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Chapel Hill seeks to sever ties with Russian city; Carrboro alderwoman says not so fast

Staff writersAugust 24, 2013 

While Chapel Hill’s mayor has called for breaking ties with its Russian sister city over the country’s persecution of homosexuals, a Carrboro alderwoman says there may be good reason to keep those channels open.

Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle, who is also running for mayor, said she and Alderman Damon Seils, both of whom are gay, decided Friday to get more information before taking a position. Carrboro and nearby Chapel Hill share a sister city in Saratov, Russia, but the ties have faded over time. Seils said Carrboro’s last contact was in 1997.

But Saratov, like Carrboro, could be more progressive than the surrounding countryside, Lavelle said. It would be the same situation if Carrboro had a European sister city and was rejected because of North Carolina’s policies, she said.

“I think they’d really be missing the boat,” she said.

In Chapel Hill, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and Town Council member Lee Storrow, two gay men, will petition the council this fall to sever ties with Saratov. Durham is the only other Triangle city with a Russian counterpart. A committee considered ending that relationship with Kostroma, Russia, a few weeks ago but thought it would be counterproductive, a spokeswoman said.

The issue of Russian-U.S. ties through the International Sister Cities program arose Thursday when Equality NC called on North Carolina cities to protest Russian anti-gay policies and bias.

Candidates take to the TV

The Raleigh City Council race is heating up with the first round of TV ads. North Raleigh District A challenger Wayne Maiorano this week unveiled a 30-second spot he’ll be running on local cable networks.

In the commercial, Maiorano promises “common-sense leadership” that can “make Raleigh better.” He doesn’t take any shots at his opponent, incumbent Randy Stagner.

Maiorano’s campaign says he’s using targeted cable to hit North Raleigh households, along with YouTube and Internet ads directed at specific zip codes. The attorney and political newcomer has held more fundraisers so far than any other council challengers, though the results have not yet appeared in finance reports.

District D challenger Jim Kemp Sherron also posted a commercial on YouTube this week.

Meanwhile, Raleigh incumbents are off to a strong fundraising start, according to campaign finance records. Mayor Nancy McFarlane’s filing Monday showed that she had already raised $125,000 this election cycle, including $25,000 out of her own pocket.

Other top fundraisers so far include incumbents Stagner and Russ Stephenson at more than $30,000 apiece and Thomas Crowder with about $18,000. Many challengers had raised only several hundred dollars by early this month.

4 get nod for Durham

Durham City Council candidates Omar Beasley and Pam Karriker gained their second major endorsements in the fall election this week.

The business-oriented Friends of Durham chose Beasley, a bail bondsman and volunteer track coach, over three rivals for the Ward 2 council seat: retired educator Eddie Davis, funeral-home owner Franklin Hanes and financial adviser Del Mattioli.

The group favored Karriker, a former Durham County commissioner, over incumbent Councilman Don Moffitt in Ward 3.

Ward 1 incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden won an endorsement, though she is unopposed, and Mayor Bill Bell got the nod for a seventh two-year term over challengers Michael Paul Valentine, a business consultant, and minister Sylvester Williams.

The Friends of Durham endorsements matched those announced earlier by the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. The groups are two of Durham’s three major political-action organizations. The third, the self-described “progressive” Durham People’s Alliance, holds its endorsement meeting Tuesday.

School leaders turn it red

Wake County school board members will be wearing red at board meetings and in schools to make a point about teacher pay.

Board members used words like “disaster,” “crash” and “collapse” this week to express their frustration over the state budget not including pay raises for teachers. School board Chairman Keith Sutton urged his colleagues to act on fellow board member Tom Benton’s suggestion to wear red as a “symbol of your support for teachers.”

“We’ve seen a lot of groups come through before this board,” Sutton said. “One of the most effective things that we’ve seen is when groups wear a color. We’ve seen green shirts and yellow shirts and that sort of thing.”

But Sutton, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, said you shouldn’t expect him to wear “Wolfpack Red.”

Compiled by Tammy Grubb, Colin Campbell, Jim Wise and T. Keung Hui.

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