News Release 2/13/12
PITTSBORO — Jeff Starkweather, a long-time community advocate and retired newspaper publisher and attorney in Pittsboro, filed today to seek election to a new open seat in NC House District 54, representing all of Chatham County and a portion of the Sanford area in Lee County.
“It’s especially important now to have a strong local voice represent this new district,” he said. “I spent my entire career fighting for fair treatment for all people and communities. Now I want to bring fairness and civic responsibility back into the public debate about tax reform and public investments.”
“We need to strengthen our public schools from pre-K through community college and university levels — not starve them,” he said.
“We need to work strategically to support local businesses and attract clean industries — not simply wait for the jobs to show up.
“We need to protect the natural environment that makes our region a stellar place to live and work, considered one of the best locations in the nation,” he said.
“And we need to restore the promise of upward mobility for all, not just the privileged,” he said.
“If we do these things by working with each other– not against each other– our economy and our democracy will thrive again now and for future generations.”
Jeff has lived and worked in Chatham County for 40 years. In 1973, at age 26, he became the editor and co-publisher of the Chatham County Herald until it was sold in 1984. Under his leadership, the paper won two dozen awards for investigative journalism, public service, photography, news and feature writing.
He went on to become a federal public defender and civil rights attorney, spending nearly two decades representing the interests of low-income defendants and working people, women, minorities and persons with disabilities. He also served on the Chatham County Planning Board.
In 2006, the News and Observer named him a Tar Heel of the Week for his grassroots political leadership to prevent sprawl and promote balanced growth.
He retired in 2008 and a year later was named a Humanitarian of the Year by the Western Chatham Branch of the NAACP for his grassroots leadership, advocacy and service.
Most recently he has been working for good jobs, affordable housing and energy conservation through service on the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, Triangle South Workforce Development, Chatham County Affordable Housing, and Sustainable Energy and Green Building advisory boards.
“I understand what middle-class , working people and the working poor are up against in today’s economy,” he said. “My parents, now in their 90s, are devout Baptists from modest means. They worked hard their entire lives to ensure their children could graduate from college and get good jobs. They taught us to work hard, give back to the community and stay true to our values. Thanks to their sacrifice and example, we were the first generation in our family to attend college.
“That’s the vision I want to restore, that all citizens believe once again that hard work and giving back go hand in hand, and if you do both, your family and your community will succeed.”
Jeff was raised in Ojai, California. He has a B.A. in political science and economics from Redlands University and a J.D. from the School of Law at N.C. Central University. He also studied social work and planning at the graduate level at George Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
He has been married to Dee Reid for 26 years. She is director of communications for UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences.
They raised two children, who attended public schools in Chatham County. Sam is a poet and publisher who works at the City University of New York. Emily, is a teacher’s assistant at Pittsboro Baptist Pre-School and lives in northeast Chatham with her husband Scott Tinervin, and their two children, Ryan, 6, and Emery, 4.