Breathe Life Into Local Democracy

VOTING ’09

Out and about this last week in Chatham, the sudden changing colors of Autumn have been a feast for the eye; a bookmark to remind us of the declining length of days that will lead to Winter Solstice and the ultimate renewal of Spring. It’s an instinctive time of reflection and introspection; a good time to den up, mull some cider, watch birds at the feeder and consult the past with an eye to the future.

While such an idyllic reverie can still be carved out of our hectic, over-stimulated lives, practicality insists that we remain present minded and hard-headed. It almost seems vulgar to disturb ourselves with certain necessities, but alas, each moment is a reincarnation of opportunity to recreate the new from the old. Pretty lofty musings, these, when my subject for this missive is once again our regular chance to elect new representatives to our local town board in Pittsboro.

The word “government” in some quarters has mutated into a curse word. The mutagenic agents are cynicism, flippancy, carelessness and gutlessness. The result is a self-fulfilling prophecy of poor leadership and degraded public institutions deprived of fresh, passionate, patriotic blood that the tree of liberty needs to sustain it.

Let me reiterate the indisputable laws of self-governance. The world is run by those who show up and government is the creature of the people. That creature may be the ugly baby of our neglect or the pride of we who stood up to be counted.

Last year the excitement of the presidential election was fueled by a groundswell of participation. That robust mobilization of citizens has since waned, but the urgency of the future’s demands have not. Here in Pittsboro we still have unhealthy drinking water from a polluted Haw River, processed by an outdated facility. Representatives of the white elephant, Pittsboro Place Mall, are still skulking around town hoping to pull the wool over the eyes of our town leaders again. Their corrosive meddling in the election two years ago revealed how little of our consideration they deserve. And development held in abeyance by the recession, is again ready to change the face our peaceful little town, yet numbers at the polls are light.

My dear neighbors, we have three able candidates ready to bear the burden of making decisions that will affect the most intimate details of our lives. Incumbent Pamela Baldwin, and hopefuls Michael Fiocco and Andrew Allden have offered to serve the town in these weighty considerations. Two of them will join Gene Brooks, Clinton Bryan and Hugh Harrington to guide Pittsboro through what will undoubtedly be transformative times.

This election will certainly see an evolution to a more progressive, modern board of commissioners. Mr. Brooks is serving what will probably be his final term, and Mr. Harrington may serve for a good while to come.

Messrs. Fiocco and Allden gave strong performances at the recent League of Women Voters forum. Allden has served on the recreation boards of both the town and county. Fiocco brings a green developers skill set to the job as well as a healthy suspicion of the big box corporate propensity to gobble up small town quality of life. As a proponent of waste water recycling for appropriate uses, he demonstrates an acute understanding of our regions precarious water supply. Ms. Baldwin hails from a prominent African American family with a distinguished history of civic contribution. Her record of achievement on the board deserves your review.

Early voting continues through October 31st. You can register and vote the same day until that date. November 3rd is general election day.

The blood and bodies of our ancestors were sacrificed so that we could live in a representative democratic society. Remaining on the sidelines is an insult to their courage and suffering. Voting is the least of our civic obligations, the mere minimum of participation. Again, the body politic will be animated by some force. Power deplores a vacuum. If you, with your hopes and dreams refuse to breathe life into our town’s republic, less savory influences are ready to inspire a future inimical to the good health of pretty little Pittsboro. So let us rise and be worthy of our citizenship.

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