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This election is not about "us" versus "them"

By Jim Hinkley - Pittsboro Together Co-Chair
Posted Thursday, November 3, 2005

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An open letter to the citizens of Pittsboro

Pittsboro, NC - Dear Fellow Citizens of Pittsboro:

An eleventh hour attack ad full of slanderous allegations was published in this week's Chatham/News Record. The ad was paid for by the Committee to Re-elect Chris Walker to the Town Board of Commissioners. The ad steals the platform of the grassroots citizen action group, Pittsboro Together, as his own and then makes up a series of obvious lies about that group's positions. Mr. Walker's ad calls the citizens' group a "special interest."

Sadly to say, the last-minute ad that appeared in the Chatham News/Record came from sitting Pittsboro commissioner Chris Walker, a Siler City banker running for a second term on the town board in the November 8th election. This was the first and only negative ad of this campaign, which has been focused primarily around pressing issues concerning growth and infrastructure (water and sewerage). The integrity of Mr. Walker's campaign comes into question. We were extremely disappointed that the advertisement was published in the final issue of the Chatham News/Record prior to the election, when there would be no way to publish a rebuttal in that paper before the election on November 8th.

Pittsboro Together is a citizen-driven, grassroots organization that has run a clean, open, and positive issues-based campaign, as have all three candidates we have endorsed: Randy Voller for Mayor and Pamela Baldwin and Efrain Ramirez for Town Commissioners. As our positive advertisements stated in the same newspaper, these candidates and Pittsboro Together have a vision to: 1) provide clean and dependable water; 2) promote parks, recreation, and the arts; and 3) attract clean businesses and good jobs with good benefits to our county seat. We and the candidates have also pledged our support to open government and to revitalizing downtown. Neither Pittsboro Together, nor the candidates we have endorsed, have made any negative or personal attacks against the incumbents.

Mr. Walker's ad alleges that Pittsboro Together represents "special interests." If ordinary citizens " including Pittsboro natives and newcomers, young and old, blacks, whites and Hispanics" are "special interests," then we plead guilty. Mr Walker's ad also alleges that Pittsboro Together would push only "THEIR pet projects." In previous campaigns, "THEY" is the codeword for "outsiders" who don't look like "us" (insiders).

But there's more. Mr. Walker accuses our candidates of having "no plan" for jobs and infrastructure. Let's recall that Pittsboro's water system has remained in disrepair for many years and sewer capacity has reached its limit, Pittsboro's tennis and basketball courts have been abandoned in neglect, and the Town's lake has been left in disrepair all under Mr. Walker's watch. The candidates that we have endorsed have articulated their plans to address these matters and to attract better jobs for Pittsboro; we're still waiting to hear Mr. Walker's plan.

Finally, the most outrageous lie in this ad is that our candidates would impose "extreme restrictions and controls for small businesses." Mr. Walker knows this is not true. Our candidates have campaigned on a platform of promoting and supporting small businesses, as well as revitalizing downtown Pittsboro by allowing more flexible zoning that would encourage a mix of residential, office, and retail, including on-street dining. Pittsboro Together believes that town government should encourage and support downtown to thrive.

This type of knowingly false negative advertising has no place in a democratic community such as Pittsboro. There are cures for whatever viruses have infected Mr. Walkerâ?Ts campaign including: 1) a sincere public apology to his neighbors and other many Pittsboro residents who make up Pittsboro Together and to the candidates he has intentionally smeared; and 2) a public retraction of the negative, untrue statements made in his political ad. The integrity of his campaign to re-elect, and of the Town Board of Commissioners itself, has been damaged unnecessarily.

Another cure, of course, is for all of us to get out and vote for the best candidates, the ones who don't insult our voters and our candidates with eleventh-hour false allegations. The candidates endorsed by Pittsboro Together have a positive vision for the future of our beloved town.


Jim Hinkley, Co-Chair
Pittsboro Together

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