Nitty-Gritty Campaign Finance Round Up

I delivered my post-election campaign finance report to the Orange County Board of Elections last week and voted for sheriff while I was there (convenient!).   You can see the report here.   Summary points:

  • 54 unique individuals contributed cash to my campaign, including 11 family members and me.
  • I raised $3,171 in cash from supporters and contributed $125 of my own (I also contributed about $220 in-kind).
  • In-kind gifts totaled $400, most for supplies and food at events, including $140 contributed by me to avoid spending OPM on beer at the post-election party.  Supplies and printing worth $113 were contributed by three other INDY-endorsed candidates to cover a joint postcard mailing.
  • I spent a total of $2,513 in cash. For the purposes of the report, all in-kind gifts are also considered expenditures, so total expenses were $2,913.
  • I did not spend everything I raised. $658 remains in my campaign account.

Although a number of candidates across various local races opted not to do much outside fundraising, without deep pockets and name recognition, and with two serious opponents, fundraising was important for me. The resources were critical, but more importantly, the process was. I don’t think I could have garnered 60% of the vote without the varied, personal outreach that fundraising entails. To help keep it real, I did have two rules:

  • I did not ask for nor accept contributions from any elected official or member of the Town’s Planning Board, which I actively chaired throughout the campaign.
  • I capped contributions at $100 per individual donor. (A couple of insistent family members tripped the wire, but not by much.)

Ultimately I raised and spent more money than I expected. The biggest expense categories were postage, printing, and signs. I admit that I did not exclusively use local vendors for two reasons. The first was a practical one: I did my design and print orders, including for signs, on weekends and in the middle of the night, when I had time to do my research and deal with design and text edits. Second was price, and using donor funds made me more sensitive to this.

Luckily, my signs, business cards, stationery, buttons, and website will endure for another election cycle, which is practically around the corner. I’ll do more fundraising when it’s time, but I’ll have fewer needs for ‘collateral.’

Thanks again to donors and supporters for their help, and particularly to Bob Taylor, my campaign treasurer, for keeping good track of it all!

Servant Leadership Abounds in Orange County

30thinvite

You know you’re getting old when the kids you used to babysit are having kids of their own, and when you find yourself socializing with their near-retired parents. At a 30th Anniversary Celebration for Orange County Habitat for Humanity at Phoenix Place today, I sat next to Rev. Stephen Elkins-Williams, Rector at Chapel of the Cross, where I spent a lot of time as a teenager.  What fun to scroll through iPhone pictures of his two grown sons (whom I babysat…) and two very cute grandchildren, in between speakers and whiffs of steaming barbeque and baked beans.

The program was uplifting and emotional, a fitting celebration of three decades of homebuilding by Habitat staff and volunteers, some of whom have been sharing their time and skills side-by-side with future homeowners for more than twenty years.

Among the many speakers were Susan Levy, Executive Director; Tyler Momsen-Hudson, Construction Director (who was particularly moving); Congressman David Price; Senator Val Foushee; Sally Greene of the CH Town Council; and Orange County Commissioner, Barry Jacobs.  I’m missing a few, forgive me.

Perhaps the most impressive was Ms. Barbara Redmond, the chairwoman of the Phoenix Place homeowners association, who told the story of losing her daughter and taking in her three grandchildren on a single, modest nursing income. Determined to build a stable, loving home for her family in the face of tremendous loss, she found Habitat and Phoenix Place. Without her own perseverance, sweat equity, and a whole lot of donors and volunteers, she’d have had a very hard time staying in–and contributing to–Orange County.

The powerful concept of servant-leadership came to mind as I listened to Ms. Redmond and all the speakers. There are so many examples of it in Orange County, whether by rectors, senators, or non-profit leaders; AmeriCorps members, volunteers, or grandparents. All are courageous to me and I am so grateful to have learned from so many as I grew up and into my own (aspiring!) role here. In fact, did you know Habitat for Humanity International is now led by our own dear Tar Heel, Jonathan Reckford? Must be something in the Orange County water.

Speaking of water, earlier this week I had a fun orientation to water management, led in part by outgoing Board Chair and environmental engineer, Alan Rimer.

Yep. I babysat his kids, too.

Endorsed by INDY Week

What a thrill and an honor to be endorsed by the paper that helped shape my own awareness of all I votedthings progressive in the Triangle (including the music scene!).  Thank you, INDY Week (aka The Independent), for a nice write-up and for giving every local candidate a chance to respond to some thoughtful and important questions.  You can see my responses here.  As a kind of celebration, and because it is so nice outside today, I walked up to Carrboro Town Hall and voted, choosing a Democratic Primary ballot…of course (see “Why I Am an Unaffiliated Voter“).  Hope you’ll take advantage of early voting, too!

Why I Am an Unaffiliated Voter

I’ve had a number of people ask me why I haven’t been attending Orange County Democratic Party forums, and if it is true that I’m not a registered Democrat.

It is true.  I’m not a registered Democrat, so I have not been invited to participate in any party-related forums.  Despite the fact that municipal elections in Carrboro are nonpartisan, the party does not treat them that way.

Like 26% of all voters in North Carolina, I am registered as unaffiliated.  In Orange County, one third of all registered voters are unaffiliated (just under 50% are registered Democrats).  In the 2013 municipal election in Carrboro, 24% of those who voted were unaffiliated.  According to Democracy North Carolina, there has been a demonstrable trend towards unaffiliated registration in the state, an increase of 22% since 2008.  In total, there has been a net gain of more than 306,000 unaffiliated voters over the past five years, an amount roughly equivalent to the total number of new registered voters in the state.

As a result, both major parties have lost ground—Democrats, by nearly 4%, Republicans, by less than 1%.   Back in the day the NC Democratic Party claimed 60% of North Carolina’s registered voters, but now it can only claim 43%.  Republicans? 31%.  Still a comfortable majority, you might say, until you take into account the current composition of the NC General Assembly.

Clearly, party affiliation no longer tells the story of voter preferences or behavior.  Fewer and fewer voters want to be pigeonholed by ideology, particularly when that ideology is embodied in a major party structure that is less creative, adaptive, and responsive than ever before.  Statistics suggest that polarization is least acceptable to younger voters—the future of our democracy.

I’m a progressive voter and my record demonstrates that, as confirmed by one Democratic party official who decided to look.  Once long ago, I am sure in another state, I registered as an independent to vote in a Republican primary, an act of ineffectual sabotage.  I stayed independent, and now I receive less party mail and fewer communications from candidates and PACs.  I’ve come to enjoy my privacy that way, and it also suits me professionally.

But therein lies the problem for both major parties.  Neither is working hard enough to reach out to or learn from the unaffiliated voter.  And neither is looking beyond its registration list for new leadership.  For our democracy to be truly representative, we need both to happen.

I understand why Orange County Democrats want to support their ‘own,’ even in a non-partisan race.  To do otherwise may be risky, given the margin for error these days.  But might I suggest instead some soul searching, some genuine interest in responding to the growing disconnect between registered voters and party affiliation?  Progressive Orange County seems to be demanding it, and the Democratic party would do well to listen.