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Easthom favors appointing fifth-highest but not herself

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Incumbent Town Council member Laurin Easthom says the current council should decide on a process for replacing Bill Strom soon and that process should include appointing the fifth-place finisher in November's election. If she happens to finish fifth out of eight candidates, though, she wouldn't seek appointment.

"I would want to be elected because I've done it before, so for me, it would be a loss if I wasn't in the top four," she said. "If there are not five seats on the ballot, then in my opinion, I didn't win my seat back on the council, and I don't think that the council should turn around and appoint me."

As a first-time candidate in 2005, Easthom led the field with 3,788 votes representing two-thirds of voters.

"Personally, I've got have the people choose me. I don't want to be appointed by a council," she said. "If I lost this time around, and then two years later there was a vacancy, I wouldn't put my name in."

Easthom said she would have preferred to have five people on the ballot, but Strom's resignation came too late for that.

"Having an agreement that the council appoint the fifth-place finisher seems OK to me," Easthom said. "My really true feeling and goal is that the citizens feel that they have put the fifth person in."

I'm contacting the other candidates to ask about their positions on the appointment process. Jim Merritt, who was appointed to replace the late Bill Thorpe last fall, said he'd have to get back to me later today about whether he'd take a second appointment should he finish fifth.

"I'd never thought of it in those terms because I plan to be first place," Merritt said with a laugh.



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When we talk about "buying" a politician, we usually mean that the politician would act a certain way because of who gave him or her money. When I go to the reports for CH candidates at the SBOE website, I don't see those kinds of contributions.

Do contributions under a specified number of dollars, say $250, $100, $50 or $5 from friends, associates or those who like your positions or agree with your agenda mean that they have "bought" you? To what degree were our local officials obligated to people other than their constituents before?

Fred - any theories on why Edith Wiggins

refused to disclose her list of donors in 1997?

Let's be real - anyone who has pondered human nature for longer than the length of a TV commercial intuitively understands the connection between business interest political donations and the expectation of some kind of payback. It is disingenuous to suggest that the Board of Elections keeps track of anything more than who & how much.

I Don't Know

what happened almost 12 years ago.  Look for yourself at the candidates' reports under the rules in operation now and tell us what troubles you?

The other problem is that you seem to reject the notion that constituents with a variety of interests have a right to contribute to candidates.  Let the voters decide for themselves on how they feel about money a candidate has taken.

Can you point out local instances oh donations and payback?

Only if we know who donated

If we don't know who gave money to a candidate, then we can't understand the connections. Usually, it's long past the election when final reports are filed.

One local example that springs to mind instantly is the big developer support for Bunky Morgan.



Mark, I'm talking about our local municipal elections.  Note the reporting rules.  Sure, candidates play games all the time with their reports, but if more people took an interest (and voted) the candidates would be held accountable.  But it still comes down to which dollars you will call "suspect" and someone else won't.

Splitting hairs (and county lines)

Hard for me to believe that the Orange-Chatham line divides the potentially corrupt from the angelic.

Not Splitting

You are talking about a partisan county election and I am talking about municipal elections which are nonpartisan.  Do some research in the data and you will see the big differences.  This has nothing to do with which county it is, it has everything to do with what kind of election it is.


in name only. Not the demopublican kind but partisan none-the-less.

I can't figure out how

business interest who channel money to partisan races  would somehow never channel money to non-partisan races. Where is the magic?

You are not following -

All sorts of interests channel money to races, you apparently just see some of it as evil and other money as OK.  When you send a check to a candidate is there a message?

Yes - like just about everyone

I know that if myself and 20 other citizens independently give $50 each, that money is not as powerful as Progress Energy giving $1000 (5 execs give $200 apiece or something like that).

I think that observation ranks right up there in profundity with the notion that balls tend to roll downhill.


look at the data in past elections to see the extent that it happens.  When it does, there are options: voters can reject those who accept money they feel uncomfortable about or still go with their support of the person.

One caution when you go through the data - just because someone works for what you see as "evil" business interests, it doesn't mean that they are advocating; they may be constituents who just work there. When you were chair of OWASA and you made a contribution, were people likely to read something into that contribution?

Trouble is

Nobody knows who's taking money from developers or whoever until it's too late.

And, of course, at a certain point individual intelligence has to come into play. Someone may notice that I've given $100 to a progressive controlled-growth, environmental candidate & they can then decide whether or not I gave that money because I'm a builder or an environmental activist or a roller hockey player looking for quid pro quo. Clearly there's not much in the way of personal aggrandizement going on. Simple enough. 

On the other hand they can see a candidate who receives money from several business interests and make a judgment on that. No need to over-think. There's potential money to be made in this arrangement.

Public Financed Election

Publicly financed elections would solve most of the countries problems by eliminating the corruption that permeates politics on all levels. Corporations could no longer buy politicians. Accepting public financing is not taking tax payer money to benefit the individual politician; but, creating an environment for free and fair elections, and allowing politicians to vote their conscience and not their pocketbooks. Mr. Kleinschmidt was one of the proponents of publicly financed elections and rightfully agreed to work within the system that the Chapel Hill Town Council has set up. He will be obligated to no one but his constituents.

Clear it Up

When the good ole N&O calls, I answer. I'm not sure how that means I am vying for attention. Also, what is pottery week? If my answer is confusing, and not sure why it is so hard to understand, I will clarify. I believe that we have an excellent slate of candidates for consideration before the voters. I am not sure that we could add a fifth place to the ballot so voters could pick five. But if we could, that is my preference. If not, I think having a council, be it this one, or the next one, appoint the fifth place finisher, is the way to proceed.

Just Desserts

I suggest that all those who think the voters could best decide who replaces Strom should submit their names to the town council for consideration in their selection as the chosen replacement.

This would mean that, by law, they'd have to consider hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of candidates. By the time they did that, the elections would be over and the voting public would have already decided on who the best candidate would be.

More of LE's Convoluted Thinking

MK, far and away the best qualified candidate for mayor, ought to be a shoe-in in November.

Another worthy mayoral candidate would be Sally Greene, if she'd run.

LE, on the other hand, has proven to be a less than stellar member and should stop wasting the council's time promoting "pottery week" and vying for attention by nattering on about this appointment.

Glad to see JM has a sense of humor and intends to stick around Town Hall.

A shoe in November?

I can attest that he is a heel now, so maybe he will be a shoe in November.

I think that is a very

I think that is a very principled position. Kudos Ms. Easthom.

Claudius, you cannot be serious!

Mark Kleinschmidt has no interest in doing what is the best thing for his constituents. After all, he is one of only two who signed up for "voter owned elections" aka "taxpayer subsidized election campaigns". How is that in the taxpayers'/voters' best interest?  Or, lifetime healthcare for the town council for that matter- he voted for that too. 

Time for him to go.  Seems like he is only interested in what the town can do for HIM.

Hello? Mr. Kleinschmidt?

I find it interesting that Mr. Kleinschmidt is the sole candidate who has yet to make a comment and tell us where he stands on the issue.

Could he have an agenda we're not aware of yet?

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About the blogger

Jesse James DeConto is the government reporter for Chapel Hill and Orange County for The News & Observer and The Chapel Hill News.