APRIL FOOLS: Ellie Kinnaird Write-In Candidate For OC Sheriff?

There is no known campaign to place Ellie Kinnaird on the November ballot as a write-in candidate. Did this year’s April Fools story get you? Do you remember last year’s story? A special thank you to Commissioner Mark Dorosin for playing along and to Ellie Kinnaird for being such a good sport in our annual prank.

Ellie called the WCHL newsroom Tuesday morning after hearing the story and said, "you left one thing out: I'd look good in the uniforms!"

Ellie called the WCHL newsroom Tuesday morning after hearing the story and said, “you left one thing out: I’d look good in the uniforms!”

CARRBORO – Six men are vying to be Orange County’s next sheriff, and with no Republican challenger, most assume the contest will be decided in the Democratic primary next month. But a grassroots campaign to get a write-in candidate on the ballot in November is drawing attention county-wide.

“I think Ellie would make a great sheriff. I think she would bring to Orange County law enforcement the same kind of tough but fair-minded attitude she brought to both Carrboro and the General Assembly,” said Commissioner Mark Dorosin, responding to word that some are trying to draft former Carrboro Mayor and North Carolina Senator Ellie Kinnaird for the job as the county’s top law enforcement officer.

Dorosin says Kinnaird would likely bring significant changes to the department.

“The quality of the food served in the jail would improve, everything would be organic from the Carrboro Farmers Market, as well as I think you’d see the sheriff’s vehicles all switched to bio-diesel and the prison buses run on natural gas.”

After eight and a half terms in the General Assembly, Kinnaird stepped down from the state senate last year to pursue voter-outreach efforts, but supporters say they want to see Kinnaird take a more hands-on approach to bringing justice to Orange County. They’re mounting a campaign to collect enough signatures from registered voters to get Kinnaird’s name on the November ballot as a write-in candidate.

It’s not clear that Kinnaird herself has endorsed the campaign; she could not be reached for comment on this story.

Kinnaird has no law enforcement experience, but she holds a law degree and has served on the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety. During her time in the General Assembly, she gained a reputation as a tough negotiator, an attitude Dorosin says would serve her well as sheriff.

“You’d see a strong reduction in crime with Ellie as sheriff. She will take no nonsense.”


Candidate Profile: Rod Chaney for NC House 50

Pastor Rod Chaney of Sunrise Church in Chapel Hill is making his second run as a Republican challenger the District 50 seat in the N.C. House.

“The state has come a long way in just the past couple of years,” says Chaney. “I think we’ve moved up quite a bit in the area of business and economic prosperity. And I hear voices out there saying that they want to turn around and go back.”

The dissenting voices he’s referring to are familiar to anyone who’s been keeping up with local news over the past year.

“There’s a group that, on Mondays, seems to go down to Raleigh and give their view,” he says. “And I just don’t think they represent the majority of voters in NC 50.”

Regardless of Moral Monday protests, Chaney says he’s feels the residents of the northern end of Orange County and parts of Durham, and their views, have not been adequately represented for a long time.

He says he’s out to change that.

Back in 2012, Chaney beat current Republican opponent Lewis Hannah in the primary, but lost against Democrat Valerie Foushee.

He says the race against Foushee actually gave him confidence to run again.

“We won half the precincts,” he says. “I spent about $85,000. My opponent spent over $105,000.”

When he ran in 2012, Chaney highlighted his support for charter schools. It’s something he still strongly believes in.

“We can do better in education,” he says. “We can move education to more of a free-market basis.”

He says he supports tax reforms from the NC General Assembly that, he says, made the “business environment more friendly” in a state that needs to consider the business climates in South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.

“We are competing to attract businesses from those areas,” he says. “And I think they’ve moved us much closer to be competitive.”

Chaney says he opposes a planned light rail system between Orange and Durham because he doesn’t believe the population density exists to make it financially viable.

And, he adds:

“I think that any time you begin collecting money for a project like that, and leave it available for politicians, they will end up misusing it.”

This time, the Democrat in the race is Rep. Graig Meyer, who was appointed to the District 50 seat when Foushee was chosen for the District 23 Senate seat when Ellie Kinnaird retired.

But first, there’s the May 6 primary. Chaney says the main difference between himself and Republican opponent Lewis Hannah is that Hannah doesn’t really touch social issues.

Chaney, on the other hand, is not shy about offering his views. Here he is talking about the issue of same-sex marriage:

“Well, I believe that marriage is between one man and one woman,” he says, “and when you begun redefining that, you kind of open it up to whatever anybody wants to say it is.”

(In the coming weeks, WCHL and chapelboro.com will reach out to candidates in all local races.)

The post Candidate Profile: Rod Chaney
for NC House 50
appeared first on Chapelboro.com.


Planning Board Chair To Seek Carrboro BoA Seat

CARRBORO –  A member of Carrboro’s planning board is the first to throw her name into the hat for the special election to fill Mayor Lydia Lavelle’s former seat on the Board of Aldermen.

Planning Board Chair, Bethany Chaney says she wants to focus on the affordability of the town if she’s elected.

“If we can’t attract and retain people that can live here, can also afford to buy the products and services that we offer here in Carrboro, and that can work here, too, we lose out,” Chaney says.

Chaney grew up in Chapel Hill and has lived in Carrboro since 2004. She graduated from Chapel HillHigh School and got her BA in interdisciplinary studies from UNC. She later went to Northeastern University where she received a general studies MBA.

Chaney was elected to the planning board in 2011. She’s in the final year of her first term and has served one and half one-year terms as chair. She says here time served has familiarized her with the procedures of advisory boards and local government.

“We don’t want to micromanage at the board level,” Chaney says. “But, we also want to help facilitate people doing their jobs well, doing it in the spirit of our vision, and to the letter of our ordinance.”

She says she’s noticed how important community involvement is when decisions are made.

Chaney also has nearly 20 years experience in the non-profit sector where she says she can bring knowledge of where there are underutilized areas into which the town can tap.

“For example, there are economic development and community development or affordable housing resources out there that are really better utilized for and targeted towards nonprofits or to private developers to use,” Chaney says. “If we have a better sense of where those resources are and the timing of those resources, we can plan in advance to encourage nonprofits and for-profit developers to go after those resources and put them to use here in town.”

The special election for the vacant seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen will be held May 6 during the North Carolina Primary. The filing period is February 10-28.


Sen. Hagan’s Fate May Rest In The Hands Of The President

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.


Sen. Hagan Approval Slipping in Wake of Obamacare Web Launch

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.


Election 2013: Post-Mortem Thoughts

(Just got back from a busy day at the station: a fire on campus, a bus accident, and Bryn Renner’s injured shoulder, plus it was Election Day on top of it all. I fear this Blog-A-Day post will be light on the content. Oh well. If this doesn’t satisfy, there’s always tomorrow. Or later today, as the case may be.)

Election Night is over. Is there anything left to say?

Nothing we didn’t expect. (I think most people expected a closer battle for fourth place in the Town Council race, but even that was only a matter of degree.) All told, it was a pretty clear victory for the status quo in Orange County: every incumbent won easily and turnout was low. Often we take low turnout to mean that voters are dissatisfied, but in this case the apathy seems to indicate that Orange voters are basically fine with things as they are.

But there is that tenor of discontent in Chapel Hill–especially in the areas of Central West and Southern Village/Obey Creek, where the biggest development debates are either on deck or already underway. Those are the precincts where Amy Ryan beat Maria Palmer–Palmer won everywhere else–and Central West is also where a greater percentage of voters wrote in a name for mayor (presumably Tom Henkel) rather than vote for Mark Kleinschmidt.

So neither of those discussions will be going away anytime soon, and we already knew that too. The ‘vocal minority’ speaking out against Central West is a minority of the town as a whole, but a pretty sizable percentage (a majority? not sure) of residents living in that immediate area. Same goes for Obey Creek: most Chapel Hillians will probably be fine with whatever happens there, but residents in (and around) Southern Village will be more on their guard.

So that interesting philosophical question is going to keep coming up: how much do we weigh the interests and opinions of those who are likely to be most heavily affected by a given policy? And for that matter–following that vein–how do we weigh the interests/opinions of those who are affected by a policy but don’t have a say in the electoral process? Carrboronians too will be impacted by what happens at Obey Creek and Central West, no less than Chapel Hillians, but they don’t get to vote for the people who make those decisions. (Likewise, Orange County residents didn’t have much of a say in Chatham’s decision to site a Walmart along 15/501.) Do elected officials have a responsibility to think about those folks too–or are they only to concern themselves with the interests of those inside their own borders?

Those are interesting questions, but it’s too late for me to even think about how to answer them. For now, just congratulations to all the winning candidates, incumbents and newcomers alike.

Now. How ’bout that UNC basketball team!


Mayor Kleinschmidt Wins Third Term

CHAPEL HILL – Mark Kleinschmidt received 89.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, easily winning his third term as Chapel Hill’s mayor.

Kleinschmidt thanked the community for the turnout during the elections.

“First of all I want to say how grateful I am for the support that the community showed, and I’m very grateful for being re-elected,” Kleinschmidt said. “I always said that there are about 20 percent of people who vote in Chapel Hill who will never vote for me ever, and well, I beat that.”

Along with incumbents Sally Greene and Ed Harrison, two newcomers will be joining the council. Maria Palmer and George Cianciolo beat out Loren Hintz and Amy Ryan. Kleinschmidt said he was pleased by the outcome.

“I’m really surprised, although I think that the ultimate results reflect the strong campaigns, particularly of the top six vote getters, all the way down from the four winners through Amy and Loren,” said Kleinschmidt. “I think we had some great campaigns that really engaged the community. I’m really looking forward to working with this set.”

Although Kleinschmidt was running unopposed, 500 people wrote in another name. Some of those may have been the result of a last minute write-in campaign from people upset with how the Central West development has been handled. Kleinschmidt says he’s glad to hear feedback from people about the Central West area.

“Well I’m glad folks are engaged, the only thing that’s kind of disturbed me at all are some of the ways that this process has been described inaccurately,” Kleinschmidt said.

He stressed that the Central West plan is general guidance for future development and it has not been approved by the town council.

For his third term, Kleinschmidt says he is looking forward to working on the plan to redevelop the Ephesus Church-Fordham Boulevard area.

“One of the things I’ve been working on really hard for the last four years is getting work done on the Ephesus Church – Fordham Boulevard district,” said Kleinschmidt. “That’s actually a really exciting project that’s going to give real meat to the words that have been said by almost everyone who’s ever run for council or mayor for the last 15 years, that they want to enhance our commercial tax base.”

Prior to being elected as mayor in 2009, Kleinschmidt served on the council from 2001-2009.


Incumbents (And Lavelle) Win Easily In Carrboro

CARRBORO – Election Day in Carrboro was an anticlimactic affair, as all three incumbents won reelection to the Board of Aldermen.

With five candidates in the race for three seats, the leading vote-getter was Jacqueline Gist, the Board’s longest-serving member. Gist won 1,657 votes, about 28.5 percent of the overall total. Just behind her in second was Randee Haven-O’Donnell, who won a third term on the Board with 1,548 votes. In third was Sammy Slade, who won his second term with 1,505 votes.

First-time candidate Kurt Stolka finished well behind in fourth with 643 votes, more than 800 behind Slade. Al Vickers took fifth with 406 votes.

Complete results here.

It was a victory for the status quo in Carrboro—and Jacqueline Gist says that’s a sign residents are happy with the direction the town is taking.

“I’d been worried about low voter turnout,” she says, “(but) then somebody said to me, ‘well, you know that means people aren’t mad about anything’…

“People seem to like the direction the town’s heading in.”

Also in Carrboro, Alderman Lydia Lavelle easily won election as mayor with more than 96 percent of the vote—no surprise, as she was running unopposed. She’ll replace Mark Chilton, who’s stepping down as mayor after four terms.

But election season isn’t quite over in Carrboro: Lavelle’s victory means there will be an open spot on the Board of Aldermen when she takes her seat as mayor in December. Board members will need to decide whether to fill that seat by appointment or by special election; if the town holds a special election, it will likely take place at the same time as the general statewide primary on May 6.

Kurt Stolka suggested he may throw his hat in the ring for that seat, but hasn’t announced definitively yet.


It’s Election Day – Start Fighting Already!

With Election Day upon us here in Orange County, I think I speak for all of us when I say to each of this year’s candidates:

Good Lord, people! Why you got to be so nice?

I mean, seriously, guys. You are making my job impossible. As a journalist, I belong to a large and long-established coterie of highly-trained professionals who spend each and every waking moment tirelessly documenting every gaffe, every verbal slapfight, every well-rehearsed zinger that passes a politician’s lips. My livelihood depends on my ability to document those moments when candidates and Council members interrupt each other, wag their fingers, raise their voices and refuse to cede the floor. I’m racked with despair if I can’t rush on the air with allegations of scandal or vague hints of borderline misconduct bolstered by a ten-second sound bite of shocked chagrin from the leader of the opposition.

I need red meat, you guys. And it’s your job to give it to me.

But instead, what do I get?

I get people who like each other.


Twenty-four candidates in this race, twenty-four, and not a single cutthroat in the lot. I’m seeing Facebook pictures of George Cianciolo and Loren Hintz, candidates who ought to be out digging through each other’s garbage, instead standing together, in public no less, laughing about some shared joke and calmly discussing serious issues as if they were the best friends in the world. Bah! I’m hearing Andrew Davidson, asked why he’s the best school board candidate in the race, responding “I don’t think I am the best candidate. I think Michelle Brownstein is the best candidate.” What?! HUMBUG!


Have you people learned nothing from Washington? From Raleigh?

That’s how politics is done, folks.

God, it’s like you’re watching Congress and the NCGA and then deliberately doing the opposite.

And I for one have had it.

So here’s my challenge to you. We’ve got one day left to salvage this. One day left to have a real, hard-fought, knock-down, drag-out, yelling-screaming, accusation-hurling, life-ruining, campaign-finance-law-breaking election. Like our Founding Fathers intended.

Happy nicey-nice time is over.

So. First things first. I want to see you fight. No more of this “oh, I totally agree” or “that’s a very good point” or “I want to piggyback on what Sammy just said, because I think it’s really important.” Twaddle! These people are your enemies. They must be opposed, blocked, and thwarted at every turn. You work with them? You serve on boards with them? You like them? Forget that. You hate them. They are evil. Whatever comes out of their mouths, you disagree with it. And act shocked that they’d even think such a thing. Even if it was your idea in the first place. You don’t hear Mitt Romney or the Heritage Foundation running around going “I want to piggyback on Obamacare,” do you? Ha!

Repeat after me:

“My opponent is completely out of touch with Chapel Hill.”

“Sounds like she wants to turn us into Cary.”

“That’s exactly the kind of thinking that brought all the flooding in the first place.”

“Man, if I were the CEO of Walmart, I’d sure be out campaigning for my opponent!”

Carrboro forum

This would have been a much better forum with at least one angrily overturned chair.

Next. I want attack ads. Enough of this take-the-high-road crap. I don’t want to be able to turn on my TV or open up my Web browser without hearing how some candidate’s going to let the terrorists win.

And zingers. Real good zingers.

“Weaver? More like WAFFLER!”

“When it comes to Chapel Hill, Sally’s a bit too GREENE.”

“Running for Council? Cianci-OH NO!”

Honestly, people, this is not that hard.

So there you have it. We’ve got less than a day to turn this thing around. I’m counting on you. And so are all those good, patriotic Americans out there who won’t vote unless they have a terrible, inane, stupid reason for doing so.

Make it happen, people. You’ve been doing us proud for months now. Enough of that. Take a page from DC. Take a page from Raleigh.

It’s Election Day.

Do us ashamed.


Experts Say Watauga Elections Board Broke No Law

WINSTON-SALEM – Experts in government law say the chairman of the Watauga County Board of Elections broke no state law when he asked that a heated discussion during a board meeting be dropped from the minutes.

The Winston-Salem Journal reports that UNC School of Government Professor Frayda Bluestein said the board can limit the detail in the official minutes as it sees fit.

After board chairman Luke Eggers learned that a first draft of the meeting minutes contained a description of the discussion at the Aug. 12 meeting, he requested that it not be used.

Board member Kathleen Campbell said the parts of the earlier meeting erased from the minutes include her question on how much money would be saved by consolidating precincts, eliminating a polling location at Appalachian State University.