Pittsboro Elections

Candidate flier draws ire, possible elections complaint

BY CASEY MANN, News + Record Staff
Posted 10/18/19

PITTSBORO — A piece of campaign literature produced and distributed by the Political Action Committee PIttsboro for the People has raised concerns from candidates, current commissioners and …

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Pittsboro Elections

Candidate flier draws ire, possible elections complaint

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Posted

PITTSBORO — A piece of campaign literature produced and distributed by the Political Action Committee PIttsboro for the People has raised concerns from candidates, current commissioners and some members of the public.

The literature, which is a door hanger, is in support of three candidates for Pittsboro’s town board — incumbent John Bonitz, Bridgett Perry and Kyle Shipp. Much of the information on the door hanger includes attacks on the Chatham Park planned development in Pittsboro, accusing the developer of avoiding affordable housing, wanting to take over the water supply and raising taxes so that the developer does not have to pay impact fees.

Such anti-Chatham Park sentiment is not new in Pittsboro politics.

The flier also accuses current Pittsboro Commissioner Michael Fiocco, who is not up for re-election this year, and Pittsboro Commissioner Jay Farrell — who is — of “giving Chatham Park whatever it wants” and says that Farrell “rubber stamps almost every Chatham Park vote Fiocco pushes.”

The flier, coupled with statements made by Bonitz at a Chatham NAACP forum on Saturday morning, drew more concern from some residents. During his opening statements, Bonitz said that the “most important thing” that he brought to the table was that he “had no monied interest in any of the development that will occur in Pittsboro” and that none of his closest friends “are in any position to get rich.”

Shipp told the News + Record Tuesday he was planning to file a complaint with the N.C. Board of Elections about the flier. Shipp noted he’d had no communication with the political action committee, and said the flier should note that the message was not authorized by him as a candidate or his candidate committee.

“I want to be very clear that I’m running this race on my own and not running with or against any specific candidate,” Shipp said. “I have a fundamental, personal disagreement with negative campaigning. I would rather lose this election than win based on negative statements about other candidates or current town commissioners.”

Pittsboro for the People was created on Aug. 23, according to filing documents obtained from the Chatham County Board of Elections. The treasurer, Christopher Watkins of Pittsboro, has been the treasurer for numerous PACs in Chatham County, according to Chatham County Board of Elections Deputy Director Steve Simos. The PAC had raised just over $1,000, according to its 35-day report filed on Sept. 27. Donors include Peter Theye at $300, Amanda Robertson, Linda Starkweather and Mark Barroso each at $100.

During the Pittsboro Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, former Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller spoke to the board during public comment regarding the insinuations.

“I find it disconcerting that we are once again experiencing a town board race where political action committees and other voices are stirring up fear, loathing and anger,” Voller said.

Voller followed by defending both Farrell and Fiocco, describing his time with them on the board and saying that “to insinuate that they are unethical or on the take is shameful and dirty pool.”

As a result, Bonitz said he was “compelled to respond” and that he had made “statements that warrant clarification.”
“Everyone brings an agenda,” Bonitz said noting that his comments could have been misconstrued as an accusation of “mischief.”

“I do not think that anyone on this board is doing anything illegal and I don’t think that any of them are on the take,” Bonitz said.

Reporter Casey Mann can be reached at CaseyMann@Chathamnr.com.

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