Friends of the Downtown Candidates Forum


Thursday, August 25, 2011 - 10:00am to 12:00pm


The Franklin Hotel


Just as with FotD's monthly meetings, this obviously isn't designed for most working people to attend.  

that once again the forum will be at 10:00 A.M. on a Thursday. I understand that they want to keep it as a regular meeting, but it really puts a burden on working candidates as well as those citizens who would like to attend the forum to get to know the candidates. 

This will not be the only forum for both the public and candidates. If a candidate entered a race thinking there would be only night meetings and campaign events then maybe they should rethink their commitment to the office they  are running for.

it is the only forum that the Friends will have, meaning that the questions they ask are very specific to their intersts. I am very well aware of the commitment....that's why I made the comment. 

I expect it will be the same old same old from Friends of the Pat Evans, but I'm also curious because it will be the first time all the Chapel Hill candidates are formally collected. 

We'll see if work interferes, but willing to be an "objective" observer for this if I can make it.

I too am going to try to make it

I plan to tweet if my fingers can keep up.

Reminds me of Rainbow soccer when everyone got a trophy. What a way to lose total credibility and stake a claim to flaccid irrelvancy. As above, so below. Go Obama, go Heath Schuler, go Wall Street, go BP, go Social Security cuts, go drone attacks, go crackdowns on whistleblowers, go corporate access to mining National Parks,   - and now - whatever - if they are Democrats, they are okay for local service. They are making mediocrity look palatable and leadership look like an elusive concept. But, what's new?  

In a time when ultra-wealthy Republicans have pumped tons of money into local elections (such as the Wake School Board election) it is indeed time for Democrats to stand up and endorse Dems in local elections.   I do not know how this could possibly be mediocre  or make' leadership look like an elusive concept.'  Citizens in our area have elected Democrats to local offices for many years---are you implying our local officials are mediocre and lacking in leadership?The rest of your comments don't make much sense to me.  "Flacid irrelevancy??"  Really?? 

"Flacid irrelevancy??"  Really??

I think that is one step above Flatulent irrelevancy but I am not sure

sorry this isn't more timely.  Grabbed the wrong laptop this AM and didn't want to try to fix my networking issues during the meeting, so I took these notes offline.  Usual disclaimers about this summary being mine and errors or misreprentations are accordingly likely.   Pat Evans started with intro to Friends of Downtown history/mission other candidates present - Annetta Streater, meother TC members seen - Penny Rich, Ed Harrison, Gene PeaseGregg Gerdau asking questions - order of intros: Laney Dale/Carl Schuler/Lee Storrow - because they've never run before.  Jason Baker/Jon DeHart/Augustus Cho.  Then incumbents - Donna Bell/Matt C/Jim WardLaney -Bio: moved here 4 years ago from LA to maintan quality of life.  Entrepenaur.  Father of 3 kids.  Wants to give back.  Say so in how community evolves over next 50 years.  Make better.  Been on Park and Rec commission.  Met with Partnership.  Parking ok for him (motorcycle). His company is donating a mobile app for parking downtown.Question -- should parking rates/times be consistent across downtown?   No.  Free enterprise should rule.  Town parking should be same, but premium is probably ok.   Carl - Bio: been in area for 20 years.  11 in CH.  Vineyard Sq HOA board (next to Homestead Park).  UNC employee.  School of Med Nursing.  greater interest in town affairs.  Speaking at TC meetings.  Downtown sacrosanct.  Very nice -- conduit for univ, retail/entertainment.  parking a concern.  downtown is unique.Q - panhandling: ongoing issue.  rules in place, not always followed.  makes people uncomfortable.  Needs to be addressed.  program in place to centralize cash.  He offers food instead of cash.   Lee - Bio: managing dir of alliance for health.  been vol in community.  init comm on comp plan.  not pitching bio.  vision -- downtown is a part of community.  Amazing.  Restaurants/cultural events/stores.  needs improvements.  1500 residents door-to-door.  themes - residents tired of empty storefronts.  parking not avail.  Need to streamline econ dev process.  parking multi-faceted.  cheapest way to get downtown is bus.  residents say "not close enough to my house".  partnership advertising well.  partnerships with business/churches.  option for residents instead of southpoint.Q - planters not maintained by town.  Who should?  yes, he's surprised.  beautification is in best interest of community.  need strong partnerships - incentives for business/town.  dual responsibility.followup from Will -- parking task force rec partnership.  How?  business concern about liability.  community need to address that. Jason - Bio: moved here in 2002 as undergrad.  involved in town politics. ran before.  town boards.  marketing at Weaver St.  see town from new perspective - working on econ dev in downtown business.  still loves neighborhood protection/environment.  just finished Hillsborough downtown commission chair, confronting same issues. can bring melding of issues.  Q - towing.  towing itself needs to be well regulated (citizens find cars far away, cash only, uncomfortable process).  free parking needed.followup - should parking be a money making operation for the town?  revenues important.  help us fund other initiatives (really?).  price correctly so that people not staying in same spot.  college issue. needs balance. Augustus -Bio: want to create jobs.  encourage investment by business.  lower taxes by increasing commercial/sales tax.  decisions to benefit entire community.   won't be in VOE.  privelege to run for office, not to be burden on citizens.  freedom of expression - support candidates of your choice.  chair transport board.  good neighbor plan committee.  parking task force.  Q - Sugerland expansion ability.  Sad.  parking not a simple issue.  geographical limitations.  issue with parking for cake pickup -- stop and go location needed.  TC should be working to remove roadblocks Jon - Bio: husband/father. moved to CH 7 years ago for quality of life/schools.  NC native - Dad is methodist minister around state.  Eagle scout - be prepared.  financing industry - making loans to people to own house.  Jaycees.  Service whole life.  Town prev transport board.  citizens police academy - difficult for them in college town.  not professional politician.  good listener.  volunteer with home trust, habitat.  YMCA.  issues on affordable housing.  sustainable econ and environment.  open government.  Q - downtown events?  (informal) lunch after church at Suttons.  Promote. bus not always convenient.  Mark K done great job making more parking available.followup by Will - (on Festifall).  No community events downtown like Carrboro.  Need to have more.  Jon has enjoyed some in Carrboro, wants to have opp in CH.  Thanks to Will for sign cleanup after election.  Donna - Bio: lives downtown. moved back in 09.  walks to things she loves about CH.  Grocery/movies/cleaners.  feels safe.  especially important with kid.  social worker professionally.  cares about community - health, balance, fairness, everyone has what they have and need.  limited resources - need to make decisions about how to prioritize.  done well as TC because of this focus.  Talks to lots of people - is this right thing?  people say is good listener.  not made up mind ahead of time, but willing to do research/listen to all.  Q - benches downtown?  yes, should be part of streetscape (including outside of bus stops).  Need ability to stop and rest if walkable.  important to maintainfollow up -- (loaded question in favor of candidate) VOE?  proud to be VOE candidate.  Hopes GA allows to continue.  Meeting with lots of people - UNC rep, large developers.  Comfortable that they cannot corrupt her with contributions.  democracizing election because nobody has additional influence.  also limits what she can spend.  removes one obstacle (money) to campaigning.  she couldn't raise $10k to hold this post.   Matt - Bio: won by 60 votes in 07.  "Novice had been elected" was CHN headline.   no longer a novice.  great progress in 4 years, even in last 2 years.  running b/c wants to see progress - not there yet.  highly competitive world, need to get better.  be honest about strengths/weakness, uncluding downtown.  issues not changed.  parking consultant needs add 800 spaces.  even "bad landload" Joe Riddle has participated.  523 E Franklin cheapest because not in use - free.  panhandling - 3 merchants in last week said gotten worse:  Agressive.  people urinating/defacating on bench.  shoplifting in walgreens.  Should have broader ordinance like Asheville, Wilmington.  TC will consider in fall.  need to do more on panhandling and parking.  will continue to push.Q - important to pass 1/4 cent sales tax?  none of $ is going downtown.  econ dev in other parts of county.  no impact on downtown.  more expensive to shop here, but perhaps not significant.  more offices downtown increases revenue stream as well.  small business like Durham.  followup -- why is courtyard so empty?  bankrupt now new owner.  TC approved SUP.  dispute over parking.  needs to be fixed, but doesn't know current status - financing challenge today. followup - if new offices, where park?  lost opp with approval of 140 West.  mistake because few other options.  churches are opp - town should help facilitate liability issues.  bus - cutting service (Briarcliff) because of budget issues.  how can we generate revenue to restore?   Jim - Bio: relying on forums for campaign. not yard signs.  using record of 12 year service as platform.  serving on TC rewarding.  resident since 75.  works at Bot Garden.  loves it.  downtown - been liason to visitor b.  investing hotel tax to increase town revenue from visitors.  wayfinding signs great.  parking meters work well.  Q - safety?  doesn't know what data shows in last 5 years.  police is excellent.  residential component of Greenbridge/140 helps increase safety "eyes on street".  TC done good job communicating with police.  increase street lighting. followup by Lori P Exec Dir of visitor B.  (another biased for the candidate q) know Jim is dedicated to historic preservation/environmental protection.  you're also committed to econ dev.  how do we balance?  Perry asked Jim to eval buffers in meadowmont based on his knowledge, and opponents in running for TC said "in bed with developers".  shock to him.  environment and business not exclusive.  track record shows strive for balanced outcome.  where do we put density?  not everywhere, but where appropriate will be advocate.  shouldn't be where beautiful grove of trees.  wants to serve all of town.   another round:Laney - will you advocate for 1/4 cent sales tax?  schools not greatest use of money for older schools/tech.  should be used for teachersfollowup (by me) - views SAPFO?  newer schools getting better instruction than older schools.  some kids have higher needs.  smart kids need a helping hand. (didn't answer, doesn't know what SAPFO is) [editorial comment: given SAPFO can limit town's ability to grow, if you're talking about increasing residential housing downtown, you need to know what SAPFO is] Carl - do downtown lighting levels promote safety?  observation is some are better than others.  prefers higher lighting.followup - new lighting in street instead of sidewalks?   Lee - sidewalk redesign?  props to town for crosswalk on W Franklin.  vitally important to feel safe when walking.  current law on panhandling not always enforced.followup - happy to know crosswalk, but not all cars are?  signage important.  educating citizens/students.   Jason - more events to promote downtown?  builds community.  experience from weaver st.  engage business to show uniquenesses. Augustus - should re-do report from 2003 on retail?  downtown not as vibrant as when he was a student here.  that's why he's involved, to create again.  still have parking issues, building businesses.  panhandling not a problem then (?).  useful to use as history followup by Lynn Kane - support working with Carrboro to extend commercial?  yes, like sister cities.  view as one municipal area. Jon - concerned about video use in towing?  supply/demand - if we had more parking, would have less towing.  property owners have right to control use of their property.  relationship important between drivers Donna - how is maintainance?  TC understands vital to downtown and town as whole - sidewalks, safety, etc.  followup from Will - lot 5 parking revenue cover debt or need downtown assessment?  town doing better than projections currently.  CIP money set aside already.  if doesn't meet projections, concern about staff performance that has led to this point. Matt - Panhandling?  TC hasn't addressed enough so far, but hope for this fall.  Wants to be supporter, but not willing to cover up issues that do exist and should address.  Sidewalks - budget challenges create tradeoffs.  prioritize fixing sidewalks (especially downtown) over new.followup by Desiree - sales tax funding loans/recruiting business help downtown?  answer was that doesn't think supports downtown.  Carrboro revolving loan fund facing challenge.  followup - consider selling 523 Franklin and 100 Rosemary to get funds?  yes.  TC made a mistake in museum handling (he would have supported keeping as is).  should sell.   Jim - enough parking?  not an expert, but yes, there are spaces not used.  accessibiity varies.   

Did have to get back to work.  I saw Tim Sookram and Mark Kleinschmidt there, didn't see Kevin Wolff.

stands for "funny - I only wanted the attention anyway "


> [parking] help[s] us fund other initiatives.I think I may have stumbled a bit and accidentally melded a couple of sentences into one. Parking helps support other initiatives, while funding itself. The question was should parking be a revenue maker for the town; the intent of my answer (whether or not it's what I was able to spit out) was that I think setting rates that encourage turnover while not discouraging utilization is key, and that I don't think positive or negative revenue from the parking fund is as important as ensuring the parking we provide meets the needs of our downtown, and that I don't think the reason that we provide parking is merely to bring in revenue. Hopefully I'll stumble over my own words a little less as the campaign season goes on and we all get a little more practice at these forums.

I was in the very back of the room and it was hard to hear every word.  Quite possible that caused the sentence issue on my end and not yours.  I'm a little sensitive on this issue because I hate the way the Lot 5 deal has been presented by the manager as "free" because it is covered by previous parking fund accumulation.  That's still the town's money, even if set aside for new parking (which in Lot 5, it paid again for parking we already previously had while giving away the land, which is another issue). Just like the idea that the library is "free" because we have other debt we're paying down at the same time as we issue debt for the library.  Just because it doesn't cause a tax increase doesn't make it free.  

I think there were several live Tweets as well .

Thanks, James, for blogging the events during the Friends of the Downtown Candidates' Forum.


 Thanks for being there and posting this. I think you did a great job capturing the event. I am a little embarrassed not to know what SAPFO was.But do now! For the record, I am not necessarily in favor of growing residential space downtown. I am in favor of making downtown a better place and increasing commerce downtown for existing and new businesses. We have agreta downtown, I just wonder if we can make it a destination for more than a meal.

To clarify my comment on smarter kids needing mor help, what I meant was that all kids should have an equal opportunity to excel. I believe there are bright kids that are left behind because of socioeconomic and cultural issues that do not place a high value on education. Specifically, we need to invest in our poorer communities youth and help them achieve a higher level of success in life. I have proposed a program to teh parks and rec commission that will take a group of kids from Hargraves Community center and introduce them to entrepreneurship. I have a group of local volunteers that want to help the teach the kids how a start up works. Have them create an idea for monbile business, pitch to local VC firms, and then build, market, and sell their app in the stores. THe money they make can be used to provide resources for the Hargraves center.

My hope is that we can show these kids that they can be successful and that there is more to life. Hopefully, we can encourage these kids to reach for higher education. 

Once again thanks for covering this so well. 

The post titled Thanks Jim was mine posted anonymously in error. I thought I was logged in. ;)


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