Endorsements


In case there’s any confusion, Morgan Freeman had nothing to do with this post!

I’ll be helping the Orange County Democratic Party over at the Caldwell precinct in northern Orange County from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Drop by if you’re in the area.

Over the last week I’ve received emails asking my recommendations for the judicial races. Here’s who I’m voting for:

US SenateElaine Marshall

I know, Elaine isn’t running for the bench but since I have your attention….

A lot has been made of the apparent Democratic electorate malaise this year. We are still involved in the longest war of our country’s history. We still haven’t punished the use of torture or kidnapping as tools of war. Affronts to our Constitution, to basic human rights continue to be promulgated. Backroom deals derail chances of improving our populaces health and welfare. Billions are bilked and the public coffers milked. Spying and lying are now commonplace insults to our country’s democratic well-being. So much of the same old, same old with nary a peep from so many Democratic “yes we can change” Congress folks.

I understand that immense lethargic unease the folks that turned out in 2008 must feel. Does that mean we need to suffer with a Burr under our saddles another 4 years? Hell no.

Elaine is more than the anti-Burr choice. She wasn’t supported by the torpor inducing national Democratic apparatchik, a real win in my book. She will work to bring real change on behalf of all North Carolinians if elected. Do your part today to make that happen.

Supreme Court – Bob Hunter

Both candidates have a strong record on governmental transparency, solid experience and track records of reasonable judicial advocacy. While Jackson served as counsel under Labor Secretary Cherrie Berry during a period of time when that office was less than proactive on a slate of labor related issues, it’s not clear to me if her role allowed her to advocate for better outcomes. Hunter has the edge in experience, great endorsements and, as a Democrat, the background to work towards an equitable decision on Congressional redistricting should it land in the Court’s hands.

Court of Appeals – Gray,Elmore,Geer.

Gray and Geer, Democrats, have solid reputations, been unequivocal that politics will play no role in their courts. Elmore is a solid choice.

Court of Appeals – Instant Runoff version: Thigpen – 1st. Hammer – 2nd. Payne or Middleton or Vesper -3rd.

In other races:

Board of Commissioners – Earl McKee.

I’ve been watching Earl as he has taken on a few County issues these last 18 months. He spent 6 months attending BOCC meetings to get a feel of the office before ever standing up and speaking his piece. His first issue, challenging the expensive remodeling of an office space to serve as a Commissioners chamber, demonstrated the type of leadership he plans to bring to the Commission: he did his research, spoke sincerely and directly to the issue, stood firm on his principles while pursuing the best policy for both his rural district (District 2) and the County as a whole.

Sales Tax Referendum – AGAINST

This is a lousy year to raise any taxes – no matter how small the bite – but that is not the main reason I stand so firmly opposed to this referendum.

Poverty is on a steep uptick in Orange County. Demand for health and welfare services is at an all time high. Long needed structural shifts – from fully staffing our community health system to shifting the emergency homeless shelter burden off the IFC – are not occurring supposedly due to fiscal difficulties at the County level. Yet, when presented with $2.3M from a sales tax or $4.6M windfall from refinancing the County’s debt, the BOCC chose areas outside those vital needs.

I lobbied them to put the lions share towards addressing the needs of those struggling the most – for the 1 in 5 Orange County residents in poverty and other residents who are just treading water. $2+ M new revenue targeted effectively represents more than a life jacket – it would lift folks out of the deep end of the pool and move them on to firm ground.

Again, I appreciate the BOCC making a somewhat firm commitment to spending priorities – I just don’t support the same set of priorities.

The BOCC has been clear, as they should be, that this revenue sharing plan is a firm commitment over the next 5 years and will not change – period. The BOCC has also reaffirmed their stance that this new revenue will not replace existing revenue or cover existing expenses – it is new money for a new purpose )funds will not be freed up elsewhere that could be redirected to human services).

Given that, tomorrow, I’m voting NO for the sales tax in hopes that we will get another chance to set the priorities for that spending, that the new priority will be waited heavily towards addressing human service needs and that core needs – like improved emergency medical services(EMS) and required school facility repairs – be paid out of core budget.

More of my reasoning on voting against the sales tax below:
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Thanks to Loren Hintz. Matt Scheer, Jason Baker (2005 candidate for Town Council), May Becker, Judith Ferster and the rest of the membership of the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club for both sponsoring the recent candidate forum and making the following video available to the wider community.

Also thanks to my fellow colleague on the Sustainability Task Force Matthew Scheer for moderating the event and James Carnahan for keeping time.


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Quick technical note: the current video doesn’t support “quick search” but will start streaming right away.

Barack Obama swung by Chapel Hill tonight in his on-going attempt to clinch his party’s nomination. As David Price noted, for the first time in decades North Carolina is relevant – and we have an opportunity to push Obama over the top.

As with many political events, the rally, scheduled for 9:30pm kicked off promptly at 10:19pm. The Dean Dome was 3/4′s full – the crowd a mix of college students and locals (with a smattering of notable politicos – Mel Watt, David Price, Hampton Dellinger, Alice Gordon).

If you’ve seen Obama speak before, the stump he gave was fairly familiar – tweaked a bit for both the Tar Heel college and North Carolina “blue” crowd. He butchered Chancellor Moeser’s name (quickly corrected with some input from the crowd). He made a small reference to RTP – proposed cloning its success (I suggest better research by his crew). Spoke of mitigating college tuitions using a Americorp type program ($12K per annum -whew!). Talked about off-shoring of jobs and closing of mills. But mostly it was a speech targeted towards a national audience.

He riffed on McCain – “25 years in Congress” and a $25 gas tax refund “is the best he can do”.

After pummeling McCain a bit, he carefully highlighted the differences between him and Hillary.

Obama painted Hillary as the candidate of lobbyists, special interests and the back room party apparatchik. Contrasting his trip to Wall Street to inform CEOs that their personal tax bills were headed up, that under his administration Federal subsidies for their cash cows would dry up and windfall profits (literally highway robbery) were going to be taxed with Hillary’s Union hall pandering, he made the case for his political courage. And, he noted subtlety, she hasn’t been quite honest.

Which brings me back to our local Board of Commissioners race.

Between the two at-large candidates that I know and have seen in action at close range, Neloa Jones is the hands down best candidate.

She’s united her community, built coalitions and been honest and up-front with her concerns. She’s demonstrated her political courage.

She is no creature of the local “rah rah growth at any cost” political clique.

Neloa has not been missing in action and she hasn’t, like her opponent laid claim to positions she hasn’t fought for – kind of our own homegrown Obama. Sharp, with a real sense of purpose, Neloa is the kind of leader we need for Orange County.

Please, when you go to vote for Obama (or Hillary) cast a vote for Neloa.

Here’s some action from tonight’s rally. All photos compliments of my son Elijah.

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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:
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I called Jennifer Strom last week to see if the Indy would provide me the courtesy of a response to their endorsement comments. She said they would. Here’s my response:

I’m baffled by the Indy’s comments on my and Mike Kelley’s candidacies.

I’m mystified by your endorsement of Indy editor Jennifer Strom’s husband Bill Strom, incumbents Sally Greene and Cam Hill, all who voted to build extensively into the Booker Creek resource conservation district.

I’m perplexed. I haven’t called for environmentally insensitive development on Booker Creek let alone authorized it.

And I’m disappointed. How do you chastise Chapel Hill School Board candidate Mike Kelley’s attendance record given his personal circumstances? Beyond insensitive, it was ill-informed.

Where was the balanced investigative journalism we have come to expect from the Indy?

I used to give the Indy’s endorsements automatic credence. Any readers who do so this year will be misled.

I’ve written here and here why I think the Indy missed the boat on my candidacy.

As far as Mike, here’s what happened February, 2006 (N&O)

Police charged an elderly driver they say injured a mother and daughter selling Girl Scout cookies when she backed into a troop’s cookie booth outside a grocery store over the weekend.

Chapel Hill police charged Thelma McBride Holloway, 77, of 105 Elizabeth St., Chapel Hill, with failure to reduce speed to avoid collision.

Holloway was backing her 1991 Lincoln out of a parking spot Saturday afternoon in front of the Harris Teeter at University Mall when her foot slipped off the brake and onto the accelerator, according to a police report.

The car ran up the sidewalk and hit Elise Michelle Hoffman, 44, and her daughter Anne Katherine Kelley, 11. Both were taken to UNC Hospitals. The hospital would not release their conditions Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, Lt. Leo Vereen said the accident broke both of Hoffman’s legs, and Anne’s collar bone and one of her legs.

Hoffman and Anne are the wife and daughter of Mike Kelley, a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education.

Since reading the Indy’s strange comments on Mike I’ve had some time to talk to folks I know and trust about his candidacy. Overwhelmingly they say he’s meticulous, has responded to folks concerns and, even with a family tragedy, discharged his responsibilities in full.

Here’s what one of his opponents, and Indy endorsee, Jamezetta Bedford, said on the Indy’s website:

…I feel compelled to disagree with the statement that Mike Kelley’s job “has prevented him from attending many forums and activities beyond his basic duties.” Each board member volunteers to serve as liaison to two or three school improvement teams (SITs) and various district committees. Some are scheduled during the work day, some in the early morning and some in the evening. We divide them up at our first December meeting each year based upon the interests and schedules of our board members.

Mike has faithfully attended the SIT meetings most months (board members are only expected to attend once a semester) and has served on our technology advisory group, one of the health advisory committees, as well as liaison to the Special Needs Advisory Council this past year. I would not want a board composed of only retired or unemployed members. By the way, our board will receive an award next week from the NC School Boards Association to recognize that all of our members completed at least 12 hours of board development training this past year, again showing the investment of time each makes to this service.

I like her point about a balance board with more than “retired or unemployed members”.

There are many more statements of support here.

Here’s what UNC Law professor Eric Muller said Are the Indy’s Endorsements Heartless or Worthless? It’s One or the Other over on his ‘blog Is That Legal?.

Bill Strom, at the recent Democrat Candidate Forum, used a quote attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan to try to make some point “…you are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.”

Maybe he could share that quote with the Indy’s editor (and his wife) Jennifer Strom.

The Indy is free to express an opinion but it shouldn’t ignore the facts – which, in my case, I did the opposite of what their endorsed candidates did and in Mike’s, that he had an obvious and completely understandable reason for his actions.

X-Posted from Will Raymond for Town Council 2007:

The local Orange-Chatham Sierra Club participates in the local election process two ways: endorsing candidates and sponsoring a forum.

Last Sunday, Chairman Bernadette Pelissier, Political Chair Loren Hintz and member Matthew Scheer interviewed me on behalf of the Sierra Club to determine if I qualified for an endorsement.

Questions spanned local zoning policy, a discussion of good and bad infill, personal commitment to environmental protection and Carolina North.

Folks that read CitizenWill already have a good idea about where I stand on many of these issues.

Surprisingly some issues, like local waste management, the trash transfer station and Rogers Road community’s complaints, our storm water utility policy or in-town open space preservation didn’t make the list. Of course, you can only fit so much into a 45 minute interview.

I appreciate these members taking the time to review my thoughts on Carolina North, zoning policy, pragmatic carbon reduction strategies, transit, etc. (I tried to cram way too much into my answers and digressions).

The Chapel Hill forum takes place next Tuesday, September 25th, 7-9pm at the Chapel Hill Town Hall. The event will be broadcast on our local public access channel.

In 2005 I did secure the local club’s enthusiastic endorsement. Here’s what they said two years ago:

Will Raymond has been one of the most outspoken and effective citizen activists in Chapel Hill in recent years. We look forward to him using his talents to advocate for the environment as a member of Town Council. In particular we are excited about his initiatives to promote energy efficiency in town buildings. He will also work to protect lesser known creeks in the Chapel Hill area and to minimize the number of single occupancy vehicles causing air pollution and traffic congestion at Carolina North.

We strongly encourage Sierra Club members and any residents of Chapel Hill who care about the environment to support these four candidates in the November 8th election. They are the best hope for a Town Council that will always make reducing environmental impact a top priority as Chapel Hill grows bigger.

We’ll know by mid-October if the work I’ve done since – on Carolina North, as a member of the Horace-William’s Citizen Committee sub-committee on environment, tracking and publicizing the landfill/transfer site problems on Rogers Road – will secure an endorsement in 2007.

Laurin, you beat me to the punch!

About a year ago, with some encouragement from RobertP (CountryCrats), I started a few posts on my experience running for Chapel Hill Town Council in 2005.

I wanted

  • to cover the mechanics – signs, fund-raising, forums, endorsements, election day management – of running for local office
  • to touch upon my considerations and justifications for running
  • to give, from my outside perspective, a sense of the hours and effort within Council I thought it would take to do justice to by our citizenry
  • to suggest strategies for dealing with the awesome power of incumbency
  • to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of various “endorsing” organizations
  • to pass on what I learned about interacting with the media and getting wider exposure via neighborhood/organizational meetings
  • to highlight my campaign failures (I did lose!)
  • and modest successes.

All with an eye towards encouraging a new generation of Council leadership.

What happened to that series? Well, besides being a bit premature, I got bogged down with a few other projects.

Today, Councilmember Laurin Easthom (Easthom Page) has posted (“Tis’ the Season”) some excellent advice on getting started on the campaign trail:

There hasn’t been much talk around town yet, but election season is coming, or is in fact here. I am talking about my area of course, Chapel Hill Town Council. For those of you that would be interested in running, I have some advice and perspective.

Thanks Laurin for the kick-in-the-pants.

You’re absolutely right. For a non-incumbent with little current political exposure – now is the time to start thinking about running. I’m going to dust-off those old posts and publish my comments in an attempt to help generate some interest, broaden the field and do my bit to increase the participation in what De’Tocqueville thought was the finest aspect of our American participatory democracy – local government.

I know, short notice of tonight’s (Wed. Oct. 11th, 2006) forum for Superior Court 15B candidates. The forum is sponsored by UNC’s Young Dems.

From Matt Liles OrangePoltics notice:

The Orange County Young Democrats will hold a forum with all four candidates for Superior Court on Wednesday, Oct 11th at 7pm in Room 4085 of the UNC School of Law.

Directions to the Law School are available at www.law.unc.edu. Parking is available in the lot adjacent to the law school after 5pm and additional parking is also available in the School of Government lot.

The candidates are:

I hope a few issues come up this evening:

  • Mr. Stein’s inability to serve all but a fraction of a term (covered here and here by Duncan Murrell).
  • Practical ideas for streamlining the court process (and maybe whack some of the costs out).
  • Restoring some humanity to the justice system.
  • The incredible amount of monies raised for this race (Stein is on track to beat $100K mark) and the distorting influence that has on future races.

Carl Fox, everyone tells me, has a lock. It certainly looks that way when you he spent the least, $26K, and raised the least, $28K, but was the top vote getter in the primary. That means a 3-way race among Baddour, Anderson and Stein.

Adam Stein has a quite respectable background, a solid list of endorsements, but when I talk to his supporters it always seems like they’re awarding a sinecure for a life of solid and praiseworthy work rather than enlisting someone with a strong vision for the courts future and the wherewithal to carry out the tasks before them.

This is an eight year job. Stein’s problem of a predictably foreshortened career on the bench should be addressed.

I’ve learned a bit about the work of a Superior Court district 15B judge over the last year. It is a tough job.

Our courts system is being battered, unfortunately, by rising demands. Hopefully this evening we’ll hear some innovative, practical ideas for addressing foreseeable stresses on our local court system.

[UPDATE:] Lucier, Vanderbeck and Thompson sweep the board! Baddour still in contention.

Chatham, the tidal wave of development is overwhelming county services, driving taxes sky high (and we haven’t seen the end yet) and leading to a brittle service economy built on shaky ground.

When you mark your ballot, take a moment to think about this ode to Briar Chapel’s sewage spray system. It’s a good metaphor of how Bunkey and company have treated the county, the environment and the community.

Want to restore sanity, honesty and integrity to the Board of Commissioners? Vote:

  • George Lucier – Commissioner, District 3
  • Tom Vanderbeck – Commissioner, District 4
  • Carl E. Thompson - Commissioner, District 5

More information at The Chatham Coalition.

  • Allen Baddour – Superior Court.

Allen, arguably, is even a better choice for Chatham than Orange county.

Several months ago I went to Hillsborough for a demonstration of the ESS voting equipment. I saw the tried and true, paper ballot optical scan code machine and the fancy, complex and, I think, easy-to-tamper-with, touch screen unit. Wisely, the Board of Elections recommended the optical scan over the touch screen.

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