Quirky, progressive Carrboro is trying to maintain its character and vibe while adapting to inevitable population growth as more people flock to the town based on its reputation.
In the mayoral and Board of Aldermen races, we endorse incumbent Mayor Mark Chilton and aldermen Jacquelyn Gist and Randee Haven-O'Donnell for re-election and challenger Sammy Slade. We've endorsed the incumbents in previous races, and they have delivered. Their work in town government is part of the reason Carrboro is so attractive.
Tim Peck, Sharon Cook and Slade are vying to fill the seat vacated by John Herrera, who resigned this year and moved to Holly Springs. Of the three, Slade provides the most tangible set of goals and the best track record to achieve them. We back him for the seat.
This year's mayoral slate features three candidates: Chilton, who faces familiar foe Brian Voyce, (who declined to seek our endorsement, though he said he would complete the questionnaire and post it on his Web site but did not), and political novice Amanda Ashley.
Chilton has served two terms and is a political veteran. He was elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council while a UNC student, a feat not since equaled. He served two years on the Board of Aldermen before beating Alex Zaffron in the 2005 mayor's race. Since then, the straw hat-wearing civil libertarian has led on environmental issues and has served as a strong link between Carrboro and Chapel Hill. He was appointed last year to the General Assembly's Joint Study Committee on Housing, and his legislative ties are a benefit to the town. He also isn't afraid to confront controversial local issues, like pushing for Footloose Bruce to be allowed to dance on the Weaver Street lawn and helping to create a place for the Really, Really Free Market. We wholeheartedly support his re-election bid.
Voyce has hinged his candidacy on the notion of "sustainable taxation," saying that residential taxes are too high because of government spending. Yet his only idea to save money is to share municipal services with Chapel Hill. Also troubling is his plank to "reform a failed economic development program." Carrboro's Revolving Loan fund has brought to town dozens of businesses that are established as part of the town's fabric, including Weaver Street Market, and continues to be a success. To say that it's "not creating good jobs" is simply wrong.
Voyce did not seek our approval, and he would not have gotten it.
Ashley has positioned herself as the radical candidate. Her 12 platform points include capping the town's population and creating an electric trolley or monorail system to reduce car use. She is not a typical politician, or a politician at all really. Asked what relevant experience she has for the post, she replied, "This question is irrelevant. I am simply a citizen presenting ideas. Stop being a stooge for the mind-set of the status quo."
We appreciate that Ashley is coming forward with innovative ideas, but one must show more than ideas to be viable. You must have a record of leadership and responsibility. Otherwise, one is simply presenting ideas rather than making them reality. Also troubling is the fact that Ashley, who has children from a previous marriage while still living as a man, owes more than $20,000 in child support and spent time in jail for failure to pay. We can't trust the town's purse strings to someone who cannot manage her personal finances.
Gist is completing her fifth term, marking 20 years on the board. Carrboro is privileged to have such a strong voice with invaluable institutional memory on board. She introduced the first ordinance in support of gay and lesbian rights and has been a strong advocate of protecting the watershed and safeguarding immigrant rights. She is an environmentalist who bikes everywhere and has ruined two cars, she says, by not driving them enough.
Haven-O'Donnell, who now serves as mayor pro tem, is completing her first term. She is a teacher and served on the planning board prior to her 2005 election. Similar to Gist, Haven-O'Donnell is a green-friendly candidate who has fought for Bolin Creek preservation and worked to create a greenway plan for the town. She has proven her leadership during the past four years and will be a strong asset if re-elected.
Slade is the chairman of the Local Living Economy Task Force, which helps the board identify where to grow. He also is a grassroots leader who has helped coordinate voting participation efforts in past elections, as well as worked with urban farmers, advocated for freedom of expression on the Weaver Street lawn and promoted green space. His work with parks and recreation and his broad viewpoint will add a valued perspective to the board.
Peck is a builder and long-term resident who is active in Rainbow Soccer, the Carrboro Elementary PTA and the Carrboro Art Group. He supports a no-driving day on a weekday and low-cost, high-density development. Overall, Peck's ideas don't show enough depth. At a Sierra Club forum, he often answered questions by saying he'd ask residents of the affected area what to do and then vote accordingly.
Cook, meanwhile, ran in 2007 and has served on the planning board for two years and lives in a northern annexed area of Carrboro. Her main concern is making sure the town remains affordable for residents. She also has supported residents of the Rodgers-Eubanks community. Cook has good experience, we just feel Slade would bring a unique perspective that she lacks.