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Pittsboro Together endorses challengers for mayor and town board race

By Jim Hinkley - Pittsboro Together Co-Chair
Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005

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Pittsboro, NC – Pittsboro Together, a grassroots political action committee, announces its endorsement of three new candidates for the fall municipal election. The citizens’ group supports challengers Randy Voller for Mayor and Pamela Baldwin and Efrain Ramirez for two open seats on the Town Board.

Pittsboro Together officials said they endorsed the candidates whose statements and answers to the group’s questionnaire showed firm commitment to long-range planning and economic development, downtown vitalization, more open government, expanded cultural and recreational opportunities, and preserving and enhancing the unique small-town feel of the county seat.

“Randy Voller, Pamela Baldwin and Efrain Ramirez demonstrated they have the knowledge, new ideas and vision that are essential for planning for Pittsboro’s future as we face unprecedented growth pressures,” said Jim Hinkley, co-chair of the group.

“They offered a strong commitment to more open government and citizen input to help preserve and improve the quality of life for everyone who lives and works in the Pittsboro area,” said co-chair Michael Knight.

In their answers, Voller, Baldwin and Ramirez said that Pittsboro needs a better land-use development plan to guide diverse and sustainable residential and business development without increasing suburban sprawl, traffic, pollution and taxes.

The three also agreed that the town needs to support more recreational and cultural opportunities. Both Ramirez and Baldwin said that town commissioners should negotiate with new developers to help make such amenities available to the public, as part of the development review and approval process.

In addition, Baldwin, Ramirez and Voller said that steps need to be taken to ensure that public officials fully disclose any real or potential conflicts of interest in decisions coming before the board, and that citizens have adequate access to public meetings and local government information, including posting ordinances, land use plans and all relevant public documents on the town’s web site.

Chris Walker, the only incumbent running for re-election on the town board, agreed with the new candidates that citizen participation in local government is important, though he saw no reason to change anything to improve citizen access to information and decision-making.

Walker also agreed that the town’s land use development plan needs to be updated. However, he emphasized said that the board’s top priority is to strengthen its water and sewer infrastructure, which would determine how the town would grow. He defended the current board’s approval of River Oaks, a large residential development outside of town on the Haw River, because it will finance part of the costs for expanding Pittsboro’s wastewater treatment plant, a pre-requisite for further growth. He had no specific suggestions for guiding that growth, for expanding recreational or cultural opportunities or for attracting diverse businesses to the downtown. He said that existing laws were adequate for avoiding conflicts of interest in decision making.

Mayor Nancy May said in a telephone interview that she was very busy working on town business and did not have time to complete the questionnaire. She said that the primary role of the mayor is to chair meetings and represent the town. Since the mayor only votes in the event of a tie, she said she has no real say in the decisions made by the board.

Mayoral candidate Randy Voller is an innovative developer who has lived and worked in the Triangle area since 1991. He and his father built Chatham Forest, a diverse neighborhood in Pittsboro offering housing at a range of prices, sidewalks and streets designed to encourage walking and biking, and a recreation area open to residents in nearby neighborhoods. Voller has coached little league, served on Chatham’s Affordable Housing Task Force and volunteered with the Triangle Bereavement Center. He and his wife Lesley Landis live in Chatham Forest. He has a B.A. degree in history from Indiana University.

Pamela Baldwin, a lifelong resident of Pittsboro, is the first African American to run for the board in 30 years. She is the daughter of the late Rev. Lynn Baldwin, Sr. and Mrs. Ethel M. Baldwin. She graduated from Northwood High School in 1976 and earned a B.A. in political science from North Carolina State University. She was a spokesperson and aide for Norman Clark’s successful campaign for the Chatham County School Board in 2004. She currently works as a financial consultant/counselor for the School of Dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has one daughter, Brandy L. Baldwin, who has earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees from N.C. A & T State University and serves a project coordinator for GEAR-UP, a pre-college initiative program.

Efrain Ramirez was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York, and worked all over the world in marketing for Tipper Tie Inc. and Nabisco International. He moved to Pittsboro more than 20 years ago, where he has been active in the public schools and a range of volunteer activities. He recently retired from a position with the in-school suspension program at North Chatham School, and continues to work as a substitute teacher. He served on the County’s Strategic Plan Development Committee, the Agricultural Extension Service’s Hispanic Leadership Program and the board of ChathamArts, the county arts council (including two stints as president and as vice president). He earned a B.A. degree in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and was in the U.S. Marine Corps for three years, serving in Korea. One of his two sons is now serving with an Airborne Brigade unit in Afghanistan.


Pittsboro Together’s mission is to provide financial and volunteer support for a slate of candidates for municipal offices based on their positions on the issues. Anyone interested in volunteering, making a financial contribution, or receiving free email news about future activities may contact Pittsboro Together at, 545-0678, P.O. Box 75, Pittsboro NC 27312.

Under North Carolina law, political action committees may only accept donations from individuals, not businesses. Gifts over $100 must be made by check and include your name, mailing address, job title or profession, and name of employer or employer’s field.

Registered voters living in Pittsboro town limits may cast their ballots beginning Oct. 20 at the Board of Elections in Pittsboro and at Pittsboro precincts on election day Nov. 8.

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