OP Announces First-Ever Online Candidate Forums in Orange County

The editors of OrangePolitics are excited to announce our first-ever online candidate forums for the upcoming Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, and Chapel Hill Town Council elections. Orange County journalist Kirk Ross, former editor of the Carrboro Citizen and a columnist for both the Citizen and the Independent Weekly among others, will serve as the moderator of all three forums.

Each forum will consist of real-time written conversations between the candidates and the moderator. Questions will be solicited from OP readers before and during the forum. The moderator will have final say in question selection. The events will take place online at orangepolitics.org, with one evening dedicated to each race covered.

What question would you like asked? Post it in the comments below!

  • Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education: Sunday October 9, 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Carrboro Board of Aldermen: Monday October 17, 7:00-9:00 pm
  • Chapel Hill Town Council: Sunday October 23, 7:00-9:00 pm

General Notes About the Process

Only the candidates, the moderator, and the OP editors (for technical matters), will be able to post in the forums. Each forum will open at 7:00 pm and close at 9:00 pm. No content will be added after the forum closes.

Readers will be invited to observe the forum and participate in a simultaneous, separate blog thread where they can discuss the forum and propose follow-up questions. OP editors will monitor this discussion in real time and feed questions and topics to the moderator.*

The moderator will make the final selection of questions and will ask follow-up questions as needed. The moderator will be assisted by one or more OP editors,* who will handle technical questions and pass readers’ suggested questions to the moderator. The moderator will post questions at regular intervals, and candidates will enter their replies simultaneously.

Candidates will also be encouraged to ask each other questions and to comment on each other’s responses.

Forum Topics

OP readers are invited to suggest questions before and during the forums via several methods, including comments on this blog post, the OP contact form (http://orangepolitics.org/contact), Twitter (http://twitter.com/orangepolitics), and Facebook (http://facebook.com/orangepolitics).

What topics would you like for the candidates to address?

For more information about the 2011 election, visit the election section of OP for important dates and more at http://www.orangepolitics.org/elections-2011.



* OP editor Erin Crouse will not participate in the forum for Chapel Hill Town Council candidates because of her relationship with one of the candidates.



Hope nobody tells Erin's husband about that "relationship"

I am so excited about putting these forums on. They're going to be a tremendous amount of work (already have been) but we're getting a lot of enthusiasm from the community, and are ably led in this effort by OP Senior Editor Damon Seils. I'll be writing a blog post soon about how these will be different from other forums (and also how they may be the similar).This is also a good example of why you should come to OP Posse meetings. One school board candidate (ahem, James) brought the suggestion for an online forum to our meeting in July, we discussed and explored it, and ultimately decided at our August meeting to do it. These monthly meetings are always open to the public and are posted in the OP calendar (although we do some planning in private, too). 

This looks like it'll be a great opportunity to get to know the candidates, without even having to leave  home!

Lots of good candidates and a pivotal year for both the towns and the school board. Thanks for the opportunity.

Kudos to OP. What a good idea!

National campaigns have been doing online forums for years. Great to see OP doing it for local ones.

Given a large (unexpected*) increase in students in Chapel Hill/Carrboro schools this year, and the BoCC delay in funding Elementary #11, are you committed to keeping growth in your town within SAPFO limits?   http://www.ci.chapel-hill.nc.us/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=4843See this thread on OP as well - http://orangepolitics.org/2011/08/overcrowded-schools-new-home-c * - btw, the answer from the schools on this unexpected growth this year is the # of families moving into rental housing, which we've never been very good at projecting.  This increase in rental usage is apparently fallout from the national economic situation (can't sell their house where they moved from, so therefore are renting in CH when they moved over the summer).

Several candidates talk about their financial skills, their depth of understanding of financial issues and their roles as financial watchdogs. Even those that don't want to act responsibly.

Here's the question:

How does your campaign spending reflect and express your own claims of financial responsibility and financial understanding?

(for incumbents and past candates this should include a discussion of your past spending in dollars/votes-receieved)

Let's hear it, folks. What topics and questions would you like the candidates to address during the upcoming OP forums?You can post your ideas here, send them via Twitter to @orangepolitics, or send them via Facebook to the OrangePolitics page. You can also contact the editors via the contact page.

In your opinion, what does the Chapel Hill building permit process do well? Provide one example of a successful project - from concept design to certificate of occupancy. Now list one example of a project where the permitting process, in your opinion, did not work as well. Name one or two changes you would recommend to arrive at a process that is predictable, timely, and fair.

I strongly endorse this question being used!

The Chapel Hill Y has taken a stance against allowing an organization that excludes gays to use its space.  What should the Town's policy be toward organizations that exclude gays & lesbians if they request use of Town space or resources?

Given that federal and state support for local programs is being rescinded regularly and this places a heavier burden on our communities, should we just keep raising local taxes and cutting local programs or is there a point at which you feel it is appropriate to actively communicate that this is an injustice and seek to re-secure taxpayer funds that are being mis-allocated?   

Did you know that upon completion of the library addition, the town manager would recommend the town raise taxes in order to properly staff and outfit this additional space? ...Thoughts? ....Comments?

Do you support a ban on the use of cell phones while driving for Chapel Hill?  Why or why not?

Boards and commissions do a lot of the detailed work of running the town. Some, like the Planning Board, have responsibilities that while particular are nearly as powerful as that of Council. Council appoints members of these Boards and Commissions and a Council member acts as a laison to each.

Here's the question: As a Council member, what would be your role in regards to Boards and Commissions? What Boards most interest you and why? How would you evaluate applicants for Boards? And finally is it important for Council laisons to attend Board meetings? (If you are a current Board member or a current Council member, please speak to the attendance issue directly) 

The Carrboro anti-loitering ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to stand on the corner of Davie and Jones Ferry Road between 11AM-5AM.  For example, me asking any of you this question at 11:01AM would be a misdemeanor on the corner in question. Do you support rescinding the Carrboro anti-loitering ordinance?  Why or why not?  If elected will you take steps to rescind the ordinance?  If so, what steps?

For Mayor & Town Council (Chapel Hill):Is there a Town service/department that you believe could be reduced (staff/money) or cut? Why?Is there a Town service/department you believe needs more support (staff, money)? Why?Do you believe there is a place within CH for new big-box retail/discount stores such as Costco and Sams Club?

 For Town Council and Board of Aldermen candidates:  After the IFC opens its new men's transitional housing facility, the current downtown men's shelter will close.  Do you think Chapel Hill/Carrboro will need a homeless shelter (in addition to IFC's transitional housing facility)?  What responsibility do the town governments have to provide for emergency shelter for homeless people in our community?

Provide 3 examples where you disagree with the current council or your fellow candidates' prevailing views.

Good suggestion, James.

These forums are shaping up (based on some of the suggested questions) to be the most interesting, useful, and productive of this election season.  Looking forward to them.

What are your thoughts on the Ayden Court issue?I'm less interested in and not asking for a specific commitment here (ie, please don't say something that'll get you sued), but how do you approach this issue?   What criteria are important to you in deciding on an SUP in general?    

Have you read your most recent campaign finance filing?  Do you stand behind it being 100% accurate?  How is your campaign modeling transparency above and beyond what is legally required to show your expectations for transparent government once in office?

Where do you stand on commercial development and residential development downtown? 

Please do include this!

What is your position on the relevance to the arts community to the
future economic development of Chapel Hill and Orange County and what is your
position on public funding of the arts?

How do you see Chapel Hill paying for infrastructure that will be necessary for new development?Would it be more efficient if development projects obtained the SAPFO certificate at the beginning of the application process rather than just before obtaining a zoning compliance permit?Should all infill be treated equally?  Is density apropriate everywhere?When environmental protection is threatened by development, how would you evaluate the cost/benefit ratio?Should the LUMO include new parking standards for Transit Oriented Development (TOD) instead of using Mixed-Use Village (MU-V) standards, which are more suburban in nature?  Del Snow

Would you consider relaxing the rule preventing citizens from participating on more than one advisory board concurrently? 

What is your position on the relevance to the arts community to the
future economic development of Chapel Hill and Orange County and what is your
position on public funding of the arts?


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