireless (At what point does it become cost effective for us to provide wireless, versus having the community cover the entire cost of digital or dial up for low SES students and low income households?), but we definitely need to figure out a way to bridge the digital divide for our students and low income households. (Does anyone know what percentage of students live in homes without computers? What percentage of low SES households have computer access?)
The Connect 2 School (C2S) initiative/program has a home loaner program (Thin Client device and monitor) and will provide the first three months of dial-up internet access with subsequent internet access discount fee for low SES students who do not have computers (I'm not sure how they handle homes only equipped with cell phones). This is a good start, but in the end we have to make it easy for these students—whether we place wireless in low income neighborhoods first or provide complete service for children whose families struggle financially.
I might add some schools are providing internet access free of charge to students with the greatest financial need.

Here's just an FYI on laptops being provided IN school:

In terms of outside of school, and in the home, wireless internet and computers were provided to a low SES neighborhood in Pennsylvania by a non-profit called the People's Emergency Service, and the residents markely improved their futures with access to educational opportunities, jobs online, etc. This was a Civitum Project done in 2002 to provide measures and outcomes of people having access to wireless internet and computers and their vocational "elevation" above the poverty level.

Having equal access to wireless internet service should be something that we strive for. I recently spoke with Human Resources at the Chapel Hill Carrboro School system, and determined that MORE jobs are listed online than in the newspaper. If this is the trend and applies to other employers, then obviously having access to the internet is an advantage.

I know that the cheapest way to begin providing muncipal wireless service (total town) begins with PLANNING AHEAD. When the Town gets its traffic signal system upgraded to a fiber optic system, we should take advantage of this and have wireless integrated....whenever we "dig up" plots of land for sidewalk repair, or sewer repair, or general development, we should lay conduit for wireless. However we do it, we have to take advantage of opportunities that arise for upgrading our total town technologically! If we do plan ahead and think, it will be much cheaper to do.

I have little understanding of network fiber.
CHHS and the Transportation Center have 1 GB Fiber through the UNC campus network (MCNC).
Should we be laying conduit for wireless next year when the signal goes up at High School Road and Homestead Rd. and sidewalks are constructed from this intersection to the existing sidewalks on Roger's Rd.?
Then, when the NTA is annexed, Roger's Rd. could be poised to get top priority for sidewalks and wired?????
How expensive is all of this?

I drove in from the airport this afternoon and my wife told me I'd missed Mark Chilton by about 5 minutes. Mark has been quite busy canvassing the neighborhoods on foot, meeting the people. It's refreshing that he takes the time to do that, and if you know Mark, then you know that it gives him a lot of pleasure to do so.

Mary, not to get too technical, we can and will have a mix of technologies used to implement a muni-network. As Laurin so eloquently said, PLANNING AHEAD and seizing every opportunity can allow us to cost effectively deploy such a system.

So, when we have an opportunity to lay fibre when NC-DOT upgrades our system, we need to be prepared to take advantage of it. But fibre isn't the complete extent of the proposed network topology (at least as I've proposed it).

Fibre can be used where it's most cost effective and the Town should strongly encourage developers to bring fibre to the door of any new development but where it isn't cost effective we should be using WiMAX as a backhaul for the system. WiMAX in various modes has a range of 7 to 30 miles (and is currently being used to stitch New Orleans' and other Katrina affected locales' communication systems back together). Hybrid equipment can stepdown WiMAX to 802.11a/b/g which is the type of equipment you'd typically buy at BestBuy for Wifi.

WiMAX and Wifi devices can actually work in concert in a mesh-like topology that can be fed either directly via fibre, cable and other existing backbones or can participate in a mesh of community donated capacity. What does that mean? The Town (actually, I'm suggesting a non-profit sponsored by the Town and other interested parties) would provide some base infrastructure to "prime the pump" (initial Internet connectivity). Private citizens and businesses could use their existing T1s, DSL, cable, etc. connections to provide additional capacity into the mesh. So, a packet could either worm its way from your house to my house to my DSL or from your house to the library Wifi and out the Town's fibre.

Whatever entity ends up managing the municipal network will need to set some fairly loose guidelines on mesh participation but we'll need that anyway as the available spectrum fills up.

Finally, three non-technical notes.

One, we're planning on spending $275K reworking 700' of perfectly adequate sidewalk in front of University Square. That $275K is enough to establish a system covering most of the ill-served areas of Town and fund the first year of connectivity (and I'll be going into great length elsewhere why 1 foot of fibre is a tremendously better investment than 1 foot of road).

Second, as Terri B. has well-documented and as I and others have pointed out, where municipal networks have been installed, the typical cost of phone, Internet and cable has dropped to the $40 a month range. We're all paying a monopoly tax for basic communication services. For some of us it's not a big deal, for others it's a make or break proposition.

Thirdly, again as Laurin, Terri B., myself and others have also pointed out - the Internet is becoming the new Town Commons. Cut off from this new agora, the "have nots" will find it harder and harder to get employment, more expensive to get basic services and less aware of governmental decisions that will alter their lives. That, to me, is the best reason for the people to own the means of local communications.

Although I am not a candidate, I'm going to put in my 2 cents worth. A downtown municipal network should be about more than people using their laptops to read email and surf while drinking coffee. Until we get local businesses (and Town staff) to understand that such a network can impact bottom line operating costs, can bring new and different types of businesses to town, and how the whole community will benefit (not just a couple of low income network), then I don't think we can push the Town into this investment.

There are a couple of different discussions going on around town about how to go forward on this. The one I am involved in will be insisting that this is about economic development. The business model should come from community-wide input on how extensive the network should be once we have done more research and have designed 2-3 options to help residents think more broadly and creatively about how a municipal network might function here in Chapel Hill (or south Orange County).

Does either Town have a goal of establishing a municipal network? Without a goal and strategic plan, I suppose no fiber gets laid down with any sidewalk, correct?
I realize the question I asked you is a Carrboro question...

Mary said:

The Connect 2 School (C2S) initiative/program has a home loaner program (Thin Client device and monitor) and will provide the first three months of dial-up internet access with subsequent internet access discount fee for low SES students who do not have computers (I'm not sure how they handle homes only equipped with cell phones). This is a good start, but in the end we have to make it easy for these students—whether we place wireless in low income neighborhoods first or provide complete service for children whose families struggle financially.
I might add some schools are providing internet access free of charge to students with the greatest financial need.

I have been working with this program for about a year to help get volunteers (particularly parents) to assist with placing and supporting the units. Another initiative is to create LiveCD Linux distribution customized for CHCCS that would allow us to take donated PCs and place them in the homes of students.

I spoke to the CH technology committee recently about the need for wireless in low income housing areas for C2S. The ISP charge is too much for these families after the startup assistance ends and dialup is too slow and has a plethora of problems: many families only have cell phones and if there is a land line, then there is usually competition to use it which makes it hard for a student to use it for an hour or more to write a paper, etc.

I am pleased to see that this is getting more attention.

Mary, under the Streetscape provisions, conduit is supposed to be laid down when we do the projects. My direct observation is that is not always the case. As you might expect, digging an urban hole is usually more expensive than what you put in it. In the case of NC-DOT and the traffic system, we have an opportunity to "sub out", in a sense, both the digging of the trench and the laying of the fibre - both at a price point that's extremely attractive.

I've had a personal goal of establishing a Chapel Hill municipal network for the several years. The economic and social advantages are tremendous and the costs are extremely low, especially when compared to 1/4 mile of paved asphalt or 700' of unneeded sidewalk replacements.

Why? One reason is, as a technologist, it was obvious to me a longtime ago that the new Town Commons could easily become the next gated neighborhood. Today we see that an immense amount of economic and social activity takes place in this brave new world. The same operational efficiencies derived from technology in the business realm are just as applicable in the social realm. The same effective practices a Chapel Hill neighborhood group uses to communicate and organize - email lists, websites, IM, etc. - are even more suited to groups that have to time shift or can only afford minutes a week to keep up with their local government. Yet, the communities that might best use this technology are facing increasingly limited access. Unacceptable.

Not convinced? Besides opening up government, fostering community, increasing the effectiveness of grassroots activism, there's all the lovely benefits we'll derive as the Town proves its commitment to be as tech savvy as UNC, as economically progressive as a Palo Alto (or Carrboro) and as operationally efficient as a top-tier company.

I might've been a slightly lone voice in the wilderness years ago but there's now quite a chorus calling for us to "put a stake in the ground" and move forward as rapidly as reasonable to establish this critical infrastructure. So, we have a goal and we have various groups, the Technology Board, the DEDC, private individuals, beginning to work the strategy.

What we need is to fill a gap that exists on the current Council and put someone in who not only understands what can be done but also knows what should be done to make sure that Chapel Hill can take advantage of the opportunities this new operating model represents.

If elected, I will make sure municipal networking will get a complete airing. I will champion its implementation and shape policy to maximize inclusiveness.

Sorry to be slow on the uptake, but please see the new thread on wifi, and continue this good conversation there. Thanks!

CHCCS Board of Education Candidate Forum

October 26th, 2005
7:00 pm until 9:00 pm

Sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the CHCCS PTA Council

I received an email from a CHCCS BOE candidate which said...

The Chapel Hill Herald/WCHL forum

Wednesday, October 12, 7 - 8:30pm.

It will be held in the council chambers at the Chapel Hill Town Hall, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The forum will be broadcast by WCHL and televised on the People's Channel.

This is the full schedule I received from the Herald Sun:

Carrboro candidates: Oct. 20, 7-9 p.m., Chapel Hill Town Hall
Chapel Hill candidates: Oct. 25, 7-9 p.m., Chapel Hill Town Hall
School Board candidates: Oct. 12, 7-8:30 p.m., Chapel Hill Town Hall

Unfortunately, Oct 20 is also a scheduled meeting for the Carrboro incumbents--not sure if the Herald is working on a reschedule or what.

All of these are now (or already were) on the OP election calendar at

I have been hunting high and low for some more information about the Herald's events, but I can't find anything besides the date and time. Too bad they don't have access to any mass communication media....

These are "election related" events, as they are fact sessions for the OCS District Tax ballot question held by the county as reported by the Herald today:

The first information session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Northern Human Services Center, 5800 N.C. 86 North in Cedar Grove. The second is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 1 in the F. Gordon Battle Courtroom on Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.

Please add these to the election calendar, as they do not appear to be presently listed.



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