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Who is going to control Chatham County? Chatham residents or outside developers?

By Jeffrey Starkweather
Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006

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Pittsboro, NC - Last week's official campaign finance report filings for County Commissioner candidates provide a clear answer: If Bunkey Morgan, Tommy Emerson, and Mary Nettles are elected it will be outside developer and real estate interests -- the ones who gave them over $23,000 in campaign contributions.

What is truly amazing is that Bunkey Morgan did not receive a single cash contribution for anyone inside Chatham, or for that matter, anyone who is not connected with ongoing or planned developments in Chatham County. He received a total of $13,500 in cash contributions from eight individuals in the real estate or development business. All were from Wake County, including two from Cary; four are registered Republicans who couldn't even vote for Bunkey if they lived in Chatham County. This does not include the $1,118 in advertising from Wake County Republicans Holland and Rebecca Gaines, who are developing the Homestead/Legacy development on Big Woods Road right above Jordan Lake.

These contributors and their Chatham development interests include:
*John C. Morisey, Thomas Vonville and F.L. Robuck, partners in developing Williams Pond, the environmentally questionable gated community on Lystra Church and Jack Bennett Roads, and Chapel Ridge, the ever growing high-end, golf-course, partially gated 2,300 unit complex north of Pittsboro on Old Graham Rd.;
* Robert D. Swain, Williams Pond partner and proposed developer of the approximately 2,800-acre track of land recently sold by Wade Barber Jr. and May Hayes Holmes to Jim Goodnight of Raleigh;
* Audie Barefoot, President of Fonville Morisey Builder Marketing group, which handles many of the sales for large developments in the Triangle;
* Michael Whitehead, President of MaCgregor Development Co., developer of Booth Mountain gated community near the Haw River in Bynum;
* Gary Joyner, Raleigh attorney for major real estate developers;
* Stephen Makie, Morrisville real estate attorney.

Many of those same real estate and developer interests also gave significant cash contributions to Emerson and Nettles. Emerson received a total of $3,550 from Swain Barefoot, Morisey, Fonville, Robuck, and Joyner, plus $1,118 in advertising from the Gaines. Mary Nettles received a total of $2,800 from Robuck, Gaines, Barefoot, Fonville, Morisey and Wade Barber, Jr., a major Chatham landowner who lives in Chapel Hill, plus $1,118 in advertising from the Gaines.

Meanwhile, opposing candidates George Lucier, Carl Thompson, and Tom Vanderbeck did not receive a single contribution from an outside developer or real estate interest. Their largest individual contributions ranged from $200 to $500 and most were under $100 contributions from hundreds of Chatham county residents who want county commissioners who will put their interests before those of outside developers. The Chatham Coalition, a citizens political organization, gave them a total of $4,000 for advertising and communication expenses, funds that were raised from more than 250 individual contributions from Chatham County residents.

It's time to vote for a ticket that will give Chatham County government back to its residents. Vote early or May 2 for Lucier, Thompson and Vanderbeck.

Check the Chatham Coalition website for further details of these contributions,

Jeffrey Starkweather is chairman of the Chatham Coalition

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