Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Davidson vote in pictures...

A month after election day and the day of swearing in the new Board, data on the last Davidson election is starting to be available.

Data can tell you a lot when presented in the right format, and elections are a particularly data rich environment.  Voter registration info and voter history don't tell you how people vote, but they do tell you who voted.  That alone can reveal a lot about why elections turn out the way they do.  Regular readers of aShortChronicle will know we are data geeks at heart, so we are particularly excited to be able to show you the below.

All thanks and credit go to Ben Beall of Davidson for pulling together these maps using Excel, Google, and data available from the Board of Elections.  It is rare that you get to see this level of detail on a hyper local election.  The time and effort pulling them together is much appreciated.

These first three maps show registered voters against those who voted early and those who voted on election day.




These next three maps show the actual breakdown of the vote by voter segment which is a rough approximation for neighborhood.




What jumps off the page is that even though turnout was way up this cycle, there are still major segments of the voting population who stayed home.  The more heavily populated in-town neighborhoods voted in higher percentages while Davidson's East Side and Exit 30 areas still didn't manage to make it to the polls in large percentages.  Davidson College students almost completely stayed home.

The interesting thing about that is that situation is no different than most Davidson elections.  Combine that with the turnover in elected officials, and one can surmise that only happened because even Davidson's most regular voters from the in-town neighborhoods finally decided in significant numbers that it was time for a change.

At the swearing in ceremony tonight, that change will finally happen.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

5 ideas for the new Davidson Board to improve land use policy

In a continuation of new ideas for the soon to be seated new Davidson Mayor and Board of Commissioners, here are 5 ideas on how the town can improve and protect Davidson's land use policy.

1.  Vote down or indefinitely table the "missing middle" concept from Davidson's Village Infill area.   As reported earlier, the outgoing Board has chosen not to vote on this at their last meeting.  The new Board should let that sleeping dog lie.  Davidson does not need more high-density development particularly in the Village area where the infrastructure is not designed to handle it.

2.  Remove "density averaging" as a concept in the planning ordinance.  Density averaging is a sleight of hand maneuver used by developers, to overcome limits on the amount of impervious surface allowed on a given parcel.  Simply put, impervious area on another parcel somewhere in the same drainage area is transfered to the target parcel allowing more dense development than would otherwise be allowed on the target parcel.  Density averaging permits are approved by the Board of Adjustment, a sub body of the Planning Board.

3.  Keep rural areas rural until development plans are available.  As part of this idea, the Board should do what is necessary to roll back the mass rezoning to Neighborhood General, Neighborhood Services, and Neighborhood Edge done earlier  this year as part of "implementing" the Rural Area Plan.

4.  Revisit the Comprehensive Plan and consider down zoning any large parcels to remove multi-family as a by right building type from the standard zoning areas.  This does not mean Davidson will never have more multi-family housing, but it would mean large scale multi-family proposals would need to go through the conditional zoning process which gives the town more control.

5.  The Town needs to put its money where its mouth  is when it comes to pushing back against aggressive developers.  A legal defense fund should be set up to stand behind a reinvigorated defence of the town planning ordinance by the staff and elected officials.  This fund can be seeded with $250,000 from the $1 million fund set aside for Mi-Connection subsidies owed Mooresville.  Developers need to know for certain they are in for a lengthy and expensive fight if they come with crazy proposals that don't fit with the town character.  Sometimes a credible threat of retaliation is the best way to avoid an actual confrontation.  This fund will provide that for the town.

Davidson's new Board has work to do to untangle the gordian knotted mess left by the soon to be previous elected officials.  These five ideas if implemented would cut right through it.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tuesday agenda...Swearing in the new Board, but no "missing middle"

Citizens can breath a momentary sign of relief....aaaaahhh.

The agenda for Davidson's upcoming Dec 12th meeting was just posted, and it appears outgoing Commissioners will not be voting on the "missing middle" text amendments that would force multi-family housing into the Village Infill area.  They will receive an update on the subject and will no be voting on them. aShortChronicle dpuble checked thos with the Town PIO, Christina Shaul, late Thursday afternoon.

That is good news to citizens worried the outgoing Board might pass these unwanted amendments as their last act just moments prior to the swearing in of the new crop of elected officials.

Tuesday will signal the changing of the guard at Davidson Town Hall.  It is very good to see that won't be tarnished by controversy (or at least not this one).

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Room In The Inn has started...consider volunteering this winter

It may not feel much like winter, but this week marks the beginning of Urban Ministries annual "Room In The Inn" program, or RITI.

The RITI program works with regional institutions, mostly churches, to provide additional beds off the street for our homeless neighbors during the winter months.  From December through March volunteers transport, feed, and provide shelter for people in need.

To give you a sense of the numbers involved, at just DUMC here in Davidson, last winter the church provided transportation, meals and overnight shelter for 603 homeless neighbors over 50 nights.   In the Charlotte region there are dozens of churches involved in the program.

Volunteering for this effort gives you an up close and personal view of one of the most intractable problems in our society.  Homelessness is a challenge every large city faces.  However, through volunteering with RITI, one gets the  chance to break some of the stereotypes surrounding who makes up this population.  You will see the "working poor" - people who have jobs but for one reason or the other don't have housing.  You will see veterans.  You will see families with young children.  You will see lots of people that you may see on the street at any other time and not recognize as someone who doesn't have a place to sleep that night.

What you won't see in the RITI program are the hard core homeless, people with serious mental or substance abuse issues.  RITI has strict rules for its applicants and  goes to great lengths to ensure a safe environment for volunteers.  (This part is mentioned in case that's a concern for potential volunteers.)

I have been a driver for the program over the past several winters, and can attest it is definitely something that can change your outlook.  I will never forget dropping off a family with a young boy the same age as my own son at the transit center in Uptown on one of the coldest mornings of the year a couple winters ago.

So, here is a personal request, or maybe consider it a challenge.  If you are interested in helping out in some small way this winter, there is always a need for more helping hands.  Consider volunteering for RITI.  The DUMC program in Davidson has open spots.  People are needed to drive, prepare food, and stay the night.  It works great if groups can cover an entire evening, pick up through drop off in the morning, though drivers are available if that is the piece that can't be filled.  Volunteers need not be church members.

If you are interested in helping out, contact me here or on Facebook.

Monday, December 4, 2017

NEWS FLASH - Santa scouts Davidson on 12/13 and 12/14

DAVIDSON, N.C. – Santa Claus will be in Davidson for a brief pre-Christmas Eve visit to review his route with the Davidson Fire Department. Santa will transfer from his sleigh to a fire engine for a ride about town on Wednesday, December 13 from about 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (for Town of Davidson locations EAST of the East Rocky River roundabout) and Thursday, December 14 from about 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (for Town of Davidson locations WEST of the East Rocky River roundabout).

Santa’s time is limited and turning around in cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets is difficult for the fire engine. If you live on a cul-de-sac or dead-end, please observe from the entrance of your neighborhood, so you can see Santa on his route. 

“We look forward to driving Santa around town to scope out his Christmas Eve route,” said Davidson Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald. “Please come out and wave to Santa as we pass by.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Davidson Fire Station #2 update


The groundbreaking for Davidson's long awaited Fire Station #2 on Davidson-Concord Road happened in October 2016 with actual construction starting soon afterwards.

Since initial projections were that it might be open sometime during this past summer, aShortChronicle checked in with the Town to see what the holdup was on finishing the project.  Here is what Town Public Information Officer Christina Shaul had to say.

"Thanks for reaching out about the new fire station. We’re very excited about it and when it’s complete, it’s going to be a wonderful facility that will provide improved fire and medical service to the eastern part of our jurisdiction.

Yes, we have had two major setbacks:
  1. We had a very wet spring. The site is shady, so it takes a long time to dry out after a rainstorm. In order to pour concrete, the site needed to be dry.
  2. We had a big thunderstorm this summer that blew off the roof, so it had to be re-built.

We are trying to pin down a completion date this week, so we can schedule the ribbon-cutting/grand opening ceremony and an open house for all citizens to attend. It will likely be on a Saturday in the new year. After the ceremony, there will be tours, demonstrations of equipment and trucks, and food. We hope you’ll join us to celebrate this addition to our fire department and town."

A bit of good news in spite of the delays is that the project is still on budget.

If you are interested in supporting the fire department and it's new location, there is a fundraiser open to the public at the River Run county club this Sunday from 1 - 3:30pm.  See here for details

CATS Red Line survey works against idea of Red Line

It has been regularly in the news recently that CATS is once again studying the possibility of bringing rail transit to North Meck.  Cornelius and Huntersville recommended against the study this past summer in favor of spending the money on improvements to bus service, but predictably, Davidson went along with the new spending.  See this earlier story on that here.

CATS is paying $2.3 million for consultants from WSP (formerly Parson Brinkerhoff)  to study (again) the idea of rail transit to the Lake Norman region.  Long-time readers of aShortChronicle will remember that Parsons Brinckerhoff consultants have long been involved in studying the Red Line, raking in millions in fees with little to show for it.  Check the Red Line Chronicle for all that detail.

As part of this study the consultants put up an online survey that ended sometime last week.  aShortChronicle took the survey and screen captured the below results asof November 19th, shortly before it went offline.  What's funny is the results seem to indicate a significant amount of inconsistency in what respondents want out if a North Mecklenburg mass transit option.  In particular the results indicate that the long planned commuter rail option may be the least effective at meeting those desired uses.

Take a look at the results.





  • Taken all together, time appears to be the biggest driver with speed/reliability being the top ranked criteria in the Tradeoffs and Transit Priorities rankings.
  • Travel to Uptown for work was the top corridor priority.  That is not surprising.  It also works against rail as an option because any planned rail line will likely terminate at the Gateway Station being built on West Trade street - far from where most Uptown workers actually work.  That will require transferring to the Streetcar which will add time and inconvenience.
  • Two of the other top ranked Corridor Priorities by the number of respondents were for Events and Entertainment and connecting to Charlotte Douglas Airport.  The long planned commuter rail would likely not run at night and weekends for things like going to a Panthers game or a night on the town.  The Gateway Station location works against these uses as - again - it isn't near these areas.  Also, spending a couple billion on a rail solution so people can go out drinking seems like a terrible use of public money.  As for connecting to Charlotte Douglas, does anyone really believe business travelers or families will catch rail to Uptown, transfer to another train or mode of public transit and go to the airport with luggage and kids in tow?  It sounds nice, but likely not practical. 
  • It also seems interesting that while people responded that they wanted to drive to stations they also said they wanted stations in mixed use developments.  As a ten year bus rider, one has to wonder if respondents thought about the fact that driving to a stop and being part of a mixed use development may be inconsistent with time being a top priority.  If stops are in mixed use developments, the parking will have to be in garages and not flat lots meaning added time going to/from the station and likely added cost to use a parking garage.

The solution to all of these points is simple, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).

With the I77 HOT lanes expansion underway, CATS is already planning on expanding commuter bus service to the Lake Norman area.  This will be true even if the anti-toll efforts succeed and the "complete and delete" option removes the tolls.  BRT would allow for more flexible service to meet the above concerns.  It would allow for seamless no-transfer rides to Uptown and down Trade Street to the main business district just as the express buses do today - making it faster.  It would allow for multiple direct routes to Uptown and Charlotte Douglas.  Interestingly, with the type of Transit Vehicle being the lowest ranked priority that seems to burst the long-standing canard used by rail advocates that white collar workers prefer trains over buses.  In reality, this survey says that doesn't matter much.  It would also be less intrusive on the North Mecklenburg towns yo construct and significantly less expensive and faster to build.

With all that said, CATS's latest rail study - at least from the perspective of potential users - seems to say rail isn't the best option.  As this goes forward it will be interesting to see how the rail transit proponents spin this.  You can be sure they will try.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Five ways to fight gentrification of Davidson's Westside neighborhood

During the recently completed election, maintaining Davidson's small town character was a driving theme of the campaign season.  A major factor in achieving that goal will be limiting gentrification of Davidson's Westside neighborhood.  In a growing region that's a tall order, but here are five concrete ways to achieve it.

1.  Reduce Davidson's solid waste fee and return to the policy of having this paid for out of property taxes.  The town's solid waste fee which is by far the  highest  of any of the neighboring towns is a regressive "tax" that impacts low income households more than others.  It was implemented during the height of subsidies for Mi-Connection as a way to free up money to pay for those subsidies.

2.  The Town should work with local realtors and attorneys to provide pro-bono advice to Westside homeowners to ensure investors don't take advantage of homeowners in the neighborhood.  This would ensure the highest resale values in the neighborhood and reduce the attractiveness of buying property for teardown projects.

3.  The Town should abandon the idea of the Red Line rail transit project in favor of supporring Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).  Rail transit along the current proposed alignment more than anything else will accelerate gentrification along its route by concentrating high density development around the station area bordering the Westside neighborhood.

4.  Assuming the current Davidson Depot project at the Metrolina Warehouse site eventually collapses under the remediation costs to clean up the asbestos contamination, the Town should work with the property owner and the development community to maintain the historic nature of the site in any future development effort undertaken there.

5.  In light of the lame duck approval of the Hyatt Place hotel by the outgoing Board, the new Board should investigate reversing that approval by any legal means available.  In addition, the Town should severely limit any additional conditional approvals on nearby property going forward.

Implementing these ideas will require a high degree of political courage and fiscal discipline, however if Town Hall truly wants to preserve economic and racial diversity in this town they are all certainly very doable.  Making progress on these items would also be a tangible sign the new Board is truly willing to put effort and action behind the idea of maintaining Davidson's small town character.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

2017 Christmas in Davidson and North Meck Christmas Parade Info

DAVIDSON, NC – Christmas in Davidson, one of Davidson’s signature events, will be November 30, December 1 and 2 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. each night. 

Opening ceremonies begin on Thursday at 6:00 p.m. with the arrival of Santa Claus on the town green. Children can visit Santa at Davidson College Presbyterian Church’s Congregation House at 218 Concord Road each night.

Other event highlights include:
·         a live nativity, complete with live animals,
·         strolling carolers and other live entertainment,
·         a doggie fashion show,
·         an ugly holiday sweater contest, and
·         a wide variety of food offerings.

Guests can expect to find unique gifts at our many specialty shops.

Visitors can also enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides that depart regularly from Davidson Town Hall. Again this year, we’re offering the ability to pay for carriage ride tickets online to expedite the process. Please visit www.townofdavidson.org/CarriageRides to select a date, time frame, and pay. Visitors can also sign up at the booth in front of town hall each night (while tickets last).

Downtown Davidson and the South Main district will be participating in this year’s event. Additional parking will be available at Homewood Suites and Harris Teeter parking lots at the Circles@30, and a free trolley service will run continually between downtown, South Main, satellite parking areas, and some of our neighborhoods. Please see details below. 

The Doggie Fashion Show is on Friday, December 1 at 7:00 p.m. on the Davidson Public Library stage. Participants can register at www.townofdavidson.org/doggiefashionshow.

The Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest is on Saturday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m. on the Davidson Public Library stage.  No registration is required – simply show up in your festive sweater!

“TapSnap,” an interactive photo booth on the town green will be back again all three nights. Participants will receive free printed photos to take home. A collage of all photos taken during Christmas in Davidson will be uploaded to the Town of Davidson’s Facebook page (please like us at “Town of Davidson, NC – Town Hall”).

“We are looking forward to a few new attractions this year as well as the traditional favorites of Christmas in Davidson,” said Economic Development Manager Kim Fleming.

Street Closures
Each evening at 5:00 p.m., Main Street from Concord Road to Jackson Street will be closed to traffic, so citizens can enjoy walking to all of our shops, restaurants, and activities.  Lorimer Road from Concord Road to the CVS parking lot will also be closed.  Handicapped parking spaces will be available in the library parking lot along Lorimer Road, and an attendant will be present to allow drivers in. 

Trolley Service
We offer trolley service around town at the Circles@30, downtown, and at the South Main commercial district; look for trolley stop signs in each location. Since it was so successful last year, we’ll run trolleys to some of our neighborhoods to pick up and drop off citizens. Trolley stops will be at the following locations:

Route 1: Starts at Davidson Landing, stops in downtown Davidson and South Main Street areas, and stops at Harris Teeter.

Route 2: Starts at River Run athletic field parking lot on Robert Walker Drive, and stops at:
Corner of North Kimberly and McConnell Drive,
Corner of Ashby Drive and Lingle Drive,
Corner of Fairview Drive and Caldwell Lane, and
Corner of Concord Road and Faculty Drive and heads to Main Street.

Trolleys run from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. each evening on a continuous loop of about 15 minutes, starting at the farthest points from town.

For more information on Christmas in Davidson, including a listing of everything going on each night and a map of trolley stops, please visit www.christmasindavidson.com or pick up a program at town hall.

North Mecklenburg Christmas Parade
The 35th annual North Mecklenburg Christmas Parade begins on the corner of Griffith and Main streets in Davidson on Saturday, December 2 at 1:30 p.m. and proceeds south on Main Street (Hwy. 115) to Old Canal Street at the entrance to Antiquity in Cornelius. The streets being used for parade staging (Jackson from Depot to Delburg, Watson, and Griffith from Main to Sloan/Beaty) will close starting at 10:00 a.m. Main Street from Beaty Street in Davidson south to the Cornelius border will close at noon and will re-open at approximately 3:30 p.m. 
For more information on the parade, including detour maps, please visit www.townofdavidson.org/parade.

Parade Grand Marshal: Sterling Martin
Sterling Martin has lived in Davidson since 1959.  He is married to Mary Hopkins Martin and is the proud father of four children -- Jennifer, Mary Ann, Laura, and Sterling III, as well as six grandchildren -- Jonas, Luke, Max, Spencer, Melanie, and Beth.

Educated at Davidson College (class of ’63), Sterling worked for the college for 43 years where he served as the Assistant Director of the College Union, the Assistant Track and Cross Country Coach, the Director of Physical Education, Intramurals, Club Sports, and the Lake Campus.  On three occasions, he was the Interim Director of Athletics.

His dedication to service organizations is noteworthy.  Sterling was the Assistant Scoutmaster and Scoutmaster of Troop 58 in Davidson, served for 20 years on the Town of Davidson Parks and Recreation Committee and Livability Board, was the 2007 and 2008 President of the Davidson Lands Conservancy, a Habitat for Humanity builder, and more.  He currently serves on the Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation Commission. Involved at Davidson Presbyterian Church since 1964, he has held the positions of deacon and elder.

Sterling has won several honors ranging from All-Conference Cross Country Runner 1960, 1961, and 1962 to Boy Scouts of America District Scouter of the Year in 1994 to the Town of Davidson’s Burney Award in 2012.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Missing Middle heads to Planning Board Meeting 11/27/17

As this current Davidson administration comes to an end there is one last controversial item this Board is looking to pass - the "Missing Middle" text amendments.

aShortChronicle told you about these changes in this earlier post.  They are designed to ensure multifamily building occurs in the Village Infill area of town.

At the November 14th meeting Commissioners unanimously sent these text amendments to the Planning Board, and that is now the only real item on the Planning Board agenda this coming Monday, November 27th.  See here.

In an oddly "holiday themed" presentation, Planning staff make the case that forced multi-family in the village infill area is a good thing.  There are a number of slides about demographics.  A slide on their ongoing campaign against the automobile.  It implies this will help housing affordability.

However, forcinging multi-family housing buildings into neighborhoods that currently don't have them and weren't designed for them hardly seems like a "present" for Davidson.  Instead, it seems like one more lump of coal left by the outgoing administration.

Head to Town Hall at 6pm on Monday.  A Planning Board decision on this, could set the stage for an unusual and controversial vote at the December Commissioners meeting by the outgoing Board prior to swearing in the new one.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Commissioners misinformed during hotel vote

In the aftermath of last Tuesday's lame duck approval of the Griffith Street Hotel by the outgoing Davidson Board of Commissioners, there has been a considerable amount of swirl around town. Much of that regards confusion on the status of the Community School of Davidson at the location adjacent to the now approved hotel site.  This swirl can be linked to what can best be described as "misinformation" from the dais at Davidson Town Hall last week and before.

Here is just a sample of statements regarding this subject from recent meetings.

The Davidson Board met on October 24th for the last discussion on the Griffith Street Hotel before voting on it last Tuesday.  At the very end of the Hotel discussion at that meeting, comments turned to what could be done with the land where CSD's K-7 building currently sits.  Outgoing Commissioner Beth Cashion asked...

"What's the current zoning on the Elox...er, the CSD building?"

More than a decade ago the CSD building was the home of the former Elox Corporation.  Commissioner Cashion asking that question that way was a bit of a Freudian slip showing a disconnect from the facts that space is a school now, it has been for a decade, and has a lease on file for many years more.

That was followed soon after by outgoing Mayor John Woods asking this question to Planning Director, Jason Burdett.

"So, Jason..If that building were to be razed, um...and the school were to relocate, or not, what would be by right zoning there?"

That "hypothetical" about tearing down, or razing, the CSD K-7 building, sure sounds like planning for a post CSD scenario, doesn't it?

Then at the meeting last week before the vote, outgoing Commissioner Cashion again brought up CSD's status on the site as part of her statement before she voted for the hotel.

"The conversations around CSD - certainly supportive of CSD - reached out a couple of times to CSD to meet with them. I have spoken with the owner of the building and it’s a difficult position to be in making a decision about a long term opportunity when you have CSD as a school in an industrial site. I also understand they (CSD) are not the owners of that building, they are leasing that building and it’s an understanding, and a pretty clear understanding that CSD will not be there in that building in 10 years to come. CSD bought 40 acres out on Beaties Ford road and are starting to build their sports complex there so, I think we are tasked with a difficult decision."

Cashion's comments highlighted in bold are misleading on a couple of points.  aShortChronicle spoke to CSD Executive Director, Joy Warner, on Friday to see if these statements could be clarified.  Here is what Warner confirmed.

Yes, CSD leases the building.  However, the lease on file with the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds shows the current lease runs until January 1, 2027 and has a five year option to extend.  Meaning, CSD can remain on the site for 14 more years as renters.  Furthermore, CSD has in the lease an "irrevocable option" to buy the site between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019.  That means the school could be permanently located where it is today.

Additionally, Warner commented to aShortChronicle on the Huntersville property for a sports complex that CSD is in the process of raising money to purchase.  According to Warner, every time that property has been discussed with parents it has been made clear that the Huntersville site is not intended for relocation of either of the school's Davidson campuses.

In the face of this information from the school, how the Town got a "clear understanding" that the CSD K-7 school would not be in its current location in ten years is...well...very unclear.   However, that incorrect understanding and the incorrect idea that the Huntersville site means something more than just being a location for a sports complex, seems to have been one of the driving forces behind the Town's decision to approve the hotel.

For something this important, for something that impacts children, for something that impacts a school that brings many tangible benefits to the town, the Town government could have and certainly should have done a much more thorough job in its due dilligence prior to making its decision on the hotel.

Unfortunately for the town, that did not happen.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Citizens Invited to Jack Burney Award Ceremony

DAVIDSON, N.C. Citizens are invited to the G. Jackson Burney Community Service Award ceremony on Wednesday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Davidson Town Hall.

The ceremony and following reception will honor long-time Davidson resident Bill Giduz.

The award is named for G. Jackson Burney, who served the town in many capacities, primarily in planning and communications. Since 2004, it has honored Burney and those whose unselfish service benefits the Davidson community. Previous award winners include Bernice Houston, William B. Mayhew, Baxter and John Fisher, Evelyn Carr, Annie Mildred Lowery, Scotty Nichols, John and Paula Kelton, Jane B. Ellithorpe, Ralph Quackenbush, Leland Park, Jean Jackson, Sterling Martin, Pam Maier, Connie and Eddie Beach, Leamon Brice, and Garfield Carr.

The ceremony and reception honoring Bill Giduz will be held on Wednesday, November 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Davidson Town Hall. The North Mecklenburg Moravian Band will play at 9:30 a.m. and Mayor John Woods will open the ceremony at 10:00 a.m. Light refreshments will be served afterward. We hope you will join us.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Register for Civics 101

DAVIDSON, NC -- Are you interested in learning more about the operations of our town government? Register for Civics 101. This free program is open to people who live or work in Davidson (within town limits and the extra-territorial jurisdiction) who are 18 and older. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss departmental functions and operations with town department heads, tour the fire and police departments, learn about town history, and take part in a personalized question-and-answer session with the mayor and board of commissioners. 


Our core values state that “open communication is essential to an engaged citizenry” and that the “social and intellectual well-being of Davidson citizens is fundamental to our community, so town government will provide…lifelong learning opportunities.” Our popular Civics 101 course reflects both of these values.

Classes will be held at town hall. They begin Thursday, February 8, 2018 and continue for ten consecutive weeks. Classes also include a Saturday bus tour and recognition at the April 10, 2018 Davidson Board of Commissioners’ meeting. Participants can sign up for the day session from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. or the evening session from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Applications will be accepted from now until December 31 and are available atwww.townofdavidson.org/Civics101 and town hall.

Participants should not expect ten weeks of lectures -- classes will require participation in activities and discussion.  Acceptance into the program is on a first-come, first-served basis and only 25 participants will be able to participate in each session. Those selected must commit to attending all ten classes.

2017 Civics 101 graduate Nancy Vendley said: “After living in Davidson for 25 years, this program was very interesting and highlighted the complexities of our local government. The Town of Davidson elected officials and employees have a created an outstanding program that was fun too!"
To see a full schedule of this year’s classes, visitwww.townofdavidson.org/Civics101.

Friday, November 17, 2017

#DavidsonElection2017: Final election numbers show mandate for change

So, with today being election certification day, final numbers were posted by the State BOE.  Here they are.



According to the Meck BOE in the 2 Mecklenburg precincts 3831 ballots were cast, including 22 "undervotes" where there was no selection for mayor.  That is a Mayoral undervote percentage of 0.57% -less than one percent.  Compare that to the combined undervote and write-in of more than 27% in 2015 when Woods was the only candidate on the ballot.  When people have choices they vote.  When tjry don't they stay home or leave the race blank.

On the Commissioners side, as reported earlier, David Sitton maintained the 8 vote lead he had on election night to be the 5th Commissioner.  As for the undervote there, each of the 3831 ballots cast could have voted for up to 5 candidates yielding 19,155 possible votes.  According to MeckBOE 2843 votes were not cast yielding an undervote percentage of 14.8%.  That means the average voter cast 4.26 votes out of 5 possible votes.

The low undervote counts in both races are a testament to what competition and choices can do to voting patterns.  In the winner take all format of the Mayoral competition almost nobody left it blank or wrote in somebody.  In the plurality format for the Commissioners race casting 4.26 out of five votes is very solid.  When one considers the tight grouping of the top 6 candidates and the big falloff to the remaining candidates, it's clear most voters coalesced around the same candidates and cast all or almost all of their available votes to that group.

Another interesting thing to note is that Mayor Woods, Commissioner Graham, and Commissioner Anderson all received about the same number of votes.  It's risky reading too much into that, but it would seem to say that there were about 1000 voters who could be categorized as "status quo" voters who voted for the incumbents who lost.  If true, that would mean they were only a little over 1/4 of the over 3800 voters who went to the polls.

Taken all together it is hard to see these numbers as anything but a mandate for change in how Town Hall operates.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Lame duck Davidson advisory board appointments are not binding

One of the items passed by Davidson's outgoing "lame duck" Board on Tuesday included appointing 21 people to Davidson's various advisory Boards including Planning, Design Review, Public Art, and Livability.

The tradition of the outgoing Board making these appointments has been going on as long as aShortChronicle has been covering Davidson Town Hall.  In most cases, there isn't really anything wrong with that since as the saying goes "the new boss is the same as the old boss" after most elections.  However, that certainly is not the case this year.

aShortChronicle has learned that these appointments are not binding on the incoming Board of Commissioners.  With that in mind, it is strongly recommended that the new Board consider rolling back these appointments until they have time to review.

This is not a statement against any specific appointee.  However, in the wake of the wave election just completed the new Board of Commissioners and Mayor deserve to have a say in how the advisory boards they will be dealing with are populated.  Not only is the 21 appointments a large number, there are multiple new seats that have been added to these bodies as well.  At a minimum, the new Board should take a look at the new seats.  However, looking at the entire list to make sure it gets new blood and new thinking into town government is also warranted.

What aShortChronicle has learned is that while appointing bodies can make appointments for terms starting in the future, those appointments are not binding if the appointing body is not in power when those future appointments start.  Check out this article from the UNC School of Government for the details.
In the case of the advisory board appointments made by Davidson's lame duck Board of Commissioners, none of the advisory board terms start until January 1st.  Davidson's current Board leaves office at the December meeting.  aShortChronicle checked with Professor Frayda Bluestein with the UNC-SOG who wrote the article linked above to confirm that understanding, and per her response these appointments do not appear to be binding.

While certainly, taking an action like rescinding these appointments would be uncomfortable, it would also provide the newly elected officials the opportunity to open up local government to more new thinking.

Davidson's new crop of elected officials needs to know they have the opportunity and the authority to do so.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Election ballot count update...no recount for Davidson expected!

aShortChronicle learned earlier today from a source who contacted the Mecklenburg BOE that after counting the remaining absentee and provisional ballots the race for Davidson's 5th place finisher in the Commissioner's race is unchanged.

According to the source who spoke with the BOE, both David Sitton and Shana Erber received 9 additional votes in Mecklenburg.  (No additional votes remained to be counted from the Davidson Pointe neighborhood in Iredell.)  That means Sitton maintains an 8 vote lead headed into Friday's election certification.

aShortChronicle contacted Erber to see if she planned to seek a recount which is her right as a candidate due to the closeness of the race.

Erber responded this evening saying that she would not.   Her exact words were...

"I wanted to let you know I do not plan to ask for a recount. I am happy to concede to David, who I think is going to be a great Commissioner."

aShortChronicle complimented Erber on her campaign pointing out that it is no small thing coming in ahead of two incumbents in the race.

Erber responded saying "I was proud of the effort and it was a positive experience that may lead to other opportunities to get involved. So, I was not disappointed by any of it."

A class act throughout the campaign, Erber is to be congratulated on how she handled herself in what was obviously not an easy first run for office in a crowded field with significant controversy and serious issues.

Erber's decision to not seek a recount means it is all but certain that David Sitton will be the 5th Commissioner for Davidson's Board when this election is certified on Friday.

aShortChronicle also contacted Sitton for this update but has not heard back from him yet.

Board thumbs nose at town on way out the door on Hotel


After a marathon meeting lasting over five hours, Davidson's Board voted 4-1 in favor of the controversial Griffith Street Hotel.

Only Commissioner Jim Fuller voted against the proposal.

One might think the shellacking of incumbents at the polls last week with only the more citizen friendly Jim Fuller winning re-election, the Board might have thought twice about pushing this controversial project ahead.  They didn't.

And let's be crystal clear about something.  Even though Commissioners Beth Cashion and Brian Jenest did not run again, there is really no reason to believe the outcome on election night would have been any different if they had.  Both of them have stood shoulder to shoulder with losing Commissioners Rodney Graham and Stacey Anderson on most or all of the bad decisions over the past few years.  With Graham and Anderson trailing well behind the top six vote getters, there is really no reason to believe Cashion and Jenest would have done any better.

No, the mindset that brought on election night was not tempered by its results.  Instead, the results only seem to have hardened it.

This vote on the way out the door is the only thing these four Commissioners will ever be remembered for by many in this town, and frankly, that is just about all they really deserve.


Commissioner
Stacey Anderson

Commissioner
Rodney Graham

Commissioner
Brian Jenest

Commissioner
Beth Cashion

Monday, November 13, 2017

Pack Davidson Town Hall on Tuesday

With multiple controversial topics on the agenda and coming on the heels of last weeks shakeup election, Davidson Town Hall is sure to be packed on Tuesday.

The Board is slated to "consider" aka vote on the following:
  • The Griffith Street Hotel
  • The route of the Potts-Sloan-Beaty connector road
  • The appointment of 21 new advisory Board seats
There will also be a hearing to advamce
  • Text amendments on more multi-family housing types for the Village area
Public comment at the beginning of the meeting can be used to address thd Hotel and the PSB items.  There will be a special public hearing on the text amendments.

Meeting starts at 6pm.  Grab a friend and head to Town Hall early to get a good seat.

Davidson election ballot count update...the wait continues

Previously, aShortChronicle told readers that the outstanding provisional and mail in ballots for the local elections would be counted today at 5pm.  That was the plan as of last Thursday.  However, it looks like the waiting will continue a little longer.

According to the Mecklenburg BOE office, a quorum could not be gathered for the counting and it has been rescheduled until Wednesday at noon.

Also, the number of outstanding ballots to be counted is getting narrowed down.  Per the BOE, there are 6 additional mail in ballots and 12 provisional ballots for Davidson.  Depending on the breakdown of the provisional ballots (whether they are "full" or "partial" ballots) there may or may not be enough to swing the election results for 5th and 6th place between David Sitton and Shana Erber.

A "full" ballot is one where the person voting is maybe in the wrong precinct but still receives a ballot for all their races - going to Town Hall instead of Hopewell on election day if you live in River Run for example.  You would get a full Davidson paper ballot and all of the choices and races would be there.  A "partial" ballot is where someone went to the wrong precinct on election day and only gets to vote on the items that would have been on the ballot in their correct precinct.  An example of this might be a Davidson voter who went to a precinct by where they work in Charlotte thinking they could vote there.  On election day that Charlotte precinct would only have paper ballots with the Charlotte races and the CMS school bonds.  The Davidson voter could only vote for the school bonds because it is the only race that would have been on the ballot in Davidson as well.

So, right now,  with only 8 votes separating the candidates it looks like there could be enough votes to swing the race outcome, but the odds are unlikely that it will.  After Wednesday comes "canvasing" on Friday, and then if anyone wants a recount it can be requested then.  Regardless of Wednesday's outcome, that's certainly a possibility.

And you thought counting votes was simple...

Sunday, November 12, 2017

7 things the new Davidson Board should do immediately...

This transformative election for Davidson provides the opportunity for this new group of elected officials to make their mark on trust and transparency in local government.  Trust and transparency, or the lack thereof, in Town Hall was the underlying theme that drove this past election and moving swiftly to take definitive action to improve public perception on that front will be critical to the new Board's success.

Here are 7 things that can be done immediately and at no cost to positively impact these areas:

1.  Pass a resolution stating that neither the mobility bonds approved this cycle nor any other Town funds will be used to support land acquisition or use of eminent domain for the Potts-Sloan-Beaty connector project or any multi-use path construction along Potts street.

2.  Publicly instruct the Town Manager that town communications should no longer be conducted in a manner that resembles a coordinated information campaign unless it involves improved public safety.  Press releases should come out immediately after relevant events (3 business day delay maximum).

3.  Commit to providing a public access terminal for public records at Town Hall.  Also, instruct staff that if records requests compiled by the Town have documents pulled due to any valid reason under public records law, state the number of documents that were withheld due to said reason.

4.  Pass an updated Rules of Procedure that allows two Commissioners to add an item to a regular meeting agenda.  Currently, agenda items can only be added if the Mayor and Town Manager agree.  While this probably won't be an issue under the new administration, it is still good public policy.  Agendas should also be structured such that the most pressing issues for the public are discussed first to accommodate citizen schedules.  Less important agenda items or presentations should not be used to draw out meetings in hopes the public will leave prior to getting to the items of public concern.

5.  Pass a resolution or add to the Rules of Procedure stating no informal polling of commissioners via email or otherwise will occur prior to a public vote on any subject.  Polling violates the spirit of open meetings law and makes a farce of the citizen public comments at the meetings themselves.

6.  Eliminate or strictly constrain 2x2 meetings with staff and Commissioners done to avoid public meetings law.  This is where staff meets with Commissioners in groups of no more than 2 elected officials.  More than 2 would require it be announced as a public meeting.  These 2x2 meetings should be eliminated completely for planning related topics or anything requiring a public hearing.  All other topics discussed in 2x2 sessions should posted on the Town website.

7.  Post all development projects in discussion on the Town website under a pre-proposal section.  Townspeople should no longer be surprised by proposals that show up on the town website only when a fully completed proposal is submitted often after months of discussion and negotiation with staff.  This would also apply to planning related changes initiated by staff or electeds.  This would provide a single place where citizens could find notice of new projects or potential zoning rule changes.



These changes or some variation would cost nothing and would give citizens a good feeling about where the Town is headed when it comes to greater transparency in government.  They would also help prevent any slippage back towards the behaviours that got us to the point of falling Citizen Survey scores when it comes to trust in local government in the first place.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

There should be no "lame duck" Griffith Street Hotel approval

After the electoral defeat the current Davidson Board took on Tuesday, one would think, one would hope, they do not do things on their way out the door to further inflame tensions in this town.

However, they will have the chance to pour gasoline on the situation this coming Tuesday with a scheduled vote on the proposed Griffith Street Hotel.  The vote was tentatively planned prior to the election, but now definitivy appears on the agenda for this coming Tuesday - ensuring another packed Town Hall for another contentious decision by this outgoing Board.

Approving this zoning change as lame duck electeds, a change that was unanimously voted down by Davidson's Planning Board, would be an ignominious way for these elected officials to leave office...whether they stood for reelection or not.  The election results on Tuesday clearly showed the voters of Davidson want a change in direction.  They want a change in how things are done.  They want a change in what it means to listen to the public.

This Board has one last chance to get this right.

Conversely, it would be a disservice to the town for the current Board to move this project forward under these circumstances.  If they do, it will be what they are remembered for by many for a very long time.  It will be their albatross.  That is a certainty.

Let's hope they do the right thing for this community.  Let's also encourage them to do so.  Before Tuesday, send them one last message to politely ask them to not move this project forward.  There is no compelling reason for them to do so, and there are many compelling reasons to not.

The entire Board can be reached at Board@townofdavidson.org.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

aShortChronicle's take on the election results...

With the smoke clearing on Tuesday's election, here's aShortChronicle's take on the outcome.  But first a little history...

Back in 2010 Davidson's Board was considering making a unilateral change to the Town charter that would have changed elected terms from two years to four years and staggered them so only three elected officials would be up for election every two years.  The mayor and two commissioners would be elected one cycle for four years and two years later the other three commissioners would be elected for four years.  The initial plan was for the Board to make this change without even going to the voters for approval.

If that had gone through for the 2011 election as proposed, this past cycle would have been a three commissioner cycle.  The job of Mayor would not have been on the ballot.  Assuming the other things over the past few years remained the same, John Woods would have won in 2011 and again in 2015 and be mayor until 2019.  On the commissioner side it is harder to know exactly what would have happened, but by our estimation Rodney Graham and Stacey Anderson very well may have been two of the three seats up for election this year.  Who would have been in the third seat is less certain.  This scenario requires making some assumptions that may not be true, but it is certainly possible.

The point being that what happened this cycle would not have been possible if that 2010 effort by Town Hall had been successful.  In fact, back in 2010 proponents of 4-year staggered terms argued that preventing what happened this cycle was exactly the reason to implement staggered terms - to prevent the status quo from changing in a single election.

The issues and candidates elected this cycle prove why the proponents of 4-year staggered terms were and are flat wrong.  Sometimes, major change is necessary.  Sometimes, waiting two extra years is two years too long.  Sometimes, it needs to be done now.

This election was one of those times.

So, with that in mind, here is what aShortChronicle thinks of our entire new group of electeds.

Mayor - Rusty Knox winning an outsized victory was a great thing not only for him, but for the town.  In a three way race, it was very likely the winner might have won with less than 50% of the vote.  After an at times contentious election season, that outcome would have been very bad for the requisite post-election fence mending and hatchet burying that is needed.

As Mayor, Knox is well positioned to do that.  His vote total was almost equally split between precincts 127 and 206 when adjusted for population differences.  His opponents in the race were much more skewed towards one precinct or the other.

As for the policy and problem solving aspects of a Knox led administration, aShortChronicle has a high degree of confidence Knox will work very well with the new Board to accomplish the goals of reigning in development and protecting Davidson's small town charm.

Commissioners - With Jim Fuller, Matthew Fort and as of this writing, David Sitton, all coming from the list of candidates aShortChronicle recommended, things are looking better for the issues aShortChronicle cares about most.  ho confident debacles like the Catalyst Project, the Beaty Street RFP, the RAP mass rezoning, and a non-voter approved new Town Hall will not be repeated.  With Shana Erber trailing Sitton by just 8 votes and with as many as a few dozen provisional and absentee mail votes to be counted the final result could change.  However, that would not change how aShortChronicle feels about the results.

While Autumn Michael and Jane Campbell were not on the list aShortChronicle recommended for Commissioner, it is clear they are exceedingly qualified.  The only reservation was the uncertainty around the Mayoral race.   If things had gone differently in that race aShortChronicle was not sure Campbell and Michael would push as hard for some things as this blogger would like.  Now that the Mayoral question is answered, it is clear they will both bring great experience to the Board.

During the campaign Campbell's comments on fiscal issues were on the mark and Michael will bring great experience in both land conservation and historic preservation.  With Campbell specifically, it should be noted that she also really put in the effort going door to door (even stopping at aShortChronicle HQ), and it seemed like she worked every hour of early voting at Cornelius Town Hall.  That definitely shows a lot of commitment and deserves being noted.

Bonds - All three of the first ever GO Bonds for Davidson passed easily.  While aShortChronicle recommended against them, that too was as much out of an abundance of caution regarding the election as anything else.  Knowing who will be approving spending the money over the next two years gives greater confidence that crazy things won't be done to jack up tax bills.  aShortChronicle strongly encourages the new Board to make sure that does not happen and ensure Bond money isn't used to support things like the use of eminent domain, particularly along Potts Street.

All in all, this election turned out almost exactly the way aShortChronicle thought it would regardless of who was on the recommendation list, and looking ahead, great things are expected from everyone in this new group of elected officials.

All Invited to Town of Davidson’s Veterans Day Program

DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Town of Davidson invites all citizens to Davidson Town Hall on Saturday, November 11 at 11:00 a.m. to commemorate Veterans Day. The program features keynote speaker Retired Navy Captain Robert Cameron, Davidson College’s a cappella group, the Delilahs, the Hough High School Wind Ensemble and Junior ROTC, and the participation of many community members.

Veterans Day was originally known as Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War I in 1918. The armistice that ceased the fighting was signed on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11:00 a.m. The tradition of having a ceremony on that date and at that time has endured. Armistice Day eventually evolved into Veterans Day, which honors veterans of all wars.

The ceremony will be on the front steps of town hall. Chairs will be provided for attendees.  Please join us.

In honor of Veterans Day, please gather on Sunday, November 5 at 2:00 p.m. at Mimosa Cemetery on South Street to place flags on veterans' graves. Volunteers from Hough High School’s Junior ROTC and others will visit all town cemeteries. All are welcome to participate.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Davidson Commissioners Race Update...outstanding ballots

aShortChronicle checked with the Mecklenburg BOE on Wednesday to get updated information on the possible impact of outstanding votes on the tight race for the 5th place finish and the final seat on Davidson's Board of Commissioners.

David Sitton currently holds an 8 vote lead over Shana Erber (both candidates supported by Save Davidson).

There was a bit of confusion Tuesday evening as returns came in due to the fact that Davidson actually spans two counties.  The MeckBOE site only showed the two Mecklenburg precincts 127 and 206.  However, it did not include the Davidson Pointe neighborhood which is in Davidson's municipal boundaries but is in Iredell County.  Davidson Pointe is part of Davidson proper and not in the ETJ, so residents can vote in Davidson elections.  However, historically they almost never do.  This election was different with 70 ballots being cast.  When those votes were added to the  Mecklenburg total, Sitton edged ahead of Erber to get the 8 vote lead he currently has.

That does not mean the contest is over however. According to the Mecklenburg BOE there are 12 provisional ballots outstanding and up to 30 possible mail in absentees that did not come in prior to early voting close on Saturday.   Those will be counted Monday at 5pm.  The canvasing date was supposed to be this Friday but due to Veterans Day, the deadline is now Monday.  To add even another wrinkle, interestingly, if a mailed in ballot comes without of post mark after election day it doesn't get counted at all.  Apparently, the post office does not post mark everything anymore.

With somewhere between 12 and 42 ballots still to be counted on Monday the results for the final seat on Davidson's Board certainly could still change. Did not check with Iredell to see if there were any to add to this total.

Continuum (Mi-Connection) Board of Directors Met October 26 to Review Results

DAVIDSON, N.C. – On Thursday, October 26, the Continuum (formerly known as MI-Connection) Board of Directors met to hear the results of the external audit and review financial results for the first quarter of FY 2018 (ending September 30, 2017).

April Bell of auditing firm Dixon Hughes Goodman shared results for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2017.  She stated that Continuum is seeing a positive trend in financial results.

During his review of the financials, Continuum CEO David Auger shared that revenue is down 2.3% in Q1 2018 versus Q1 2017. Expenses are down by 0.59% in Q1 FY 2018 versus Q1 FY 2017. EBIDA (Earnings before interest, depreciation and amortization, a key metric used by cable operators to measure performance) decreased by 12.03% by Q1 FY 2018 vs. Q1 FY 2017.

EBIDA for Q1 FY 2018 was $148,605 lower compared to the same period a year ago. Most of this variance was due to the budgeted name change. Marketing expenses year-over-year were $114,157 higher. Another significant reason was that in the first quarter of last year, advertising revenue was $80,647 higher due to state and national political advertising buys and the fact that this is not a state/national election year.

“Our customers, new and existing, seem to be really excited about the re-branding, including the addition of new channels and a customer rewards program,” said Auger. “Our customers continue to appreciate our excellent customer service and the Whole Home Gateway product.”

The next meeting of the Continuum board of directors is on Thursday, January 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Davidson Town Hall.

Bonus Observation: The referenced meeting occurred 12 days ago.  The above press release from the Town should have been released before the election, but it wasn't.  That kind of thing should be a very easy one to fix for the new administration come December.

Political earthquake hits Davidson

Election 2017 in Davidson will be remembered as the year a political earthquake struck North Mecklenburg's smallest town.

With preliminary results in from the State BOE website, Rusty Knox has won a major victory over incumbent Mayor John Woods and former Mayor Pro Tem Laurie Venzon.  Receiving just under 57% of the vote gives Knox a clear mandate to lead the town.  In fact, it is hard to overstate the impressiveness of this victory.  Receiving a an absolute majority of votes in a 3 way competition is hard.  Doing so as handily as Knox did on Tuesday against two well known opponents is a mandate.


In the race for Commissioner, things are equally as startling.  Going into Tuesday the Davidson Board was guaranteed 2 new Commissioners due to open seats left by Beth Cashion and Brian Jenest not seeking reelection.  Coming out of Tuesday, Davidson will be getting 4 new Commissioners as both incumbents Stacey Anderson and Rodney Graham lost in their bids for another term.  With the difference between 5th and 6th place being only 8 votes the final outcome could be in flux if there are enough provisional ballots, but here are the results as of midnight Tuesday.


Incumbent Jim Fuller was the top vote getter.  However, with only 237 votes separating Fuller and 5th place finisher David Sitton, the new Board has a solid base of support under all members..  After 6th place finisher Shana Erber, support falls off significantly including that for incumbents Anderson and Graham.  Like the results in the Mayoral race, this solid victory for new blood candidates shows a clear desire for a change in direction at Town Hall.

On Wednesday, when there is a bit more time to reflect on what this all means, there will be some more interesting threads to analyze in this evolving story.  However, tonight congratulations to all the candidates are in order.  Running for office is hard and everyone doing so should be commended.

This was a particularly tough campaign with so many candidates and a significant amount of controversy.  Here's hoping everyone involved sees these results for what they really mean and acknowledge it is time to bring this community together and move forward.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

"Absence of Malice"...Davidson-style

Early voting closed Saturday and clearly something is happening in Davidson.  According to the State Board of Elections website, over 1500 Davidson voters have cast their ballots already.  That's setting this cycle up to very likely be a record setting contest based on the raw number of votes.  There have also been several hundred voters participating for the first time in a Davidson election, and hundreds more returning to the polls who haven't been to a municipal election very often in the past decade.

Those are all positive things no mater how Election Day turns out.

However, in the final days of #DavidsonElection2017, it hasn't all been positive energy and good vibes. No, unfortunately local politics can be about as friendly as a knife fight in a phone booth, and those in town wishing to keep the reigns of power tightly in their grasping fingers are proving that's the case.

Just like in the 1980s movie "Absence of Malice" where an innocent man is wrongfully attacked by officials using a compliant media, we've seen a concerted and coordinated effort using the media and other levers of influence to smear the Save Davidson citizen activist group here in town.

It started with a Charlotte attorney filing an anonymous "complaint" to the State BOE and sending the dubious story to the media.  The Charlotte Observer dutifully lapped it up and printed it.  The Davidsonian student publication at Davidson College did the same.  The student paper also made multiple references to other anonymous complainers questioning Save Davidson's use of an attorney who is a campaign finance expert but who also happens to live in Raleigh.  The student paper referenced even more anonymous people indicating those anonymous folks might be issuing "cease and desist letters"  - whatever that means is unknown.

That's a lot of anonymity in the media for the last two weeks before an election.

While all of this was clearly initiated as just a bunch of political theater, it did get the Save Davidson leaders' names out there in an unfavorable light.  And let's be honest, that was the whole point wasn't it?  The point all along with all this anonymity was to smear hard working, caring people who just want to bring more transparency and open government to Davidson.  The irony of anonymity being used to attack transparency should not be lost on anyone.

Mayor John Woods even took it a step further.  In a recent video Woods can be seen giving a speech at the Pines.  He's talking about the anonymous complaint and then talks about "dark money"  as if Save Davidson was some sort of ominous group that needed to be feared.  It might seem comical, but there's nothing at all funny about a sitting mayor speaking to a group of seniors in a way designed to manipulate rather than inform.

Then this weekend a group of Town Hall supporters put out a letter designed to once again cast aspersions on Save Davidson.  This time, they weren't anonymous.  They included the former mayor, Randall Kincaid, who was mayor when Mi-Connection was bought as well as a few other prominent names in Davidson's past.  The clear undertone was that they, and only they, were the arbiters of who was worthy - and who was not - to lead the town.  The views espoused in the letter made it clear that everything was just fine at their Davidson Town Hall, and if you don't agree, then you just don't understand.

All of that was a lot of work, a lot of time, effort, and money spent by a lot of people (often anonymous people) to keep the status quo.  If you haven't voted already, keep all of that in mind when you head to the polls on Tuesday.  Ask yourself why would the status quo fight so hard and so dirty against a group of residents to keep their hands on the reigns?

Ask yourself that question, then vote for change.