Ever considered running?

This fall, half of the Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough governing bodies will be up for election, as well as all of their Mayors, and half of the Chapel-Hill Carrboro School Board. If you have ever thought about running for elected office or had people tell you you should think about it or want to help other good folks run, now is your chance. Check out the Community Action Network's 'Campaign and Elections Workshop' this Saturday.

When: Saturday, April 28, 2007 10:00 AM - 12 NOON

Where: Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard

Offices Covered: Carrboro Mayor and Board of Aldermen, Chapel Hill Mayor and Town Council, Orange County Commissioners, School Boards, Hillsborough Mayor and Town Board

Format: Panel of former elected officials and campaign volunteers (questions from the moderator and audience), followed by breakout sessions

Topics: Deciding to run, campaign staffing, scheduling, financing, publicity, election laws, use of technology, etc.

Cost: FREE

Fred Black gave a good description in a recent column:

The workshop will cover running for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, the Chapel Hill Town Council, the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Hillsborough Town Council and the two school boards in Orange County. Those interested in running, as well as those just interested in working on a campaign, are the prime target audience.

Here is how it will work. The workshop will have three components. The first will consist of questions from moderator Rosemary Waldorf (former Chapel Hill Mayor) directed to a panel of former elected officials and volunteer campaign workers. The questions will focus primarily on deciding to run for office, campaign staffing, scheduling, financing, publicity, election laws, and the use of technology. In the second component, members of the audience will be able to participate directly by asking questions of the panel members.

The panel members scheduled to participate are Nick Didow, a former Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board member; Steve Halkiotis, a former Orange County Commissioner; Susan Halkiotis, a former Orange County School Board member; Tom Jensen, a recent UNC-CH graduate who has been active in a number of local campaigns; Thomas Mills, a political consultant; Ruby Sinreich, a former candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council and a computer technology usage expert; and Allen Spalt, a former Carrboro Board of Aldermen member.
- Columns by Fred Black: Interested in Running for Office?

Chapel Hill Town Council Member Laurin Easthom also blogged about what she learned from her first (successful) run for office. I guess this all means it's time for me to set up our Election 2007 page to collect deadlines and candidate information. I'll try to get on that this weekend, volunteers are still and always welcome...


Total votes: 326


My fantastic campaign treasurer will be there, Charlie Lancaster. He is looking forward to attending and he knows he is free to speak about my financial campaign for town council last year.

One thing folks should be aware of is that the filing period is much shorter this year, two weeks from July 6, 2007 to Noon, July 20, 2007. In the past, it ran into the first week of August. That means less time during filing for those on the fence about running to mull over their options.

Filing also closes @ noon.

I put together a non exhaustive list of basic campaign advice over on my blog in preparation for this workshop:


Hope to see some of you out on Saturday.

From Tom's advice:

Make sure your campaign is focused on the right audience(s). If you're running for Town Council, going to University Mall and handing out flyers to folks who may not even live in town is not a good use of time. Getting a list of people in your neighborhood who regularly vote in municipal elections and going door to door to their houses is.

What's your thoughts on student turnout?

If the Town had banned Halloween and other Franklin St. celebrations there might be a large student turnout. But they didn't. I think it would take something like that to do anything other than turn out the students who vote out of civic duty.

Will and Dan, where did you get that filing information? I couldn't find any dates at http://www.co.orange.nc.us/elect

As for students, I think the unfortunate design of precincts (splitting the campus into several different voting locations) really helps to depress the already low turnout. Early voting helps with this somewhat, but I can't remember if we have it in off-years.

BTW, I have started the Official Election Page for this year! http://orangepolitics.org/elections-2007
Additions welcome. http://orangepolitics.org/contact

You're right, you can't get there by that route. But, if you go to the county home page, click on departments, click on BOE, you will see a link to 2007 campaign info. Then, it's pretty much right on top.

Woah new page! The county's website still STINKS OUT LOUD, but at least this doesn't use frames.

http://www.co.orange.nc.us/elect/index.asp and http://www.co.orange.nc.us/elect/2007elect.asp

Woah new page! The county's website still STINKS OUT LOUD, but at least this doesn't use frames.

You mean the Board of Election page? The main OC page looks the same.

The image on the front BOE page lacks racial diversity.

I would rather the navigation on the BOE page be reversed - with major topics up top and subtopics on the left. There is too much up top to wade through.

The Information Technologies department welcomes all feedback on this initial phase of our website redesign, as manifest in the elections website.

Our immediate goals for this first, not yet complete phase were to:

1) Address accessibility issues due to frames, lack of alt tags, use of tables for non-tabular information and other formatting problems.

2) Create a simple environment in which non-technical departmental staff could maintain their content without the benefit of a Content Management System

3) Move toward a centrally controlled style sheet model which can then be further refined when resources are identified

While we hope this first phase is an improvement over the old design, we welcome detailed feedback on how we can implement further improvements in the next phases of our website project.

Feel free to contact me with suggestions or comments. My contact information is on our website: http://www.co.orange.nc.us/IT (sorry, I don't want to expose my email address to spambots)


Todd Jones
Chief Information Officer
Orange County, NC

I heard yesterday that the Halkiotises will not be able to attend, but Laurin's treasurer Charlie Lancaster has been added to the panel.

Todd, sorry for being so harsh on the website. I'm sure you have tons of information to convey and very few resources with which to do it. Can you explain this goal: "non-technical departmental staff could maintain their content without the benefit of a Content Management System"

Why not use a content management system to manage your content? There are a wide variety of choices that can give you lots of power and control while making it much easier for both publishers and readers to use your site. CMS'es also do stuff like publishing RSS feeds which makes your content more accessible to more people.

Oh please Todd don't use the CMS company the Town of Chapel Hill chose. (or any other propriary software) "Free Services" by a application service provider is a bait tactic to lock in your data to their proprietary system. Orange County website data belongs to the citizens of Orange County.

BTW, Chapel Hill's "free" trial hasn't really been "free" as the IT staff has had to step in and adapt their platform to serving up content (like agendas).

Also, unless somethings changed recently, our trial is about up. Now that the Town has invested time and money in adapting to CivicPlus, I wonder how sticky the relationship has gotten? Will Council chuck these guys and do what the Tech Board recommended two years ago?

Speaking of plans lying fallow, the Mar. budget report had this gem:

The Information Technology base budget has increased at a greater than average rate as a result of cost growth in four areas, all of which are contract services: Town-wide networking and desktop software additions, VOIP telephone maintenance contract costs, fiber optic data and voice services for the Town Operations Center, and web site hosting costs.

The Tech Board suggested moving to open source/free variants of common desktop applications to both save money and to unlock content owned by the public. The fibre and VOIP costs could've been driven down if Town had moved more aggressively on the muni-networking. And, as you can see "free" isn't so free when it comes to the website ("Intern or temporary salary for IT website development ($21,500)").

Other IT related requests/expenditures:

Purchase a vehicle for technology support personnel use. $3,700
Purchase Mobile Data Terminals [for Fire Dept.]. (FY09 costs are estimated at $5,284.) $64,977
Provide for a full time Information Technology Analyst to support the TOC (other option is contracted
support services, below). $68,566
Information Tech Provide for a full time IT Security Analyst. $74,271
Increase funds to provide for a new Administrative Clerk (Grade 28) $23,260
Provide for a full time Database Systems Analyst. 80,560
Fiber optic cable $50,000 [STRATEGIC INVESTMENT]

I think we would've gotten better bang for our IT buck if some kind of advisory board had been reconstituted to vet expenditures like these...


Agreed that we fully intend to retain full control of our web data and would only entertain CMSs or authoring systems that support that goal.


We are certainly interested long term in a CMS. However, we have made all the changes of this first phase with no significant expense beyond a few Contribute licenses. We felt the most compelling issues with our website could be immediately addressed using internal resources and minimal investment. At the same time, I believe our standardization efforts will only make a future transition to a structured authoring platform all the more manageable.

I didn't mean to divert this thread, by the way, but wanted to make sure folks knew we are truly interested in feedback on work we've done to date.


-Todd Jones
Chief Information Officer
Orange County, NC

BTW, Mark Peters is right. The image on the BOE page is bordering on creepy and it definitely doesn't evoke Orange County.

Todd, thanks for participating here and for inviting feedback.

In attempt to bring this back on topic: I'd like to see more candidates in the future talk about how they will improve democracy, civic engagement, and transparency though better access to local government information. Anyone want to run on that platform?

Didn't quite work last time ;-)

Also, it's one thing to "talk the talk", it's another to stick to your commitment.


I hope you take this comment in the spirit in which it is given - I don't think it was your message that was off but more your delivery.

Too honest? Or are we back to a discussion of "tone"?

Kidding aside, I'd like to think that folks could appreciate my efforts to "walk the talk" (or, as has been said several people over the lifetime of OP, "to be, rather than to seem").

You're not the only candidate that ever discussed technology, Will. Your co-candidate Jason baker also had a lot of good ideas in that regard in 2005, and Mike Nelson made it a part of his successful Commissioner campaign last year.

Actually, I was talking about another thing Jason and I did - putting our campaign finances - contributions, dispersement s, etc. - up on our web sites in near realtime.

Just got back from the forum. I commend C.A.N. for providing an excellent educational opportunity for new candidates. As the election season progresses and the candidate pool solidifies, I hope they would consider doing a "refresher" version (maybe post July's signup date).

Frequent (and occasional) OP posters Tom Jensen, Ruby Sinreich, Allan Spalt, Nick Didow, Mark Kleinschmidt and Fred Black gave their advice on everything from the "nuts-n-bolts" of running a campaign to managing the press to getting up to speed on issues.

I took voluminous notes that I'll be posting on over on CitizenWill later this weekend.

Until then, here's some flickr photo's.

Any word on when this will be on TPC?

James - we have given TPCthe tape/DVD and they will rebroadcast on a schedule that is not know at this time. I'll keep looking in the paper and report back when I see it listed.

Will - thanks for the commendation.

Fred, if they rip it to something digital I'll get it up on the 'net.

Thanks to WillR for getting the CAN Workshop video up on the web.


Folks, I didn't cut the intro screen down so the actual content is about 9 minutes in. Just skip ahead.

I've edited out the wait. Happy watching.


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