Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Triangle Politics: In special Carrboro election, this candidate is a shoo-in

March 15, 2013 

Damon Seils looks like a shoo-in Tuesday for an open seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

Seils, the first vice chairman of the town’s Planning Board, is the only candidate running in a special election for former Alderman Dan Coleman’s seat. Seils is a health services researcher at Duke University.

All Carrboro precincts will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The aldermen voted to hold the election now rather than as part of the November municipal elections. It will cost the town about $12,000.

After Coleman’s controversial 2006 appointment to replace newly elected Mayor Mark Chilton, the board voted in 2007 to amend the town charter. The amendment requires a special election to fill future vacancies if the departing member’s term has a year or more left.

Coleman resigned from the board in December to move with his family to Melbourne, Australia, where his wife accepted a teaching position at Monash University. His term runs through December 2015.

This is the first – and possibly last – time the charter amendment will be used. The board is asking the N.C. General Assembly for another charter change so the aldermen can choose to fill future vacancies by special election or appointment.

Districts called ‘power grab’

A proposal by Republican state lawmakers to change how and when Wake County school board members are elected is drawing opposition from liberal advocacy groups.

In a blog post Thursday, Rob Schofield, director of research and policy development of N.C. Policy Watch, wrote that Senate Bill 325 “would change the rules of how school board members are elected in the capital county in a way that is clearly designed to alter the board’s power structure and move things in a conservative direction.”

The bill would revise the current boundaries, create two regional districts each representing half the county and move elections to even-numbered years. The bill would extend by seven months the terms of three Republican board members and end 17 months early the terms of five members of the Democratic board majority.

“It’s hard to believe that anyone could advance such a blatant power grab with a straight face,” Schofield writes. “Given their record thus far in the 2013 session, however, it appears that neither shame nor embarrassment are conditions that tend to afflict the conservative ideologues running the show on Jones Street.”

Our great Main Street

Franklin Street is unlike any other community’s Main Street, Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said in his annual State of the Town address.

People have taken notice of the community’s work to make the street one of the Triangle’s “premiere entertainment destinations,” Kleinschmidt said Monday.

Franklin Street was one of six finalists – although not the People’s Choice winner – in this year’s Great Main Streets contest sponsored by the N.C. Chapter of the American Planning Association. Hillsborough’s Churton Street made the list last year.

In his speech, the mayor also reflected on a time, years ago, when he worked in downtown Durham.

“Since then, they’ve done a lot of work, and it’s a great and inspiring place to be,” Kleinschmidt said. “To acknowledge that doesn’t diminish the greatness of our Main Street – Franklin Street. We knew years ago that to continue to keep it successful, we needed to put more eyes on the street to make it a safer place, we needed to make sure it was well lit, we needed to put more bodies and beds on Franklin Street. Over the course of a great deal of time, we are now seeing the fruits of that effort.”

For a look at all six Great Main Streets finalists and the winners, go online to http://bit.ly/WsBwhZ.

Political Trails

• Bob Hall of Democracy NC will speak about voter ID laws at the meeting of Wake County Senior Democrats on Wednesday at the Crabtree Marriott Hotel on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. A Dutch lunch will begin at 11 a.m. with the program following. The meeting is open to the public.

• The Wake County Republican Party will hold its 2013 County Convention on March 26 at the Kerr Scott Building at the N.C. State Fairgrounds. Event registration and payment is required. Visit www.WakeGOP.org to register. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and formal business begins at 6 p.m.

Compiled by staff writers Tammy Grubb and T. Keung Hui.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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