Candidate Forum: Social Issues Facing Chapel Hill


Wednesday, October 21, 2009 - 3:00pm to 5:00pm


University United Methodist Church, 150 E Franklin St.

Gene Nichol moderates this social justice focused candidate forum on Wednesday, Oct 21 from 7-9 p.m. Hear candidate ideas and positions on issues like affordable housing, democracy reform and civil rights, welcoming Chapel Hill's immigrant and refugee communities, and environmental justice. 

Candidate forum sponsors include: NC Common Cause, Democracy North Carolina, League of Women Voters, NAACP (UNC Chapter), Justice and Peace Commission of The Church of Reconciliation. Individual sponsors include: Rev. Stephen Elkins-Williams (Chapel of the Cross), Rev. Bob Dunham (University Presbyterian Church), Richard andJill Edens (United Church of Chapel Hill), and Rev. Peter JB Carman (Binkley Baptist Church).

Due to other church business that evening, THERE IS NO PARKING AT UUMC. Please plan to use street or other available parking.

Contact Josh Glasser, or 919-260-1364 for more information


Bob Phillips(?) from Common Cause welcome.  reminder: local officials are very important -- land use, transportation, taxes.  Especially social justice (focus of this forum) -- how do we handle homeless, affordable housing, immigrant families.Gene Nichol (UNC Law professor and ex-president of William and Mary, where I attended;  W&M called my cell phone in the middle of the forum to ask for $) to moderate.  "City Council is more demanding than running for US Senate"

Augustus Cho - - restoring core values.  change like Common Cause.  open govt.  Independent voice against corruption.  Matt Cz -- candidates defined by press is distressing.  2 years ago was labelled pro-growth, then pushed against East 54.  trying to find $ in budget for social justice.  Mark K -- lifetime of public service.  taught in at-risk high school.  represent death row inmates.  affordable housing, social conscious of the council.Laurin Easthom -- has been a meaningful time on council.Ed Harrison -- involved in inner-city durham before moving to CH.  environmental planner.  transportation focus as social justice issue.Will Raymond - interested in fiscal responsiblity, sustainability, open govt, social justice not emphasized yetPenny Rich -- Rogers Rd sewar/water issue.  Jon DeHart -- CH ready for change.  chaired IFC board.  community land trust.  wants to help homebuyers.  tax rate too high.  Jim Merritt -- encourage businesses through tax credits.  Gene Pease -- variety of expereinceMatt Pohlman -- busy guy -- why run?  unique voice for council

MC -- not participating, voted against.  limit contributions already.  no evidence of influcence.  affordability to serve issue b/c time -- should solveMK -- proud to be participant.  Sally Greene received bundled checks, returned them.  $250 is greater as % of overall spend than fed limit of $4k.  has had new contrubutors involved b/c of low limit in VOEAC -- not participating.  inhibits freedom of expression.  hasn't solved problem.  cost to town is $13k

LE -- voted for.  is pilot.  philosophy is important, should continue.  not right for her to participate since I'm incumbant and voted for it.  spending very little.EH -- voted for, incumbent inappropriate as accused of "incumbent protection".  want to involve community activists -- don't have connections to raise $.  successful if anyone usedWR -- wants to bring more voices into govt process.  support goals of VOE, not implemnetation.  runs cheap campaigns.  posted reports prior to BOE.  power of incumbency is strong.  PR -- proud to be 1st participant.  much more rewarding this time than last (without VOE).  not needing to ask for $.  118 people sent < $20.  voice back to people.  will push in 2011 to get more candidates to participate. might need tweaks

JD -- should welcome diversity.  need education, jobs, help speak english.  on the VOE question, he is not participating b/c avg council races not using level of $ that VOE provides (ie, it is escalating costs, wrong direction)JM -- should accept immigration.  should determine legal status.  provide orientation to community.  social services/needs to be identified.  help acclimate.  GP -- need multi-language services.  acclimate.  ESL materials in library.  MP -- family friend is working with Burmese refugees.  son at FPG in class with girl.  services avail isn't enough.  need to reach out to help use services.

MK -- Council right to reject Millhouse.  he is working on small area plan.  confident that transfer station not appropriate in neighborhood.  should look beyond transfer station -- regional cooperationAC -- oppose injustice.  This is County issue.  don't support additional suffering.  town's hands are tied however.  sympathetic, but not right jurisdiction.MC -- 2 years ago answered no for transfer station in community.  voted against considering Millhouse.  transfer station right solution?  trash to community elsewhere. is a tradeoff

end of question -- or is housing only for those who have "cleaned up their act"?EH -- housing 1st is the compassionate approach.  more management problems if they are not committed to cleaning up act.  10 year OC plan has this.  WR -- program effective in other communities.  UNC picking up ER tab, crisis intervention expensive today.  not only right thing to do, it is cost effective.  however, it is a tough sell as seen on Monday, as in the comment -- we shouldn't support services for people who put themselve in bad position.PR -- what do about basic needs?  healthcare, mental health, food.  preventive med -- take care of cause before home.  food bank usage up 59% in 1 year.  6000-7000 people using.  LE -- how can get job if don't live somewhere.  housing 1st.  job training skills included.  She has Masters of Ed in vocational counselling.  mental health / medical services needed.  begins with somewhere to live.

JM -- concerned.  abundance of new condos in town.  800 sf too small for family.  need more single family units.  payment in lieuGP -- program is good.  council not listening to experts.  building units that are excluding.  payment in lieu difficult.  more $ should go to rental units.  MP -- Gene is right.  rental units is piece of the puzzle.  home trust doing good job.  New affordable units on Pritchard.  JD -- helps people buy homes.  on board of community home trust.  Don't need more small units.  works with Habitat.  Residential tax rate too high.

AC -- not cutting services.  each dept cut 10%.  technology instead of manpower.  prioritize case by case.MC -- not easy for CH.  people say every day tax burden not sustainable.  loses diversity (defined broadly).  do we increase taxes or reduce expenses?  not a matter of values, need to prioritize.  Sales tax base too low b/c council policies.MK -- difficult years ahead.  firm on:  protecting employee benefits.  no false dichtomy (such as between affordable housing vs VOE -- compared Matt Cz to John McCain here).  community process to prioritize savings/cuts.

What was th McCain comparison?  Was this an attempt to make people think MC is a Republican?

I thought it was an extremely low blow for the forum.  He basically said Matt was making these false dichotomies (VOE vs affordable housing funding) just like McCain did.

I have always held Mark in higher regard than that, but wanting to win no matter how you do it is an old political malady.

He didn't literally compare Matt Czajkowski to John McCain, what Mark said was that the rhetorical device of setting up two goals against each other as if you could only pursue one was something that he thought Matt had done and it reminded him of McCain in 2008.I thought the comment lacked subtlety, but Mark wasn't saying that the two were similar politically.

Question cont:  how will you work with UNC on Carolina North to protect environment? LE -- was a part of development agreement.  specific safegaurds in agreement.  on traffic, environmental.  involved, know the process.  trigger points to hold up deal.  EH - alongside Laurin.  fought for open space protection.  should kick coal off campus.  WR -- community front and center in process.  has raised issues -- light pollution, air pollution, noise pollution not well specified in agreement.PR -- OWASA board involvement.  reclaimed water important.  3 year review will ensure on target.  unc follows up well, even if clumsy in 1st try sometimes.

MP -- everyone on equal playing field.  don't overburden any part of community.  defines how groups interact -- open dialogue.GP -- treat all equal every day.  JM -- all individuals receive services without regard to race, sex, national origin.JD -- know what it is when you see it.  everyone has opportunity to be served.  why he moved to CH ---- great public education, specifically the diversity in classroom.   we should work together for common good.

MC -- community starting to talk more about rental as option.  voted against Grove Park b/c affordable rental units being replaced.  we don't have good definition of what affordable housing is, no inventory.  need as starting point.MK -- council has been talking about affordable rental.  dobbins hill units out 15-501. built before market rate units.  rent control statute in way of doing more.  looking for private investors -- empowerment manage.AC -- shortage of rental.  shortage of housing.  developers need ability to make cheap.  flexibility needed.

LE -- works with community dentistry agency.  excellent service CH could promote.  relationships needed.EH -- Durham has chaotic public forum to ask for $.  CH has human services board.  well structured.  block grant program for housing.  best in state!WR -- IFC example.  quite a model. budget discipline -- should double outlay for human services.  Lot 5 investment.  Raleigh instead created rental units for workfoce housing for less $.PR -- Project Homelss Connect.  basic needs taken care of.  lessons from IFC should be applied.  vouchers.

JD -- should be looking at incidents like Charles Brown issue.  no excuse for happening.JM -- should make rec to council and internal investigations on incidents when not resolved.  Charles Brown incident unfortunate.  needs to be further handled.GP -- don't honestly know role of the committee, so shouldn't commentMP -- lot of positive ideas from candidates over last couple of weeks on this incident. should seek input from community through board.  weigh decisions at council.

AC -- social justice not a concept, I live every day.  understand Charles Brown.  equality for all.  appreciate what churches do.  keep the faith.MC -- important election.  hopeful for higher turnout.  scarce resources.  must make decisions on funding.  how do we prioritize values.  open community dialog.MK -- critical election for CH.  challenges ahead.  community needs leadership.  experienced in govt, knows how to bring together, serve people.  budget priorities.  Justice In Action liason.  affordable housing, VOE, Rogers Rd.  values he has.  LE -- want to serve community beyond 9 to 5.  Equal for sure, but not equal opp today. need empathy.  policies need to be for common good for all.  EH -- fair open-mided.  talk about all sides of question.  serve the public.  transport for all.  WR -- collaborated on econ development, social justice issues.  worked for positive change.  haven't always agreed with council, but have been effective -- CN for example.  prepared.  work hard.  do what I say.  persistent.PR -- thanks Common Cause for bring VOE to CH (2003).  trickle up effect.  JD -- unique candidate.  pro-business democrat.  not mutually exclusive.  Sen Jodan, Sanford, Hunt.  heart of CH.JM -- need affordable family units.  needs for additional jobs.  job/training for youth, homeless.  have resources through CC.  priorities.GP -- complicated town.  other important issues not discussed too.  which candidates have experience to handle all issues.  leadership needed. esp in uncertain time.  look at commitment to community and leadership capability.MP -- love social issues forum.  never run before, but years committed to this town.  mental health association president.  burmese.  mental health.  balance between financial and social issues.

all typos and misrepresentation through abbreviation above are mine.  Apologize if any candidate given short shrift in above.  I welcome anyone to add to what I've captured.

I was very surprised at questions not asked.  Where was the question about the IFC siting in particular?  I suppose the organizers thought the housing first question was the way to get there, and there's always that "quasi-judicial" thing that I hate, but surely their reaction to the strong protest is interesting in how they view role of the IFC in serving our community.Also, wish more specifics about the Charles Brown had been asked instead of the VOE questions.  Sure, that's Common Cause's interest, but it isn't really a Social Justice issue.I also wish candidates (at all levels) would actually give a specific when the question says "give a specific", but that's just me dreaming... 

Ruby was there -- what a cute baby she has!

I actually heard Izzy reply to a few questions. He's starting his political career early.

Thanks so much for live blogging the forum. Obviously, I had my hands (actually arms) full! :-)Interesting that you raise the shelter siting issue. It seems that (like many issues in Chapel Hill) opinions differ about which "side" of that issue social jutice is on. Personally, I'm really disppointed to see people continue to paint homeless folks as criminals and undesireable.  I lived downtown 2 blocks from the shelter for a few years and the only crime I experienced was after the hours the shelte rcloses their doors, so it could not have been residents from there. Usually it was oboxious/drunk college students!Similarly, I disagree that money in politics isn't a social justice issue. It gets to the very foundations of democracy and enfranchisement, in my opinion.

Thanks so much for posting this summary.  I am so sorry I had to miss it for the Justice United planning meeting.


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