(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!