All four of these organizations have incredibly valuable stated missions and I'm proud and grateful that they're part of our community. I share their values and my family and my businesses have supported several of them when and where we can.
However, NEXT has close ties to the Triangle Blogblog* (until recently they shared a board member), which describes itself as "a progressive group blog covering civics and news in Chapel Hill and Carrboro." The TBB has been a big part of bringing divisiveness, bitterness, rudeness, and fear-mongering to Chapel Hill politics, and has recently been writing attack pieces about our slate.
So here is what I said last night, in lieu of my one minute candidate introduction:
"Hi, I’m Elizabeth Sharp. Thank you to Binkley Baptist Church for having us. If you want to find out about my campaign platform, it’s on my website, elizabethsharp.org. But tonight I feel like I have to address the elephant in the room. Which is the nastiness that has taken over our local politics. I’m talking specifically about the Triangle Blogblog, which we all know has close ties to NEXT. I hope no one feels like we need to pretend that’s not the case.
I want you to look at who you are attacking. We’re just normal people who care about our town. So when you go after us you aren’t exposing nefarious liars. You’re just picking on good people.
What if instead of bickering we started being honest about how hard it is to fund things and what a challenge it is to balance green space and affordable housing, both of which are critical equity issues?
As far as I can tell the only place we all differ is whether or not it’s a good idea to sacrifice the character of Chapel Hill to achieve our liberal goals. I don’t think it is, and I don’t think we need to. But they are really worthy goals and you all are really clever people, and we at the very least we mean well, so if we work together, we might actually be able to come up with some creative, functional solutions.
You know I love a good hug - let me know if you need one."
Then we all went on to have a mostly productive forum. I was generally impressed with the thoughtfulness and like-mindedness of my fellow candidates' ideas, both those on my slate and those not on my slate. We don't agree on everything, but that's likely healthy if we're able to engage in productive discourse.
If we can hold ourselves above the fray of artificially-fomented arguments and remember to take deep breaths and listen to each other, whoever gets elected will do good work. And now on the list of things I hope I get to work on in Chapel Hill: bringing civility, thoughtfulness, and honesty back to our town government.
*Note that the Triangle Blogblog is a blog, which means that it is self-published and disseminated, and has no editorial oversight or obligation to adhere to journalistic standards of objectivity or fact-checking.