Progress Dems endorse Jeff Starkweather

News Release/Progressive Democrats of NC endorse Jeff Starkweather for NC House District 54:

The Progressive Democrats of North Carolina (PDNC) are pleased to announce the endorsement of Jeff Starkweather for NC House District 54. Jeff Starkweather’s platform is solidly progressive, and his long history in Chatham County politics and community organizing supports his claim to be THE progressive candidate in this primary. His passionate commitment to sustainable growth policies that are solidly rooted in the community, his tireless efforts for clean renewable energy and green building practices, his forceful and informed voice against the dangerous practice of fracking, his unwavering support for public education and strong schools for all, and his decades-long record on human and civil rights make Jeff Starkweather a candidate the Progressive Democrats of North Carolina can whole-heartedly support.

The Progressive Democrats of North Carolina are committed to the development and implementation of progressive ideals based on human and civil rights, peace, justice and environmental sustainability in North Carolina, the nation, and the world.

www.progressivedemocratsnc.org

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Jeff Starkweather endorsed by The Indy, Sierra Club, State Employees and AFL-CIO

News release/ April 23, 2012

Jeff Starkweather’s record of fighting for good jobs, strong schools, a clean environment and civil rights won him the endorsements of four major organizations comparing candidates for election to NC House District 54, representing all of Chatham County and a portion of Sanford.  The endorsements, based on questionnaires, interviews and candidate records, are from: The Independent Weekly, the State Employees Association, the Sierra Club, and the AFL CIO.

“I’m overwhelmed and honored by these endorsements and others I have received during the campaign from current and former elected officials, community leaders and supporters all over the district,” Starkweather said.

The Independent called Starkweather “a longtime champion of the environment, social justice and sound growth policies.” The newspaper said that the retirement of Rep. Joe Hackney, “leaves a need for a candidate who has a deep familiarity with the issues facing this district. We think Starkweather’s views on energy and growth could continue Hackney’s work; his willingness to defend public education and to stand up to social conservatives is also impressive.”

“[Starkweather] has the kind of fire Democrats need in the Legislature,” The Independent concluded.

The NC Sierra Club said it endorsed Starkweather because of his lengthy track record promoting environmental protection and renewable energy and sustainability, and his opposition to fracking.

Jeff Starkweather is a strong environmental advocate who has a long history of working for environmental causes in Chatham County and North Carolina as a whole,” the Sierra Club said. “His key environmental positions include promoting alternative energy and its use in North Carolina, strengthening North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Standards, opposing changes in laws to allow fracking for natural gas until its economic benefits are proven to outweigh its environmental costs, and searching for ways to collaborate with citizens and environmental experts to make North Carolina a model of sustainability.”

The NC AFL-CIO and Triangle Labor Council based their endorsement on Starkweather’s answers to a questionnaire and interview on employment and economic development issues. The State Employees Association of North Carolina’s EMPAC endorsement was based on a questionnaire and interview about issues facing NC public employees. They endorsed Starkweather and other selected General Assembly candidates “because we feel they understand the importance of the valuable services our members provide,” the SEANC stated in its news release.

Starkweather has lived and worked in Chatham County for 40 years. He is the former editor and publisher of The Chatham County Herald and a retired attorney who specialized in civil rights and employment law. In 2009, the Western Chatham NAACP named him a Humanitarian of the Year and in 2006 he was a News and Observer Tar Heel of the Week.

He currently serves on the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation Board and the Triangle South Workforce Development Board. In those economic policy leadership positions he was instrumental in the development of the county’s economic development strategy and industrial incentives policy and in bringing a job link center back to Chatham. He has also served on Chatham’s Sustainable Energy and Green Building Advisory Board and he chaired the Affordable Housing Advisory Board.

State Employees endorse Jeff Starkweather for State House

EMPAC, the political arm of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, announced that it is endorsing Jeff Starkweather in the State House District 54 Democratic primary contest.

Starkweather was among fourteen Democratic and four Republican state house candidates across North Carolina endorsed by EMPAC, along with five Democratic and five Republican State Senate candidates.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of the state employees, especially since I had the pleasure of representing many state employees as an employment and civil rights attorney,” Starkweather said.  “It is particularly important at this time when state employees rights and compensation are under severe attack from state legislative leaders to have a representative who understands the importance of their work to our state’s well-being and economic prosperity.”

The endorsements resulted from recommendations from SEANC members at the district level, which were then confirmed by a statewide committee.  Both Starkweather and his Democratic primary opponent submitted answers to an EMPAC questionnaire and were interviewed by a district level committee of SEANC members.

“SEANC has no permanent friends or no permanent enemies, only permanent issues,” said state EMPAC  Chair Wayne Fish. “We chose to support these candidates because we feel they understand the importance of the valuable services our members provide.”

SEANC, SEIU Local 2008, is the South’s leading state employee association, 55,000 members strong. With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North Carolina and includes over one million public employees who have united to improve their lives and the services they provide.

Candidate kicks off campaign March 4

From the Chatham News Record, March 1, 2012:

Jeff Starkweather is officially launching his campaign for the open seat in NC House District 54 with a free, public kick-off party on Sunday March 4, from 4 to 7 pm in Pittsboro. The festivities are free and open to the public and will feature live music, light refreshments and a chance to exchange ideas with the candidate. The location is 697 Hillsboro Street, the former Pittsboro Chevrolet showroom just north of Chatham Mills.

Starkweather, a long-time community advocate and retired newspaper publisher and attorney in Pittsboro is running in the May 8 Democratic primary. The new district covers all of Chatham County and a portion of the Sanford area in Lee County.

“We’ve been so fortunate to have Joe Hackney and Bob Atwater fighting for our vital needs over the years,” Starkweather said. “It will take many strong advocates working together to fill their big shoes when they step down from their legislative posts at the end of the year. But I am eager and ready to do my part, and I will work tirelessly for our district and our state.

“I spent my entire career fighting for fair treatment for all people and communities,” he said.  “Now I want to bring fairness and civic responsibility back into the public debate.

“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. And we need to protect the natural environment that makes our state a stellar place to live and work, considered one of the best locations in the nation,” he said.

“Above all, we need to restore the promise of upward mobility for all,” he said. “The American Dream is not just for the privileged few.”

“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 files for NC House District 54

News Release 2/13/12

Jeff filing with good friends Sally Kost, seeking re-election as a Chatham County Commissioner, and Karen Allen Howard, running for Chatham Board of Education.

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.

A Family Affair -- Jeff , Emily and the Tinervin team, Sally, Karen and the Howards at the Board of Elections

“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.

Thumbs up for Dist. 54 mayors’ support for public education

My letter to the editor published in Chatham News and Record, Feb.1, 2012:

I want to applaud Siler City Mayor Charles Johnson, Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller, Goldston Mayor Tim Cunnup, and Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive for supporting Governor Bev Perdue’s proposal to restore some $800,000 in state funds for our public schools.  While I am not generally a supporter of increased sales taxes because their impact is “regressive” (lower income households pay a higher percentage), I would support restoring a 3/4 cent increase if that was the only politically feasible way to adequately fund our public schools. Obviously, I would prefer those who can better afford it to pay a higher percentage burden of any tax increase than the numerous retirees, blue collar workers and unemployed in Chatham and Lee counties.

Since the 2008-2009 budget year approximately 6,108 NC public school employees have lost their jobs, 76% of whom were teachers or teacher assistants.  Although our local schools have done a good job of keeping those numbers down, we still have lost a significant number of positions, including completely eliminating Chatham’s middle school Spanish program. And while the Chatham Board majority did not actually cut their dollar contribution, they also did not provide sufficient funds to maintain the same per pupil funding, based on increases in student enrollment. Commissioner Sally Kost and I lobbied for these funds because we both considered not providing them as a funding “cut”.

I also support President Obama’s American Jobs Act, in large part, because it will provide North Carolina sufficient funds to restore or retain a total of 13,400 education jobs.

Any increased educational funding should be focused on classrooms and direct educational services.

Research clearly shows that the most important factor in improving a state’s and local community’s economic development and prosperity is public educational quality. Thanks to our state legislature’s misguided cuts to education, North Carolina has dropped to 46th in per pupil state funding. We are now below Mississippi and South Carolina. That is embarrassing.

It is time we put our future – our children and grandchildren – first.  I don’t have all the answers to the best way to fund education but I am willing to do my part and pay my share to make it happen. I hope you feel the same.

Jeff Starkweather in the News

We’re grateful for all the great press this week in the News & Observer, Chatham News/Record, Sanford Herald, Burlington Times-News and McClatchy News Service:

Starkweather enters N.C. House race (McClatchy News/Sanford Herald/Burlington Times-News 12-23-11)

Jeff Starkweather has held a host of titles in his 40-plus years of living and working in Chatham County — chair of the Chatham County Affordable Housing Advisory Board, publisher of the Chatham County Herald and attorney specializing in civil rights to name a few.

In 2012, he will seek to add state-level representative to his community service resume. During a meeting of the Chatham County Democratic Party Executive Committee this week, Starkweather announced his candidacy for the North Carolina House District 54 seat — representing Chatham and parts of Lee County.

“I think I have a history of speaking out on a variety of issues,” Starkweather said, citing his experience in advocacy and public policy. “People know where I stand.”

Regarding the environment, the candidate said he is adamant about protecting the area’s natural resources.

“Probably the most pressing issue is the whole issue of fracking,” he said, referring to the much-debated method of natural gas extraction. “I have great reservations about the state moving into this area without more study and research.”

When it comes to education, which the candidate named as another of his primary issues, Starkweather said, “We are not where we need to be.”

“The most important asset any community has is the quality of its education,” he said, adding, “we need better educational equality in this state.”

Equality is a refrain that runs throughout Starkweather’s campaign, which he describes as “a chance to work on behalf of a ‘fair deal’ for all citizens, so that we may prosper together despite the global recession.”If elected,” he said in a prepared statement, “I look forward to the opportunity to seek innovative ways to engage the public and private sectors to enhance our economy, our environment and our public education system from pre-school all the way through community colleges and universities.”

“If we do that,” he continued, “we can create a fair and democratic society in which people who put their best foot forward can succeed.”

Newly drawn District 54 draws hopefuls (N & O/ Triangle Politics 12-24-11)

Candidates are lining up for the newly drawn House District seat covering Chatham and part of Lee counties. Democrats Jeffrey Starkweather, a retired attorney and newsman, Deb Mcmanus, a current Chatham County school board member, and Republican Cathy Wright…recently announced their plans to run….

Starkweather serves on the Chatham County Economic Development Corp. board and the Triangle South Workforce Board….[He] co-led a grass-roots political action committee that helped oust the pro-development Chatham County Board of Commissioners chaired by Bunkey Morgan in 2006.

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Starkweather promotes  ‘fair deal’ for all (Chatham Record/News page 1,12-22-11)

After being recruited by local Democratic leaders, elected officials and community advocates, Jeff Starkweather of Pittsboro has decided to seek election to the new open State House seat representing Chatham County and the Sanford area…

Starkweather has lived and worked in Chatham County for 40 years. He is a well known community advocate and retired civil rights attorney and former newspaper publisher. …

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