Former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton says his extensive research into local real estate and land history is what inspired him to run for Orange County Register of Deeds.
His name will be on the May 6 primary ballot along with two other candidates, Sara Stephens of Durham and Deborah B. Brooks of Hillsborough.
“I saw that there was a race shaping up between Sara Stephens and Deborah Brooks,” he told WCHL recently, “and so I decided that now’s the time to go ahead and pursue one of my goals in life, which is to be the Orange County register of Deeds.”
Chilton says it’s an idea he’s kicked around in his head “for at least five years.”
His research on local history and real estate records led to the creation of The Land Grant Atlas of Old Orange County, a planned four-volume series. Chilton has completed one volume so far.
He said he’d like to make sure that Orange County completes the process of putting all of its old land records up on the Web.
“Right now, they only go back to a certain point,” he said. “But the records go back much further, and I think we ought to go ahead and ‘image’ and index and get all the rest of those records online.”
He went on to say that the county needs to use less proprietary software when presenting those records online, so that users may have easier access to them across multiple platforms.
Over the last year, Chilton has been active in the progressive Moral Monday movement.
He was arrested, along with fellow members of Carrboro’s town government, during a protest at the North Carolina General Assembly last June.
As Register of Deeds, Chilton would have authority to issue marriage licenses. When asked by WCHL if he would defy the state’s current prohibitive stance on gay marriage, he didn’t answer outright.
Instead, Chilton spoke about where he sees the future of marriage equality as it’s being decided in federal courts.
“To my way of thinking, the number one responsibility of all elected officials in North Carolina is to uphold the federal Constitution, above and beyond all other purported laws or constitutions,” Chilton said.
In recent months, federal judges have struck down gay marriage bans in Virginia, Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Utah.
WCHL will profile candidates in all local races in upcoming weeks.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/mark-chilton-register-deeds-job-one-goals-life/
HILLSBOROUGH- Even before the start of the filing period, more than a dozen local candidates have declared their intent to run for office in 2014.
Long-time Orange County Commissioner Alice Gordon announced she won’t be seeking re-election, prompting Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board Vice-Chair Mia Burroughs to seek the seat representing District 1.
Bingham resident Mark Marcoplos says he’ll challenge incumbent Earl McKee for the District 2 seat representing rural Orange County, and Bonnie Hauser will take on Board Chair Barry Jacobs for the at-large seat.
For the first time in three decades, there’s no incumbent running for Orange County Sheriff. Lindy Pendergrass announced he’ll be retiring after more than thirty years as the county’s top lawman. Already several challengers have put their names forward, including Charles Blackwood, Andy Cagle, Larry Faucette and David Caldwell.
The Orange County School board has four seats up for grabs- that race will be determined in the May primary.
At the same time, the Town of Carrboro will hold a special election to fill the board seat Lydia Lavelle left vacant when she was elected mayor last fall. To date, planning board chair Bethany Chaney is the only candidate to come forward, but others are likely to run.
At the state level, newly-seated House District 50 Representative Graig Meyer will stand for office for the first time, and State Senator Valerie Foushee will be running to keep the seat she was appointed to when Ellie Kinnaird stepped down. House District 56 Representative Verla Insko will be seeking her tenth term.
Last but not least, Superior Court Judges Carl Fox and Allen Baddour are up for re-election, as is District Court Judge Joe Buckner and District Attorney Jim Woodall.
The filing period opens at noon on Monday and runs through the end of the month. The primary election is May 6, the general election is November 4.http://chapelboro.com/news/election/local-candidates-gear-2014-election/
RALEIGH - Public Policy Polling Director Tom Jensen says the 2014 senate race will be greatly affected by the President’s approval rating.
“It’s really kind of amazing,” Jensen says. “Barack Obama’s approval has dropped ten points in North Carolina since September; Kay Hagan’s net approvals has dropped ten points in North Carolina since September. We really are seeing that Obama’s fate is basically dictating Hagan’s fate.”
Democrats are losing points when the Affordable Care Act and its website aren’t working the way legislators said it would. Senator Hagan sent a request to the Obama Administration to launch an investigation into the problems behind the ACA, but Jensen says that hasn’t really helped her numbers.
“She’s not somebody who voters have really strong feelings about one way or the other,” Jensen says. “So, where she ends up in our polls sort of goes up and down depending on other things that are going on politically.”
Jensen says the next 11 months will be crucial for Senator Hagan.
“Really, if it’s a good year for Democrats, Hagan should be fine,” Jensen says. “If it’s a bad year for Democrats, she’s in a lot of trouble. If it’s kind of a neutral year, I think we should expect a pretty close race.”
There are five Republicans vying for the opposition to Senator Hagan. Jensen says the numbers have started to settle, and that over the last three months there’s been a big shift in how the race is looking.
“Kay Hagan is up on Thom Tillis by two points, tied with both Heather Grant and Mark Harris, and down by two points to both Greg Brannon and Bill Flynn,” Jensen says.
Public Policy Polling found 43 percent of voters approve of the job Senator Hagan is doing while 49 percent disapprove.
To see the complete results of the polls, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/sen-hagans-fate-may-rest-hands-president/
Raleigh – The failed launch of the Obamacare website is acting like gravity for the approval ratings of democrats in Washington D.C.
***Listen to the Story***
Senator Kay Hagan’s approval ratings are changing, but Public Policy Polling Analyst Jim Williams says they’re not going the direction the Hagan administration would prefer.
“We had found Kay Hagan with a small, but consistent lead throughout most of this year,” Williams says, “We’re finding now that it’s really kind of crept into a statistical tie at this point.”
The poll shows Hagan in a dead heat with her prospective 2014 opponents; coming in no more than three points ahead of state House Speaker Tom Tillis, Heather Grant, and Rev. Mark Harris. And she’s trailing one point behind Greg Brannon.
So what’s the force behind the trend?
“That stems probably from the botched roll out of the Obamacare website,” says Williams.
The website has been a nightmare for the faces of the Democratic Party since healthcare.gov opened its marketplace for federal health insurance on October 1.
“Obama’s approval rating in September was 48 percent approve, 29 percent disapprove,” Williams says, “Now it’s down to 43 percent approve, 53 percent disapprove.”
Williams says North Carolinians have responded negatively to the health care plan they were already skeptical of in the first place.
“Obamacare has never been particularly popular in North Carolina, but now only 38 percent of voters say they approve of it, compared to 48 percent who disapprove,” Williams says.
“Even worse 69 percent of voters say its rollout has been unsuccessful so far.”
The 2014 senate election is still a year away. Williams says there’s a large group of undecided voters who could come to Hagan’s rescue.
“The race is sort of unformed as far as the senate race,” Williams says, “A lot of the folks who either are running or may run are not well-known to the voters yet; so that’s why you’re seeing high numbers of undecided voters.”
Senator Hagan originally supported the Affordable Care Act. But she announced Tuesday that she is asking for an investigation of the failed website launch.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/sen-hagan-approval-slipping-in-wake-of-obamacare-web-launch/
CHAPEL HILL – A new poll shows that voters in six Senate races, including North Carolina, are unhappy about the government shutdown. Republicans trail in five of the six key races that will likely determine which party controls the Senate, according to Public Policy Polling in Raleigh.
Tom Jensen, Director of PPP, explains that Republicans need to win six seats to claim a majority.
“North Carolina was one of the states where we found voters particularly unhappy about the shutdown,” Jensen says. “Only 29 percent of voters in the State supported it, 63 percent opposed.”
The numbers show that voters “strongly opposed” the shutdown in each state polled, even though most voted for Mitt Romney last year. Jensen says this may make it harder for Republicans to win back the Senate in next year’s election.
“In a lot of these races, we are seeing Democrats in better shape than they were before, or at the very least, we are seeing that Republicans are sort of making it hard for themselves to dig out of a hole that they were already in because voters are so unhappy with them about the shutdown,” Jensen says.
In North Carolina, Kay Hagan leads a generic Republican challenger by five percent. Sixty-three percent of voters oppose the government shutdown, compared to 29 percent who support it. Jensen says is a significant margin given that North Carolinians are divided over politics with in the state.
Jensen adds that many North Carolinians will likely have favorable opinions of State delegates who voted to end the partial government shutdown and raise the nation’s debt limit.
Hagan, Senator Richard Burr (Rep.) and Representative David Price (Dem- NC 4th District) were among those who voted to end the shutdown.
PPP also collected data from Georgia, Michigan, Iowa, Louisiana, and Arkansas for this poll.
To see the full results of the poll, click here.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/shutdown-hurting-gop-in-key-senate-battleground-states/
CHAPEL HILL- Years of deferred maintenance are taking a toll on local schools, leaving county and school officials scrambling to figure out how to foot the bill.
“We have to have a different communication with the citizens. We cannot even afford this. We don’t have enough money to do this,” said Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Vice-Chair Jamezetta Bedford, speaking Thursday at a joint meeting of school board members and county commissioners. “The idea that we want new things and we want this new park or whatever, when we can’t afford to maintain what we already have is very worrisome.”
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school budget allocates $20 million in the next decade to repair aging facilities, but a recent evaluation of the district’s oldest schools school revealed that repairing or replacing those facilities could cost as much as $170 million.
Orange County School administrators are still in the process of inspecting that district’s schools. Initial estimates for renovation range between $20 million and $68 million, but school officials say those numbers are likely to rise as many of the county’s oldest schools are in the Orange County system.
Members of the two school boards and county commissioners came together Thursday to discuss a potential bond package to take to voters, possibly as early as November of 2014.
County commissioners are considering a $100 million dollar bond referendum to pay for a new county jail and a fifth middle school for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro system, but that plan doesn’t yet include any projects to repair aging schools.
And with the jail and the middle school estimated to cost about $76 million, that leaves just $24 million to address what school officials say is a $230 million dollar problem.
County leaders hope to break ground on a new jail in the next four years, but Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board Chair Michelle Brownstein said the school systems can’t wait that long.
“My anticipation is that as more details come out about both Orange County schools and Chapel Hill schools, about the level of need at those schools, there’s going to be a greater sense of urgency,” said Brownstein. “There’s going to need to be evidence that we’re coming up with a plan. I don’t think it is reasonable to think that we’re going to be able to wait until 2016 to address our county’s school needs.”
The need for a new jail is also pressing, not only because the county jail is consistently overcrowded, but because the board recently signed a land lease with the state that mandates the county start construction within five years. Board of Commissioners Chair Barry Jacobs said failure to do so would invalidate the lease.
“If we haven’t done what we need to by that time then we’re just out of luck,” said Jacobs.
Nonetheless, County Manager Mike Talbert warned commissioners their options may be limited.
“Right now, outstanding debt is $190 million dollars. You’re looking at proposals that would nearly double that in a fairly short period of time. There are going to be limitations,” said Talbert. “Our debt has to grow in proportion to our budget and to our population. There are very much limits on what we can do.”
Veteran Orange County school board member and former county commissioner Stephen Halkiotis said he’s worked on three bond referendums over the years. He told the assembled leaders not to get too worried this early in the process.
“It always starts this way, so don’t get flabbergasted, don’t get upset,” said Halkiotis. “The first reach is real high. Then you realize you can only get certain fruit from the tree. Then you get real practical.”
Commissioners will discuss the feasibility of a possible bond package at their October 8 work session.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/school-and-county-leaders-consider-100m-bond-referendum/