As I wrote recently, it’s been quite interesting to see how folks respond to the challenge of campaigning.

I know it’s not conventional to salute your campaign opponents – which explains why the incumbents don’t mention my role in hiring an economic development officer, green fleets, re-balancing the size of affordable housing on Lot #5, etc. – but, as I imagine most folks have figured out, I’m not big on following the status quo, especially when it means passing up an opportunity to improve our community.

Which brings me back to Penny’s and Matt’s well-deserved recognition and endorsement by the Daily Tar Heel.

I’ve gotten to know these folks and they’re both the real deal. They’re not running to be the next Mayor or position themselves to run for State office – ego building is just not part of their portfolio.

Instead, Penny and Matt are quite concerned about our community and have presented solid, pragmatic proposals for addressing some of the tasks left undone these many years.

This year, they also were the only two folks, other than myself, willing to engage in a real debate – an exploration if you will – of the ways we could realistically address many of the challenges still before us. As Matt notes, the incumbent monologue might have been an effective campaign tool but it was a miserable strategy for educating and engaging the wider community.

Here’s what the DTH had to say about Penny:

The next logical step

We were immediately struck by Rich’s amiability and by her concern for resident input. She authentically seemed to care about our views and to consider them, while not just telling us what she thought we wanted to hear. If she sticks to this, Chapel Hill citizens will truly have a reliable, representative voice on the council.

Rich’s sentiments toward Lot 5 also impressed us. Rich is in favor of a Lot 5-type project but asserts very firmly that a project such as this will not suddenly solve all of Franklin Street’s problems and could be improved by underground parking and retail on the ground level.

Rich recognizes the need for more small businesses in the town, both on Franklin Street and otherwise. She says the town is not receptive to small business and that this needs to change.

Rich’s appraisal of the homelessness situation is particularly innovative. By separating homelessness, hunger and panhandling, Rich expects to better tackle all three.

Here’s what they said of Matt:

End of the monologue

As a businessman, Czajkowski would bring a unique view to the town council. He says political debate is skewed toward feel-good issues; he wants to tackle those but talk about others as well.

Of the candidates, Czajkowski is the most adamant that something must be done in downtown. Chapel Hill can become attractive for business once empty storefronts are filled and panhandlers are off the street.

Czajkowski also is one of the few candidates who expresses more than an attitude of regulation toward Carolina North. He sees it as crucial for innovation in the state.

I got the DTH nod in 2005, but they couldn’t squeeze me in this year ;-). They did have this to say about my candidacy:

Will Raymond is an enthusiastic candidate with a genuine investment in Chapel Hill politics. He has some great ideas that the council would be wise to support, but we think he could be a better asset to the town as a member of a committee while working with a council that will champion his ideas. If Raymond isn’t elected, we hope he remains invested and active in Chapel Hill issues.

Over nearly 7 years, I’ve worked a number of issues – environmental remediation, economic development, budget improvements, saving the Lincoln Arts Center and making hands-on arts a priority – and on and on – spent hours and hours each week – trying to help our community.

If elected, I’m prepared to use that experience over the next four years to set Chapel Hill on a sounder course. But if I don’t get a seat on the Council, I’ll be taking a breather.

In either case, I’m confident that Matt and Penny will carry on with their efforts to improve our community.

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