WCHL Chapel Hill Candidate Forum


Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 3:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall Council Chambers

WCHL is hosting a forum for the Chapel HiIl mayoral and town council
candidates, Thursday October 15th, from 7-9 pm, at Town Hall.

The first hour will focus on mayoral candidates, the second will feature the council candidates.

The forum will also air live on WCHL 1360 AM and cable channel 18.

Are there hot issues you want debated? Submit your questions to info@1360wchl.com.


I'm not sure whether I'll be at a radio tonight (and whether my son will want to listen). Will this be recorded and posted for later listening?

In addition to airing live, we will post it on the web site, and it will be rebroadcast over the weekend on Cable channel 18 (not sure of the times though).  

with that e-mail address provided earlier... I'll try to tune in to see if I hear the answers!

on this radio/tv forum.  And in the process he called for Cho to drop out too, and if I'm not mistaken he had already called for Matt to drop out in a paper with an ad.

Just got this via email to the Citizen:

Kevin Wolff to end his 2009 campaign for Mayor of Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC – Kevin Wolff announced tonight at the WCHL Forum, held in the Town Council chambers, that he is ending his campaign for mayor of Chapel Hill. Kevin believes the town will best be served by stepping aside in order to ensure a clear victory for one of the other candidates.  Kevin would like to thank all the supporters of his campaign.


Finally - some common sense.

During forum last evening, Mr. Czajowski used the term "theories" on several occassions during questions on development issues.  The intent was clearly to critize the lens through which previous development proposals had been viewed.To my view what Mr. Czajowski is critizing is the efforts of previous Mayors and Council members to study best practices in in planning and development from around the country and around the world and determine how best to implement those practices.  As I have expressed in previous posts, I believe that that this general philosophy of planning and governing is a key foundation of this wonderful town in which we live and raise our families.Some on this site have characterized  a vote for Mark K as a vote for the status quo.  I believe the characterization to be incorrect.  I think that  vote for Mark is a vote to have Chapel Hill continue on it's journey, to continue to renew itself, to continue to lead.When I listen to Mr. Czajowski discuss his vision for the future of out town.  I get the sense that were prefer that the town stop it's efforts to be a leader in community development.  It's not a vision I share.

I've been through the development approval process in CH many times and it cleary needs to be improved. Currently it's an unpredictable process that lacks transparency.  This "journey" has run its course. It's time to start a new journey with new players.

I do support Matt, but I've got to say that this is a very strong statement for Mark (who I like and have voted for in the past). It's reasoned and policy focused. You got my attention.

I appreciate the response.  I think this issue is one that helps define the campaign and is consistent with the way that the candidates are trying to distinguish themselves from each other.Any chance I can convince you to vote for Mark again?

if he runs for public office, just not this time. 

In the 15 years that I have lived here, I have seen the "Great divide" on the Council and heard the criticism of mayors and council members. As there have only been three mayors in 15 years, just who are you referencing? You are for Mark and opposed to Matt, I get that, but once again your generalized criticism misses the mark if you seriously think he is not committed to sound planning and development.  If you also believe that there is only one route that we can take, or just one "action theory" to achieve our dreams as a community, then I will disagree.  We need people who can think independently and vote without concerns about what their coalition does.  Study Council voted for the last eight years to see what I mean.

Jeff, when you ran for school board, I supported you whole heartedly for the same reason I am supporting Matt for mayor. Both of you were critical of sitting bodies who make decisions in the absence of any data. In other words, you both oppose making decisions based on ideology alone. The theories I've heard Matt question are those based on development. The theory guiding Chapel Hill's planning decisions are based on a theory of high-density, controlled growth inside the urban boundary to protect the environment. We have examples of how that theory has been implemented in Meadowmont, Southern Village, and the as yet unfinished Hwy 54 and Greenbridge. Two other theories have also been applied to acknowledge that in addition to protecting the environment we also need to protect neighborhoods (NCDs) and we need to increase our commercial tax base (mixed-use development).  Are these theories working to achieve their desired outcomes? There's a NCD for Northside, but has it protected Northside? The evidence of it working would be long-term owners staying in their homes. Is that happening? My perception is that the NCDs for the wealthy, predominantly white neighborhoods of Greenwood, etc. are achieving the intended purposes. But I see evidence that it's backfired on Northside, probably because, in that instance, the two theories of neighborhood protection and high density urban development are in conflict.Then let's look at mixed use development. Has it successfully shifted any of the tax burden from residential to commercial? I think not, but if you can show me otherwise, I'm more than willing to listen.These are the kinds of analysis I want policy makers to be using before they perpetuate the implementation of theories. That's why I am supporting Matt. He's the only one I hear asking the questions. 

Terri,First, I recall with fondness your support during my school board campaign of 2005.  It seems, therefore, odd to be on opposite sides this time.It comes to this for me. Whatever the merits of Matt's approach, I don't think he and I share the same goals.  Whatever the shortfalls of the past projects, the shortfalls were made in an attempt to achieve goals I believe in.  What I want in mayor is to learn from any mistakes we have made, and make necessary course adjustments, but keep moving towards the same goals.  That's the type of leadership I believe we will get from Mark.I've outlined my issues with Matt before, so I won't repeat them here.  I admire your dedication to causes in town, water conservation and others.  On this one I suggest that we agree to disagree.With that finished, can someone please comment on my MaryAnne Gucciardi blog to put it get it on the first page?  She's fabulous.

I thought it was interesting as well that Mark mentioned unintended consequences in his answer to the "what have you learned from recent developments" questoin on Thurs night.  That's the thing that our current council's frequent groupthink leads to a lot of.  Unintended consequences because they are so busy trying to shut out other ideas and approaches (primarily by attacking the messenger) that they can't stand being critical of their own ideas for potential downsides.  It certainly isn't liberal open-mindedness!   

What the affordable decision was with these developments is worth considering.  Mark says he does not want vertical gated communities. Does the Council understand what potential buyers of these units think? Do they get that everyone is not interested in the type of units or in the social system that will be created?When the units don't sell the developer gets to sell them at market price.  What will the Town have to show for their decision?  There were other options but Mark and others were adamant.

I'm all for agreeing to disagree, but you've raised a number of issues that you interpret as evidence that the theories/policies of the sitting council (including Mark K) have enacted are doing a good job. According to what you've written, their policies have increased the diversity of town (not true), their tax rates are roughly equivalent to the rest of the state (not true), and their growth policies are bringing new business to town (not true). When provided with evidence to the contrary, you bow out and want to agree to disagree. To me, that means that you prefer to vote ideologically rather than on real evidence. If that's your choice, fine. But as long as you continue to claim that there is evidence to support your ideological choices, I will continue to challenge. And as long as you continue to try and use Matt's willingness to question the status quo as evidence of his "conservativeness", I will continue to challenge.Other than those circumstances, I am happy to agree to disagree.

Actually, Terri, you are the one who has been repeatedly shown empirical evidence of increased racial diversity in Chapel Hill (and -still- refuse to accept it).

Diversity refers to more than simply race, Mark. As mayor, I would hope that you understood that diversity references sexual orientation, financial status, philosophies, and a whole host of other criteria.

which is why I said racial diversity.

Sorry to hear you will not accept the proffered olive branch.  I have provided the data to back up my statements.   You seem to be saying with the series of "not trues" listed above that my data was not valid.  I frankly have not been persuaded by your refutations of my orignal points. There is no evidence that the town tax rate are impacting the demograhics in any direciton (even if they were changing an analysis of many factors would need to be evaluated rather than assumption that property taxes were the root cause), the property tax rate paid by Chapel Hill residents is similar to other cities in the state. This makes it challenging to construct a response.  So I will close by saying, that I am pleased to live in a place with neighbors like you who truely care about the town and it's future and accept that we will not always agree.

Jeff, the issue is not comparative tax policy in relationship to other places.  The issue for me and what Matt was talking about is the individuals on fixed incomes who can no longer keep pace to the increases in CH.  This is why a significant number of senior citizens will have to decide if they can afford to stay.  Maqny of them are minorities who have lived here many years.I don't see why this is new info for people.

What has Matt done to show he is committed to sound planning and development?Cam

Asking to consider what some others don't want to bother with matters to me. Trying to clarify the vision is also important. From his site:"For the last eight years, the Town Council has pursued a growth policy that has been driven by a commitment to “mixed use” projects including high-end condominiums, office space and a small amount of retail. The notion is that people “live, work and play” within each “mixed use” project. We now have two major “mixed use” projects that have been in place for over a decade – Southern Village and Meadowmont – and the theory hasn’t worked the way it was anticipated. Few residents of these developments actually work in them, and the retail areas are generally perceived to be struggling. Despite this, the Council has continued to approve – indeed encourage – more of the same. During my time on the Town Council, I have tried over and over again to simply get the question of whether “mixed use” as we have defined it is working or not – with virtually no success. This is a perfect example of the insularity of the Town Council – and its unwillingness to even examine the evidence from existing developments."

I thought it was telling that Mark's answer to a similar question last night was to say that UMall should be mixed use.  Huh?  I understand it is a decent space for redeveloped density, but why would you kill one of the few large retail spaces in town with the boutiques you get in mixed use? I wouldn't go so far to say as my family is typical of anything, but for reference, looking at my credit card ledger, here are the places we primarily shop:1) Trader Joe's2) Target3) BJs4) Lowe's (hardware, not food)5) Staples (I fear we won't be caught up on school supplies until May)6) online -- for clothes, books, electronics because it is just easier. 

I haven't had a chance to listen to the WCHL forum yet, so I don't know the context of Mark's comment.  But I don't think redeveloping UMall as a mixed use facility implies that it would cease to be a large retail space: we have no idea what that space might eventually become.  Nor do I think that mixed use implies mere boutiques.  When I look at my credit card ledger, I see Fitch Lumber & Hardware, Weaver Street Market, Twig, Nice Price Books, the PTA Thift Shop, etc. - all of which would fit nicely in a mixed use development. I'm not claiming to be a typical shopper either, but I think locally-scaled retail can work just fine. If anything, judging by the fact that live in Chapel Hill and seem to do most of my shopping in Carrboro, it's an area where we still have plenty of room to work on.

In case you thought Kevin Wolff couldn't get any stranger: I just walked by the Planetarium and saw bags of literature attached to Kevin Wolff's sign.  The piece, which appears to be brand new, was a check list comparing his 'positions' to those of Mark K. and Matt C.Some of it was stuff we're used to- 'Opposed using taxpayer money to fund political campaigns' for instance.But some was quite different.  One of the bullet points was 'Has Children,' which apparently is an issue he finds Mark to be deficient on.  The one that really takes the cake though is 'Gay Rights Activist,' which is checked just for Mark and not for Matt or Kevin.  So not only does Wolff appear to still be covertly running, but he is implicitly trying to attack Mark for his sexuality.Unreal.

This can only help Mark1) still siphoning off votes2) backlash

The situation is the same at the Carrboro early voting site.

This is the last thing I would have expected to see in this race. 

I first met Kevin Wolff 4 years ago when I was working a voting precinct for Ed Harrison and Mr. Wolff was there handing out literature as well.  Over several hours (some of it quite slow) we chatted a bit.  He seemed like a nice enough fellow although his positions were such that I could never see myself voting for him.  We met briefly on several occasions in the last 4 years and exchanged pleasantries and he always seemed a reasonable fellow.  We even chatted a bit after the first candidates' forum when I told him and his campaign manager why I thought his positions and ideas on Chapel Hill Transit were wrong.  Again, he seemed pleasant enough.  His actions of late however seem to be be based on a lack of tolerance that has rarely (in my experience) been so blatant in a public election in Chapel Hill although there have certainly been examples elsewhere in the US.  We can only hope that this represents the last of his failed efforts as a candidate for public office.


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