Kicking off the campaign season

Jul. 07, 2013 @ 04:31 PM

The 2013 municipal campaign season got its official kickoff on Friday, as local election offices opened for the first day of candidate filings.

Among other noteworthy candidates, Durham’s Mayor Bill Bell led the way on filing to run for his seventh term, while Mark Kleinschmidt wants another term as Chapel Hill mayor and James Barrett seeks to return to the board of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” Bell told The Herald-Sun’s Ray Gronberg. “The city has become very attractive for the business community.”

In Carrboro, where Mayor Mark Chilton steps down this year, Lydia Lavelle became the first candidate to file for the chance to replace him. Hillsborough’s mayor, Tom Stevens, filed to run for another term.

It promises to be an interesting year for municipal politics, especially as we continue to watch how the General Assembly attempts to tread on local control with zoning issues and utilities for projects such as 751 South in Durham County.

Franklin Hanes, a political newcomer who runs a funeral service, filed for the City Council’s Ward 2. The incumbent, Howard Clement, is set to vacate that seat in November. Hanes faces (so far) Eddie Davis and Del Mattioli.

Hanes told The Herald-Sun that he’s concerned that the state’s move to cut off unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless may just add to our recent spate of violent crime in Durham.

“People are going to feed their families,” Hanes said. “I don’t know how they’re going to do it, but they’re going to do it one way or another.”

It’s not clear from discussions with police that the spate of shootings in recent weeks is tied to unemployment, but continued problems with armed robberies and property crimes may certainly owe something to a struggling job market.

Although violence may prove a good short-term issue while law enforcement keeps grappling with the chronic occurrences of black suspects shooting – and sometimes killing – black victims, it seems to us that the platforms with longer shelf lives (particularly in Durham) are going to focus on jobs and business development.

Meanwhile, in Mebane, three council seats were open and uncontested as of Friday evening.

We hope some civic-minded citizens step up to serve there during the next couple of weeks.