The one contested Orange County Board of Commissioners race, District 2 (all of Orange minus Chapel Hill and Carrboro), pits Democrat Earl McKee against Republican Greg Andrews.
WE ENDORSE Earl McKee, whose experience on the Orange County Planning Board and lessons learned during a hard-fought primary gives him a better understanding of how government works.
Pros: McKee has served in county government and he returned our questionnaire. Andrews hasn't done either. McKee also has shown an ability to learn and adapt. He informs us that he learned more about the complexities of county financing while running for office and now understands how much money is tied to federal and state programs.
Cons: McKee is conservative on fiscal issues and moderate on social issues. While he lists taxing and spending as his top issue, we would like to see more detail on exactly what he considers superfluous spending in the current budget. McKee echoes Andrews in calling to reduce spending and streamline planning and permitting processes.
Campaign finance: McKee has raised $14,000 so far, including $75 from Ted Triebel (former Orange County Schools board member) and $100 from Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Clayton; Andrews has raised $2,857 through July. Notable contributors include Martha Jenkins, secretary of the N.C. GOP ($25).
We see no reason to deny Lindy Pendergrass an eighth term in charge and WE ENDORSE him. While a Hollywood producer might like the ring of Sheriff Buddy Parker, he hasn't convinced us that he's the one to replace Pendergrass.
Pros: Pendergrass continues to guide an effective and fair sheriff's office. A lifelong Orange County resident (as is Parker), Pendergrass understands and has helped establish policing culture here. He served as a Chapel Hill policeman from 1957 to 1982, when he was elected sheriff. Pendergrass opposes Secure Communities 287(g), which would authorize local police to act as border agents and he refuses to set up checkpoints or target immigrants.
Cons: Parker, who served as a Hillsborough Police Department sergeant, is half Pendergrass' age (76). Pendergrass appears forever young on the beat though, still working his early morning shifts with delight. Challenger Clarence Birkhead did raise several issues that need to be addressed in the department, including a crowded county jail and the need to upgrade radios.
Campaign finance: Pendergrass has raised $12,250 through July, all in small donations: $150 from Fred Cates, the former Hillsborough mayor who died in August, and $100 each from private investigator Larry Flannery and retired police officer Charles Horne; Parker has raised $1,860.
Other endorsements: Pendergrass: N.C. Sheriff Police Alliance
This referendum presents a dilemma for many voters. Many have protested against high property tax rates and contend that the county places too much of a tax burden on residences and not enough on commercial developments. With this referendum, those voters have to choose between not raising taxes and supporting economic development. We join the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Orange County and Chapel Hill-Carrboro chambers of commerce, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA and Orange County Justice United in endorsing the quarter-cent sales tax increase as a means to help stabilize taxes for homeowners and to add much-needed funding to county coffers for infrastructure improvements.
We endorse the sales tax increase.
If the tax is passed, county commissioners have committed to a five-year plan allocating 42.5 percent of funding to business loans, grants and other business recruiting tools, and 42.5 percent to be split evenly between the county's two school districts. The remaining 15 percent is earmarked to meet the demand for libraries and improve emergency medical services, which have come under scrutiny for slow response times.
The sales tax would rise to 8 percent, in line with 15 other N.C. counties. The majority, including Wake and Durham, charge 7.75 percent.
OUR CHOICE: For
Pros: The tax would not be applied to food, prescription drugs or gas. It would raise $2.3 million annually.
Cons: The land transfer tax issue failed in 2008, and we worry that another failed referendum could start a trend that would make it difficult to pass a half-cent sales tax increase for transit, which would help regional economic development.