It may be too soon to call it that, but as we come up on Orange County early voting a week from today, and early voting at Chapel Hill sites a week after that (October 26th-November 4th), it feels like we're rounding third and headed home. We're not done running yet, but the end is in site. I have more respect than ever for the public servants who do this campaign thing for years at a stretch.
I've been out late at night putting up road signs, up early in the morning at the Chamber of Commerce's Coffee with the Candidates and the Purple Bowl, canvassing and canvassing and canvassing through the weekends, attending Meet & Greets and forums like my life depends on it. I've been doing interviews with newspapers and radio stations and journalism students, answering questionnaires for days and trying to keep my poor campaign Treasurer from losing her mind.
I have talked with Town Staff, other small business owners, affordable housing organization leaders, downtown landlords, developers big and small, real estate agents, young first-time home buyers, people who have lived in Chapel Hill and been active in our local politics for decades, and students.
The clearest thing I've seen and heard through this whirlwind of learning is that the residents of Chapel Hill care deeply about each other, and about our town. We want to make sure this place is fair and kind and inclusive, and we also don't want to lose essence of the place we love. We know these wants are hard to hold at once, and that can be painful.
But because of the energy I've seen coalescing around both of these sometimes opposing goals - preservation and growth - I remain hopeful that we can balance them. Not in every instance, not in every place, but on the whole.