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Carl Thompson to challenge incumbent for Chatham Commissioner seat

Posted Monday, February 20, 2006

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Pittsboro, NC – Former three term Chatham County commissioner Carl Thompson formally kicked off his campaign for the District 5 Commissioner seat against incumbent Tommy Emerson with a rally attended by over 100 supporters at Alston Chapel Church near Pittsboro. Thompson, a life-long resident of Bear Creek, was the first African American elected to a county office since Reconstruction in 1978, at age 24, when he began his first term as county commissioner. He served until 1990.

“I believe we need to put integrity and honesty back in county government.” Thompson said in answering the call of many citizens’ who have asked him to serve again. “People across the county have lost faith in our government because they are not told the truth, not told why decisions have been made or they are given the 'run around.’ Deliberations and decision-making should be made in the open after adequate public input.”

During his twelve years as a county commissioner Thompson served as both Chair and Vice-Chair. He was instrumental in the county’s establishing building inspection and recreation departments, an economic development commission, the county’s first water system, a land use plan and the community college campus in Pittsboro. While serving as a commissioner he was awarded a National Rural Fellowship to attend the University of Massachusetts, where he received a master’s degree in regional planning.

“Chatham County is a diverse county and we should utilize this as our strength and not as a means of strife and division, as some of our current leadership has done,” Thompson emphasized. “I believe most people want to promote smart growth that balances residential development with economic development and preserve our rural character and quality of life. We cannot achieve that vision unless we work together.”

Thompson said he wants the county to implement the county’s land use plan in cooperation with the town officials of Goldston, Pittsboro and Siler City, including comprehensive plans for the commercial development along the US 15/501 and US 64 highway corridors. “The land use plan is a contract between the elected officials and the people about how the county should develop, “Thompson said. “To consistently approve developments not in accord with the land use plan is a breach of the citizen’s trust.”

Thompson also wants to create a county-wide commission of community and business leaders to develop a comprehensive economic development plan for the county. “We must have a road map to follow,” he said. “ Right now it is done haphazardly with no specific goals in mind. I would like to see us focus on small business development through such mechanisms as a revolving loan fund and industry specific job skills and education training at our community colleges. We should take advantage of our close proximity to the Research Triangle to seek clean, high paying businesses, such as biotech, and make sure that any industry recruited to the county pays a living wage.”

Thompson is an adult basic education instructor at Central Carolina Community College and pastor of the World of Life Christian Outreach Center in Liberty. He and his wife, Mechelle, have three children Carla, age 23, Karen, age 20, and Carl. Jr., age 17, a senior at Chatham Central High School.

Thompson was the recipient of the 2005 Humanitarian Award by the Western Chatham Chapter of the NAACP.

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