[UPDATED: Fixed missing links.]

A number of readers sent me a link to an informal poll (here) over on OrangePolitics.

If you register, you can vote and add to my apparent lead 😉

As many of you know, after contributing significantly to Ruby’s website over many years, I pulled my support from OP, a supposedly “progressive” political ‘blog, because it was veering further and further from its original goal of promoting open discourse on local issues. Enough on that…

Some interesting commentary on the thread, including another “anonymous” assertion that having run for office and losing “roundly” is a dis-qualifier. When I parsed the statement, looked at the language, it wasn’t too difficult to determine that “anonymous” was someone that worked on behalf of the incumbents I ran against in 2007.

This sentiment, that actually putting myself before the voting public – arguing for policy changes lifting folks up – made me a lesser applicant was echoed by one the Council members I spoke to this week. Running, ideally, shows a level of concern that rises above simple bellyaching, that has evolved into a desire to make hands-on change happen.

To me, taking the risk is a good thing….

If you follow that Council member’s trail of thought – not running for office, not serving on an advisory board, not appearing before Council, not attending a Council or advisory board meeting, not taking a public stance on any of the issues before our Town, maybe not even voting in a municipal election – must be the highest of qualifications.

As my son says, “LOL”.

I would hope that running a lousy campaign against 2007’s unprecedented incumbent bloc effort doesn’t really disqualify me from serving our community. Hey, I managed to get 1400+ votes in 2007, that’s 1400+ more than any of the other applicants 😉

George more eloquently observed “Just because someone is not elected does not mean they were rejected! All that one can surmise from an election result(s) such as we had is that more people wanted another candidate than wanted Will – nothing more.”

I have and continue to apologize to my 2007 supporters.

I didn’t run the campaign they deserved. If I run again I will be better organized, probably spend more money (my $1891 didn’t go far against that well-known incumbent bloc’s $23,000 or Matt’s $20K) and start much earlier.

Penny bravely suggested “the council is looking only to place an African American person in this position. They just went through the process to make it look good for the community. Knowledge of the current issues and involvement in the over all community was not a prerequisite.”

George sarcastically said she was “provid[ing] statements regarding the Council’s positions with an air of authority suggesting that you know something that no one else does”.

George, not only has Mayor Foy and other Council members made public statements that lend credence to Penny’s comments but, after having spoken to Kevin, Mark, Laurin, Matt, Ed and Sally, I can assure you this is central to most of their thinking.

It doesn’t appear that will change, as one member suggested that as long as the propriety of making race central to the decision is only challenged by a “white woman” (Chapel Hill News LTE), the Council will take the politically expedient course.

When I ran for Council with Bill Thorpe, he told me that it was important that his community had representation at the table. He didn’t qualify that concern further.

Loren Hintz, as I noted earlier, made the excellent observation that all of the Council should be approachable – that centralizing the responsibility for outreach within one person takes us further from our civic responsibility to not only listen to all segments of our community but respond.

Similarly, I argued that the critical challenges of the next 7 months cut across all the ways – racially, economically, socially, politically – one might want to divide us up.

As far as dividing and divisiveness, I find it interesting that no one on OP has challenged the underlying contention that there is even such a thing as a cohesive African-American community and that they are represented fully by the Hank Anderson Breakfast Club. There are many “communities” within our greater community, the pretense here is that it isn’t ones life experience that is the key differentiator, it is their census designation.

As Cat says on the OP thread “Age, gender, and race are secondary to life experience, world view, and personal philosophy.”

I do find it strange that in Chapel Hill, right after Barack Obama was elected President on the “content of his character”, the political dynamic is uppermost in Council’s minds.

Beyond capability, interest, prior involvement and experience, the choice, at least as framed by most of the Council members I spoke to comes down to “stereotypes or assumptions about the abilities, traits, or performance of individuals of a certain sex, race, age, religion, or ethnic group”.

[U] In any case, if the Council breaks with history, the public will be able to adjust the makeup of the board come Nov. 2009.

Finally, a quick review of citizen concerns reveals that Chapel Hill is a community of neighborhoods (strangely enough, unlike most of the other folks leading our Town, the issues I’ve taken on don’t directly involve my neighborhood – they involve broad themes – like due process – or particular affronts – like the lack of environmental justice).

History shows that it is rare for one neighborhood to come to the defense of another unless the issues are broad. There are some notable exceptions, Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth being one such organization. Again, trying to divvy up the community into politically manageable blocks not only takes us further from the goal of civic unity but doesn’t recognize the way our citizenry currently interacts with Council.

As I said in my application, as I have demonstrated over the years, while I have a strong bias towards helping folks that are struggling, I can represent the interests of the whole of this community. My themes have been social justice, expanded opportunity, community outreach and equality of access.

I am not only approachable, I have worked to broaden civic participation at every level. If selected I will reach further into the wider community, meet often and directly with any citizens – irrespective of their background – who need Council’s assistance.

As far as running for office, it is easiest to take the path that is safe, politic and popular. That is the path it appears this Council will take this evening.

As far as leadership, what is right is not often easy.

I have and will continue to take on those challenges that are overlooked, unpopular and politically unsafe because getting a good result – doing what is right – should be the goal.

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