The morning after

Dear Friends,

Yesterday Deb McManus won the Democratic primary race in NC House District 54. We have sent her our congratulations and wishes for success in the fall general election contest.

With your help we ran a positive grassroots campaign that focused on critical issues. But we underestimated our opponent’s powerful political and financial resources. The McManus campaign raised half of its funding from large donors we didn’t have access to, including Lillian’s List (for women candidates only) and gambling proceeds from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (of which she is a registered member).  Her campaign hired a professional political consultant and had under-the-radar support from well-connected district party leaders, who shifted her get-out-the-vote campaign into high gear at the eleventh hour.

I have no regrets about our efforts.  We do not know exactly what role Amendment One played in the results, except that an unprecedented surge of voters came to the polls with no knowledge of our race or the distinct differences between the candidates.  I have never experienced anything like this before.

I am forever grateful to everyone who supported our efforts through personal contributions, volunteer hours and votes. The most rewarding aspect of the campaign was the opportunity to work with an extraordinary team of friends, and to meet so many new people, who share a commitment to strengthen our community through progressive and forward-thinking policies.

We attracted early support from a slew of current and former elected officials, and won endorsements from all the major organizations that compared both primary candidates. And we received generous support from more than 150 individuals.

We put together a talented team of volunteers who did amazing work. Together, we produced excellent materials, and executed effective strategies. We knocked on hundreds of doors and got tremendous responses.  And we had a series of inspiring neighborhood gatherings where I had a chance to listen to our supporters’ hopes, dreams and concerns.

My family made many sacrifices to support my candidacy. That starts with Dee, whose love kept me going and whose effective communication skills strengthened every message.  I’m proud of my daughter Emily Tinervin, who turned out to be a formidable campaigner. She and her husband Scott, and our granddaughters Ryan and Emery, inspired us every step of the way.  As always, among our most generous volunteers and supporters, I’m pleased to count Linda Starkweather and her husband Ned Kelly. And my parents’ values, support and love influenced this campaign throughout.

The last eight years of grassroots political campaigning have been rewarding in many ways but most of all because of the opportunity to get to know and work with so many selfless citizens. Now I look forward to quality time with family and friends, and enjoying life in this special place, while we figure out what the next adventure will be.  I am deeply honored to have taken this journey with all of you.

With warm regards,

Jeff

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

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.

Sierra Club endorses Jeff Starkweather for State House

The N.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed Jeff Starkweather for NC House District 54 because of his lengthy track record promoting environmental protection, 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. 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 Sierra Club stated in its announcement.

Jeff has now received endorsements from every major organization that has compared his positions and track record with his opponent’s. He is endorsed by: The Independent Weekly, the State Employees Association of NC, the Sierra Club and the NC AFL-CIO.

He is also endorsed by 17 current and former elected officials on county, municipal and school boards in Chatham and Lee counties.

And he has the support of Women for Jeff, a campaign advisory committee comprised of more than40 active women in Chatham and Lee counties.

Vote Early April 19-May 5

You can register and vote at the same time, during the one-stop early voting period at the following locations:

Chatham County

  • Pittsboro:  Board of Elections, 984 Thompson St. (in the office complex on US 64 Business across from the Post Office): M-F 8 am–7 pm, Sat. 10 am–3 pm
  •  N. Chatham: at Chatham Downs, near the Harris Teeter: M-F 10 am–7 pm, Sat. 10 am–3 pm
  • Siler City: Earl B Fitts Center, 111 S. Third Ave:M-F 10 am–7 pm, Sat. 10 am–3 pm

*For more info: Chatham Board of Elections 919-545-8500

Lee County

  • Lee County Board of Elections,  225 S. Steele St, Sanford: M-F 8am-5 pm; Sat. May 5, 8 am-1 pm
  • McSwain Agricultural Center, 2420 Tramway Road, Sanford: M-F 8-5; Sat May 5, 8 am-1 pm

*For more info: Lee County Board of Elections 919-718-4646

On Election Day, Tues. May 8, you must vote at your precinct polling place*.

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.

Vote por Jeff Starkweather para la Cámara Estatal de Representantes Distrito 54 en la elección demócrata preliminar el martes, 8 de mayo

Jeff y sus nietas

Mi nombre es Jeff y soy candidato para la Cámara Estatal para representar al Condado de Chatham y parte de la ciudad de Sanford. Quiero usar mis años de experiencia como abogado y periodista para luchar por los derechos de todos los residentes de nuestro distrito, incluso los de los inmigrantes.

Excelentes Escuelas / Proyecto de ley DREAM Act: Debemos invertir en la educación pública, desde los programas pre-escolares hasta el sistema de colegios y universidades, y promover la educación bilingüe. Yo apoyo la Ley DREAM y el acceso al estudio superior para todos los estudiantes, sin importar su estado migratorio.

Buenos Trabajos: Debemos apoyar a los negocios locales y atraer buenos trabajos para todos. Los inmigrantes contribuyen a la prosperidad de nuestro estado y merecen documentos legales para obtener empleos.

Cooperación de las Agencias de la Ley: Todos merecen la protección policíaca y ser tratados con respeto por los oficiales de la ley. Nadie debería de vivir con miedo de la policía o ser discriminado a causa de su raza o etnicidad. Yo creo en el acceso a las licencias e identificaciones para todos, de este modo nuestras comunidades y carreteras serían más seguras.

Reforma Inmigratoria: Somos una nación de inmigrantes y debemos apoyar un proceso para obtener la ciudadanía para los inmigrantes que ya se encuentran en el país. Éste es un asunto que el gobierno federal tiene el deber de solucionar.

Unidos podremos restaurar una sociedad justa y próspera para todos. ¡Su voto es su voz, hágase contar! ¡Espero contar con usted el 8 de mayo!

“Yo confío en Jeff por su compromiso hacia la justicia y derechos humanos para todos. Jeff me ha apoyado mucho a mí y a nuestra comunidad. Yo votaré por él y espero que usted también” –Ilana Dubester, fundadora y previa directora de El Vínculo Hispano.

Ilana and Jeff

La votación temprana será del 19 de abril hasta el 5 de mayo, puede registrarse y votar a la misma vez. Las elecciones preliminares serán el 8 de mayo. Para mayor información en inglés, llame a la Junta de Elecciones de Chatham al 919-545-8500 o del Condado de Lee al 919-718-4646. Para español, visite a http://veyvota.yaeshora.info.

Y NC State Board of Elections, Carlos Casallas,919-715-9206, carlos.casallas@ncsbe.gov

Este anuncio fue patrocinado por Jeff Starkweather para la Cámara Estatal.

* * * * * * *

Vote for Jeff Starkweather for NC House of Representatives District 54

In the Primary Democratic Elections on Tuesday, May 8


My name is Jeff and I’m a candidate for the N.C. House to represent all of Chatham County and part of Sanford. I want to use my years of experience as an attorney and journalist to fight for the rights of everyone in our district, including immigrants.

Great Schools/ DREAM Act:  We must invest in public education from pre-school through the college and university systems, and promote bilingual education. I support the DREAM Act and in-state tuition for all students, regardless of immigration status.

Good Jobs:  We must support local businesses and attract good jobs for everyone.  Immigrants contribute to the prosperity of our state and deserve legal documents to secure employment.

Cooperative Law Enforcement: Everyone deserves police protection and to be treated respectfully by law enforcement. No one should live in fear of the police or be discriminated based on race or ethnicity. I believe in access to Drivers Licenses and IDs for everyone, this will ensure that our communities and roadways are safer.

Immigration Reform: We are a nation of immigrants and we must support a path to citizenship for immigrants who are already here. This is an issue that the Federal government must resolve.

United we can restore a just and prosperous society for all. Your vote is your voice! Make your voice count. I hope to count on you on May 8th!

“I trust Jeff because of his commitment to justice and equal opportunity for all. Jeff has helped me and our community a lot. I will vote for him and hope that you will too.” –Ilana Dubester, founder and former executive director, El Vínculo Hispano.

Early voting will be from April 19 to May 5. You can register and vote at the same time! The primary elections will be on Tuesday, May 8. For election information, contact the Chatham Board of Elections at 919-545-8500 or Lee County at 919-718-4646. For Spanish, visit http://veyvota.yaeshora.info.

And, NC State Board of Elections, Carlos Casallas, 919-715-9206, carlos.casallas@ncsbe.gov

Paid for by Jeff Starkweather for State House

What I wanted to say

I was so impressed and moved by the statements made by so many local people testifying at the fracking hearing at Fearrington last night.  They did their homework and they spoke from the heart and the head. And the message was heard loud and clear all the way to Raleigh.

I wasn’t permitted to speak at the hearing last night because I had already spoken at the Sanford hearing ( in fact, I’ve been speaking out about this at every opportunity for months). But here’s what I had planned to say.

First, I want to thank my friend Chatham Commissioner Sally Kost, who pushed and prodded DENR to have a fracking meeting in Chatham County.  And of course I want to acknowledge former House Speaker Joe Hackney and Senator Bob Atwater for assisting Sally in making this happen.

I also want to thank the DENR staff who worked so hard on this report with so little time and so little staff resources.

Finally, I want to “thank” the DENR administrator, who gave us an unexpected gift by ignoring the substance of the report, and writing the now famous conclusion from nowhere.

Despite the fact that:

●  methane gas  has been found in nearby fracking wells;

● EPA recently found fracking fluid in nearby wells;

● no significant longitudinal studies, laboratory,  or animal studies have been conducted about water contamination by fracking;

● the shale gas deposits in North Carolina are significantly shallower than those in other states whose experience DENR was relying upon;

●  the consumer protection section was blank;

● the Department of Commerce declined to conclude that fracking would have a positive impact on our economy;

● and on, on, on…

Nevertheless, the conclusion said that fracking could be conducted in North Carolina safely IF it was properly regulated.

That insulting finding clearly did not fool anyone.

The only thing the conclusion accomplished is to help energize what is clearly the largest grass-roots environmental movement in this area in a long time.

I want to thank  leaders like Elaine Chiosso of the Haw River Assembly and Colleen Kendrick of the Deep River Clean Water Society, among many others, who have spearheaded this awesome grassroots movement here in Chatham County. I feel fortunate to have been able to play a small role in this movement and to be able work with and listen to such amazingly intelligent, diligent, passionate, poignant and humorous allies.

Clearly, the case has not been made in this report or anywhere else that economic benefits of allowing fracking for shale gas in North Carolina outweigh its costs.  Given Speaker Tillis’s statement that those proposing or opposing legislation must make the “business case,” I do not see why North Carolina should waste any more time and resources to determine if fracking can be done safely with the proper regulatory regulations and resources, unless and until the economic case can be made.

Based on my experience and research over the last eight years on community economic development strategies, I sincerely doubt that this case can be made in Chatham or anywhere else in the Triassic basin.

All this was predicted when energy experts said some time back that we had reached peak oil – the point where more than half of the total supply of potential oil has been exploited. Those experts predicted that the attempts to extract hard to reach oil and gas deposits would be more expensive and  require new experimental  and risky technologies.  Does the 5-mile-deep BP oil spill ring a bell?  Recall that oil engineers and federal regulators assured us this technology was incredibly sophisticated and safe. Fracking presents the same risky story.

We need move to away from fantasy of energy technological utopias and toward a more pragmatic and sustainable energy strategy – energy conservation and alternative energy. This is where the jobs of the future are, not  in the temporary positions filled mostly by outsiders that fracking might provide.

This is the energy strategy the people of Chatham and Lee are telling me they prefer.  And like my friends Joe Hackney and Bob Atwater, I will listen primarily to people who live in these communities, not the outsiders who just want to exploit us.

–Jeff Starkweather

State fracking study does not support its conclusion

There’s a significant disconnect between state officials who claim fracking can be conducted safely in North Carolina and the evidence, or lack thereof, contained in their own recently released 350-page study of the issue.

I have just read the “N.C. Oil and Gas Study” conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Commerce.  Regarding their findings, I can only say, with apologies to Gertrude Stein, “There’s no there there.”

In fact, the page dedicated to answering the troubling question of how to protect the rights of rural landowners is actually blank, except for one sentence. It states: “This section has not yet been provided by the Department of Justice.”

Never mind that the industry has already leased a significant amount of land in Lee county without any regulatory protections in place.   The blank page in the report says it all: It’s as if someone expects answers to fall out of the sky at some convenient point in the future, apparently after the state legislature decides to make fracking legal in North Carolina.

What’s more, on the environmental safety questions, the report shows that DENR, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, does not have sufficient information at this stage about the use of this new technology to make any claims about its safety.

Yet, despite these inconvenient information gaps, the report concludes: “DENR believes hydraulic fracturing can be done safely as long as the right protections are in place.”

The problem is,  DENR did not provide the scientific evidence required to support this belief. As this report acknowledged, “[T]his analysis is constrained by the limited information available at this time.”

I thought DENR was a fact-based, not a “belief-based,” organization. EPA, with considerably more scientific resources at its disposal, will not even complete its study of just one issue regarding fracking – water quality – until 2014. Yet with $100,000 spent over a few months of internet “research,” DENR is willing to express its “belief” about areas the EPA has yet to address.

I recall House Speaker Thom Tillis responding to my question about fracking at a forum in Pittsboro, saying that he was open to hearing “the business case” for or against fracking.  Yet, the Department of Commerce, in its section of the state report, was not able to make a case one way or the other.

The report’s economics review section reads:  This analysis is not intended to indicate a position by the North Carolina Department of Commerce (Commerce) for or against…”

Maybe I’m missing something, but I thought the whole point of this study was to determine whether it was prudent for the state to authorize hydraulic fracturing, based on conclusions about likely economic, environmental and health impacts.

The problem, of course, as Commerce concluded, is: “Until the industry is more developed, and economic and multiplier relationships are better represented in the data, model outputs will not be robust.”  In other words, they do not have enough information to predict economic impacts.

At best, Commerce projected that fracking might result in an additional 858 jobs statewide after six years. That’s not much of an economic benefit considering the unknown potential economic costs. In addition to the concerns about groundwater pollution, the other unknowns not taken up in the study include impacts on competing industries (such as local farms, wineries and other tourist attractions) and state and local costs for impacts to other infrastructure (especially roads) and services (law enforcement, schools, etc.).

I appreciate the hard work DENR and Commerce employees put into this rushed and underfinanced study. But it’s an affront to all North Carolinians that the objective contents of the study were ignored or distorted to reach an unsupported conclusion.

The only real conclusion one can draw from this study is that we still don’t know enough about the true economic, environmental and health costs to authorize hydraulic fracturing for gas anywhere in North Carolina.

–Jeff Starkweather, prepared for DENR Public Hearing on Fracking Study, March 20, 2012 in Sanford.

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.”