Chuck Morton | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Chuck Morton 

Candidate for Carrboro Mayor

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Chuck Morton
Full legal name, if different: Charles W. Morton
Date of birth: June 25, 1957
Home address: 102-D Laurel Avenue, Carrboro, NC 27510
Mailing address, if different from home: Use the home address
Campaign Web site:
Occupation & employer: Tarheel Takeout, delivery driver (but I’m looking….)
Home phone: 919-636-2705
Work phone: 919-636-2705
Cell phone: 919-636-2705
E-mail: or

1) What do you believe are the most important issues facing Carrboro? If elected, what are your top priorities in addressing those issues?

As Carrboro enters a period of rapid growth and redevelopment, the biggest challenge before the Board of Aldermen will be to manage that growth while maintaining the appealing small-town charm Carrboro has always enjoyed. Real estate prices have skyrocketed in recent years, pricing many of our young people and longtime local families right out of this market. Carrboro has always been an inclusive community. We must continue to work to create home ownership and business opportunities within our borders. I would like to see more of a full spectrum of housing options, and I agree with the town’s goal of doubling its’ commercial tax base.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the board? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

In the past 8 years, I have served on the town’s Appearance Commission, and in that capacity have been involved in the planning process. Since 1999, I have attended joint review meetings, and deliberated and commented upon each development proposal as part of that planning process. This has given me a working knowledge of town procedures, and the issues that arise before, during, and after the construction of new developments.

I have also served on the Carrboro Vernacular Architectural Standards Review Board. The Vernacular Architectural Standards have figured prominently in new proposals in recent years, with perhaps the greatest success in recent years being the new Carrboro High School. The architects of Carrboro High used those VAS recommendations to present a new building that references 100 years of historical Carrboro architecture.

3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I choose not to define myself politically. This is my first foray into politics. While I have always been interested in the political process, and have worked on many campaigns over the years, I am uncomfortable with the way politics has been corrupted in recent years. Since the advent of media, particularly television, politics has been more about fundraising and media campaigns than issues.

To this end, I have vowed to myself that I do not want and will not accept donations for my campaign. In this small town, I can effectively get my message out by knocking on doors, and talking to people one on one. Computer technology is moving us into a new information era, and to that end I have created my web site, There I have posted my issue essays and biographical information, and tried to convey a sense of who I am and what is important to me. This costs me $9 a month, and has been effective at getting my name and personality known around town.

I have printed business cards on my home computer for a minimal cost, and hand them out freely. I leave my calling cards at any doors I knock on where no one is home. That way, I can deliver my message personally to the voter’s door, rather than paying big bucks for direct mail.

My tiny bumper stickers I bought online, 250 of them for $40. That has been so far my largest budget item. For twenty bucks at Kinko’s I made something that will serve as yard signs. I have spent thus far $96 on this campaign, and this has allowed Mark Chilton to similarly economize. Without the pressure to raise funds, we have been able to concentrate on the issues of the town. Thus far, I feel we have managed to have substantive discussions at the candidate forums and in media interviews. I am rather proud that we have both been able to run such a clean, simple, and transparent campaign.

Mark and I are neighbors in a small town. Although we had not particularly met before, I am pleased with the cordial and even warm relationship I am forming with my opponent. This is how politics should be, and can be. (Full disclosure – I did take a $25 contribution from my mother.)

4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

Locating commercial space in the Northern Transition Area (where there is none currently) will be controversial. Wherever commercial space is located, there will be opposition from adjoining properties, and some of the rezoned property owners. Many of the most logical sites are family land owned by prominent local families. While this will boost land values of the selected properties, it would also incur additional tax burdens to the current owners. Property is valued at market value for tax purposes; I think we may need to find a way to tax at current use rather than possible uses. This will be a delicate dance with the property owners, other municipalities, and the county.

5) Large building projects like that under way by Main Street Partners and the Greenbridge development just across the line in Chapel Hill will change Carrboro’s landscape and its character in the near future. What is your vision for the town’s long-range development? What are the pros and cons of commercial and residential development?

Both of these examples are mixed-use properties. Both will contribute to the character of the neighborhood by adding residents and businesses. More to do and more people doing it, so to speak.

Greenbridge offers an extra challenge, though. Those million-dollar deluxe apartments in the sky contribute to the stunning rise in property values nearby, including my house. We risk pricing out the majority of our citizens if all that gets built around here is top-end properties. To balance out Greenbridge and others that will surely come, we need to induce developers to construct a full spectrum of housing choices.

6) How will you deal with growth in Carrboro given its limited physical boundaries? By extension, what are your viewpoints regarding high-density housing and its placement?

Carrboro has wisely chosen to grow up rather than out. This will lead to higher density, especially downtown. Carrboro can afford to be selective in approving proposals. Any that don’t suit the town’s master plan will not likely be built. This will limit growth rather effectively.

7) How should development be handled in the Northern Study Area, and would you support any future moratoriums there?

I would rather not see more of the bland suburbia that has been built in the Northern Study Area recently. Even Winmore, the first proposal under the Village Mixed-Use ordinance, has been somewhat of a disappointment. The end result there is very traditional, with essentially no neighborhood commercial in the mix.

The current moratorium will end soon, yet there has been no real progress on planning for the future there. I would favor extending the moratorium until we know we have some consensus about what we want, as well as what we don’t want.

8) What important town departments or agencies have been, in your opinion, chronically underfunded? What have been the ramifications of that shortage? If elected, where would you find the money to more fairly fund these areas? Conversely, what department or agency budgets could be cut?

Before commenting substantially on budgets, I would like more time to study the current and past budgets. From my conversations with town employees, I get the sense that the town has provided well for the most critical needs. The town must prioritize closely though, as its budget is finite. Rather than finding more money, I would prefer to look first at where the current funds are going. Let’s assure ourselves that the town’s money is spent in a cost-effective manner before seeking more.

9) Earlier this year, the board heard a fiscal presentation about a pay-as-you-throw trash system. What do you think of the system from a financial, environmental and practical standpoint? If you approve, how would any additional costs be covered? If you disapprove, what are some alternatives?

At this time I would not support the pay-as-you-throw system. The current system is functioning well, and encourages recycling and trash reduction. There may be merit to the pay-as-you-go system, but I fear it may well have some unintended consequences. Charging per bag may well lead to increased illegal dumping. I am open to suggestions here, and I think this will be a recurring issue for many years to come. There may well be ways to incorporate the intentions of the pay-as-you-go system into the current rate structure. Rest assured, the matter will be before the next board soon enough, and will receive due deliberation.

10) Carrboro emphasizes locally owned, import-substituting economic development. What is your opinion of that policy? Has it, in your view, succeeded? How can it be improved?

hink this policy serves the town well whether or not it succeeds. I believe that locally owned businesses contribute far more to the local community than large multinational corporations. I believe limiting our national dependence on imports is vital to the health of our nation.Whatever Carrboro does will have little real impact on global macroeconomics, but any little thing we can do to improve the world (and our little part of it) is a noble effort. Perhaps leading by example will inspire other towns to do the same. Carrboro is trying to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Right on.

11) Carrboro is participating in the Jordan Lake Stakeholder Project to help manage this resource, which is polluted and threatened by growth and development. What is Carrboro’s responsibility in mitigating these threats? What policies should the Board of Aldermen enact to help protect water quality and quantity in Jordan Lake?

Jordan Lake is important to me personally. It is my sanctuary, the place where my dog and I walk whenever possible. The Audubon Society trails at the Indian Creek Wildlife Observation Site are my pressure relief valve. I have walked there for almost 20 years, participating in trail cleanups and observing the ebb and flow of the lake. I have seen the clams grow fat on algae blooms from fertilizer runoff, only to die in the recent drought as the lake is drained to water those same lawns.

Carrboro is just a small part of that watershed, but perhaps we can lead by example. I would like to discourage routine landscape irrigation and the applications of herbicides and fertilizers. I would like to re-educate people to develop more realistic lawn and garden care principles. On these issues I would defer to the expertise of my wife, Wendy, and many horticultural experts who know so much more on this subject than I.

  • Candidate for Carrboro Mayor

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