Pin It
2006 county, legislative and judicial races

Chatham County 

2006 county, legislative and judicial races

Click on the candidate's name to jump to the questionnaire response. If a name is not linked, we did not receive a response.

All responses are unedited.

County Races
Commissioner District 4Tom Vanderbeck (Dem)
Karl Ernst (Rep)
Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisors (2 seats) John S. (Johnny) Glosson
Richard Hayes
Blake Lindley Andrew Jr.
School Board District 3Ken Harris
Andrea Repasz-Batsche (withdrew)
Kathie Russell
School Board District 4 (2 seats)Doug Burke
Charles (Chuck) Grubb (withdrew)
Clyde Harris
Deb McManus
Gerald Totten
Legislative Races
NC House 54 (Orange/Chatham)Joe Hackney (Dem)
Alvin Reed (Rep)
Judicial Races
Superior Court
Superior Court 15B (Orange/Chatham)Charles (Chuck) Anderson
Allen Baddour
Carl R. Fox
Adam Stein

County Races

Commissioner District 4

click to enlarge TomVanderbeck.jpg

TOM VANDERBECK
Party: Democratic
Date of Birth: 1/15/51
Campaign Web Site: www.vanderbeck4chatham.org
Current Occupation: Small-scale sustainable farmer
Years Lived in the County: 9

1. If elected, what is your one top priority for Chatham County government? What specific steps would you take to accomplish this goal?

My top priority as a county commissioner will be for the board to implement our existing land use plan, and in so doing to bring an end to the practice of the last three years of automatically accommodating the wishes of large outside real estate and developer interests without considering short and long-term impacts. Our land use plan was agreed to by all the governing bodies in Chatham County in 2001 after eight years of work by residents from all across the county. It has been on the shelf gathering dust.

Full implementation of this plan will require a series of votes by a new majority of the board of commissioners including both the adoption of ordinances, maps and performance standards and the establishment of a number of working groups and citizen advisory boards. It will also require vigilance in scrutinizing each development application.

2. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective county commissioner? Be specific. What public or private boards/commissions have you served on and what have you accomplished?

This is my first campaign for public office. I have always taken a deep interest in community affairs, voting rights, fair and balanced journalism and preserving the environment. I have been a member of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Haw River Assembly, Citizen Alliance for Sustainable Energy and the American Farmland Trust. I have never seen myself as a politician. However, the events of the past three years in Chatham County government have moved me to regularly attend meetings of the county commissioners and the planning board, to educate myself more deeply about policy issues and to speak out on behalf of more thoughtful decision-making. I bring to this office 25 years experience in getting things done, with management experience in the building trades industry, along with a love for this county and basic common sense. I am a team player and consensus-builder and will be able work well with other members of the board. I don't have all the answers to our county's problems, but I will work with other members of the board and with our citizens to provide the wise management our county needs during the coming four years.

3. In general, describe your personal vision for how Chatham should grow in the future. Specifically, what long-range planning strategies should the county implement? Does new residential development pay its own way and attract jobs? As a commissioner, what tools would you use to manage growth and to minimize its impacts on the county’s environment and its citizens? In your answer, please specify what strategies you would propose for the meeting the varying challenges faced by the different geographical regions of the county.

[For the sake of clarity, I have answered some of your sub-questions here separately, and have also responded to them in a somewhat different order.]

In general, describe your personal vision for how Chatham should grow in the future.

My vision for how our county should grow in the future can best be summarized in the opening words of our neglected Land Conservation and Development Plan: "Chatham County will be a place that cooperatively controls its own destiny to assure the state of well-being desired by all of our people, while proudly preserving our diverse cultural heritages and the County's rural character."

Essentially, our residential and commercial growth should be concentrated in our existing municipalities, communities and newly developed economic centers. Such concentration preserves our rural character and protects our natural resources. Low-density conservation development in the rural areas of the county allows for continued growth while preserving our rural character. We also need to promote Chatham's unique natural, cultural, recreational and artistic resources.

Any economic development strategy needs to include:

  • A focus on small businesses and entrepreneurship, which are compatible with our resources,

  • The retention and creation of good-paying jobs,

  • The education and training of our workforce, and

  • A revitalization of our downtowns.

    All will contribute to the well-being of our community.

    Specifically, what long-range planning strategies should the county implement? As a commissioner, what tools would you use to manage growth and to minimize its impacts on the county's environment and its citizens? In your answer, please specify what strategies you would choose for meeting the varying challenges faced by the different geographical regions of the county.

    As I have said repeatedly, we citizens of Chatham County must begin to control our own future by electing a new majority of the board of commissioners, and that new majority must have as its first order of business taking the series of steps required fully to implement the now-neglected land use plan. I favor the many strategies and tools for wise growth already identified in the land use plan, including:

  • Establishing a highway corridor plan before allowing any further major developments along our principal arteries.

  • Working closely and cooperatively with our three incorporated towns.

  • Identifying appropriate areas for specific types of land use, and discouraging strip commercial development.

  • Maintaining protective measures for watersheds and other sensitive resource areas, including appropriate buffers and limits on density and impervious surfaces.

  • Encouraging growth outward from existing population centers along existing transportation corridors so county services can be extended naturally and efficiently, rather than allowing the leap-frog development the current board majority has repeatedly approved.

  • Implementing a management framework for assuring the viability of proposed water and wastewater systems so that development patterns and designs are based on sound science.

  • Designating and marketing economic development areas.

  • Encouraging cross-roads commercial centers in our rural areas.

  • Promoting and developing enterprise sustainability.

  • Protecting and promoting open space, recreation and historic locations.

    I favor careful scrutiny of all proposed development for impacts on our environment, impacts on the livability of our communities, and impacts on the demand for county services. I also favor requiring large developments to mitigate their impacts on our county budget by, for example, building schools and other infrastructure for the county. Finally, I will work to help fund our infrastructure needs by diversifying our tax base through sound economic development and by aggressively pursuing authority from the General Assembly for a 1% land transfer tax to be paid by buyers of real estate in the county.

    It is clear that different areas of our county will face different challenges in the years to come. Eastern Chatham will remain the focus for developers seeking to add more bedrooms to serve the continuing growth of the Triangle. But we are starting to see that this same growth pressure is already beginning to be felt west of Pittsboro along major highways such as US 64. The greatest tasks for county government there are to balance our recent massive residential growth by recruiting good businesses and clean industry, to protect the Haw River and Jordan Lake watershed and to ensure that the cost of providing additional infrastructure and county services does not fall unfairly on our existing taxpayers. We will need to work closely with our municipalities on these issues, and we will need to discourage haphazard, leap-frog development.

    In the west and south, county government should support the efforts of Siler City and Goldston to recruit and grow businesses that can replace the traditional jobs that have been lost to globalization. It is in the interest of the entire county to encourage development in Siler City that takes advantage of existing infrastructure and brings in good jobs. But to do that we need to get serious about enhancing worker training and re-training programs at Central Carolina Community College.

    Outside of our three incorporated towns, much of the western and southern parts of our county retain their rural character and their traditional agricultural economy. I believe it is appropriate to look at how to preserve farmland in ways that permit our farm families to benefit from their investments. Such strategies might include voluntary agricultural district programs and voluntary purchases of development rights. We should also support the traditional practice of clustering of small commercial centers at rural crossroads. In addition, we should encourage our farmers to look at particular crops for which we may have a particular competitive advantage: we are on the edge of large and growing markets for local and organic produce, cut flowers and nursery stock; and our county is an epicenter of the new biofuel industry which will need specially-grown feedstock. Protection of the Rocky River and the Deep River is, of course, another important priority in the west and south.

    Finally, certain rural areas of our county, especially in the south, face severe water-supply problems. Our challenge in these areas is to assist these homeowners compassionately, but to do so carefully, in order to avoid encouraging new high-density growth where it may not be supportable.

    Does new residential development pay its own way and attract jobs?

    No, residential development alone does not pay for all of the services it requires. Numerous studies have established that it costs a county more to provide services to residential properties than those properties generate in taxes. With commercial and industrial properties, the reverse is true: clean industries actually generate more tax dollars than they consume.

    New residential development, in sufficient volume, may well attract ancillary service businesses, but it really doesn't attract high-paying jobs. To attract good jobs with good benefits, we need: to make Chatham a better place to live and work, which includes improving our local schools; to promote our thriving arts and culture community; to provide a much greater variety of recreation facilities and resources; and to work directly with the towns to cooperatively provide for the infrastructure needs of businesses that pay good wages.

    4. Please state your general philosophy on what role citizens should play in government decision making. Recent changes proposed for hearings on conditional use permits seem to indicate an effort by the current board to limit public participation in that process. In general, do you think Chatham residents have enough opportunities to make their voices heard? If so, state some examples. If not, what are your ideas for improving and incorporating citizen input in county government decisions?

    I believe that the business of county government should be conducted in the open and should be open to public input and direct involvement at every possible stage. Many of our citizens have professional expertise and excellent ideas and can be a valuable resource for our county. But, regardless of expertise and regardless of narrow definitions of "legal interest" in a particular matter, the board of county commissioners should welcome, encourage and seriously consider the input of all citizens who wish to participate in the decision-making process.

    I am troubled that on April 3 the board of commissioners adopted Conditional Use Hearings Rules of Procedure which on their face prohibit testimony in evidentiary hearings from persons not demonstrating such a narrow "legal interest." This recent imposition of what many have called a "gag rule" in hearings on conditional use permits is, sadly, only the latest and most concrete example of hostility to public input by the out-going majority of the board of commissioners. For nearly four years the members of this majority have appeared to come into meeting after meeting with their minds already made up, hostile to further discussion and disdainful of citizens who would like to be heard. This has eroded public confidence in the decisions of the board and, I believe, also has led to some very unwise decisions for our county.

    It is important that across the board we make our public meetings and government decision-making more accessible and understandable. In particular, I will propose that the new board seriously consider the development of official citizen advisory councils for each geographic section of the county. This would allow for more direct input to county officials from more citizens. I also plan to promote a more vigorous and regular communications effort on the part of county officials to explain to our citizens public policy options we are facing and to provide citizens with clear rationales for the action we take as a board.

    If elected, I will do everything I can to bring sunlight and fresh air into the decisions of county government, and I am confident that I will be part of a new majority that will invite and welcome public input.

    Personally, I want every one of my decisions as a commissioner to be made only after consideration of every possible viewpoint, because I want to make the best possible decisions for the county, every time. To me, that means welcoming public input at every one of our board meetings. And, it also means being proactive as a board in asking citizens to serve on advisory boards, working groups and commissions to report back to the board; I expect that the first opportunities for the new board to do that will be in implementing our land use plan and in revamping our economic development effort.

    5. Give your assessment of Chatham's Economic Development Commission's work. Is it successful? If so, what specifically do you consider its success? If not, what are your criticisms and suggestions for improvements?

    Actually, under the outgoing current majority of the board, the county's economic development function has been delegated to an Economic Development Corporation (EDC) which has been embarrassingly ineffective. Something like a million dollars in taxpayer money has been funneled to the EDC during the same time that our county has lost about a thousand jobs and gained 10,000 new residents. The nearest the EDC has come to a success is the near-recruitment of a bankrupt California company trying to escape its hazardous-waste woes by fleeing to Chatham. It appears that so far, the expensive new business park the EDC developed in Siler City has yet to attract any business which will generate new tax revenues for the county.

    I will work to reorganize our county's economic development efforts. We need a comprehensive strategic plan that will help us focus on, and attract, quality business and industries offering decent paying jobs. It is important that we employ competent professional staff with a proven economic track record and the ability to work successfully with regional planning organizations. I believe we should target recruitment of clean light industry and research operations while also developing our ecotourism potential, and I believe the county commissioners should take an active role in helping with these efforts.

    6. If you are a challenger, how would you rate the job the incumbents are doing? Be specific in criticisms and compliments. If you are an incumbent, how would you rate the job you and your colleagues are doing? Be specific about accomplishments or challenges.

    I entered the first political race of my life because I believed that the current three-person majority of the board of commissioners -- (now lame-ducks, led in lockstep by the man I defeated in the May primary) was not making wise decisions for the future of our county. Something was, and still is, very wrong when the majority of the board feels free to disregard the county's land use plan and approves unquestioningly every development application that comes before it, effectively rezoning parts of the county all on their own. Something was very wrong when the developer proposing the 2389-home Briar Chapel subdivision felt free, after the election of my former opponent, to take off the table his previous offer to build a school for the county and my opponent did not even object. Something was very wrong when the man I defeated in May, in a meeting considering the Compact Communities Ordinance, turned to a representative of that same developer and asked him how many homes he wanted the ordinance to permit. Something was very wrong this spring when my opponent moved to stifle the expression of public input at board meetings. And, something was, and still is, very wrong when our county government spends some $1 million for economic development yet is unable to turn around the loss of jobs in a county on the edge of the Research Triangle.

    Now, I want to be very clear that my criticism is directed at the three-commissioner voting bloc led by the man I defeated in May. Our other two commissioners, Patrick Barnes and Mike Cross, are in the middle of their terms, and they have fought a lonely fight for wise government. I look forward to serving alongside them and with Carl Thompson and George Lucier, who won their primary races and face no opposition in November.

    7. Please state briefly your personal code of ethics, with regard to its application as an elected official. Recently, one commissioner provided personal financial backing to two members of an appointed board. Across the county, citizens are alleging back-door deal-making on issues that range from voting machines and polling places to the public water system. Do you believe Chatham County's government currently suffers from ethical conflicts? Please explain.

    I was raised to have a strong sense of ethical behavior. I will bring that sense, and a deep sensitivity to ethical issues, into office with me. The position of county commissioner is one of trust, and I will go out of my way to retain that trust every day I am in office. I will avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest. I strongly support the adoption of a code of ethics for county government that: defines potential conflicts of interest; requires avoidance of such conflicts when possible; requires public disclosure of financial holdings and relationships that can pose a conflict or potential conflict of interest and recusal from official action when conflicts are unavoidable; and addresses the duty to avoid situations that may create the appearance of conflicts of interest.

    The public's business should be conducted in public. I believe commissioners should fully explain the reasoning behind their votes, especially when they are controversial.

    The history of the past three-plus years is replete with examples of public officials who have been more inclined to pay attention to the needs and interests of outside developers than to the Chatham taxpayers who are impacted by their developments. This has created enormous distrust of county government by many of our county residents. It didn't help that nearly every penny of Bunkey Morgan's considerable campaign treasury came from contributors outside of Chatham who have a financial stake or interest in Chatham developments, including some who have business pending before the county commissioners. It's time to bring more transparency, more citizen input and more official responsibility and accountability to county government, beginning with our county commissioners.

    8. What is your opinion of the newly drawn commissioner districts and the voting-by-district referendum going to voters this fall?

    It is not mere coincidence that the ousted majority of the board of commissioners has so hurriedly pushed these changes through after their defeat at the polls in May: The redistricting is craftily designed to prevent a fine public servant who has been Bunkey Morgan's strongest opponent on the board, Patrick Barnes, from filing for re-election when his term expires in two years, AND, in conjunction with the proposed redistricting, it is meant to pave the way for Bunkey Morgan to seek re-election in two years rather than four, in a gerrymandered district where he would have an excellent chance of winning.

    Putting these issues aside, however, I strongly deplore the decision of the outgoing board majority to redraw district lines using obsolete data -- they are actually claiming to "equalize" the districts by using census figures which are so out of date that voters in northeast Chatham would actually be grossly under-represented. This results in unfairly reducing the voting power of the populous northeast.

    I also strongly oppose the voting-by-district referendum, for the following reasons:

    First, district representation would strongly disadvantage the citizens of our rural and western areas, because, instead of having the ear of five commissioners as they now do, those citizens would be restricted to having the ear of only one; after all, it is only human nature that elected representatives will be most responsive to their own constituents -- the people with the power to vote them out.

    Second, approval of this referendum would substantially reduce the chances for women and African-Americans to be elected as county commissioners. (Remember that no African-American commissioner was elected after Reconstruction, and no woman was ever elected, until after the adoption of county-wide voting in 1975.

    Third, drastically changing the way we vote will only exacerbate historical divisions within the county -- regional, cultural and ethnic -- at a time when we need to be pulling together.

    Finally, it is a cornerstone of my campaign that that all five of our commissioners must have the entire county's needs in mind - not just those of their individual district -- and the best way to assure this, frankly, is to make all five run for election countywide.

    So, I believe we should keep countywide voting for all five commissioners -- that is, we should continue to allow all voters to vote for each commissioner seat. I also support rigorously enforcing the requirement that candidates actually reside in their district in order to run for election. This is the only way to ensure not only that the unique viewpoints of each of our regions will have expression in board deliberations, but also that board decisions will be based on the common good of our entire county. It is therefore crucial to our county's future that the voting-by-district referendum be defeated.

    9. Identify and explain one principle stand you would be willing to take, if elected, that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with the voters.

    Numerous studies show that residential development requires more in governmental services than it pays in taxes. When there is balanced growth, commercial and industrial taxpayers usually make up this shortfall. In the last four years, carte blanche has been given to large residential development projects. It will be years before our tax base achieves a healthy balance. As a result, Chatham County is going to need to find another way to pay for the additional infrastructure and services that will be required to support all the new residential construction that the current board majority has approved. To raise property tax rates across the board should be a last resort, and that is all the more true in this case since it would amount to having all our taxpayers subsidize the businesses of these large developers. We already have in place an impact fee for new construction, but it is both inadequate to the task and highly regressive, adding an equal amount to the cost of each home, so that mansions and affordable houses pay the same amount.

    This is why I support the adoption of a 1% land transfer tax to provide for these increased infrastructure needs. Seven of our counties have already gotten legislative approval for this kind of tax, and they have found it to be a very powerful tool. A land transfer tax is paid by the buyer of real estate rather than the seller. While imperfect, it is a form of user fee, in that it is imposed upon the party who is going to be consuming county resources. This is fairer than a flat impact fee, where the owner of a mobile home lot pays the same amount as the owner of a mansion.

    In order to adopt such a land transfer tax, Chatham County will need authority from the General Assembly. I will work side-by-side with the other commissioners to obtain this authority for Chatham. There is a powerful lobby of homebuilders and real estate people who oppose this approach; however, such opposition will not deter me from trying to make the best possible decision for the fiscal health of our county. The welfare of the citizens of Chatham County is the most important consideration.


    Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisors (2 seats)

    JOHN S. (JOHNNY) GLOSSON
    Date of Birth: June 15, 1936
    Occupation & Employer: Self-Employed

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    I've been in agriculture all of my life and have served in farm service for 37 years. I have been in dairy, hogs, poultry and cattle and I feel the future of our farmland at this day and age is at stake.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    To conserve what little open land there is left for agriculture.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues?

    This committee has the authority over a lot of governmental dollars to be spent on agriculture in this county and I want to make sure they are spent for preservation, pastures, forests and croplands.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    When there is construction in progress it is important to have buffers in place to maintain soil runoff and erosion. Strips and grassed waterways serve the same purpose in agriculture, preventing runoff, therefore protecting waterways and streams.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources?

    What are the financial resources for these incentives? Land use tax should be kept in place to preserve farmland. This reduced tax base very often is the determining factor in whether a farmer can stay on the land or be forced to sell it.

    6. As Chatham's residential development - and it population - increase, what initiatives can the soil and water board take to counteract the negative effects of disappearing open space and forests?

    We can strive to keep the land use tax in place and look for other tax reduction incentives. We should discourage governmental incentives, such as the Piedmont Land Conservancy, that could lead to too much government control and involvement.


    click to enlarge RichHayes.jpg

    RICHARD HAYES
    Date of Birth: 3/18/58
    Occupation & Employer: NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor?

    I am seeking the Soil and Water District Supervisor position due to my keen interest and concern with local environmental and water quality issues. I believe that my strong technical background in soils along with my past job experience in providing technical assistance to Soil and Water Conservation Districts will be an asset to the District. As a citizen of Chatham County, I feel that the time is right for me to step forward and do what I can to help preserve a high standard of water quality for future generations.

    2. What are the most pressing natural resources issues in the county?

    The most pressing natural resource issues that the Soil and Water Conservation District may deal with are:

    1) Preserving and improving water quality.

    2) Preserving and improving wildlife habitat.

    3) Restoring and protecting wetland and riparian areas.

    4) Preserving farmland and forests.

    3. How do you plan to address these issues? Please be specific.

    There are currently a number of Federal and State programs that the District can use to help provide funding for a variety of conservation projects. With funding for these programs often limited, it is often up to the District Supervisors to set priorities so that the most important projects are funded. As a district supervisor, I will strive to see that the projects that can provide the greatest environmental benefit are given the highest priority. Examples of programs that can be utilized to enhance local conservation efforts include the Conservation Reserve Program, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, the Wetland Reserve Program, and the Agricultural Cost Share Program.

    As a district supervisor, I will strongly back efforts to preserve our farmland. In a time of rapid urbanization, farmland preservation will help to preserve family farms for future generations and maintain the rural charm and cultural heritage of the county. I believe the best way to accomplish this is by the purchasing of development rights. The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program provides up to 50 percent of the fair market easement value to help keep productive farmland in agricultural uses.

    I also would like to see the Conservation District place a greater emphasis on addressing the effects of urbanization on water quality. In the past with most of the county rural, most of the District focus for conservation efforts has been on agricultural land. However, in light of the tremendous changes occurring in county land use urban water quality issues are becoming increasingly important.

    4. Identify examples of how the district can best balance agricultural/rural and urban interests in regards to soil and water conservation.

    Agricultural/rural interests don't necessarily have to conflict with those of urban interests. I believe that there is a lot of common ground where mutual goals can coincide. The overriding goal of keeping our drinking water clean is something everyone can agree on. With Chatham County now extending water lines to many rural areas, keeping our drinking water unpolluted and safe benefits everyone. By bringing both sides together and keeping the focus on what we have in common, I believe that we can accomplish these goals. Regardless of whether money is spent for agricultural best management practices or upgrading urban stormwater controls, everyone benefits when our water stays clean.

    5. How should economic incentives be used to protect the area's natural resources? What are the financial resources for these incentives?

    I strongly support the use of economic incentives to protect Chatham County's natural resources. Economic incentives have been used successfully to promote conservation throughout North Carolina. Many of the conservation programs previously mentioned, especially the NC Agricultural Cost Share Program, provide cost share payments for the installation of best management practices. The purchase of development rights and conservation easements should also be encouraged.

    6. As Chatham's residential development--and its population--increase, what initiatives can the soil and water board take to counteract the negative effects of disappearing open space and forests? Be specific in your ideas and how you would implement them.

    Efforts to preserve farmland and the purchase of development rights are ideal ways to ensure that environmentally sensitive areas are protected and the rural character of the county preserved. While it is beyond the scope of the Conservation District to provide the funding, the District could be active in identifying the areas most in need of protection and to identify outside sources of funding. The Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program and the Clean Water Management Trust Fund are both possible sources of money.


    School Board District 3

    KEN HARRIS
    Date of Birth: 9-19-1970
    Occupation & Employer: Best Supply Inc. Building Material Sales
    Years Lived in Chatham County: All my life

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Chatham County School Board member?

    I want to be a part of the growth management of our school system. I also want to make sure current funds are being spent in an efficient manner in preparation for the coming growth. In addition I want to see the more effective management of funds lessen the burden placed upon our parents for we are supplementing the county schools far too much. I believe the school system has begun to think of the parents, PTAs and athletics boosters as a budgetary crutch.

    2. If elected, what is your one top priority for the Chatham County school system? What specific steps would you take to accomplish this goal?

    My first priority is to make sure all facility and curriculum needs are being met by the county. The first step I want to institute is a total line item budgetary review coupled with a complete audit of facility (new and existing) needs. Any savings found from unnecessary expenditures and/or nonessential line items should be directed to facility needs and curriculum materials.

    3. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective school board member? Be specific. What public or private boards/commissions have you served on and what have you accomplished?

    I have served the last two school years as the PTA President of Moncure Elementary. Under my leadership, with much help from a dedicated group of parents we have pushed and fought for minimal facility improvements such as bleacher repair, door security upgrades, hot water a bathroom etc.. We have dramatically increased fundraising (Moncure was fourth in the county receiving $29000.00 from the PTA Thriftshop prior to last school year) while reducing the number of sales parents and children participate in. I was also part of the group that organized Moncure's Athletics Boosters Club in April '05. I acted as their Fundraising Coordinator organizing initial fundraising efforts and, along with current PTA officers creating a working partnership with the school's PTA that was mutually beneficial. For example, the PTA sponsored a spaghetti supper prior to our annual musical performance. The athletes acted as servers, bus persons and cleanup for a portion of the proceeds.

    I was also the first Chairman of the Southeast Chatham Citizens Advisory Council and part of the group that organized the committee. I served as Chair for the firs two years of the Council's existence. In addition I am President of my church's men's group where we annually raise and distribute funds to underprivileged children in Moncure, Deep River and Goldston. We work closely with the Guidance Counselors at the local elementary schools at Christmas to insure the funds are given to those truly in need. This Christmas we will surpass $10000.00 given to local children.

    4. A Wake County school district last June banned several books including a slang dictionary. What is your position on banning books in school districts? If you think it is ever appropriate, under what circumstances should a district ban a book?

    I do not support banning books in school districts. I would note that those purchasing books should be diligent in that they should be wary of books that push limits on profanity, adult topics and sexuality. Books purchased should be age appropriate and educational. I think there is a difference in simply not buying a book for its lack of educational value and banning a book due to conflicting ideology.

    5. Eight of 14 Chatham County schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Specifically, what can the school board do to help the schools that didn't make their AYP? Secondly, what is your opinion on NCLB's emphasis on standardized testing? Is NCLB a fair and effective program?

    First off I am not a proponent of standardized end of year testing. It puts too much emphasis on one test and it deters well rounded curriculum. I believe there is no way around teaching to the test and quality of education is lost in an idea with good intentions but long term negative consequences. However, since we have to participate it is necessary for the schools and School Board to do everything we can to effect the results we need. We need to audit the program as it stands in Chatham County. We have to analyze each school that met or exceeded goals to find out what they did and how they did it in relation to he school's demographics. As best we can we need to transfer those successes to schools that did not make goals. If we need to make adjustments say in a school with a large Latino population we should do all we can to facilitate that even if it means seeking outside assistance such as tutorials via a liason of some sort.

    6. In paying for new schools and other county needs, what role would you like to see assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    b. Impact fees?

    c. Year-round schools?

    I do not believe year round schools are necessary in Chatham at this time nor will be a subject for several years.

    d. More charter schools?

    I am a firm supporter of school choice.

    e. Sales tax?

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    I will make a general statement regarding the questions above. I am not one you will find support in raising taxes. I am a supporter of more efficient government and fund management. I do not mind the idea of a bond but I do mind the idea of a bond AND a tax increase. I do not believe a Board should spend a million dollars (or three) on laptops when there are far more pressing needs in our schools. I do not have a problem with impact fees as they are now. I do not however want to see them rise to a rate of becoming an impediment to reasonable development. Land transfer fees are interesting but again it is another tax. I would never say that a tax increase is never needed or warranted. I would say that today more and more however governments raise taxes first without seeking the cost cutting you mention above. Personally I think I pay enough, too much in fact. You will not be able to get the county residents to support a multimillion dollar bond then turn around and raise their taxes again. The government, on all levels does not do enough, ever, to make their operation run more efficiently. They just come get more money from me. As mentioned in question two if elected I will push for a total review of the school board's budget and expenditures. If an item not needed that line item should go. Keep in mind I am not saying to reduce the budget. I am stating we should find unnecessary expenditures, eliminate them and shift those monies to specific pressing needs and/or savings. My motto is "Every Dollar For Every Child". Simply put. The child's educational needs should come before the wants of an administrator. Not saying all wants are bad but a Board or administrator bragging about a million dollar "technology" purchase when Northwood has students eating lunch standing up is a bit ridiculous.

    7. What is your position on the school bond that was proposed but then not included on the ballot this fall?

    In my opinion it was a farce. They were right in not presenting it for one school. It would not pass. But, why even put a proposal together for one school. It was a waste of time, money and effort. Get accurate estimates on a comprehensive capital improvement and facility need program and present that to the Commissioners. If that total is hampered by the county debt ratio then have a contingency of prioritized needs that benefit each area of the county in some way. When this board began their town meetings on a bond a few years back the first totals were "between 30 and 60 million". Then we heard 100 million. A constituent I spoke to over the weekend heard 75 million. The proposal ended up being 45 million for one school (which that total was artificially inflated in my opinion). They were all over the map, looked very unorganized and then they bailed on the proposal when they thought, rightfully so it wouldn't pass. The new Board will have to quickly have a real proposal, with alternates in place for the bond to ever get off the ground.

    8. Please state briefly your personal code of ethics, with regard to its application as an elected official, including conflicts of interest, personal loans and campaign finance. Do you believe Chatham County's government currently suffers from ethical conflicts? Please explain.

    My personal code of ethics is very simple. Tell the truth, work hard and understand you do not have all the answers. But when you don't have the answers you go find them. One place I don't have all the answers is campaign finance. There are so many rules and regulations I hope the ones who wrote them got it right. Personal loans are legal if reported and repaid correctly so I do not have a problem with that nor any other legally approached means of fundraising. If an elected official is in a position where a conflict of interest arises they should simply recuse themselves from votes where the conflict is present.

    9. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    That would depend on what your definition of "just" is compared to mine. When I decided to run for School Board, My father, Buddy Harris (retired Principal, JS Waters Elem. With time at Moncure and Chatham Central) gave me a great piece of advice. He said, "Son, always remember that numbers do not necessitate needs." And he meant that in both extremes. A student at Northwood has the same educational needs as a child at Bennett. Moncure's children have the same needs as North Chatham. If "just" means making every dollar work for every child then that is what you will get from me. I will be elected as an advocate for the students and parents. I will be the duly elected citizen management of the County School's employees. If there is an administrator using the school system and presenting nonessential programs that simply justify their own existence...they will have a huge problem on their hands with my election. In contrast, where there are employees and administrators truly and effectively pushing our students, employees and schools to our goals and beyond they will be held as public examples of the good in our schools.


    click to enlarge KathieRussell.jpg

    KATHIE RUSSELL
    Date of Birth: February 3, 1963
    Campaign Web Site: www.russellforresults.com (under construction)
    Occupation & Employer: attorney, Russell, Pressley & Demidovich, P.C.
    Years Lived in Chatham County: 11

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Chatham County School Board member?

    I have three children that will be attending Chatham County Schools for many years. I care deeply about the schools and the quality of education for all children of Chatham County.

    2. If elected, what is your one top priority for the Chatham County school system? What specific steps would you take to accomplish this goal?

    My top priority would be to improve education for all students so that Chatham County Schools can prepare our children to become happy, productive citizens for the 21st century. Chatham County must attract industry that offers good jobs that pays top wages. In order to attract the right kind of industry, we must have an employee base that is educated and capable of filling these kinds of positions. By assuring our children get this kind of education, we will encourage the brightest students to stay in, rather than leave, Chatham County. Conversely, by having a talented worker base we will be better able to attract the very kind of industry that will keep our brightest students in the county, enabling the entire county to thrive.

    To accomplish this, we must improve our schools in terms of both facilities and instructors. We must provide schools that are attractive and welcoming. We must include the community at large in helping to achieve this -- including things like forming advisory committees to take advantage of the talents of our citizen base, bringing public art and music and fitness programs to the schools, and encouraging community input into the process of governing our schools. I have many years experience negotiating multi-million dollar construction contracts. I have the expertise to review school construction contracts to assure Chatham County is not going to have more problems with school construction. At present, we have schools with leaking roofs, and schools with no hot water -- just to mention a few of the many problems with our facilities. Many of our schools need to be rehabilitated and upgraded.

    Having more attractive and modernized schools will also aid in recruiting and retaining top quality teachers. We should not be a training ground for new teachers who apprentice at our schools and then leave for better jobs, leaving our children with always the inexperienced teachers. We should put into place mechanisms to retain these teachers so that they want to stay. Obviously, increased pay is a factor. In addition to pay and facilities, we should be able to be creative in finding methods to retain our teachers. We should elevate them to the levels of professionals, offering training opportunities and time for lesson planning periods. We should have the latest technology in our schools to assist the teachers. We should offer community-based incentives such as discount programs, housing assistance, and things of this nature in order to encourage our teachers to stay in Chatham County.

    Finally, we must have increased cooperation between the school board and the board of commissioners. Before approving new subdivisions, the commissioners should request an impact statement from the board of education. This should be a line item in the commissioners' approval process, and the impact to schools should be taken into account in the approval process and the funds required from developers. Chatham County must learn how to manage residential growth so that it keeps pace with our ability to fund infrastructure.

    3. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective school board member? Be specific. What public or private boards/commissions have you served on and what have you accomplished?

    I have served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including the Moncure Museum of Art and the MARS Music Foundation. I have served as a pro bono attorney for the Chatham Marketplace and provide services through the North Carolina Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts. I have served as a volunteer tutor at Moncure Elementary School and as an adult literacy instructor for Project Literacy. I have extensive experience negotiating and reviewing large construction contracts. Also through my law practice I have extensive experience negotiating and building consensus among adverse parties, which is an asset in any public board.

    4. A Wake County school district last June banned several books including a slang dictionary. What is your position on banning books in school districts? If you think it is ever appropriate, under what circumstances should a district ban a book?

    I cannot think of any circumstance under which I would agree that a school district should ban a book. I would prefer instead that we tackle the issues head on, and think it preferable that we as a society err on the side of free speech. I would rather use literature to teach our children to develop critical thinking skills that allow them to think for themselves to ascertain what is good or not good about a book or the information presented in a book. Having said this, I would not entirely rule out banning any book ever, because I suppose there could be something so offensive or revolting that I would consider it.

    5. Eight of 14 Chatham County schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Specifically, what can the school board do to help the schools that didn't make their AYP? Secondly, what is your opinion on NCLB's emphasis on standardized testing? Is NCLB a fair and effective program?

    First, I think our emphasis needs to be on improving the quality of education, which by extension would improve our AYP. Second, I certainly understand that we need to have a means to assess our students' progress and ensure they are learning. However, I think there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in achieving this goal. Further, I do not think NCLB is a fair and effective program. In addition to being underfunded, it fails to provide a comprehensive assessment and seems to be extremely cumbersome and difficult to administer.

    6. In paying for new schools and other county needs, what role would you like to see assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    Yes

    b. Impact fees?

    Yes

    c. Year-round schools?

    I like the concept.

    d. More charter schools?

    Not sure, would like to see more results-oriented information.

    e. Sales tax?

    Yes

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    I favor the 1% land transfer tax proposed and supported by commissioners Patrick Barnes and Mike Cross. School bonds, grants and funding of infrastructure by new developments should also be used to fund school infrastructure and other county needs.

    7. What is your position on the school bond that was proposed but then not included on the ballot this fall?

    I agree that we need a school bond referendum since we are in dire need of new and updated schools. However, the proposed bond was not well planned. Instead of choosing a certain area of the county on which to focus, a good school bond should be comprehensive in its approach. Before drafting a bond, the school board should assess needs county-wide, including new schools and improvements to existing schools. The bond should include these items to the extent possible, so that the bond ends up serving the entire county and not just a small geographic area of the county. In addition to building community support and consensus for the bond, this would provide the most benefit to our school system.

    8. Please state briefly your personal code of ethics, with regard to its application as an elected official, including conflicts of interest, personal loans and campaign finance. Do you believe Chatham County's government currently suffers from ethical conflicts? Please explain.

    I believe Chatham County public boards suffer from a wide range of ethical conflicts. I believe elected officials should disclose their financial dealings and should refrain from voting on any issue with regard to which they may have a potential conflict. I certainly do not think it prudent for a member of any elected board to make or receive personal loans to members of other boards which vote on matters related to each other.

    9. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    By improving the education of our students, we increase the chances that they will continue on to community college or four year college, or both. Having an educated population will contribute to a greater tolerance and understanding of diversity, which is essential in building a just community. This is the long term answer. In the short term, my election would further the goal of building a just community because I would work very hard to make sure all of our children in Chatham County receive an equal education and have educational opportunities. I would seek to review and revise the educational opportunities for special needs students and to expand the options offered. I would advocate for increased exposure to arts, music and fitness programs in our schools and for nutritional program reform. I would encourage the use of resources from our immediate community, including citizen advisory groups and purchasing when possible from local sources. I would advocate for green building methods for our schools and the use of alternative fuels for our transportation systems. In bringing our schools in closer touch with the community and increasing community involvement in our schools, we can contribute to a just society.


    School Board District 4 (2 seats)

    click to enlarge GeraldTotten.jpg

    GERALD TOTTEN
    Campaign Web Site: www.totten4chathamschools.org
    Occupation & Employer: Management Consultant, Self Employed
    Years Lived in Chatham County: 21

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Chatham County School Board member?

    To add my 28 year depth of management and leadership experience in budget formulation, construction management and priority setting long needed on the Board. In this venture I want to ensure the vacillation experienced thus far about such matters is eliminated and credibility is established to benefit the children and students of Chatham County. My concern is to improve Chatham County Schools so that our children have the necessary facilities and resources in the classroom to succeed in the world of work.

    2. If elected, what is your one top priority for the Chatham County school system? What specific steps would you take to accomplish this goal?

    To establish credibility between the school funding source, the County Commissioners, and the Board of Education so that when funds are needed, there is no question as to the purpose and reasonableness of the requests. Steps: (1). Verification of proposed staff budget inputs by query of the principals, teachers, parents and students thereby providing them greater input into the budget process. (2). Close and meaningful coordination between the two elected boards by making every effort to eliminate turf disputes between the boards, the staffs and the divergent areas of the county. (3). Fiscal accountability to the taxpayers will be a priority so that those who carry the burden will trust what is being done with their money in educating children.

    3. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective school board member? Be specific. What public or private boards/commissions have you served on and what have you accomplished?

    A solid record of leadership and management assignments in military government service as well as in industry where I was responsible for multi-million dollar budget formulation, submission and performance. My experiences include commercial construction responsibilities for such end users as Texaco, Standard Oil, Exxon, Shell and British Petroleum outlets as well as multi location manufacturing plant construction and renovations. Those experiences bring a wealth of talent in themselves. I have been very active in the Chatham community, devoting many hours over long periods in service on a large variety of committees and boards. As civic service in Chatham County, I have been a participating member of: The District 3 School Bond Committee (Chair);The Hazardous Waste Identification and Storage Committee; The Landfill Siting Committee (Vice-Chair); a four county job training Private Industry Council (Chair for two years); Nuclear Waste Storage Committee; and, the Tax Equalization and Review Board. I was one of the original organizers of the Triad Quality Forum, an organization of Total Quality Management professionals in Guilford, Forsyth, Randolph, Alamance and Chatham Counties. As a result of my performance in organizing and of active participation I was selected to become a member of former Governor James Hunt's High Performance Workforce Development Committee. I have earned awards as a result of performance in quality management, Chatham County committee work and from the state for Private Industry Council job training work over an eight year period.

    4. A Wake County school district last June banned several books including a slang dictionary. What is your position on banning books in school districts? If you think it is ever appropriate, under what circumstances should a district ban a book?

    I do not feel book banning is appropriate. I do feel there may be some books unsuitable for certain ages and their circulation might best be restricted to more mature readers but to ban one is stifling the learning process. We should rely on the abilities and many strengths of teachers, principals and administrators to know what is best and appropriate materials when it comes to classroom teaching.

    5. Eight of 14 Chatham County schools achieved Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Specifically, what can the school board do to help the schools that didn't make their AYP? Secondly, what is your opinion on NCLB's emphasis on standardized testing? Is NCLB a fair and effective program?

    Unfortunately, we have no choice! The NCLB Act requires teachers be proficient in their subjects. This fact requires the school board to put proficient teachers on remedial teams to help those lesser performing schools. The state is required to do that under Judge Howard Manning's Leandro decisions but our local boards must also create its own teams to better focus on AYP and other learning issues. However, I don't feel the best way to educate children is "teaching the test" as is done today. That being said, I agree a measurement must be made as to how schools meet goals. Unfortunately, the way the current systems are set up, we do not measure true achievement. I feel the diverse populations of certain schools must be considered before penalizing teachers in schools with high populations of non-English speaking students. Testing the ESL students should still take place but their results should not penalize the entire school or system. In that regard, I feel the NCLB Act is unfair to the schools and its teachers.

    6. In paying for new schools and other county needs, what role would you like to see assigned to:

    a. Property taxes?

    Much less emphasis because our population is comprised to a large extent by people on fixed incomes and low wage earners. I propose to shift the burden to the developers who are responsible for and perpetuate the ever increasing needs for government and its voracious appetite for money.

    b. Impact fees?

    Greater emphasis but with the developers also financing and/or building schools in the larger developments without cost to the school system. Currently impact fees only cover a small portion of the developments' true educational costs.

    c. Year-round schools?

    Chatham County's geographic area is too large to be able to effectively use year-round schools. It is a great idea to relieve overcrowding and the lack of funds for needed new schools while increasing alternative learning opportunities however.

    d. More charter schools?

    Charter schools have opportunities to teach without the burdens imposed by the public school administration. They can offer opportunities to students who do not perform well in a "normal' public school setting. They also have different but high expectations of their students. Here in Chatham, the Woods Charter School consistently ranks in the top ten of the entire state on year end, end of grade testing and SAT scores. Chatham County schools are in the bottom 50%. I support increasing the numbers because they are educating our children.

    e. Sales tax?

    Already a revenue stream, I could not support increasing Chatham County's percentage.

    f. Other revenue-raising or cost-cutting methods?

    A land transfer fee is one way to increase county coffers without raising tax rates. I will work with our Commissioners to help make land transfer fees possible. Pressure on property taxes must be relieved. A land transfer fee would also allow elimination of the impact fee since it would be set to the sale price of the land irrespective of the value of the home to be built. I mentioned above the approval of developments should require developers to bear the cost of their infrastructure requirements. I visualize developers would either contribute cash or saleable land to raise that revenue or build the schools their developments impact.

    7. What is your position on the school bond that was proposed but then not included on the ballot this fall?

    The Board of Education botched that bond from its inception! The amounts sought varied from $60Million(M) for several items to $103M for many items, several of which were unrealistic, to $45M for one school to $55M for the same needed high school - all within the period of less than a year. The figures used for the amount were not based on facts I observed throughout the entire process and I attended virtually all meetings of the Board where financial matters were discussed. The items to be included in the amounts discussed and presented to the public did not even include many needed renovations and additions to existing schools with items added then deleted with rapidity. Northwood, Horton, the 9 year roof leak (now being repaired) at Harrison are examples of neglect of schools we already have. Until we can take much better care of what we already own, how can we ask taxpayers to support a bond of any size with any reasonable expectation of passage? Finally, the Board of Education did not make any public effort to sell thatbond to the public but folded when they realized there was little support for it. A new high school is needed. The location still needs to be determined by a N. C. State Operations Laboratory we have hired for that purpose. Until that optimum site is determined as well as absolutely essential repairs and renovations to existing structures, a bond should not be offered to the public! Whatever bond is offered should include the essential items to provide for a safe and healthy teaching and learning environment.

    8. Please state briefly your personal code of ethics, with regard to its application as an elected official, including conflicts of interest, personal loans and campaign finance. Do you believe Chatham County's government currently suffers from ethical conflicts? Please explain.

    As a young Boy Scout, a code of ethics was instilled in me which I have tried to follow. That code includes being trustworthy, responsible, impartial, courteous, self disciplined and compassionate. Those are not attributes which can be removed and reinstituted at will and have served me well as I rose through military ranks from Private to Colonel in the United States Marine Corps. I am intolerant of conflicts of interest. I define conflict of interest as any receipt of gifts from vendors, nepotism, any favoritism toward vendors or suppliers and conflicting employment where personal interests can be perceived as influencing organizational needs. Personal loans to or from employees or outside vendors fall in my classification of a personal conflict as do campaign contributions from vendors, suppliers, subordinate employees or superiors. I would never accept a trip from a vendor such as has been done by existing members of the BOEd. Those all expense paid trips to a golf resort and to the vendor's California headquarters resulted in the purchase of now what is over two million dollars in computers without competitive bids.

    9. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    My background shows I am a consensus builder, a trait essential in building and maintaining a just community. Chatham County primarily serves as a bedroom community to the Research Triangle Park area. We need to change that by luring high-tech industry to Chatham. My election will encourage providing such a trained work force in high-tech skills. That fact, in turn, will help to build our just community. I have a long history of believing and expecting every individual can achieve excellence and am committed to the adage if you expect it, it often happens. I believe in good character, good behavior and proper manners toward diverse individuals as we try to meet on common ground in the willing exchange of ideas. The Golden Rule applies wherein I am known as one who tries to treat everyone just as I'd like to be treated. Couple this response with my views about ethics and conflicts of interest and your question is further amplified.


    Legislative Races

    NC House 54 (Orange/Chatham)

    click to enlarge JoeHackney.jpg

    JOE HACKNEY
    Date of Birth: 9/23/45
    Campaign Web Site: www.joehackney.com
    Occupation & Employer: Partner, Epting & Hackney, Attorneys; farmer; legislator

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    Continuing to improve public education should be our highest priority. We do this by improving teacher pay to attract good teachers; by providing adequate resources for schools; by funding Leandro and lower wealth schools better so they can catch up; and by using programs like Smart Start and More at Four to assure that children arrive at school healthy and ready to learn.

    We must continue to expand health care and health insurance to more of our citizens, especially our children.

    We must improve our environmental protection efforts, a long-time priority of mine.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    I was the cochair of the House Ethics Study, and the lead sponsor of the ten bills recommended as a result of the study. Nine passed in some form. We passed a first-ever lobbyist gift ban; a first-ever full monthly reporting of all lobbying expenses, including expenses for good will lobbying; a first-ever ban on lobbyists contributing to political campaigns; a first-ever limitation on the use of campaign funds; a first-ever requirement for campaign treasurer training; a first-ever comprehensive legislative and executive ethics law, with central reporting; and a first ever ban on the use of blank checks. These represent significant and far-reaching reforms.

    There is more to do, and we will continue to look carefully at what limits on campaign fundraising and spending are constitutionally permissible. I hope and expect that the momentum for reform will continue.

    I do not know what will happen with Speaker Black. The 2005-2006 Session has adjourned, and his term is almost over. Whether he will be reelected to the House, whether he will be a candidate for Speaker again, and whether if so he will be a viable candidate are all very uncertain at this time.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    I support it, and introduced legislation last time. It works well in Arizona and Maine, and we can continue to learn from them.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    c. Sales tax on services?

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    e. Spending cuts only?

    I would support a reasonable tax reform package, but currently there is no such package that has political viability or the support of the Governor. We should continue and expand efforts to make our taxes more progressive. To succeed, these efforts must include a high-level study in which the Governor, the House, and the Senate are all invested, because of the inherent difficulty of this task.

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    We passed a small business tax credit for expanding health insurance coverage, which will help some, but the numbers of uninsured continues to grow. I supported Rep.Insko's high risk pool bill. We should expand coverage more each session and chip away at the problem each session until the Congress acts on a national solution.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    We funded the Leandro needs last session, and we should continue to do so.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    School construction remains primarily a local responsibility, but the State does help in various ways. Consideration will be given next time to additional help in the form of a statewide bond package for school construction.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    Mental health reform efforts received an infusion of cash last session. The transition to private provider care still has problems, and extensive efforts are underway in the legislature and in the executive branch to make the new system work better. These efforts should continue.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    TTA is at a crossroads. It needs to survive and make new plans for public transit in the Triangle under the new circumstances. I do not have that answer right now, but I will be supportive of the efforts to assure survival.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    I supported the Land For Tomorrow bond package, and will continue to do so. I have always supported the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and other trust vehicles for preserving open space and farmland.

    8. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbent's performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    The incumbent is doing a good job.


    click to enlarge AlvinReed.jpg

    ALVIN REED
    Date of Birth: 5/21/56
    Campaign Web Site: www.AlvinReed.com
    Occupation & Employer: CEO of SBM Ratings Network

    1. What are the two or three most important issues facing our state, and/or your district, and how would you address them if elected to serve in the General Assembly?

    Respect for Original Intent covers a lot of territory. This country was founded on acknowledgment of a Higher Power as a moral compass. The decay of this moral compass affects attitudes, and ultimately leads to the destruction of a nation. I will work diligently to legislate Original Intent into the laws of North Carolina.

    Jobs are always important, especially in cities like Siler City where so many illegal aliens reside. Work ethic must be addressed at the early ages so that the work force is poised for working harder, but more importantly , having the inbred desire and ability to work smarter. Pumping more money into failing methods is not the answer. I will work to legislate smarter schools that emphasize the moral compass.

    2. Ethics reform has been on the front burner in Raleigh because of the revelations about House Speaker Jim Black. Should Black resign or be replaced as speaker? How do you rate the reform measures enacted in the recent short session? What more should be done in the '07 long session?

    House Speaker Jim Black should step down immediately. My opponent is Jim Black's right hand man. My opponent should publically denounce the Speaker''s actions. The reform measures are a step in the right direction, but done more for politics then action. The 07 session needs to take specific steps with addressing the long term solution by teaching morals and ethics in classrooms.

    3. Do you support or oppose public financing of campaigns, either directly to candidates or in some other fashion? Please explain. Should legislators be prohibited from taking contributions from people with a vested interest in how they vote?

    The general idea has merit, but anytime there is a complex solution for a simple problem, alternate solutions should be addressed. Greater ethics in spending campaign money will go a long way. Common sense is hard to measure, but should be a primary process of any campaign financing changes.

    4. Tax fairness, or the lack of it, is an issue in North Carolina; critics say the state's tax structure, taken as a whole, is steeply regressive. Do you agree? If so, what changes would you support? Specifically, in order to reduce taxes on people of lesser means, would you support raising a greater proportion of the state's revenues from:

    a. Personal income taxes?

    No

    b. Corporate income taxes?

    No

    c. Sales tax on services?

    Only in the form of fair tax.

    d. Other taxes or fees? (If so, what are they?)

    No.

    e. Spending cuts only?

    Yes, this is always the best solution

    5. If you picked "e," please indicate where spending should be cut (or the rate of increase reduced)?

    Spending is always local. A freeze in programs and a ten percent cut on all programs over several years will be fought but is the only reasonable means of bringing down costs. Educating our children is a major part of the budget, but throwing money at education historically doesn't work. Opportunities can be legislated to provide avenues for smarter ways of educating our children to replace more expensive methods. Administration is an option to cut.

    6. The number of North Carolinians who lack adequate health insurance is growing, and now exceeds one million. What's your position on this issue? Should the state be helping more? If so, how? And which--if any--of the various ideas proposed in the last session for expanding health-insurance coverage do you favor?

    North Carolina cannot afford to give every citizen perfect health care. Any catastrophic injuries must be catered to. It makes economic sense to use some state revenues to educate citizens on healthy habits, but we cannot afford socialized medicine in any form. Socialism just doesn't work.

    7. Please comment on these major issues, and your position on them:

    a. The Leandro lawsuit, and equitable funding of schools in poorer counties?

    Reasonable care should be exercised in providing some uniformity, but differences in funding will always exists between rich and poor communities.

    b. Paying for school construction? (The lottery wasn't much help.)

    The lottery ultimately hurts the economy. Getting rid of the lottery is the only logical thing to do. Smarter spending is not an easy solution, but is the only affordable solution.

    c. Mental-health reform?

    The greatest minds are also sometimes the minds closest to recognized instability. It is great minds that make this country. Mental-health reform cannot be ignored as it has for the past couple of years.

    d. Transportation/public transit needs in the urban areas, especially the Triangle?

    Mass transit will not work because the triangle is not dense. Educating businesses on alternate hours and ride sharing is a must. Roads are expensive but an absolute investment in our future economy.

    e. Open-space conservation?

    Within reason, we should always respect nature, but we must always be careful to not hurt a thriving economy that will pay for clean parks.

    8. If you're not the incumbent in this district, what's wrong with the incumbents performance? What is there in your background and experience that suggests you'll do better?

    I recognize the 26 years my opponent has been in office. He is well known by his fellow representatives to be very liberal. My opponent represents a very liberal district, so one could argue that he accurately represents the perceived mode of the district. I personally recognize the pitfalls of short term thinking and am an absolute advocate of conservative values, as they are our future. It is too our peril to forget that our "Founding Fathers" recognized the sanctity of "Original Intent". I will bring back the moral compass to the North Carolina Legislature that is so desperately needed to maintain this state and this country consistent with this sanctity of "Original Intent". My track record is to make things happen. My goal is to bring "Original Intent" back to North Carolina, and to this country.


    Judicial Races

    Superior Court 15B

    click to enlarge ChuckAnderson.jpg

    CHARLES (CHUCK) ANDERSON
    Party: Democrat
    Date of Birth: January 27, 1950
    Campaign Web Site: www.judgeanderson.org
    Occupation & Employer: 15B District Court Judge, State of North Carolina
    Years Lived In Orange/Chatham County: 26 years in Chatham County [moved into 15B District in 1968]

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    There is no higher calling than service in the administration of justice, whether it relates to an individual case or the court system's overall operation in processing conflict. However, I share the concerns of many that our State courts are approaching a point of crisis that requires careful planning to preserve public trust and confidence. I am committed to working to develop a unified effort in our community to bring greater efficiency and dignity to our District's judicial process and to the work of each individual involved in the court system.

    In my tenth year of service as District Court Judge, I have grown in my understanding of the role and responsibilities of a judge and the judicial system. I seek the Superior Court Judgeship to use my broad experience and capabilities as a judge to effect positive change in the administration of justice in the Superior Court through collaboration and innovation. I want to insure, as a Superior Court Judge, the highest possible level of judicial independence, while maintaining the outstanding quality of justice that has existed in our District since its creation.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    My election would put a social and political progressive, with a record of commitment to social justice, on the Superior Court Bench. My original interest in the legal profession was based upon my perception of the law as a means to achieving social progress.

    I originally became a lawyer in order to work toward the redistribution of opportunity in society. My career began in 1976 with North State Legal Services providing legal aid to low income citizens in Orange and Chatham counties. Legal work included federal litigation challenging the racially discriminatory impact of a municipality's rejection of a low-income housing project. In Jones v. Harris, 629 F. 2d 334 (4th Cir. 1980), I worked to expand the rights of low-income, illegitimate children to obtain social security survivors benefits.

    From 1980-1985, I served as staff attorney and then Director of NC Prisoner Legal Services, providing legal assistance to state prison inmates and local jail detainees. Litigation in Slakan v Porter, 737 F. 2d 368 (4th Cir. 1984), cert. denied, 470 US 1035 (1985), established legal precedent for supervisory liability in civil rights actions. The case involved a hosing, tear gassing, and baton assault on an inmate already locked in his cell, and resulted in a federal jury verdict against the Secretary of Corrections, the Director of Prisons, the Warden of Central Prison, as well as the prison guards involved in the assault. Other work involved prison over-crowding, failure to protect inmates from foreseeable violence within prison, forced medication, and excessive use of force.

    During eleven years (1985-1986) of private practice at Northen Blue Law Firm in Chapel Hill, I built a general practice that included public benefits litigation (SSA Disability) and challenges to tenure decisions, while accepting court appointment for indigent criminal defendants.

    Over two and one-half terms as a District Court Judge I have proactively addressed issues involving child welfare and domestic violence, seeking where possible to enhance services by reform and innovation. The reputation I have earned is consistent with my goal as judge, to make the courtroom a place where, in the words of Thomas Paine, " the poor are not oppressed and the rich are not privileged." This is a commitment to the dignity of both the individual and his or her legal argument before the court. It is the foundation of a just community and a civil society. If elected Superior Court Judge, I will continue to recognize that the law is not a means unto itself, but rather the instrument of a just society insuring equality and due process of law to every individual.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    If elected I plan to serve a full eight-year term and seek re-election to a second term in 2014. I am eligible to serve under North Carolina law through January of 2022. At age 56, I believe my professional background and ten years experience as a judge allow me to continue in public service as a Superior Court Judge during the prime of my professional life, fully committing myself to the administration of justice and the improvement of our courts.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    A Superior Court Judge is responsible for the fair and orderly management of individual criminal cases that he or she is assigned to hear on pretrial motions or jury trial, as well as plea dispositions. Trial responsibilities include supervision of jury selection and counsels' arguments, decisions on evidentiary issues, proper instruction of the jury, and assurance of a trial free of prejudice or legal error. Court approval of individual guilty pleas requires a judge to safeguard the defendant's rights to adequate counsel and entry of a knowing and voluntary admission of guilt. A judge must be satisfied that the plea sentence is appropriate under the circumstances of the case, and generally consistent with dispositions in similar cases. Sentencing often includes expressions of hope, moral guidance, or judgment that provide closure for the community and the individuals involved in the case. The dignity of citizens and the rule of law must both be served by the judge in conducting criminal court.

    Since 1996 I have been performing many of these functions in the trial and disposition of thousands of criminal misdemeanor cases and many probable cause hearings (felony charges). District court judges preside over "bench" trials, serving as both judge and jury, and do not preside over criminal jury trials; however, the patterns of individual and institutional conduct and responsibility are quite similar. I have grown in my appreciation of the role of a judge in the administration of criminal justice and my capacity to respond to its demands. I have learned how to ask better questions of myself and others, how to guide a courtroom, or individuals, in a reasoned direction, how to evaluate a plea bargain or a motion to suppress, and how to offer dignity and compassion in cases involving the loss of life. My experience as a judge in criminal court distinguishes me as a candidate with a mature judicial perspective.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    A Superior Court Judge's responsibilities in Civil Superior Court are similar in certain ways to those in Criminal Court, particularly regarding management of jury trials. However there are obvious and important distinctions. In civil matters a judge is often required to rule largely on matters of law in declaratory judgment actions or preliminary motions. These rulings eliminate or refine litigation between parties prior to either jury trials or "bench" trials, which are not uncommon in complex Civil Superior Court cases. A civil trial judge can be required to manage complicated class action lawsuits, contentious pretrial discovery, or rule on motions to limit evidence or shape issues at trial. A Superior Court Judge has a greater opportunity to assume leadership for case management in Civil Court, and is often required to respond to more complicated, less familiar legal argument than is experienced in Criminal Court. It is important to be decisive to allow the process to advance. Balancing deliberation with intuition and common sense is necessary - decisions must be made and should not be avoided. Listening carefully to both sides and explaining your decisions help the parties accept the orders of a judge and move forward.

    As a District Court Judge for a decade I have presided over an extraordinarily broad range of civil cases, including but not limited to civil jury trials, civil bench trials, and bench trials under the Juvenile Code. As a practicing attorney, I have been involved in class action and declaratory judgment lawsuits and argued before juries in state and federal court. My experience as a lawyer led me to recognize the importance of diligence and scholarship in a civil court judge, and I have tried to emphasize those qualities in my work as a District Court Judge. The variety of cases coming before the District Court exposed me to diverse legal issues, requiring initiative and care in research and rulings from the bench. Contentiousness of opposing counsel too often compromises the efficiency and dignity of the civil court. I have encouraged courtesy and cooperation, as well as accountability, on the part of lawyers. Over the years I have learned to recognize opportunities to assist attorneys and litigants resolve or minimize their civil conflicts through cooperative case management or collaborative exploration of settlement prospects. My active and continuous service presiding over Civil District Court since 1996 has given me a foundation for helping civil litigants solve their conflicts.

    Whether it involves identifying a win-win outcome or conducting a well-organized trial, I find satisfaction in what is ultimately constructive conflict resolution, by the rules. My experience has given me the knowledge and perspective necessary to become a judge sought by lawyers to hear their cases. My recognized commitment to judicial independence has made them secure in the knowledge that the case will be decided on the law and the facts, not politics, provincialism, or personal influence. My length of judicial service and my performance as a judge have allowed me to earn this confidence of the bar, and it distinguishes my candidacy from other candidates, even those appointed to the Superior Court bench in 2005 and 2006.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    Participation in the criminal justice system over ten years as a District Court Judge is almost an anthropological experience. Learning the substantive and procedural law is the obvious responsibility and consequence of performing your duties. More subtle and profound is the slow accumulation of insight into patterns of conduct, the roles of different "stakeholders" in the system, and the significance of process and resources in administering justice. Over time this experience yields the confidence and understanding essential to considering and acting upon improvements to the court system. You recognize your responsibility to manage as well as referee the contest.

    During my service as a District Court Judge, I have sought opportunities to address reform of our court system. Some of this work and training has a direct impact on my capacity to improve Criminal Superior Court. Intensive training in Domestic Violence and Drug Treatment Court, organized through the National Judicial College, and participation on the N.C. Bar Administration of Justice Task Force and Orange-Chatham Alternative Sentencing Board of Directors (community corrections) have direct application to improvement of Criminal Superior Court. Efforts directed toward other areas, such as the AOC Court Improvement Project (improving child protection case management) or the Association of District Court Judges' Association Education Committee (planning continuing judicial education programming) have allowed me to better understand how court improvements can be best introduced and advanced. While experience is important to successfully implementing progressive reform, a judge must also be personally comfortable with the idea of serving as an agent for change. I see that role as an important and rewarding part of a judge's responsibilities.

    In this regard I have joined in coalitions seeking to reform domestic violence case management (both civil and criminal) to eliminate delays in disposition and facilitate treatment plans in unsuccessful prosecutions. I will continue these types of efforts in the future. My experience in the district court criminal justice system and work and training in areas of drug court, domestic violence, and community corrections will enable me to improve the administration of criminal justice in Criminal Superior Court.

    7. What specifically about your qualification do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    After several years service as a District Court Judge, I became convinced that our courts could not maintain public confidence and meet the needs of our citizens solely by the effort of judges in the courtroom. Resource limitations, growing caseloads, and antiquated procedures now require careful innovation to insure a credible and accountable judicial system. I have committed myself to improving the administration of civil justice in a number of ways, all of which have application to the improvement of Civil Superior Court practices.

    Since 2000, I have served on the N.C. Bar Association Administration of Justice Task Force, a bench and bar committee advising the Association Board of Governors on issues advancing the administration of both civil and criminal justice. The Task Force has over the years addressed a number of prospective changes in our civil justice system, many of them borrowed from the 1996 Commission for the Future of Justice and the Courts in North Carolina. [See generally, The Vision for the Ideal Court System, John G. Medlin, Jr., The North Carolina State Bar Journal, Fall, 1996] A current issue under study is the development of a tool for fair and effective evaluation of judges.

    As a District Court Judge, I convened a committee of our local bar to address high-conflict custody cases through a child-oriented intervention process. My observations as an attorney and as a judge were that this type of litigation was unproductive, harmful to the child, and subject to abuse against the more dependent spouse, typically the woman. My initiative resulted in the implementation of local rules creating the Guardian Ad Litem and Parent Coordinator Programs, now serving as models across the state. Both programs operate to encourage expedited, economical child custody resolutions, either through a Guardian, who conducts a "field study" of the child's circumstances and prepares recommendations regarding the child's best interests, or a Parent Coordinator, who addresses parenting conflicts through collaboration. These programs operate to reduce time consuming child custody litigation that clogged district court dockets and compromised families and children. I have learned how to identify an issue, develop a solution, build a consensus, and implement improvements in the administration of justice in the culture of civil court.

    In Civil Superior Court the most obvious and least difficult means of effecting improvement in the administration of justice would be to assign civil cases to a single judge to be managed from beginning to end. This has long been the practice in federal district court and is now recognized as a best practices approach to family law cases. This reform eliminates a number of problems that plague scheduling and disposition of cases in Superior Court and encourages a higher quality of justice with one judge accepting ownership of the case and its management. A second over-arching court reform, recommended by the Future Commission ten years ago, involves merging the superior and district courts to allow more efficient and coordinated utilization of capital and human resources. These reforms cannot be implemented by a single judge; however innovations of this character are readily achievable only if members of the judiciary commit themselves to the improvement of our courts. I look forward to continued work to improve the administration of justice.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    With respect to a judge's duties in an individual case, ideology cannot influence substantive or procedural rulings. The rule of law demands absolute impartiality of a judge, and anything less is a disservice to the judicial function.

    With respect to the process surrounding an individual case or the administration of justice, ideological perspectives may operate to insure respect for all individuals, leading to the development of systemic practices that serve the fair treatment of citizens and safeguard their rights, regardless of their individual beliefs or conduct. Administratively and legislatively, ideology can play a role in a judge's individual advocacy for just and progressive changes in legal procedure and criminal punishment.

    Throughout my career I have applied my sense of social justice to my engagement with the law. Honoring the humanity of troubled lives and recognizing the complexities of their origins constitute judgment not ideology, so long as beliefs do not interfere with the application of the law to the facts. Guaranteeing equal treatment of all individuals is the abiding obligation of the office.


    click to enlarge AllenBaddour.jpg

    ALLEN BADDOUR
    Party: Democrat
    Date of Birth: 07/03/1971
    Campaign Web Site: www.judgebaddour.org
    Occupation & Employer: Superior Court Judge, State of North Carolina
    Years Lived in Orange/Chatham County: 9 in Chatham, 25 in Orange

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    I have dedicated myself to a life of public service, and so I was honored to accept Governor Easley's appointment to the Office of Superior Court Judge in February 2006. I am seeking to retain my seat because I believe that I am the best qualified person to serve the people of Orange and Chatham counties as Superior Court judge for the next 8 years and beyond.

    It is important that a judge make a lasting and positive impact on the community, the judicial system, and society as a whole. I can make that impact. I have significant, recent, relevant experience in Superior Court, an even temperament, patience, and a proven commitment to seeking the fair application of the law in a dignified manner.

    In addition, I am committed to four things as a Judge. First, I am committed to improved efficiency in the courtroom. We are fortunate in Chatham and Orange Counties that we do not have a significant backlog of cases in Superior Court. However, we can do better to handle cases more efficiently, without requiring unnecessary court appearances or allowing unnecessary delays. We can do more with technology to improve efficiency, including using email and other 21st Century technology to communicate more quickly and easily. That said, I will not compromise fairness or justice for convenience or expediency. I will remain patient and keep an even temperament in the courtroom, so that all participants in the court system and in the courtroom are treated with respect and dignity.

    Second, I will seek to have a drug court in Superior Court for non-violent, first time offenders. For those individuals, I believe we should ensure accountability and responsibility, but we can also provide counseling and treatment for people addicted to drugs. Drug court is a way to ensure responsibility, while at the same time seeking treatment, in a way that provides more support for participants.

    Third, I will work to have Superior Court Judges offices in Chatham County. Chatham should have better access to a Superior Court Judge in emergency situations, just as residents of Orange County presently do. I will continue to advocate for Green Design Principles to be employed in the planned Chatham County judicial facility in a way that does not compromise security. I will also work to improve court efficiency by including more meeting spaces in the courthouse, which will allow for more private and meaningful discussions between lawyers and their clients, and between parties as they might attempt to settle cases.

    Fourth, I will continue to talk with kids about our court system, and about violence, domestic violence, drugs, and alcohol. I will do this in the schools, because I want to see and talk with kids in the classroom, not the courtroom.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    As a Judge, I will continue to demand fairness and justice in the courtroom. From the beginning of my legal career, I have proven my dedication to improving the community in which I was born and raised and I have worked hard to apply my legal expertise to seek justice in a fair and balanced manner. I have sought justice by assisting victims of crime by prosecuting cases as an Assistant District Attorney, and I have spent just as much time seeking justice and preserving the rights of Defendants as a criminal defense attorney.

    I founded the Community Legal Project at the UNC School of Law, which cultivates community service among law students by connecting them with women in need. I was awarded the Orange County Women's Center Volunteer of the Year Award in 2001 for my work with the Women's Center as a law student and in private practice.

    I started my own law practice in Chapel Hill where I was both a civil litigator and criminal defense attorney. I took pro bono cases to assist individuals in need who could not afford an attorney but who deserved access to the courts.

    I served as managing assistant District Attorney of Orange and Chatham Counties, where I prosecuted hundreds of cases over the course of more than four years. While with the DA's office, I worked hard to balance the interests of the state and community, the victim, and the defendant in a way that protected the safety of the community, sought redress for victims of crime, and attempted, when appropriate, to provide incentives to defendants to receive treatment, education, or other help while at the same time holding defendants accountable for their actions.

    I was instrumental in bringing the YMCA to Chatham County because I believe in giving our youth a place to spend their time and energy in a productive and healthy manner. I believe these opportunities should be available without regard to race, gender, or economic background. As a judge, I am committed to continued involvement in nonprofits like the YMCA that make our communities better.

    I will continue to be a Judge who remains active outside of the courtroom and in the community in which I live and work. My wife Holly and I were both born and raised in Chapel Hill and have lived in Pittsboro for 9 years. We have chosen to raise our two young sons in Chatham County and we are both dedicated to the community in which we live. There is no better way to make a positive, lasting impact in the community as a Judge than to be involved on every level- from coaching youth basketball- to speaking to kids in the classroom about the dangers of drugs and violence- to running a fair and balanced courtroom - to ensure that justice is served in our community.

    3. How long to you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    I am running to keep my seat on the bench because I want nothing more than to dedicate the rest of my legal career to serving the people of Chatham and Orange Counties as their Superior Court Judge. I will serve the full 8 year term, if elected, and would welcome the opportunity to serve longer, if given the chance.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    In criminal court, a Superior Court Judge's most important function is to ensure that all cases are heard in a fair and efficient manner. The Judge must ensure that constitutional and other legal rights of the defendant are protected during trial. It is also imperative to make certain that the Defendant, whether English or non-English speaking, understands the proceedings. The Judge must sentence defendants found guilty of their crimes in a way that balances the needs and safety of the community and the victim with the need to hold defendants accountable, while at the same time offering, when appropriate, a way in which rehabilitation may be achieved. All of these functions must be met in a way that is fair and just, and conducted in a way that treats people in court with respect and dignity.

    I am the only candidate who has been both a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor. In fact, I have spent essentially the same amount of time in each role. Since I have not spent my career in any one area of the law, I have not developed -- consciously or subconsciously -- a bias. Having represented both sides of criminal cases, I have a unique perspective on criminal law. I understand what it means to say that criminal defendants have a right to a trial. My time as a criminal defense attorney has given me a good understanding of the types of defendants who might benefit from alternatives to incarceration. On the other hand, my time as a prosecutor has given me a deep appreciation of the needs of the community, and the need to protect the community from dangerous individuals. I also understand that victims of crime deserve the right to be heard in court, and that the wishes of victims should be considered during sentencing.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    In Civil Court, a Superior Court Judge must ensure that the parties have a fair opportunity to be heard in an efficient and timely manner. Litigants deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Before trials begin, litigants should expect the Judge to issue rulings on pre-trial motions and other issues in a timely manner. In both civil and criminal court, the Judge should employ an even temperament and patience in handling all matters. When citizens are called to serve on a jury, their time should be used efficiently, and they should be dealt with as important participants in the judicial process, and treated with openness and respect.

    While in private practice, I handled many cases in civil superior court, and understand what it is like to represent people who are seeking their day in court. This experience has given me an important perspective on how to treat the participants in civil trials, and I am benefiting from that perspective every day that I sit on the bench. As a Superior Court Judge, it is now my responsibility to hear civil cases and issue rulings on motions in a timely manner. I have been patient, fair, efficient, and respectful. I have worked hard to make the people involved in cases -- parties, lawyers, court personnel, and juries -- feel at ease in the courtroom while preserving the dignity and respect a court proceeding demands.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    I am the only candidate who has been both a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor, and now a sitting Judge. From my private practice, I understand the need of criminal defense attorneys to have enough time to review and investigate the evidence against a defendant. As a former prosecutor who was often responsible for the management of the court calendar, I have a proven record of managing court in Chatham County fairly and efficiently while at the same time treating people with respect and dignity. As a sitting Superior Court Judge, I understand the need for efficiency as a court system, but I will not compromise fairness or justice for convenience or expediency. I will review our case management system and look to eliminate unnecessary appearances in court by witnesses, victims, parties, and attorneys.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    I have practiced law as a civil attorney. I understand the need for the litigants to go through the process of discovery before trying their cases. I also understand when cases are being delayed unnecessarily by one party or the other, in a way that prevents justice rather than promotes it. To improve efficiency, I would like to use new technology to assist in the efficient functioning of the courts with email, listserv, and other electronic communications leading the way. Additionally, the case management system should ensure that those cases set for trial are actually tried, which will reduce waiting time for citizen juries. Some cases will take longer than others, and fairness and justice demands that more complex or more difficult cases be handled with patience.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    It is imperative that a judge have a strong sense of ideology that is consistent with and reflects our bedrock legal principles. I believe that it is my job as a judge is to follow the law and ensure that the law is fairly and impartially applied in the cases before me. I will continue to use diplomacy, patience, and a firm temperament to handle emotional and difficult cases in a way that preserves order, respect, and dignity. I will apply the law to the cases before me in a thoughtful, fair, and impartial manner, and I will do so regardless of a person's appearance, background, or status in society.


    CARL R. FOX
    Party: Democratic (Non-Partisan)
    Date of Birth: 09/02/1953
    Campaign Web Site: carlfoxjudge.org
    Occupation & Employer: Senior Resident Superior Court Judge, 15B Superior Court District, State of North Carolina, Administrative Office of the Courts
    Years Lived in Chatham County: Five months
    Years Lived in Orange County: 33

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    Since my appointment as Resident Superior Court Judge by Governor Easley in March 2005, I have presided over 18 criminal and 7 civil trials, heard hundreds of guilty pleas and motions (civil and criminal), and held court in nine counties. I have enjoyed serving as a Superior Court Judge. I am running for election to continue serving the citizens of Chatham and Orange Counties as a Superior Court Judge.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    Since my appointment, I have had opportunities to see hundreds of lawyers, defendants, litigants, court personnel and jurors in my role as a judge. First, I have always believed in the concepts of fundamental fairness, equal protection and seeking justice. Second, I treat everyone in court with respect and courtesy. I try to communicate and reason with criminal defendants, rather than simply asserting the authority of my office. Third, I understand that justice is not a "one size fits all" concept. Although defendants must often be sentenced to prison, I believe in alternatives to incarceration such as drug treatment, education, community service, house arrest and other community-based sanctions for punishment, rehabilitation and deterrence. Fourth, I believe everyone is entitled to his or her day in court. Fifth, I believe diversity among personnel in the courtroom creates a perception of justice and fairness among parties and observers. Finally, I believe in the right of the media to cover court proceedings and disseminate information to the public.

    3. How long do you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    If elected, I plan to serve an eight year term and I am able to serve eight years. By law, I am allowed to serve until my 72nd birthday.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The judge rules on pretrial and trial motions and objections during trials. The judge maintains order in the courtroom. The judge serves as counsel to the grand jury and instructs trial juries. The judge sentences criminal defendants. The judge may issue orders for the production of evidence. As requested in infraction appeals, the judge conducts bench trials.

    I am the best candidate to perform this function because I have served as a Superior Court Judge for over a year. I have presided over 18 criminal trials. I have heard hundreds of motions and guilty pleas in criminal court. I have instructed a grand jury and many trial juries. I have issued search warrants and other orders for the production of evidence. I have a calm and patient temperament and maintain order without embarrassing attorneys, or other individuals.

    In addition, I have over 26 years of experience as a prosecutor, over 20 as the elected D.A. As a prosecutor, I tried over 340 jury trials and over 30 capital trials. I believe I have the most extensive criminal trial experience in state court of any candidate for this office.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The judge rules on pretrial and trial motions and objections during trials. The judge sets the schedule for the procedural stages of civil matters. The judge calls the civil calendar and manages the civil caseload. The judge instructs the trial juries. The judge maintains order in the courtroom.

    I am the best candidate to perform to perform this function because I have served as a Superior Court Judge for over a year. I have presided over several motions calendars and seven civil jury trials. I have heard perhaps a hundred civil motions and I have ruled on all of them in a timely fashion. I currently have no cases under advisement awaiting a decision. I try to keep cases moving toward resolution. I grant continuances when the interests of justice require it, or when all parties agree and a continuance is necessary to allow a party, or parties, to adequately prepare for hearings or trials. I have drafted instructions for many different types of cases. My extensive criminal trial experience has been extremely beneficial in conducting civil trials and drafting orders. I have a calm and patient temperament and maintain order without embarrassing attorneys, or other individuals. In addition, as a law student, most of my coursework was in civil matters including negotiable instruments, sales and secured transactions, debtor-creditor relations, real estate finance and insurance law.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    Having managed the criminal calendar as district attorney, I understand the necessity of moving cases along and having speedy trials. I also have a frame of reference for the appropriateness of bonds, depending on the seriousness of the offenses and the age of the cases. I have sufficient experience to scrutinize the facts of cases and determine whether the punishment in plea agreements is excessive or commensurate with the facts of cases. Whenever appropriate, I will peremptorily set cases for trial to ensure cases are resolved in a timely fashion.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    Having an inquisitive mind, I have the ability to "cut to the chase" and get right to the critical points of an issue. I am always conscious of the age of pending cases and motivated to move cases toward disposition. I believe pending cases should move towards resolution, whether by mediation, other settlement, trial or dismissal.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    Since the role of the courts is to interpret the law, ideology can play a significant role in the performance of a judge's duties. Ideally, a judge's ideology should not play a role in his or her interpretation of the law. As a judge, I have no ideology or agenda that would influence the performance of my duties as a judge.


    ADAM STEIN
    Party: Nonpartisan election: I have been a registered Democrat since 1961.
    Date of Birth: September 3, 1937
    Campaign Web Site: AdamSteinForJudge.com
    Occupation & Employer: Lawyer, Ferguson, Stein, Chambers, Gresham & Sumter, PA
    Years Lived in Orange/Chatham County: I have lived in Orange County for 35 years.

    1. Why are you seeking the office of Superior Court Judge at this time?

    I have always enjoyed practicing law; I have also always wanted to be a Superior Court Judge. You can't do both at the same time. This is the first time when there has been a real opening (actually two) in this district at a time when I was prepared to leave my practice. So I am going for it.

    2. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

    My mission as a lawyer and as a citizen has also been to build a just community, an aspiration that will inform my work as a judge.

    I began as a civil rights lawyer in 1967 by helping form the State's first integrated law firm with Julius Chambers. We fought the cause of civil rights across the state including more that than 50 school desegregation cases. Our firm's cases are the leading precedent-setting cases decided by the United States Supreme Court on school desegregation, employment discrimination and voting rights, all of which I worked on. I have argued and won three cases in the United States Supreme Court, all of them civil rights -- a school desegregation case, a prisoner's rights case and a congressional redistricting case.

    I handled precedent-setting cases in desegregating public accommodations to African-Americans, including the Raleigh YMCA. I have represented people in fair housing cases including cases in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. I was counsel for plaintiffs in both the Durham City and Durham County school desegregation cases. The decision of the United States Court of Appeals in the early 1970's in the Durham County case set the rule for the Fourth Circuit that the time "all deliberate speed" was over and required immediate mid-year desegregation of the schools, a case that I briefed and argued. Years later, when the two systems were merged and the merger was attacked in the court by white residents, I represented white and African--American citizens who intervened to defend the merger. We won in the trial court and on appeal.

    I worked through the 1990's, including three trips to the United States Supreme Court, seeking to preserve two congressional districts where African-American voters could elect members of Congress of their choice. As a result, my former partner Mel Watt is still in Congress, is head of the Congressional Black Caucus, and is a strong voice for progressive values.

    For four decades, my wife Jane and I have supported progressive organizations and political candidates, by contributions and work, in a quest for building a just community. I received the Frank Porter Graham Award from the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, its highest award. Jane and I received the Chapel Hill ACLU Chapter's award and the Citizen Award of the NC Chapter of American Planning Association for developing Culbreth Park, a 50-home affordable housing project, just north of Southern Village.

    3. How long to you plan to serve if elected, and how long will you be able to serve?

    If elected, I plan to serve at least eight years as a Superior Court Judge. I will serve as a Resident Superior Court Judge until the end of September 2009 when I turn 72 and then serve as an Recalled Superior Court Judge. State law requires superior court judges to step down as Resident Judges when they reach age 72 but authorizes their continued service as Recalled Judges. There is no difference in the authority of Resident and Recalled Judges in presiding over and deciding cases. The main difference is that Resident Judges are assigned to hold court in various counties by a regular rotation; Recalled Judges are assigned where needed.

    The Governor would fill the Resident's position when I step down until the next general election in 2010 when it will be on the ballot again, just as has recently occurred upon the retirement of Judge Wade Barber. In 2010, just as today, the voters should select the best judicial candidate. That new judge would serve a full eight-year term, thus eliminating for the future the multiple judge election we have now; one judgeship would be up for election every four years.

    When a new judge replaces me as a Resident Judge, instead of two active superior court judges living in the Orange/Chatham district, the district would have the advantage of three -- two Resident Superior Court Judges and one Recalled Superior Court Judge.

    4. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Criminal Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    A Superior Court Judge in a criminal case must exhibit those basic qualities expected of a good judge in all cases: that the judge conduct the proceedings patiently, politely and conduct the proceedings with an even temper; treat everyone fairly and with respect; and with order and dignity. Among the particular responsibilities of a judge in a criminal case is ensuring that the defendant's constitutional -- such as the protections against self-incrimination and the rights to effective assistance of counsel, to a speedy trial, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures -- are observed. The judge sees that the District Attorney and the Defendant have fulfilled their respective obligations to provide the other with particular evidence, reports and witness statements. The judge must decide often difficult questions as to the admissibility of evidence. After evidence is presented, the judge must decide, as to each charge, whether the State's evidence is sufficient to support a conviction. The judge must determine what jury instructions are to be given in each case, sometimes covering complex legal issues. Finally, if the defendant is convicted, the judge must sentence the defendant, within the framework of the law.

    The best judges in criminal cases have a substantial body of knowledge of criminal law and procedure and an ability to correctly decide legal questions, even when the answer is not obvious. The judge must be well grounded in the often arcane law of evidence. The best judges have the skills of a good lawyer to untangle difficult issues and come to sound conclusions. I have a core knowledge of the law learned in scores and scores of cases over three decades of practice, both in the trial and appellate courts. For example, I was responsible for handling the legal issues when James Ferguson and I defended Darryl Hunt in three murder trials where dozens and dozens of complicated issues arose. I handled successfully two appeals in the Hunt cases based on issues we had presented in the trial courts. In my view, my experience in successfully crafting legal briefs on appeal is a particularly useful credential for a trial judge. When I served as Appellate Defender, I not only handled cases myself, but also reviewed every brief our nine lawyers wrote over five years.

    The best judges are not only learned in the law, but have the temperament, character and experience to make sound judgments. Many rulings by the judge are within the judge's unreviewable discretion within broad boundaries. I believe my long experience in the law and in life equip me well to make good, fair decisions.

    5. What is the judicial function of a Superior Court Judge in Civil Court, and what specifically about your qualifications make you the best candidate to perform this function?

    The basic functions of a Superior Court Judge in civil cases are similar to those in criminal cases as outlined in the answer to question 4 above. The substantive civil law, such as the rules on contracts, property and personal injury, is, of course, different from criminal law. A good judge has substantial knowledge of several areas of civil law, and has the legal ability to decide competing arguments about the law correctly. The judge will spend much of his or her time deciding pre-trial motions in civil cases, motions that require the understanding of both the underlying law and the rules of civil procedure. Mastery of civil procedure does not come quickly

    Judges with little or no experience with civil cases are much more prone to make costly mistakes than those with lots of experience.

    As with criminal law, I have tried many different kinds civil cases in many courts over three decades. I have successfully handled appeals in civil cases in the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals. I consider myself an expert in procedure and in several areas of civil law. I think my record as an appellate lawyer indicates that I have the proven ability to comprehend and decide thorny legal issues.

    6. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Criminal Superior Court?

    I have devoted a significant portion of my professional life to the improvement of criminal justice in the Superior Courts. In the 1960's and 1970's, I represented more than 15 people on death row, including a 16 year old girl from Rocky Mount convicted of killing a shopkeeper in a robbery, a young man in Orange County who was given the death penalty for rape, and a man sentenced to death for burglary. Three things were common in most of these cases: the law was both unfair and unfairly applied. Death penalty for burglary and rape was in practice reserved exclusively for black men who entered the houses of white people or raped white women. And very often the defendant was given only perfunctory representation by court-appointed attorneys. We were successful in reversing some of those cases in the North Carolina Supreme Court. The rest were overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

    North Carolina revised its death penalty law after its statutes were declared unconstitutional. A couple of years later, I agreed to leave private practice to establish the Appellate Defender Office to improve the practice of criminal law in the appellate courts and to have a resource of criminal law experts for trial lawyers to call upon. I was particularly concerned about the quality of advocacy in criminal appeals, especially in death penalty cases, by lawyers not equipped to do appellate work properly. Once the office was established, I was appointed to be the director by Governor Hunt. I was Appellate Defender for five years. The work of the office, continuing and improving with my successors, has substantially improved the quality of representation of indigent criminal defendants in the appellate courts and the quality of criminal representation throughout the system as trial and appellate lawyers consult with the office's lawyers on criminal issues.

    I also was one of the founders of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation and its predecessor organizations and served on its board. It has provided high quality representation of death row inmates and has offered valuable expert assistance to lawyers with pending capital cases. It is one of the very best offices of its kind in the United States.

    I was elected to the NC Bar Council by the lawyers in Orange and Chatham County and served as the Bar Council's chair of the Legal Aid to Indigents Committee. Under my leadership there was a called meeting of the Bar Council resulting in an increase in payment for lawyers in capital cases thereby attracting more competent lawyers for this work and some reforms in the processing of capital cases.

    I have served on a series of committees concerning indigent criminal representation, including one on appointment by Chief Justice Exum and a legislative study commission on appointment by Chief Justice Mitchell. The latter committee recommended the creation of the Indigent Defense Service Commission (IDS), a recommendation I had made in dissenting from the contrary report of Chief Justice Exum's committee ten years earlier.

    The IDS was created by the General Assembly. The problem addressed was that indigent defense in the state was being performed without oversight, accountability or quality control at great expense to the state. I was appointed as a member by the Speaker of the House and served as its first chair. The state funds are now used much more efficiently. At the same time, we have substantially improved defense services. For example, we appointed a Capital Defender who appoints the lawyers in all capital cases, all of whom must apply to be on the capital list. Capital case representation has improved immensely and the number of death verdicts are down, in part because the lawyers in the cases are better qualified to handle these difficult cases. Similarly, the Appellate Defender is now the appointing authority and appoints only lawyers who have demonstrated their qualifications to handle appeals in those defendants not represented by his office. There is progress in other areas and will be more. I continue to serve on the commission and chair two of its committees.

    As a judge, working with others, I will continue to find ways to improve the administration of criminal justice, as I have as a lawyer.

    7. What specifically about your qualifications do you think will enable you to improve the administration of justice in Civil Superior Court?

    Many civil cases take too long to come to resolution and are too expensive to the parties. I have tried scores and scores of many types of civil cases before many different judges in many courts from a stop sign violation auto wreck case to a complicated consumer fraud class action jury trial. I have seen how different courts and the best judges fairly attack these problems. From my experience, I know how to cut unnecessary delay and expense. In medical malpractice cases, for example, there has been an escalation in the number of experts identified by the parties, sometimes totaling more than 50. A reasonable limitation on the number of experts early in the case will save the parties tens of thousands of dollars in expert fees and the costs associated with their depositions and allow the case to be ready for trial much sooner. I drafted a bill that was introduced in the General Assembly to require judges to impose limits on experts. Unfortunately, it was bound up with tort reform measures that never came to a vote.

    Too often, scores of people - parties, witnesses, lawyers and jurors- unnecessarily sit for hours in the courtroom waiting their turn. There are some relatively simple scheduling measures that can be taken to respect their time. Also, judges should insist on deciding as many legal issues as possible before the jury is selected so that jurors do not spend hours in the jury room while legal issues are thrashed out.

    8. What role does ideology play in the performance of this office?

    The rule of law requires judges to apply the law as it is, not as they think it should be. In that sense, ideology has no role. That means that I will have to fairly administer laws with which I disagree. Good lawyers recognize the judges who conscientiously do what the law requires despite their own opinions. In complicated and difficult cases, lawyers on both sides often jointly request the Administrative Office of the Courts to assign a particular judge to their case because they agree that judge is knowledgeable and fair and their clients will see him that way. I hope to be such a judge.

    • 2006 county, legislative and judicial races

    Comments

    Subscribe to this thread:

    Add a comment

    INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

    • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
    • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
    • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

    Permitted HTML:
    • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
    • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
    • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
    • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

    Latest in Candidate Questionnaires

    • Gary Kahn

      Candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council
      • Oct 16, 2013
    • Ed Harrison

      Candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council
      • Oct 16, 2013
    • Sally Greene

      Candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council
      • Oct 16, 2013
    • More »

    Facebook Activity

    Twitter Activity

    Comments

    It sounds like she really knows what she is talking about for the grants section. I never realized this community …

    by Jensen Mott on Kathryn Spann (Candidate Questionnaires)

    The fact is Carolina North is stalled. Swamp gas will be delivered. Electricity and optical fiber are going in the …

    by Russell Scott Day on Sally Greene (Candidate Questionnaires)

    Most Read

    No recently-read stories.

    Visit the archives…

    © 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
    RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation