New Challengers Step Up As 2013 Election Filings Close

By Michael Papich Posted July 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm

CHAPEL HILL – Your 2013 candidates for municipal and school board seats have all officially gathered, as the deadline for election filing ended Friday at noon.

Among the new candidates who have filed are Ignacio Tzoumas, a former strategic consultant for North Carolina, Kurt Stolka, vice chair of the Transportation Advisory Board and D.C. Swinton, a two-time state House candidate in South Carolina.

Tzoumas, who is running for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board, says his time consulting with the state gave him insight into how the different sectors of local politics interact.

“I also got a picture of how different the funding is for different agencies throughout North Carolina,” Tzoumas says. “One of my primary experiences is with finance and working with budgets, so I think that I can help.”

Stolka, who is running for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, says his time on the advisory board gave him exposure to the board itself and the way the members interact.

“I’ve been able to get a better understanding of how the process works in terms of development and what kind of recommendations work or not with the current board and what kind of work we need to do with creating partnerships with businesses and communicating better with the community,” Stolka says.

Tzoumas says the biggest challenge the local school system is facing is heavy growth in conjunction with budgetary crunches. He is especially familiar with this phenomenon because he says it happened in his own home of Montgomery County, Maryland.

“We had massive growth. There was an influx of a lot of different demographics and the school system had to adjust and grow with it,” Tzoumas says. “I think that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system is facing the same type of challenges.”

Tzoumas says these budget concerns need to be tackled before any other issues can be addressed and he has some plans for finding funding.

“One of the ideas I have is bringing forth a lot of the community and businesses to pool together the budget discrepancies,” Tzoumas says. “At first it’s difficult to do, but once you set down the model for the operation for people to assist, it actually becomes just part of the community.”

Stolka wants to see Carrboro becomes an easier town for residents to walk, bike and take public transit, but he also has ideas for growing Carrboro’s economic future.

“I think that we could do a better job in partnering with Chapel Hill and UNC to create a better avenue to keep those graduates in our local area and then eventually be able to produce good paying jobs locally,” Stolka says.

Beyond all of the work Stolka and others can do within Carrboro, Stolka believes the biggest challenge the town faces comes from outside cuts to funding by the state government.

“Those are coming really fast,” Stolka says. “It’s hard to see long-term what our challenge would be besides reduced state and federal assistance.”

D.C. Swinton, who is running for Chapel Hill’s town council, says sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention is a major plank of his town board platform. He says he wants to, among other things, increase sexual harassment seminars and work toward better policies for policing sexual assault on UNC’s campus.

“I would like to work with the town and perhaps raise property tax a small percentage to use those funds over the next four years and, matching with private funds, create a domestic violence shelter in southern Orange County,” Swinton says. “The closest one is in Durham and not everyone has access to that.”

Swinton also wants to partner with Public Works to create jobs removing recyclable material from local landfills.

“That way, we can clean it up, recycle it, sell that to businesses because it’s a lot more efficient to do it that way than to create a completely new plastic bottle or glass bottle,” Swinton says.

Overall, Swinton boils down what he sees as the challenges in Chapel Hill’s future to two main issues.

“Making sure that everyone has fair and good housing and everyone has their say in what happens in the future of Chapel Hill and not just the more fortunate,” Swinton says.

Election Day is November 5. For a full list of 2013 municipal and school board candidates, look here.

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