League of Women Voters and NC Center for Voter Education Chapel Hill Town Council and Mayor Forum


Monday, October 3, 2011 - 7:30pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall Council Chambers
The League of Women Voters and the NC Center for Voter Education inviteyou to participate in a Meet the Candidates Forum at 7:30 on Monday,October 3, in the Council Chambers of the Chapel Hill Town Hall.The Forum will follow the traditional League format of allowing eachcandidate to make an opening and closing statement with questions from amoderator in between.  The forum will cover the Chapel Hill  mayor andtown council races.The forum will be broadcast live over Channel 18 and will bere-broadcast in the following weeks as time allows.  The forum will alsobe videotaped and placed on the web site of NC Voters for CleanElections and the League of Women Voters.


He gives great answers and then has to listen to the joker. 

I edited the video from Channel 18 to just have Sookram's responses -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcYBj5n13-o

Kevin Wolff's responses -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQBHXGwhQr0

James,If that's what you meant, Wolff had a chance to express the concept but fell back on just discussing local taxes. He could have said that if we look holistically at all the tax money collected from us, we could identify multiple opportunities to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful expenditures that would allow our communities to flourish without raising taxes. 

I just meant he's your favorite perennial candidate to pick on.  And now we have video that he actually is around.

The 2nd F in Wolff stands for "Finally (showing up).

Did anyone else watch this forum and think there's just extremely little difference in the answers?  I know there are differences in the candidates -- why have the forums thus far failed to ferret this out? I'm thinking the possible reasons are a) bad questions; b) too little time for depth with 9 people up there; c) desire to be vanilla on the part of politicians.  This isn't a criticism of this forum -- I honestly don't know why I'm not satisfied.They're all for streamlining the development process without jeopardizing environmental standards.  Increasing commercial tax base.  Improved transit. And not raising taxes.  And cheap housing.  I trust a couple of them to actually lead more than the others, so I've decided on 2 of my 4 votes.  But why is nobody saying what (specifically) they would do differently to win my other 2 votes?

James, I agree, As a candidate I have struggled more and more at each meeting to differentiate myself.I almost feel like answering in the opposite just to be different. You may be right about the time limits. I think that on most issues, from a simple Yes No I agree, but in execution of solutions my view differs greatly. Now how do I say that in 30 seconds.To address your comment on views I will say that I am not in favor of jeopardizing the environment for the sake of development. I am in favor of creating real incentives and/or requirements for developers that remove the need for a SUP process. Let's require all developers to have a minimum amount of water reclamation as an example.I am obviously in favor of increasing the commercial tax base, and am working to do that now. I wan to do that through redevelopment of existing properties in a planned manner.  I want to create festifall like events centered in the main part of Franklin on monthly basis. "Friday nights on Franklin" if you will.  I could go on for hours with ideas.As for transit, the busses agree an easy way to say we all agree on improvements. I have tried to focus on what I believe really needs attention - alternative transportation methods such as bicycles. If elected I will champion a real greenway system that connects the various parts of town and encourages bicycles or walking for local commuters, and those of us just going to the store. I will not address taxes because, well there is nothing to say. Who wants to raise taxes. If necessary I would do it.  I think I have very different views on cheap housing. I don't believe we need to build housing that is at a certain price point. I believe in the free market. I do believe we need to look at our section 8 housing plan for the next 10 years and do something to preven the elderly from being taxed out of their homes. You asked what I would do differently to earn your vote and I say that first, I will work hard to be a leader and not a manager. Most of the council and my competition don't understand the difference and are managers not leaders. I will show up everyday and roll up my sleeves and jump in to fix the problems we have,as I have tried to do with my app for downtown. If we have some grass that needs mowing I will do it if I need to! I will bring my 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur to the table and work hand in hand with the business here now and that want to be here to remove the obstacles they face.  I see you all over town, but if you or anyone else would like to grab coffee and discuss this more I am available anytime just email me or call. My info is on my site at www.laneydale.com   I will be holding regular coffee meetings on Fridays at Caribou downtown at 9 am if anyone wants to come out, learn more or just tell me how much I stink!

Your affordable housing answer is a great example -- you are willing there to make a statement that is opposite your opponents and current council.  I don't agree with you on that position, but I'd love to hear other examples from council candidates of where they have a contrary opinion (not just a different focus or emphasis or state the same thing in different words). [I'm going to cross-post this to the OP forum thread as a question for all]

James makes a great point regarding building permit process and environmental regulations. Having experienced the process many years ago while working for a local nonprofit, my opinion is as follows: The current process is is convoluted and unpredictable. It is very good at stopping development or slowing it to a point where permitting takes so long and requires so many revisions as to become prohibitively expensive for all but the very rich. I actually think environmentalists would get a much more consistent outcome if the town were to be honest about its zoning and not make virtually every building project a Special Use Permit. Once you make something a SUP matter, then all the rules that govern zoning and construction are pretty much thrown out the window. Stipulations are subject to late night committee whims and council votes instead of consistent regulations. This is true even for projects that aspire to be as green as possible. These candidates are right: you can hold projects to environmental standards and you can streamline the permitting process, but to do that you need: 1) to clearly define your yardstick (zoning and building codes), 2) elect council members who will govern instead of manage. Now, how do you ask that question in a way that people will actually answer it?

While it's easy for candidates to say that they support certain priorities in abstract, I think you'd see some differentiation if candidates were asked to put our (town's) money where our mouths are.  Much as a I despise the yes/no question format, I think it did help to separate candidates last night in their fiscal priorities.  I'm hoping for some well-crafted budget questions in upcoming forums.  For example, the transit service cuts have been a topic of discussion at multiple forums now.  I'd like to see us asked something to the effect of: "If you had to choose between making further cuts to our transit service or raising taxes in the next fiscal year, which would you choose and why?"  If a candidate claims that s/he would make cuts elsewhere to prevent raising taxes, I'd like to know which town service they would like to diminish and why.  I think there' s a big difference between "I support x" and "I would support x with the town's dollars" and I'd like to see that be teased out more. The other question I'm waiting to get asked of me and my fellow candidates is how our record of service to the community supports the claims we make about our stances on a given issue. Whether that takes the form of a voting record for incumbents, or positions supported as members of advisory boards or community organizations for challengers, I think it would be good for voters to hear. Similarly, for incumbents, what issues have you taken a leading role in on, either through petitions to your fellow council members or through leadership on council subcommittees? For challengers, what issues have you spoken at council meetings on, or otherwise how have you championed the positions you take in your prior work as a community leader? While some of us have tried to incorporate the answers to these questions into various topics at forums, I think being asked directly may help draw out our differences.

I think NC Voter Education will post this video as well, but I went ahead and uploaded last night -- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzPJeMWrQzA


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