First forum--great fun was had by all

Yesterday was the first candidate's forum. Lots of interesting questions and a great audience. I felt I was asked a great question--what do we do about flooding--and had the opportunity to share my ideas:
1. We engage the best engineers to deal with the problems we already have. (We have incredible know-how and world-class expertise right here, surrounded by the best universities and probably folks who have solved flooding in Bangladesh and other world-sized problems)
2. We don't build where it is not safe. 
Mt introductory speech got "edited" as I spoke. I have tried to edit my notes to reflect what I actually said, but I may have missed some details.

I said roughly: first I want to introduce my brother Juan Pedro, who has come down from Ottawa, Canada with his wife Jennifer and my 7-year-old niece Lauren. 16 hours is a long way to drive to be here, so I want to thank him.  I told Lauren her job is to look cute and tell everyone to vote for her aunt Maria.

When I was a doctoral student at UNC I fell in love with Chapel Hill, helping organize the first Fiesta del Pueblo in Jane Stein's home, starting a small Spanish Bible study at United Church on Cameron Ave. which blossomed into Iglesia Unida de Cristo. But what convinced my family that we wanted to move here permanently was the politics of Chapel Hill. In Chapel Hill I could wear my lapel pin that read "prayerfully pro-choice" and people understood. I wanted to be part of that! So in 1996 we came back and for the past 17 years I have been involved in the life and politics of Chapel Hill. 

I have offered leadership in countless committees, helped bring language immersion programs to our schools, represented Chapel Hill at the county and state level and last year co-chaired the transportation committe for Chapel Hill 2020.

In 1997 I ran for CHCCS. The independent said it liked my politics, but I had not been here long enough. I am hoping 16 more years will do it. Ironically, the next year I was appointed to represent CH and 11 other counties on the NC State Board of Education. And the editor of the CHN called me back after the interview and in lieu of an endorsement offered me a newspaper column. 

When you write a newspaper column in Chapel Hill, you hear back from the readers. I have been listening to CH for 16 years, more intensely in the last few months. I have heard from residents worried about development that they feel is unsustainable, from business owners concerned about parking and signage. From an immigrant worker who told me the saddest day of her week is Sunday, because it is her only day off but there are no buses so she cannot go anywhere. I have heard from a resident who wants to build a mother-in-law apartment but can't because of our zoning restrictions. And from folks who are angry because Carrboro has no-interest loans and Chapel Hill doesn't.

I hear from Chapel Hillians every day, and hope to work with them--and with you, to make Chapel Hill the best version of our best selves.
facebook: Maria Palmer for Chapel Hill Town Council
Twitter (#votemariapalmer) 

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