Gary Wallach has dropped out of the race for a seat on Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
His decision leaves six candidates aiming for three positions. Michelle Brownstein (who Wallach has thrown his weight behind), MaryAnne Gucciardi, J.M. Green, incumbent Gregory McElveen, Christine Lee and Susana Dancy remain in the race.
Wallach also ran in 2007. He finished last, 333 votes behind Michael Kelly, among a group of five candidates with four seats open.
He issued the following statement about his decision this time around:
In one way, running for office a second time is like having your second child.
You loved the first child and after a few years, you forget how hard it was to have him or her. You begin to think, wouldn’t it be great to have another one.
Well, running for school board the first time was wonderful fun, but like having a child, very labor intensive. In retrospect, after I got past the anxiety of all the forums, the position statements (there were three forums, one was televised, about 15 typewritten pages of answers to questions from various organizations and media outlets), radio interviews (2), a television interview and more meetings in a short period of time than any reasonable person would want, I felt it was one of the best things I’ve done. It was great meeting people and listening to their concerns and sharing my thoughts and hearing them tell me they would vote for me.
So having remembered the fun part, I decided to throw my hat in the ring once again. Now that I’m experiencing the reality of running again, I decided to re-think my decision.
My priorities continue to be: To make the district more accountable to its students, parents and teachers.
To make the educational opportunities equal whether a student attends a high economic status school or a low economic status school.
To have a top to bottom review of the budget with a special eye to whether the programs are working and worth the cost and whether or not the expenditures are in line with the district’s strategic plan.
And To increase the time for, and availability of, training for teachers and aides.
Having said all this, I am, with mixed emotions, taking my hat out of the proverbial ring and not pursuing the campaign.
I would like to thank all the wonderful people who supported me in the past and said they were glad to see I was going to give it another try.
Finally, I would like to ask people who believed I would have helped the district to support Michelle Brownstein, who I believe will make an excellent Board member.
Two hours, more than a dozen public comments (it seemed more people spoke than didn't in the packed meeting) and healthy discussion didn't bring Orange County Commissioners any closer to selecting a waste transfer station site Tuesday night.
The board voted 4-3 to consider all four remaining sites with the hope of selecting one by Dec. 7. It was the latest twist in a controversial selection process that's lingered on for more than a year now.
"I've almost been rendered speechless by where we are," Commissioner Mike Nelson said. "I completely understand where the public has lost trust in the process."
The four options remaining are the Dennis Howell property along N.C. Hwy 54, shipping trash to Durham's waste transfer station and two sites, one owned by the Town of Chapel Hill and one 10-acre site owned by the county, along Millhouse Road.
Many of the residents who spoke voiced concern of the high cost of siting and maintaining a transfer station, the danger and increased traffic created by large trucks and the smell of garbage. They included Will Raymond, running for Chapel Hill Town Council, a new resident who closed on his home 10 days ago, a 15-year-old student of Emerson Waldorf School, which is nearby the Millhouse Road sites, and residents of the Rogers Road community, among a host of others.
The three dissenting votes came from Chairwoman Valerie Foushee, Alice Gordon and Nelson, who opposed the county-owned Millhouse site because it was not considered in the process outlined by the board. Nelson also made a motion to ask Hillsborough to ship its trash to Durham as the transfer station delay may necessitate keeping open a landfill in Orange County that's already nearing capacity. It failed 2-5 with Foushee voting in favor.
The Chapel Hill Town Council will hold a special closed meeting Friday to discuss acquiring a 70,000 square foot property along Weaver Dairy Road. There's also the matter of filling the council seat vacated by Bill Strom.
The council wasn't scheduled to meet until Sept. 14, and because Friday's special meeting is the first since Strom resigned abruptly Aug 1., the mayor will make a formal announcement of the vacancy, setting the process in motion.
In a memo to the council, Foy proposes the following timeline:
September 4: vacancy announced and applications accepted
October 2: deadline for applications to be filed
October 12: Council Business Meeting to review applications and make nominations.
November 9: Applicants will have an opportunity to make brief remarks regarding their interests in serving on the Town Council and Council may make an appointment that evening.
There are still two-and-a-half years left in Strom's term, and the issue of how to fill his seat is sticky given that the town is in the midst of an election cycle. Four seats, those of Laurin Easthom, Ed Harrison, Mark Kleinschimdt and Jim Merrittt are up for grabs. Harrison, Easthom and Merritt are vying for re-election while Kleinschmidt is running for mayor. Residents Jon Dehart, Gene Pease, Matt Pohlman, Will Raymond and Penny Rich are challenging for the seats.
The process outlined by the mayor seems to exclude the possibility of appointing a fifth place finisher to fill Strom's term. Election Day is Nov. 3 and results won't be certified until Nov. 16. That means the candidates would have to apply for the seat before the results are in, and many are reluctant to do so, worrying about what message it may send to voters.
Mayor Bill Bell and incumbent Council members Cora Cole-McFadden, Howard Clement and Mike Woodard received the endorsement of the Durham People's Alliance, a progressive political action committee.
According to PA spokesman Milo Pyne, about 60 people attended its meeting Tuesday night.
The Indy will issue its endorsements for the Durham primary Sept. 16, the day before early voting begins. The primary will be held Oct. 6, with the general election to follow Nov. 3.
Unlike two years ago, when Thomas Stith raised upwards of 20 Grand, including a $4,000 windfall from the conservative Pope family, for an unsuccessful mayoral run, there are no major campaign finance earthquakes in the Durham council and mayoral races, according to reports filed today.
Over the last month, Ward I incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden has raised nearly $2,400 in campaign contributions, including $390 in amounts of $50 or less and $2,000 in larger amounts.
A chunk of her money, $1,000, came from Durham businessman Ralph Owens, $300 from Larry McFadden, $200 from David Hundy, an accountant in Hansen Hills, Calif.; $100 each from Durham Realtor Jon Parker, pastor Jesse Jones, contractor H. Michael Spears, Sharon Elliott-Bynum, a nurse; and William Forte Jr.
Cole-McFadden has spent $1,776.
Meanwhile, Ward I challenger Donald Hughes has raised $779: $379 in contributions of $50 or less and $400 in larger amounts. Joining Hughes’ $100 club is Durham County Commissioner Joe Bowser, Ann Slifkin, a lawyer and Superior court-certified mediator; R. Bradley Long, who works in marketing for Adam & Eve, an adult novelty store; and F.V. Allison Jr., who serves on the American Dance Festival Board and is married to a Lavonia Allison, who leads the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
Hughes has spent $145.
As for Ward II incumbent Howard Clement, the only notable contribution to his campaign—and the only one, period—is $100 from Craigie Sanders, attorney for K&L Gates, which is pushing two controversial proposals: the 751 Assemblage development near Jordan Lake and the amendments to the billboard ordinance.
Campaign finance reports for the Durham primary election were due by 5 p.m. today. Look for updates on Ward III and other filers tomorrow.