I am live-blogging the mayoral debate. The candidates are: Augustus Cho, Mark Kleinschmidt, Matt Czajkowski, and Kevin Wolff.
Post-debate commentary: This was generally a very boring debate and was not worth attending, except to witness firsthand the idiosyncrasies of some of the candidates. One of the weirder moments was when a girl piped up to express her love of the Sugarland restaurant and her concern about the presence of the bourgeoisie on Franklin Street.
One of the better lines: Augustus Cho confessed to bartending at what is now Players (“I was a sinner once”, he said).
Click the link below to read the questions and responses.
7:03 – Justin Rosenthal, the Young Democrats co-president, introduces the candidates. “Our interest in civil participation” brought the Republicans and Democrats together. The Roosevelt Institute, a student ‘think tank’, will moderate the event.
7:0 – Opening statements. Note that these are not quotes, but rather paraphrased summaries with my commentary.
Matt Kleinschmidt: Taught high school in Charlotte at an at-risk school. (ran out of time)
Augustus Cho: Alumnus, class of ’82. Worked in marketing, then went to divinity school in Philadelphia. Minister for 12 years. Taught at a South Korean military college. (finished on time)
Matt Czajkowski: Immigrants are cool. My parents were of modest means. Served in U.S. Navy during Vietnam War. Worked in investment-banking and came here 11 years ago. (ran out of time)
Kevin Wolff: Has 3 degrees; grew up in somewhat of an impoverished house. Got a law degree at Indiana University; “I worked hard […] and I played hard.”
Question #1, about Greenbridge apartments: ‘many in Chapel Hill have concerns about change in the Northside community.’
Kleinschmidt: An “invasion” of investors have done very bad things like add bedrooms and bathrooms to houses. Duplexes are bad; we should create a disincentive to build duplexes.
Wolff: Greenbridge is environmentally green. Area around development was “plighted” and should be developed. Minorities make up most of the residents of Northside. We need to protect the neighborhood and “keep [its] character.” Kleinschmidt responds: I have friends in the neighborhood.
Question #2, asking how the University can best use University Square:
Cho: Whatever UNC needs to do to be competitive nationally, I will do as mayor. You only have 4 years to establish a lifetime of memories. I expect UNC to come to the table and fulfill their end of the agreement; if there are issues, we will work it out – I was a student and understand the way things work.
Matt Czajkowksi: Let me talk about Greenbridge, since I agree with everything Cho said. Issue with Northside is that students are renting there, and “average families can’t compete.” We need to “protect the affordable housing that we have.” We should spend money on improving affordable housing. I was the primary advocate on Town Council for setting a deadline with UNC to reach an agreement on Carolina North.
Cho: Bothered me that it’s taken 10 years, half a generation, for the Town Council to get going on Carolina North.
Question #3: Landfill is going to overflow. We clearly need a waste transfer system. What will we do?
Wolff: Waste transfer systems “stink, they take up road space, and they pollute.” Shipping our garbage elsewhere will cost money and increase our carbon footprint. I found it insulting when someone came up with an idea to store waste near the Rogers Road community.
Cho: Comes down to an ecology, ethical and human issue. It is “beyond our capacity” to decide this issue; ‘the county commissers need to decide’ because this is a county issue. We can recycle and support businesses like Whole Foods and Weaver Street Market that practice sustainable waste disposal.
Wolff responds: I agree with Cho. Wolff says students don’t “really appreciate the landfill issue.” Encourages students to recycle; says “if you’re looking for a progressive candidate, I’m it.
Question #4, about mixed use developments:
Czajkowski: Meadowmont Village is suffering as a retail operation; no one who lives there also works there.
Kleinschmidt: Meadowmont has problems because it’s close to the highway. Have to find spaces near current city limits to grow.
Question #5: Describe your vision for revitalizing downtown Chapel Hill.
Kleinschmidt: Let’s go back to the “kind of Chapel Hill that I first came to 21 years ago”, with a diversity of stores. Need a “critical density” of diversity.
Cho: Franklin Street is not a concept. “I was a sinner once” as a bartender at what is now the Players nightclub. Proposes Franklin Street Square… 100 block of East/West Franklin turned into a square to compliment University Square. Chapel Hill faces competitors.
Kleinschmidt: Let’s ‘take the road back’ from the state (with reference to Franklin Street).
Question #6: Parking!
Czajkowski: We have a parking problem. I don’t really know what to do about it other than building more parking downtown.
Wolff: We need ample and free parking. We had it in Indiana. “You’re gonna have to vote for me” if you want action.
Czajkowski: The issue is the issue.
Wolff: Wolff speaks about town safety. Invokes Eve Carson’s death and begins to cry. Reads other headlines, such as pedestrian deaths. Sits down.
Kleinschmidt: When I was a student, we talked about lighting with town police officers and town officials.
Wolff: Doesn’t want to think that town government is responsible for the end of your life “before it is meant to end.”
Cho: We all have to survive, but students have a right to walk up and down Franklin Street without being harrassed.
Czajkowski: I have tried to make the Town Council consider an expansion of the panhandling distance. Panhandling keeps people from coming to or enjoying downtown Chapel Hill.
Kleinschmidt: I help people who are caught in “cycles of poverty and oppresion.” Received Sierra Club endorsement.
Cho: Chapel Hill is a great place to go to university and a great place to live and work. Chapel Hill faces “good problems” brought on by growth. We will rise to the challenge.
Czajkowski: I have sensed a change in the “community activism” recently. When I was your age, “SDS was throwing bombs.” Now, I’m “just an old business guy.” Wants to find internships for students.
Wolff: I am Kevin Wolff and I am running for mayor. I care deeply about you. I am committed.