And the Applicants Are

The deadline came and went and the 12 applicants are:

On the ballot - John DeHart, Gene Pease, Matt Pohlman, Will Raymond and Penny Rich

Former Council Members - Joe Capowski, Lee Pavao

Former Candidate - Jason Baker

Newcomers - Donna Bell, H. Brock Page, Joshua Ravitch, Aaron Shah

Did not apply - The three incumbents running for reelection



Actually, if I recall correctly Aaron Shah was, if only very briefly, a candidate in 2005.  He withdrew his name before the end of the filing period.If anyone is curious, I posted my application online, though I'm sure it will turn up on the town website soon.   I think the Council has a great pool of applicants to select from and will not be disappointed in the slightest if someone else ends up in the seat; rather, I feel it is important that the Council have a large and diverse group from which to choose.

The Bill Strom Undergraduate Internship Program?  Are you sure you want to advertise that?  How can we be sure you're not going to move to Manhattan at the drop of a hat? Which reminds me...if whoever controls when the vote is done has any decency and sensitivity, he/she/it will wait until the new council is seated and have them vote on it instead of the old council.

Jose, are you saying that anyone involved with the town, town boards, government, or policy making in the town should not apply for the council job because  at some point over the past ten years they have known or worked with Bill. Guilty by association, is that what you are claiming. Bill is the one who lost our trust. Let's not make his actions speak for a large population of hard working, caring citizens who put themselves out there to make this town a great place to live. The man abandoned his seat, abandoned his town. We all know the facts. We all know the conspiracy theories. We need to move on. 

It was mostly a joke.  I mean, we have a guy that resigns under suspicious circumstances and then another guy applies to replace him and lists on his resume that he held an internship named after the guy that resigned under suspicious circumstances?  It's a joke that practically writes itself.  Anyone that read Jason Baker's resume and saw the Bill Strom Internship mentioned must have noted the irony in his/her mind.  Although I think that the Bill Strom situation is bad and the paucity of negative reaction to it on here is worse, if it wasn't for the obvious setup provided by Jason Baker's resume I never would have said anything.  And as far as Bill Strom having "served" for eight years, I think people are distorting the meaning of the word "serve."  I know that people in political office are often called "public servants" but they're not servants.  Instead, they are people we elect to exercise power.  Exercise power.  They're not volunteering to go around picking up garbage in their free time, rather they are competing (hard) with many others to be the one selected that gets to exercise formal political power.  If all the candidates for CH/C public office dropped dead tonight a whole bunch of volunteers to take their place would crop up tomorrow.  It's not like if the people that run for office in CH/C didn't run then the job the do wouldn't get done.  It would still get done but it would get done differently.  The reason people run for office is that they want the job in the way they want it done.  That's what the whole election is about.  How do you want the job done?  One candidate says X and another says Y.  Which do you prefer? Candidates get into office.  And then once they're in office they have the advantage of incumbency and name recognition and they usually use that to retain their position.  Bill Strom went even a step beyond that.  He didn't just use his incumbency to get himself re-elected, as most politicians do.  He also used his incumbency to try to determine who should select his replacement after he resigned midterm.  And of course, that advantage is perpetuated since whoever replaces him midterm will have the advantage of incumbency when the next election comes. 

The internship is named in honor of Bill Thorpe. That's what made the supposed joke fall flat and seem mean-spirited.

Jason's resume says that he worked for Bill Strom through the Bill Thorpe Undergraduate Internship program.(The DTH app being used to post the application is not at all user-friendly!)

Jose, so Jason doesn't meet your smell test because he mentioned having worked with Bill Strom? Not that it matters a whole lot, I encouraged Jason to apply. Several people I worked with at the General Assembly over the last 30+ years are in JAIL now. Some resigned. Definitely this means Jason should not be considered for the vacancy.

I worked on a project that he was part of in the 1990s. Guess I am glad I didn't apply. I mean it was bringing an HIV/AIDS treatment center to SE Washington, DC but we all know that it's not what you do, it's who you worked with. 

I'll come clean: I went to a party at Bill Strom's house one time.

I didn't say anything about Jason not meeting my sniff test.  I just noted in a joking way the irony of an applicant to be Bill Strom's replacement mentioning Bill Strom's name on his application.I have no problem per se with Jason.  But since people that get into office tend to stay there and since Jason is young, I'm a bit worried he's going to get in there and then (to quote Archie Bunker in reference to FDR) "hold onto the job like a Pope."  I generally think it's a bad thing when someone "serves" for decades.  That makes me think of something for the first time...I wonder how many, if any, of the people applying for that seat have indicated they''ll just serve out the term and then not run for re-election.  Once you get in you have the advantage of the incumbency, which makes it easier to hold onto the job like the Pope, or more generally to perpetually be in some sort of public office.

but I don't think we have to worry too much about young people getting over involved in municipal level public service.

I didn't say anything about Jason not meeting my sniff test.  I just noted in a joking way the irony of an applicant to be Bill Strom's replacement mentioning Bill Strom's name on his application.

How is that ironical? I totally miss the point.

I have no problem per se with Jason.  But since people that get into office tend to stay there and since Jason is young, I'm a bit worried he's going to get in there and then (to quote Archie Bunker in reference to FDR) "hold onto the job like a Pope."  I generally think it's a bad thing when someone "serves" for decades.

No sense of history here. There have been a grand total of two persons under 25 elected to the town council, Mark Chilton and me.  Both of us served our full four year terms, were re-elected, and resigned two years into our second term.   Both of us are still in public service but not in Chapel Hill.  There is no evidence whatsoever that young people serve for decades.

If it would make anyone feel better, I have no intention of staying in office long enough to be just another old straight white guy in politics. With much love to my friends who meet that description, I think we're a little overrepresented.That said, I'm undecided as to whether I'd run for a full term if I were appointed. I expect that I would, but a lot can happen in two years.

"It was mostly a joke".Jose, I think your first sentence reveals a lot.  There may have been a joke there in the original post but there was also a snide component to it.  But the fact that you like to joke makes sense because I haven't read anything from you that suggests I should take you seriously.

Jose, you are way out of line.

And unless you can tell me that you've spent 8 years in public service to this community, as Bill Strom has, then your attempts at character denigration show a total lack of class.

The guy (whoever he is) was obviously trying to make a joke.  Always a tricky thing to do online with no tone of voice or body language, but you guys are out of line with the insults.

I definitely wasn't insulting 'Jose.'  And I really don't think he was joking.  Hard to say, though, given that he chooses to hide from us.

Someone commits character assassination under a pseudonym. To quote the They Might Be Giants - "Your Racist Friend" - You can't shake the devil's hand/And say you're only kidding...  

last month

This is what kills civil discourse in America and on OP.   Here's what "Jose" said:  "The Bill Strom Undergraduate Internship Program?  Are you sure you want
to advertise that?  How can we be sure you're not going to move to
Manhattan at the drop of a hat?" He obviously misread the  application which read "worked with Strom in the Bill THORPE Internship Program".   The 2nd sentence makes it clear this is a joke.  The 1st is unartful (to borrow Gerry's phrase) because of the misreading.  Next are you going to say Hitler used to do the same stuff?  Agree with Jose or not, but name calling and telling him to be quiet is not nice.

Civil discourse involves not hiding. I would rather talk to a dining room table to paraphrase Barney Frank.I was thinking McCarthy - not Hitler. Hitler preferred more direct measures.And you think putting words in my mouth is nice? 

Oh, that's nice.   I think a better They Might Be Giants line for me as far as this site goes is one from their song titled "Shoehorn With Teeth."  The line goes "People shiould be beat up for stating their beliefs."

You know there is no such thing. And you know you were out of line.  Don't Let's Start/This is the worst part...LOL. You're a piece of work. 

For someone using a pseudonym, you sure are quick to judge other individuals, "Jose." How do OP readers know you are not one of the candidates, or someone with a personal grudge against a candidate, or someone not even from Orange County?  Unless you choose to offer at least a real name on your profile, I encourage people to take your comments with a large grain of salt.

You know my name so you can use a telephone book to verify I live in CH.  I think I live one street over from Joe Capowski.  (I mean, I know where I live, but I think he lives one street over from me.)  Back when I walked up and down Purefoy Rd to and from school each day I met Sammy Slade when he showed a movie in his yard.  And I think I once e-mailed Jason Baker regarding a column he wrote in the DTH, although I could be mistaken on that.  But both of those things were before I was ever on this board and I don't know either of those people (and I didn't even recognize Sammy Slade's recent picture for his run for office in Carrboro).  So those are the only two people on this board that I've ever had any kind of contact with AFAIK.  And I've never had any contact with any local politicians.  Other than the time I saw Joe Herzenberg trying to register voters at He's Not Here I've never even seen a local politician in person until I went to the mayoral debate on campus last week.  In fact, even though I've lived in CH for 19 years, I've never even voted in an election for TC or mayor.  But three years ago I bought a house for the first time.  It's funny what having to pay $4,789 in a year just to own a 1,050 square foot condominium and $155 more in a year just to own an eight year old Honda Accord can do.

And I meant to add, but forgot, that I do wonder how many people here were acquaintences of Bill Strom.

Why don't you criticize policies - not people. Sorry, but calling you out for hypocrisy - again.That is a very McCarthyesque statement. Have you now or ever been an associate of known ... Bill Strom?Your points are getting lost in this witch hunt.

So Jose,Even though you lived in Chapel Hill for 19 years you've never voted in an election.  And, from your comments, it would seem that until you had to pay taxes directly, you never gave much concern to what goes on in this town.  Well, just to let you know, for some of us here on this board the Town is much, much more than taxes.  It is a sense of community, an effort to maintain equality, a commitment to social justice, a vitality associated with a great center of learning.  And taxes are just one part of that.  So excuse me (and others) if we find your constant criticism of efforts by others to maintain and improve these qualities both tiring and boorish.

at least he is critizing policies.  I wish many of you on OP would stop criticizing people who choose to post here.  It isn't nice.  Argue policies all you want, but the name calling isn't helpful.


It starts with you not criticizing me for questioning someone's statements.I believe you/Jose threw the first stone and now you want the moral high ground.Nice. You put words in mouth and criticized me directly when I criticized a very ridiculous statement directly. It is quite clear that is you who threw the first stone. You/Jose just don't like them thrown back.

JCB,Jose can criticize all he wants.  He certainly has the right to do that.  But I have the right, and choose to exercise it, to not take someone seriously who has lived here for 19 years, never taken 1/2 hour every two years to vote, and then chooses to criticize the policies of duly-elected officials.  Those officials were elected by those citizens of Chapel Hill who did have enough concern for their community to give 1/2 hour of their time to exercise a privilege that many people in the world are not fortunate to have.  Yes, even as someone who doesn't vote he is free to criticize but it would certainly have more credibility if he confined his criticism to policies. And yes, I knew Bill Strom and on 2-3 occasions even had coffee with him.  While I do not agree with how he handled his resignation I have the upmost respect for all the positive things he has done for this community.

I expected I'd get some reaction like that.  That is the kind of attitude that turns people off or that makes them want to vote against the status quo if they do engage.  I'm not a lesser citizen than you because I haven't voted in local elections.  For most of that time I wasn't even sure I was going to stick around.  And even if I knew I was going to stick around, voting is voluntary, not mandatory.  By not voting I was essentially ceding my power to you (assuming you were voting).  Did you use the power I ceded to you to serve my interests or to serve your own? I voted in several elections but didn't vote for local candidates because I wasn't following the campaigns.  AFAIC anyone that spends a half hour on local elections every two years shouldn't vote because it takes a half hour just to vote so if all they spend is a half hour then they're spending all their time on voting and none of it on paying attention and getting informed. South Park took apart the "Vote Or Die" thing very well a few years ago.   I concur with them.

Jose,You're right.  No one is a lesser citizen because they choose not to vote.  And while I did say that everyone, voter or not, has the right to express their views I was wrong to say that I (or anyone else) should take those views less seriously because that person has not voted.  I was also wrong to express a personal characterization of you because I didn't like what you were saying.  I hate it when election season becomes focused on the persons rather than a discussion of the issues.

I just read Jason Baker's application again and it finally dawned on's the Bill Thorpe Internship Program whereas Bill Strom is the guy that quit city council.  I don't know how I saw Bill Thorpe so many times, both in that application and now I see in some posts in this thread too, and yet somehow continually thought Bill Strom instead.  I apologize, and profusely.  I couldn't understand why the reaction to me was so strongly negative but now I do.I'm not a logic-impaired person that thinks mentioning Bill Thorpe means there's a connection to Bill Strom, nor am I a troll just trying to stir things up.  I do feel strong about Bill Strom's resignation and think it fair to mention it when it's relevant to the discussion but it obviously wasn't this time.  I simply had a massive brain spasm.  Again, I'm sorry.

Fred, thanks for posting the information above.  I am sure readers are familiar with most of the above applicants, but here is what I found about the (relative) newcomers from a little Googling:Donna BellDonna is a Northside resident who served (maybe still serves?) on the Chapel Hill Planning Board.  Donna has also served on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations.  Graduated UNC 1992. Also a Masters degree from Sarah Lawrnce Univ.H. Brock PageFrom a WCHL article: "Brock Page . . . born and raised in Chapel Hill . . . a 1989 graduate of Chapel Hill High School and a 1993 graduate from UNC . . . graduated from Rutgers School of Law in 2006 . . . opened Brock Page Law in Chapel Hill . . . concern about the area’s crime and drug issues"Joshua RavitchThe DTH website reports: "Ravitch is a strategic consultant in the Raleigh-Durham area and the secretary of the Chapel Hill Kehillah Board."Aaron ShahFrom a 2005 Herald-Sun article: "Aaron Shah, a local substitute teacher who lives in the Northside neighborhood . . . Shah, 40, moved to town with his family in 2002 to complete his course work at UNC's School of Information and Library Science. He lives on Gomains Avenue with his wife, Trina, and their six children, ages, 14, 13, 12, 7 and 5-month-old twins."Jason's recollection is correct; Shah made an abortive run for the Council in 2005.

I believe Aaron is serving in the schools as a librarian.  I put him in with the "newcomers" because he didn't appear of the 2005 ballot, believing that is the right standard for if one was a candidate for a sufficient length of time.

Jason would make an excellent council member, Jose. However, it is still my hope that they will appoint the 5th highest vote getter in the upcoming election. I would be happy for the sitting council to make that decision.

Last night, Mayor For commented on the petition to appoint the 5th place finisher and said something about the gap between 4th and 5th.  Here are the last five elections:99  3233 v 316201  3979 v 323003  3547 v 243305  3040 v 233607  2932 v 2872 One thing we know for sure and that is that every 5th place finisher had more votes than anyone not on the ballot.  I know, you can only vote for a max of four - and some even do vote for four - but the dispersion of individual choices should not be discounted.  We don't know the set of choices each voter had, but we do know that the person in 5th had real support from some number of voters.It is flat wrong to say #5 was rejected as the reason to not appoint.  How can you be rejected as the result of cumulative unrelated decisions by voters? Only 4 could win and that's a very different thing.Now who should appoint, the old or new Council?  This seat runs until the next election and I favor the new Council making the choice.

Fred (or Gerry Cohen for that matter), does the CH Town Charter provision allow for a lot of latitude on exactly when the appointment is made?


says that the Council must consider the appointment at each meeting until they make a decision; it doesn't say they must make it.  This could go on forever if they wanted!

A local governing board could go on and on without making a decision, you say . . . there might be some precedent for that.  I don't know.  ;)

there is no legal requirement the vacancy ever be filled.

You can read all the applications submitted to the Town Council on our site: Sarah FrierCity Editor, The Daily Tar Heel

for doing this as it makes it very convenient. It's interesting to that we still don't all understand election math.  Jason Baker, for example writes,

The fifth place finisher, whichever candidate that may be, will be a person that the majority of the voters chose not to vote for.

If you don't have access to the ballots, how can one be so sure about what the majority actually did. Multiple candidates in an elect-four race where each voter can vote for 0 to 4 candidates in the race means it is not about a majority decision. We need to stop pushing this falsehood of rejection and call it what it is, a 5th place finish in a four person race.

Single shot voting makes it even less probable that any given candidate will receive a majority of the votes.  It is quite possible that one of the "winners" will be elected by a minority of votes, as was the case with one of the seven currently elected council members (Matt C).  Because we can't know each voter's intent, we don't know whether they rejected a candidate or simply preferred a different candidate.  I've certainly chosen to vote for a candidate before because I wanted to show my rejection of his or her opponent.  The winners of the this fall's election may or may not represent the will of the majority, but the fifth place finisher almost certainly will not.That said, all of this is a game of hypotheticals until we see the results of the election.  I certainly support the Council taking those results into consideration.  Maybe the results will give a clear indication of the voters' choice, maybe they won't.  Both scenarios are very possible.  Therefore, I dismiss the idea that they should decide how to approach the appointment until they have some actual information to use, and have heard from all of the candidates.

I'm just saying don't put it the way you did because it is just not accurate.

If there are 10,000 voters, it is theoretically possible for more than four candidates to get 5,001 votes if most everyone is dividing their votes up im even rotation among five of the candidates and those below fifth place are not getting many votes. It is also possible with lots of single shotting that no candidate will get 5,001. It does not matter in either case, as the election is determiend by plurality and the top four vote getters win.

Your have a link and then you say the "current council wants to do it."  Kevin Foy said he wanted to do it.  Does that mean the full council?   Here is another "link" that says what I think: case you don't want to read it, I say that I think the council that is elected November 3 can make the selection.   I agree with Kevin that the current council is fully capable of making the decision, but that same argument holds for the new council.  This has been very difficult for everyone, and there is no right answer.   I'm willing to listen to all of sides of this at our next business meeting when we officially nominate the "certified" applications, which looks to be October 28.    Laurin



Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.