A response to Matt Czajkowski

Matt Czajkowski criticized the OCDP in the October 31, 2009 News & Observer:

Czajkowski lamented ... an Orange County Democratic Party voter drive when Kleinschmidt is the only Democrat in the nonpartisan mayor's race. "How do you put a value on the resources of the Orange County Democratic Party?" said Czajkowski, an unaffiliated voter. "This is all supposed to be how Chapel Hill leads when it comes to democracy?"


In response, I sent the following letter to the editor:

In today’s News & Observer, Chapel Hill Mayoral Candidate Matt Czajkowski “lamented” what he calls an Orange County Democratic Party voter drive asking “This is supposed to be how Chapel Hill leads when it comes to democracy?”  The answer to his question is yes – this is precisely how Chapel Hill leads in getting people engaged.  I am disappointed that Mr. Czajkowski criticizes the county party for encouraging people to come to the polls in Orange County.  Apparently, Mr. Czajkowski, who is unaffiliated, fears that he will not be able to appeal to Democratic voters.  Because Mark Kleinschmidt is the only registered Democrat in the Chapel Hill mayor’s race, Mr. Czajkowski apparently believes that the Democratic Party should not have held candidate forums, should stop providing information about early voting, links to voter guides and information about candidate endorsements on our website, and that the party should refrain from encouraging county Democrats to come to the polls in this election.   

Turnout in the last Chapel Hill municipal election was 15.6%.  That is unacceptable.  The last national election showed that an engaged electorate will vote.  Our party is a grassroots party, and our precincts have been charged with encouraging people to get engaged in their community.  One way that we have done this is through service projects.  Our Patterson and Hogan Farms precincts organized a book drive through the President’s United We Serve project that gathered more than 3000 books for county school children.   Another important way to get people engaged in their community is by encouraging them to vote in municipal elections.   Some precincts have done this by talking with neighbors, some by making some phone calls, and some by knocking on doors.  Our website, orangedems.com, is a resource for municipal elections that offers links to third-party voter guides that give all Orange County voters the chance to assess all candidates in all Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough races, including Mr. Czajkowski.

When turnout is in the low double-digits, encouraging people to vote is the responsible thing to do.  The county party has not recruited or endorsed any candidates.  We are not distributing literature for any candidates or coordinating with any campaigns.  Our precincts and the Orange County Democratic Women held municipal candidate forums, and Mr. Czajkowski was invited to and attended all of them.  He did not assert then that there was something improper about the party holding forums to educate the community and encourage people to vote.  Every political leader in Chapel Hill should work to increase turnout.

It is up to Mr. Czajkowski and Mr. Kleinschmidt to get their message to voters, including Chapel Hill Democrats.  By stating that there something improper about encouraging Democrats to vote, Mr. Czajkowski has made that job harder for himself.

Jim White
Chair, Orange County Democratic Party



we had this discussion on another thread.  This is not about getting out the vote - lot's of us would love to see a higher turnout - the message some only hear is "vote for Mark Kleinschmidt the Democrat." Masking this by saying Czajkowski is complaining about you efforts to get out the vote is ludicrous. And we all know that all "resources" don't show up on campaign reports, as several N&O stories have made very clear in the last few days.

I would say that it is a tactical error by Matt Cz to remind people in an overwhelmingly Democratic city that Mark K is the only Democrat running.

I was surprised to see Matt complain about an effort to get more people to vote so that the election results better represent the citizenry. Seems petty.

(I sent this email to Jim White yesterday after receiving his letter to the editor) Dear Jim,As a supporter of Matt and a long-term resident of this community, I
find your first paragraph quite offensive. You've done exactly what he
was lamenting--inserted party politics into a non-partisan race. Like so
much of what is circulating around about this election, you've given a
back door endorsement to Mark, using an organization that I belong to.
This is NOT the way I believe democracy works.

Czajkowski is right to "lament" the Democratic Party voter drive.-Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-1 in Orange County, and more like 4-1 in Chapel Hill.-Matt doesn't even pretend to have a Democratic affinity. He's not too liberal to register as a Democrat is he?  No, he's too conservative.-Mark Kleinschmidt's values are the Democratic Party's values, very much in line with those of President Obama - those same historic Chapel Hill values that Henry Lister and Joe Capowski have posted about.  Mark voted and campaigned for Pres. Obama.  Who did Czajkowski vote for?-If Chapel Hill Democrats reflect on the three points above, it could lead to an outpouring of support for Mark Kleinschmidt.  I can see why Czajkowski would worry about that.Czajkowski is also right to worry about the mailer that labels him "out of sync with the progressive values Chapel Hill has worked hard to protect."  Because that is the plain truth of the matter.  I know some folks like Barbara Crockett and James Barrett do not want to believe that they are supporting the conservative candidate, but they are.  That is why a right-wing Republican like Kevin Wolff announced his waithdrawal and endorsed Czajkowski (and called on fellow fundamentalist Republican Augustus Cho to do likewise).You guys keep trying to make Czajkowski out as a liberal, but all I see is someone who wants to do to Franklin Street what he and his friends have already done to Wall Street.No thanks.

I don't harbor any confusion that Matt is less-than-liberal.  Where exactly is awfully hard to judge (IMHO) in a local election, where issues are vastly different than national politics.I also don't think it is "conservative" to be for fiscal responsibility.  Who the heck calls Bill Clinton a "conservative", but he did a better job at managing our national budget than anyone in my lifetime.  I'd like to see the same push in CH for our fiscal restraint.  Where's the evidence that Matt "wants to do to Franklin St what he did to Wall St"???  That damning kind of statement really deserves some detail if we're to have a civil discourse.

Please consider that the Democratic Party in Orange County supports certain types of democratic candidates yet within the democratic party there is a wide spectrum of issues and positions. I see the allure of registering as an Independent but I like to vote in state-wide and national democratic primaries. I'm staking my vote on the fact that social justice, environmental, public works, town planning, and safety issues are also important to Matt. If I'm wrong, I'll consider the evidence and vote accordingly next time around. Ideally, I'd like to see a mix of these candidates on the next council so that all constituencies feel heard. The current election is so contentious because we don't have that now. Sadly, that doesn't work for mayor.

I think we will get more of a mix if Mark wins, because if Mark wins then Matt is still on council and both voices are there, if Matt wins then Mark is gone.

I expect the current council will still have a solid voting block so while we would miss Mark's particular voice, other like minded voices will remain. If Matt were to win, I think it might help even things out a bit as Matt would had a little bit of leeway to set the agenda so that things that didn't get a second would get discussed. In the end, he will have just one vote like everyone else.As a point of interest, can someone run for two offices at the same time? There's got to be a rule against that, but I do wonder. Could Mark have run for a council seat and for the mayor's seat so that he, too, could have remained on the council in the event of a loss in the mayor's race? 

Before I decided to support Matt, I asked him where he stands of social and environmental issues. It was my determination that he is not the conservative he is being painted as. In fact, he said he has always considered himself a liberal.What I have found paradoxical about this election is that Matt has been labelled a pro-development conservative, and yet he's been criticized for not supporting the big developer projects like East 54 and Greenbridge. The council members who have approved these large developments and the (in my mind) over-development of residential in this community are labelled as environmentalists and progressives. I guess it's all a matter of individual perception and what we each hold dear.

Just choose the party primary you'd like to vote in when you go to vote.This is especially important because the county commissioners are elected during the Democratic primary.

Consider that our Democratic state senator is a former mayor of Carrboro. Our previous Democratic state senator is a former mayor of Chapel Hill. Clearly, municipal politics can be a proving ground for higher office. The Democratic Party does well to encourage its members to be engaged in this election.

But that can be achieved without introducing campaign politics. There was no need to use either Matt's or Mark's name in that letter to the editor. If it was Jim's intent to state his personal choices for the election, he should have done so under his name instead of under the guise of party leadership (IMHO).


know James, I agree with you. I use to state that I was socially liberal and fiscally conservative and did not identify as a Democrat. More like a bolshevik who believed in a balanced budget. But where does that take me now? Ron Paul?Matt has done nothing but discuss fiscal conservatism in a disingenuous way-NO NEW TAXES! Sounds like Grover Norquist. Making panhandling an issue is pandering; distorting the record is simpistic, inviting national chains is scary.Mark understands the problems and won't sell his soul to get votes.Cam


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