Dianes, but no Gene
Having read The Independent since the first issues, I was a little surprised by the endorsement of Eugene Brown for the Durham City Council. But the endorsement is also unfortunate because it may well cost Diane Catotti or Diane Wright--The Independent's two clear favorites--a seat on the council.
As the endorsements are lining up in Durham, Republican Thomas Stith will retain his seat, with the support of the conservative Friends of Durham (FOD) and the Durham Committee. That leaves Wright and Catotti competing with Brown (who has FOD support) for the other two seats. A vote for Brown is therefore a vote against The Independent's two favorites.
While The Independent acknowledges that Brown probably won't vote right on many issues, he receives an endorsement anyway. Again and again The Independent has set intelligent focus on development issues, and the importance of citizen involvement, neighborhood protection, and political courage, if we are to manage growth for the benefit of people. The two other endorsed candidates-- Catotti and Wright--have shown real courage on growth issues. The Independent uncharacteristically sheds almost no light on Brown's positions on growth management or his close ties to developers.
It also surprised me that Brown was endorsed despite what The Independent correctly called Brown's "condescending" style, which The Independent rightly points out, "will be a problem...with Durham's diverse populace." You have to be able to work respectfully with all kinds of people, and not just in Durham.
Brown's focus on management issues in city government is laudable, but the two Dianes will not have any less focus on these issues. And they will also continue their work for affordable housing, neighborhood protection, poverty reduction and multiracial cooperation. They have my vote.
The Carrboro mayor's race is more contested than it appears ("Almost Uncontested," Oct. 22). Observers of Carrboro politics may have noticed that during the past several years I have been on the losing end of more then a few 6-1 votes. Many of these votes were on issues crucial to determining Carrboro's future. Two 6-1 votes that I know many voters shared my frustration with were to allow five-story buildings to be built in our downtown and to build a connector road through the Hillsborough Road park. I voted against the building ordinance because I believe that they are not in keeping with the human scale of our small downtown, will overwhelm Carrboro's historic downtown neighborhoods and, most importantly, because over 200 concerned citizens strongly asked us to maintain the existing height limits. I voted against building a connector through the park because it will greatly add to the park's cost, reduce recreational space, and, most importantly, because an overwhelming majority of citizens at park-planning meetings opposed it.
On Nov. 4, we will elect a mayor and three members of the board. I strongly support Steve Rose for alderman and write-in candidate Jeff Vanke for mayor. Steve and Jeff share my commitment to listening to, respecting and including the views of all Carrboro citizens. Both believe that Carrboro's growth can and should be managed in a manner that welcomes newcomers while respecting the integrity of our neighborhoods and the environment. Steve has a long history of service to our community and served on Carrboro's first truly progressive board. He also won the court battle giving students the right to vote in Carrboro. Like many people, when I first learned through the press of Vanke's write-in mayoral campaign I dismissed it as a reactionary novelty act. Nothing could be further from the truth! My conversations with Jeff have shown him to be a very intelligent (Harvard Ph.D.) soft-spoken man with progressive political views. He is a gay rights advocate and opposed the war. Jeff is running because he is concerned that people whose views differ with current board and mayor are often dismissed and their opinions discounted. So am I. Don't write Vanke off--write him in. I look forward to continuing to serve you on the board with Steve and Jeff.
Jacquelyn M. Gist
(The author is a member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.)
Look at biases
Fiona Morgan did a good job explaining the difficulty Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Dianne Bachman will have avoiding a conflict of interest if she is elected ("Town vs. Gown," Oct. 22). There is, however, another aspect to the Bachman situation that troubles Chapel Hill voters: Even without a direct on-the-job conflict of interest, as a veteran of UNC's Facilities Planning Department, she would bring a bias to the Town Council in favor of university growth and in support of the prerogatives of its trustees and administrators. UNC Chancellor James Moeser may have changed her job responsibilities but he cannot, as Bachman claims, make her "objective."
All of us have our biases which are strongly impacted by years of professional association, day-to-day work responsibilities, and the social relations that develop around them. All candidates have biases. All candidates make a variety of claims during campaign season. Other than their actual public record, an examination of those biases, rather than those claims, is the best way to gauge how they would behave if elected to office.
Crowther's college kids
Heaven knows I share Hal Crowther's disgust at the likes of Coulter, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly, but I strongly disagree with his characterization of today's college students as self-aggrandizing and callous.
For the past two years, I have been a tutor and a graduate student in adult education at N.C. State University. We have our share of self-serving authority worshippers on campus, but I believe they are in a minority.
Many State students devote considerable time and energy to community service projects. Several weeks ago, students transformed the Brickyard into a temporary village of hand-built shelters, as part of an event supporting Habitat for Humanity. Also represented in the group were opponents of our Iraq policy and advocates for peace, economic justice, and religious tolerance. One student, Zack Medford, organized a successful get-out-the-vote campaign and won 11 percent of the vote for District D in the Raleigh City Council--an impressive showing for a newcomer of any age.
As a tutor for NCSU's Writing and Speaking Tutorial Services, I work with many freshman English students. Their essays often deal with vital issues, such as institutionalized racism and the negative effects of globalization. Their frequently thoughtful analyses show a deep concern for the betterment of all humanity. (Incidentally, Hal, you may take comfort in the knowledge that this civic-minded generation will produce some outstanding writers.)
For another perspective on the students that Crowther maligns, I recommend Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation, by Neil Howe and William Strauss. Those who read it and then observe campus life with an open mind, looking at all elements of the student body, might agree with my assessment that, to borrow from my tutorial practice, Crowther's thesis that we have raised a generation of Sammy Glicks makes good copy, but lacks support.
An Oct. 22 article, "CASA: Heavy Metal Furniture," should have said that the The Cellar is in Chapel Hill.
An Oct. 22 article, "Town vs. Gown," should have said that Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Dianne Bachman was a board member of the Community Action Network, not the chair. Also, as a university architect and project manager, Bachman did not present plans to the Town Council, but attended council meetings to assist senior administrators on technical issues.