Pittsboro 2011 endorsements | Our Endorsements | Indy Week
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Pittsboro 2011 endorsements 


Mayor

This Chatham County town of 2,800 is home to lifelong residents and serves as a bedroom community for Triangle residents seeking a more bucolic (and cheaper) lifestyle.

click to enlarge Randy Voller
  • Randy Voller

It's a progressive town, especially compared with greater Chatham County's rightward lean. We endorse a progressive candidate, incumbent mayor Randy Voller, for a fourth two-year term. Voller is committed to the success of Pittsboro. He is a highly visible mayor, not only interacting with citizens but also working with officials in other counties on regional solutions. He is extremely knowledgeable about the economic, environmental, transit and social issues facing Pittsboro. We believe he should continue to serve as mayor.

In his next term, Voller says he would continue to strengthen downtown and its homegrown businesses, encourage infill development as opposed to sprawl, work on an improved land use plan and upgrade the quality and availability of water and sewer resources.

Water and sewer capacity and service is a crucial issue facing Pittsboro. The town has received its permit to expand the wastewater treatment plant, and in the meantime it has updated and renovated water and sewer facilities.

Water and sewer user rates were unchanged this fiscal year, but Voller acknowledges that it will be challenging to keep the rates steady in light of the costs of a new wastewater treatment plant. He proposes selling more reuse water to industrial customers, including 3M, a large manufacturer in Pittsboro, and possibly issuing a bond or asking private developers to help build the facility.

Voller has taken several principled and progressive stands, including opposition to the 287(g) immigration program and his cooperation with advocacy groups and U.S. Rep. David Price to obtain a government audit of safety issues at nearby Shearon Harris nuclear plant. He also opposes fracking, which is relevant because Chatham County is among the areas in North Carolina targeted by energy companies for that environmentally hazardous practice.

Fiscal conservatives should be pleased that Pittsboro has not raised taxes in six years. Meanwhile, the town has built and renovated parks, greenways and sidewalks—basic quality-of-life amenities that affect citizens' daily lives.

Jim Nass is his opponent. An independent management consultant, he did not return a questionnaire.


Board of Commissioners

Seven candidates are running for three seats on the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners. They each serve four-year terms. We endorse Beth Turner and Bett Wilson Foley for two of those seats.

Turner has lived in Pittsboro for 14 years. Her nonprofit and service work is impressive, including her post as volunteer coordinator for the HIV/ AIDS Council (now known as Chatham Social Health). She also served on the board of directors for the Chatham Marketplace, completed the Leadership Triangle's program and co-founded Girls Rock NC.

She supports efforts to bring affordable housing to Pittsboro, especially the Houses of Hope model, which emphasizes green building and reuse. This is crucial, considering the effects of the economic downturn on families. For example, 900 applicants are on the waiting list for Section 8 housing.

Part of her vision for Pittsboro includes strengthening downtown businesses and the economy.

Turner opposes fracking because of its potential to contaminate the water supply. And as for the wastewater treatment plant, she supports a collaboration between Chatham County and the city of Sanford to build the facility.

click to enlarge Bett Wilson Foley
  • Bett Wilson Foley

Foley grew up in Pittsboro, traveled extensively and then moved back to her hometown seven years ago. She works in the nonprofit sector, in fundraising and communications for the United Way and Habitat for Humanity. She also served on the Partnership for Children board.

Foley supports many progressive causes, including protected green spaces and clean transit. She also envisions a vibrant downtown business and arts scene. She sees collaboration with federal, state and local elected officials as way to address some of Pittsboro's economic challenges, while collaborating on regional solutions.

Like Turner, Foley advocates for affordable housing and recommends boosting the local economy—the Townsend plant in Chatham County has closed—with clean-energy jobs. She also supports siting a small hospital in Pittsboro to serve Chatham County residents and add jobs.

Ray Kelley is a nursing home administrator and co-owns Cambridge Hills Assisted Living in Pittsboro. He served on the steering committee of the Small Town Main Street program, which is designed to help towns with fewer than 7,500 people create jobs and revitalize their downtowns. Kelley is a conservative, although he quickly notes in his questionnaire that the term "has lost its meaning in modern day politics." His questionnaire bears that out: His answers were those of more moderate conservatism and did not echo the tea party fringe. We were disappointed that he did not take a stand against fracking, however. This stance, which we consider crucial, is a key reason for not endorsing him. However, if you are a conservative, Kelley would be a good choice.

He possibly could be a better choice than incumbent Clinton Bryan III, who, for an elected official, seems to be invisible. He was appointed to fill the seat left by his father and then was elected to the board in November 2007. However, Bryan did not return an Indy questionnaire in '07; nor did he this year. He was also a no-show at the League of Women Voters forum during both election cycles—he had a business commitment and couldn't attend this year's event. We feel Bryan should take these opportunities to inform voters of his stances.

John Clifford is a small-business owner and has lived in Pittsboro for four and a half years. He did not respond to the Indy's questionnaire; nor did Jay Farrell or Chris Grulke.

Jeremy Shaffer has withdrawn from the race.


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