Do letters-to-the-editor campaigns work?

Part of the "silly season" (thanks to Fred Black for that great term) is the bloom of letters to local papers supporting certain candidates.  In some cases, individual expressions seem quite heartfelt, regardless of any larger party or issue contexts.  In some cases, the letters seem pretty much obligatory, as if someone feels the endorsement musn't fail to appear among the other letters -- for example, regarding the Sierra Club endorsements. 

Often it seems, however, that there might be a somewhat more coordinated effort to flood the letters pages with statements endorsing a given candidate -- suggesting he or she may be an underdog but with a significant groundswell of public support. 

my "endorsements"

My endorsements for 2009:

First, a bit of background:  I did not support Barack Obama in the Democratic primary last year, because I didn't think he had the strength to bring real change to our country.  Many would agree I've been proven right about that.  I also think that change is needed in our local politics this year.  If you like exactly how things are today, stop reading now.  I've moved into Chapel Hill 4 times in my life, lving here almost all of the last 32 years, so I can certainly say there's a lot I like about this town.  But there are also some disturbing trends I think we need to change.  Amongst them:
  1) Taxes are too high
  2) Lack of commercial diversity in town forces consumers to drive out of town for most shopping (huge environmental issue in my mind), including the issue of decreasing downtown vitality.
  3) Schools that are not educating every child.

The ability and willingness to bring change in these areas is my biggest criteria for voting. 

Seeking leaders with chutzpah

I read the Town Council candidates' responses to the League of Women Voters' questionnaire in the Chapel Hill News this morning. (A valuable service, but shouldn't the CHN actually publish reporting on the front page?)  I noticed that the candidates were unanimous in their support for putting increased density (if it happens) in transit corridors, but not a single one of them named an appropriate area or an example of how this should be done.  

It's easy to be reactionary and rail against tall buildings and vague notions of density or against East 54 in particular. Where are the courageous candidates that can hammer out policies, make the hard decisions, and stand up to the inevitable complaints about change? Evolution of this community's landscape is not optional. We must put on our thinking caps and establish some direction for doing this in the best way for our collective future.

PTA Council School Board Forum - An Endorsement for Gucciardi

I attended the well-run, PTA Council School Board Forum last night.  Many thanks to all of the candidates putting time, effort, and emotional energy into putting forth their vision on how to continue to improve our school system.  As advertised by my neighbors Ms. Brownstein knows policy, has a history of school involvement, and communcates her commitment to schools and children clearly and passionately.  My expectation is that she will receive the most votes, including mine, and will be an excellent school board member.

Pro-environment and Pro-business are not mutually exclusive

I am a graduate student in the UNC Planning Department (and the School of Law).  My Site Planning class tonight had guest lecturer Bruce Ballentine to talk about Glen Lennox.  About an hour into the lecture, a classmate of mine asked if Glen Lennox is an issue in the current municipal election.  In the discourse about his take on the municipal election that followed, Mr. Ballentine called several of the candidates "anti-growth, anti-business, anti-University, and anti-downtown."  He spared "three of the mayoral candidates" and DeHart, Pease, and Pohlman by name.  He portrayed the muncipal elections in a biased manner, one that I felt was purposefully misleading.  Regardless, it was an inapprorpriate forum for his stump speech. 



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