Barry Jacobs to Run for State House!

You heard it here first, folks. Barry tells me he will run for the newly-formed State House District 50. Of course we still have to wait to hear the final fate of the latest redistricting plan (PDF).

Read some advance endorsements of his campaign by OrangePolitics readers.



Darn right SAPFO would be less restrictive. The entire 400 sq.mi county becomes fair game for shuffling students from one school to the next, just at the whim of any developer who suddenly rushes ahead with an extra hundred units. Neighborhood schools...not for long, if we let that happen.

BTW, I served on the CHATPEC committee, and Eubanks Rd school/park site has room for 1 elementary, 1 middle, and 1 'other' which cannot be larger than a middle school. The bulk of the land is reserved for wilderness conservation or park. The entire school site would just barely have fit one High School (without some of the sports fields normally present) so it was not an option for whenever a 4th HS is needed.

The way to preserve green belts is to allow some population density with infill in the existing towns. This makes it doubly important to grab enough town land for pocket parks so we all get to be within walking distance of one. Carrboro is working on this, to the credit of some town officials and planners. But it would be nice to see a real livable town plan for the north end of Carrboro, complete with locations of library, parks, stores, etc, instead of leaving it to the whim of the County planning staff. It worked for Paris...

Jay--I've always "gotten" it---just not convinced about the amount of influence the electorate can have if the commissioners decide to solve the "funding inequity" by merging. I also think developers are driving some of the merger talk--for the reasons I cited above--plus (I believe)it would make the SAPFO less restrictive--at least initially.


Yep, you've got it!

Forgot - many people are hoping that Carolina North will have at least one school site on it. (986 acres total.)

This tidbit fits in here somewhere (triggered by the idea of getting Money Magazine to badmouth the area). A few years back, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School System made a video for use by local realtors touting the school system. Ironically this was during a period when overcrwoding was a big issue and large impact fees were being requested. Strange video too - it was devoid of any substantive date and was shot after shot of blooming azaleas by school buses and narrators saying things like "Every child is important at our schools".


Melanie -

You are starting to get it! 2 smaller school systems is better than one big one! And yes - the situation in Wake County doesn't seem very good for the parents and probably not for the kids and why anyone would want to even see that happen here is beyond me. The mandated balancing of socioeconomics and illegal balancing of race guarantees that in a merged system - kids in both areas and particularly the town will be bussed further. (by the way I am not against balancing)

Also, you inadvertently pointed out the reason that merger is bad for the rural character and sprawl for the county. Merger would spurn a building boom in the county - or at least the desire to and if we ever had the commissioners in Chatham here in Orange we would start seeing 1000 unit developments with septic ponds too - you don't need urban services for everything.

Merger is only because the county does not want to tax itself more to pay more for schools and the commissioners "feel bad" at giving constituents different amounts which is what they want in this case.

funding yes merger no


forgot to answer a question of yours.

there is a beautiful flat "prime buildable" (no RCD) piece of land south of Eubanks (near lots of new houses) (~36 Acres).

There was a law giving the school board 18 months to acquire a piece of land proposed for subdivision.

So this developer proposed unsubdivided apartments which means the school board does not necessarily have the opportunity to pursue it with the same legal mechanism.

It is certainly big enough for an elementary or middle school and I hope the school board will pursue it.

Those are some good points, Jay.

There are other aspects of "affordable", such as income growth, low interest rates, tax benefits, and other economics on the "ability to pay" side of the "affordable" equation. A quick search yielded an article indicating that, nationally, home ownership is at an all time high -

The bottom line is that schools can still see population growth from existing neighborhoods. And we haven't even gotten into discussions of redevelopment situations where owners of multiacre tracts or where multiple owners of adjacent tracts sell out to create more dense development within an existing school zone.

I'm sitting the fence on merger--primarily becasue I don't know where the CHCCS are going to find the LAND to build the schools we will need. I'm not a huge fan of large school districts--Wake County is a nightmare--everyone we know over there has their kids in private schools so they won't get redistricted annually. So from that standpoint--I am opposed to merger. I don't think it will negatively effect the quality of hte education the kids will receive--and if we DID merge those kids in OC who need an alternative school would at LEAST have Phoenix Academy!

I believe that so long as people perceive the CHCCS as better than the County system, a significant number of people will do what it takes to live here. OTOH--if the PERCEPTION that Chapel Hill Schools are better than the County schools was neutralized--I think you would see more people building/moving into the county. I know a number of people who bought less house/land than they would have liked, just so their kids could attend CHCCS.

Is there enough land on that tract on Eubanks for another elementary, middle and High school? All three? Because honey, if we don't merge, we are going to NEED them. ANd is there any land out by Lake Hogan Farms? Because I'm guessing they could use an elementary school.

Maybe we could just get Money Magazine or US News to write a story about how HORRIBLE it is to live here--and people would quit moving in? It is astonishing how much these towns have grown in the 22 years I've lived here. And don't blame ME for adding to the growth--we've always purchased older homes! ;-)

Hey--how did an thread about Barry jacobs running for State office d/evolve into yet another discussion on school merger? (kidding--sort-of.)


"Built-out" is a matter of interpretation. It's not synonymous with "no more unimproved land." Properties downtown could easily be reconfigured/rebuilt to accomodate more residents, more offices, more retail, and I think they should be.

(I am currently under the influence of Jane Jacobs's "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," in which she specifically states that her thoughts shouldn't be applied to towns, so take what I say with a grain of salt.)

Melanie -

I have heard the same stuff about Chapel Hill being built out but I don't yet see the school growth shrinking.

In fact last years kindergarten class was a record size!

I am glad you accounted for Winmore (600 units) and pacifica in your accounting please add....

190 predominantly 3 bedroom townhomes at vineyard square.

("affordable" by chapel hill standards which is usually very kid heavy for starter families and is designed to have 2 playgrounds).

Carolina north - 1000 units ++ some will have kids.

Chapel Watch Village - a proposed 300 Unit apartment complex catering to workers at RTP and Carolina North (will have some kids too).

Parkside just finishing out Units and I believe Lake hogan farms is too.

The realtors keep saying chapel hill is built out to increase sales in part while yes big tracts of land are almost non-existent. The question is how long is the delay between being built out and the school system not increasing in size??

the class sizes are still big - and this years 1st grade (last years kindergarten) suprised everyone with the built out theory.

Maybe it will take 10-20 years for the build out to make it's way through the school system.

However, bussing kids on longer bus rides to fill capacity in the county is not an environmentally sound position - there is an imbalance and the solution is to build the schools as close as possible to the people who use them - better yet create more walk zone schools.

So a $225,000 house is "more affordable" in 2002 than a $63,500 house was in 1984? Maybe I'm just dumb....but I am NOT seeing that. Also--in my current neighborhood we are seeing FEWER kids, not more--because prices have risen pretty steeply in the last few years. The 5 BR house that used to house 4 kids is now owned by a single, older lady. Granted, this is anecdotal--but here, at any rate, people with kids often can't AFFORD the houses. Glad we got in when we did! Can you link to the Seawell minutes? I'd like to see the figures. Maybe this is only true of the "newer "developments like Ironwoods? Cause we are NOT seeing that effect over in the Chapel Hill neighborhoods developed in the late 50's early 60's...

I wish there WERE some kids moving in!


Don't think, BTW--that WE sold our house for 3 +times what we paid for it--it's been through a couple of owners since WE sold it.


I chose the words "more affordable" and not "less expensive" for several reasons. I agree that housing prices are not falling, but Chapel Hill is not the only place that housing prices increase. What I was attempting to describe is the what actually occurs when neigborhoods and the houses within them age. The houses are often purchased or rented by familes with more children than before. The previous owner had no children or had children who have been grown for some time and then viola - 3 new kids of the new owners in the school system. This was described in detail to us in response to a question regarding possible impact to the Seawell population over the next few years by the assistant superintendent at the January School Governance Council meeting. Housing prices aside, school populations often increase without new construction.

Carrboro has its own Meadowmont -- Winmore -- yet to be built. And there's Carolina North. Just to name two large tracts.

Carrboro took a long time to promise to build housing only in conjunction with schools capacity, and at least one Alderman (Brown) suggested revisiting that 2003 decision in 2004.

With existing housing, nobody knows if future residents will have more or fewer children than current residents. I think the trend is toward more children, especially with large immigrant families occupying relatively small spaces.

The CHCSS population has much more growth ahead of it, which is why the School Board is looking to preserve sites for several new schools.

Jeff is right. The school administration does a good job of projecting student populations and there is much growth to be seen in CHCCS for the reasons Jeff mentioned. It is very common for neighborhoods to be expensive initially and then to become more affordable over time when families with more children tend to move in. This phenomenon tends to throw off neighborhood-level student population estimates more than new neighborhood construction.

I was accounting for Winmore--as it has been approved I took it off the "available land" plate. As to CHN--I was under the impression (perhaps mis-informed!)That the housing there was going to be primarily for STUDENTS? They usually don't have very many children. And I don't know where Mark P has been pricing housing--but I would LOVE for him to point out ONE neighborhood where homes have become "more affordable." I'll tell you this--we bought our house on West Main in Carrboro in 1984--it sold two years ago for well more three times what we bought it for.

I don't think apartments have gotten any less expensive, either.


I don't think the CITY will be growing much more--Chapel Hhill is largely "built out." There will be infill, to be sure--but unless i am SERIOUSLY mistaken, there aren't any other "HUGE tracts of land" (like the ones that sit beneath Meadowmont and Southern VIllage) available for development--at least not outside the water conservation area. (Or so my realtor friends tell me.) NOW--if the schools merge--and the perception that CHCCS are better than OC schools disappears--(I said PERCEPTION! Don't FLAME!) it's a WHOLE 'nother ball game. OC is ripe for the picking...


For all Jacobs' merits, his newspaper column last fall charging many merger opponents of "bigotry" speaks further to why Carey (& Brown) might not face any opposition in the primaries. If Jacobs was speaking to specific correspondence he had received, he failed to quote it, which omission did even more to poison the merger debate. That was a further disincentive for someone to take up Carey's challenge and make merger a primaries issue. If Republicans ever stood a chance in this county, it would be on merger next fall, and Jacobs has contributed to freezing out intra-Democratic debate.

If we're looking for political courage, perhaps Mr. Jacobs could tell us, if he were not elected to the GA (those districts aren't even finalized), but finished out his current term, Yes or No, would he be willing to approve merger? (While we're at it, until we have similar positions from the other Commissioners, anything can happen.)

Merger would work against smart growth by relying on longer bus rides (reduced transportation efficiency) in exchange for a short-term gain in schools construction economies of scale (short-term only, because the County & City populations can be expected to grow for the rest of our lifetimes). By spreading capacity margins across the country, the merged system would rely on buses and frequent redistricting to avoid up-front capital investment in anticipated growth. It's not hard to see merger's contradictions with Jacobs' insistence on smart-growth conditions for the City's third high school. (And at the rate we're growing, why in the world not build out that high school now? It will be more expensive and disruptive -- more redistricting -- to do it later.)

Mark C. -

sorry about the angry tone -- sometimes it's hard in e-formats to know just what the tone is.

Again I would say Jacobs is my 2nd favorite commissioner at this poiint.

I live in the town of chapel hill.

Thanks for the clarification on both points, and sorry if i sounded (or even was) defensive.


Mark C.

Regarding "I think only Moses Carey is the only one who could be called a merger advocate at all", I recommend that you check out the recent WCHL interview of Margaret Brown. The transcript is located at and the audio can be heard at

I interpret her position as being pro-merger but tempered by the upcoming primaries. So, she is not an "advocate" per se, but looks like the 2nd in favor of merger.

I predict that on 2/12, the commissioners will bury this in a study for at least 6 months to that Barry can run for house and Margaret can run for BOCC while unfettered by merger.

If Barry wins, will his last BOCC act be as the third in favor of merger?


Well, that's fine. I was thrown for a loop by your angry tone at first.

I don't think there is much likelihood that rural Orange Co will have the kind of development that we have seen in NE Chatham recently. On the other hand, I agree there is clearly work to be done on the county zoning ordinance.

By the way, why are you posting anonymously?



Some people are just more comfortable posting anonymously. It's very easy to look someone up in the local phone book if they post under their own moniker. (Obviously something that doesn't bother ME!)

So long as the moderator allows anonymous posting, I think it behooves us to accept the fact that people choose to post anonymously.


I think, Melanie, it's more than just comfort. Since people are so willing to pigeon hole, characterize, assume or even create motives and assumptions about people and those they are related to, it's just easier to leave the real name out of it. Such is the nature of our brand of local politics, as I'm sure your have personally experienced.

Yeah, that's fine. Seems like some people post anonymously in order to protect themselves from the possible consequences of their posts. Jay's posts above don't seem like they would have consequences for him . . .

Also, I sometimes wonder which jurisdiction posters live in. I would read Jay's comments differently based on whether he lives in the Orange Co District or the CHCCS District and also depending on whether he is within the corporate limits of one of the towns.

Plus, as you know, I am just overly curious ;)


I do not disagree that so far Jacobs has been very good for the county!

I would like to see nothing more than the merger discussion tabled and a focus on land use and growth instead. The county is the current and future growth area and that is why merger will have great affects on the environment too.

I would like to see discussions on countywide referenda on bonds for county greenspace and conservation easements instead of merger discussions. My understanding is that the urban services boundary is what is supposed to preserve the rural buffer, but isn't it possible some of what is going on in Chatham theoretically feasible here?If someone thinks a merged school system would lead to slower growth I would have to disagree. Check out what is going on in Mebane and the Orange County schools.

I would like to see as many land purchases and easements by our town and county agencies BEFORE merger is brought about.

Also check out the circles the merger advocate has run with and financially supported and decide which "camp" in the past has been a better advocate for the environment.

I would encourage you to scroll down and look at the contributions of elected officials in the Foy vs. Pavao mayoral race.

Again, so far what Jacobs has said/done I do generally support and would be a loss for the county.


The reason they are relevant is that someone who lives in the northern part of Orange may have a keen interest in knowing what Jacobes view is on merger as they will be effected by it. Especially because this process is still under consideration of which all the BOCC have a say and probably have a view on it - whether they publicly say so or not.

I disagree that a current BOCC view on merger is irrelevant to a run for the state house for a district under merger consideration.

I will say so far I like Mr. Jacobs - he correctly pointed out that merger doesn't necessarily redistribute much in funds for schools because the base tax collected to student ratio is very similar. There is no Robbin hood effect.

I also think conservation easements are great things and commend him on this too.

I think it will be a loss for the BOCC as his views so far I agree with - don't get me wrong. But I think views on important LOCAL important topics of the day are relevant for locally elected officials that currently have jurisdiction over the specific matter.

As a documented and tireless advocate for ignorance, I'd just like to say that it could be the county's loss if all the important issues in regard to growth, carrying capacity, and sustainability are given short shrift in an election that gets fogged in with merger-mania.


What would be the best time for Mr. Jacobs to resign his position?

They get paid $17,000 a year? Sign me up!

Jay, you're so right, and that's a huge barrier to working people's participation in government and community at any level. (For example, when I was a waitress I had to arrange my schedule around the nights that I had t-board meetings - I was lucky to have the flexibility.) You'll find the same principle at work on the Chapel Hill Town Council, but not as much in Carrboro.

Joseph, Barry doesn't have to resign. Just as John Edwards didn't resign even though he spends all him time running for president and misses tons of votes in the Senate. Edwards did choose not to run for re-election to his seat, but that's moot once you get elected to higher office. (Also, like Sally Greene left the Planning Board after being elected to Town Council.)

Ruby, how about, what would be the best time for Mr. Jacobs to resign in order to give a suitable replacement time to run? I assume that if he resigns as a consequence of winning that his replacement would be appointed. Is that wrong?

I don't see why he should be so arrogant as to assume he will win. There are many examples of people serving effectively in one office while running for another. Personally I'd hate to lose him as a County Commissioner (even if it's so he can serve in the NC House).

Often elected bodies will look to the candidates in a recent election to fill a seat, and if someone makes a strong showing but doesn't win, I would think they'd be a strong contender for an open seat.

Jay,some of your comments seem to imply that the commissioners generally favor merger. I think only Moses Carey is the only one who could be called a merger advocate at all . . . so your comments don't seem relevant to a thread about Barry or the NC House

Yes Ruby in fact there are some attempts to generate grassroots involvement in the county commissioner race visit

However, one problem is very very few people have an interest in driving to Hillsborough on Tuesday nights for 17,000$ a year.. but that is our problem. It eliminates certain types who might for instance run for more local offices. You'll note that many of the commissioners are the quasi retired types or do not really have to work if they don't want to.

Also, people don't understand that as Mark K. says there is no requirement to ascertain the will of the voters. Many parents I know mistakenly think it is over because they think everyone knows the "will of the residents" who are not necessarily the same as the will of the voters.

In response to Jay... You probably know that the Orange County Commissioners are elected every 4 years, just like the Town Council (only in even years instead of odd). I think the commissioners' primary race in 2004 (usually in May, but who knows this year) will be a great opportunity for voters to express their will on merger, as they did in Chapel Hill last year on issue like Carolina North and red light cameras. In fact, I think Commissioner Moses Carey promised to make it an issue in the race.

If there is enough opposition, then there will surely be a candidate or three to carry the anti-merger banner. Barry's not up for re-election, but if he wins the House seat, then there will be yet another new face on the Board.

I hope he clears up the merger mess that we are left with first.

I don't know why people think merger takes courage (besides being undemocratic and vastly unpopular which to me is not necessarily courageous. One could argue the patriot act is courageous too).

For the red light cameras the 3 highest vote getters were very transparent BEFORE the election about their views and still got massive support. For merger none of these guys ran on it.

True county commissioner courage is to raise taxes for education, land preservation directly without finding loopholes to hide behind the tax increase.

I might be the only one but I think the septic lagoons springing up in Chatham could start springing up in rural Orange and school merger would tend to increase the likelihood of this phenomenon in Orange I would guess.

Raise taxes because it is right don't do it indirectly to have it both ways.

I suspect the northern orange people won't really want the tax hike either way so how is this issue going to play out?


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