The Pinehurst Hot Mess: The 4-1-1 on the ’23 election campaign

The ‘You don’t like it? SUE US’ mentality.  Councils regularly populated with the worst stereotypes of what outsiders think Pinehurst people are like. Catering to tattletales with a taxpayer-funded message board about things like “garbage cans at the street,” “garbage cans over the front line,” “non-conforming signage”, “whether property can be rented,” or “delivery trucks even being downtown.”

Year after year, month after month, it’s the same things. Year after year, month after month, people are complaining about the idiocy emanating from Village Hall. Yet, when it comes time to do something about it, nothing substantive happens.  The same old people file for election. Most of the small number of voters who turn out base their votes on who their cocktail pals like.  Isn’t the definition of insanity ‘doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result’?

The Strickland era has been the worst of it.  Tree quotas for residential lots.  Spacing requirements for trees in your own yard.   Regulations on the intensity of your home’s exterior lighting.  Regulations on who can stay in your home and for how long.  Abuses of ‘executive session’ by Strickland and his two toadies to target people Strickland doesn’t like. After four years of behaving like a jerk, I’m not surprised that the mayor doesn’t want to face the voters again.

The 2023 ballot.  The mayor’s seat and two council seats are up.  For mayor we have two current council members – Jeff Morgan and ‘Parachute Pat’ Pizzella — and one former member — Kevin Drum. 

Morgan and Pizzella have spent a good chunk of their lives working for the government.  Both have been on the council during the Strickland reign-of-terror.  Pizzella was a willing, enthusiastic participant in it all.  Morgan just kind of, um, sat there quietly. 

Kevin Drum grew up in Pinehurst and owns two downtown businesses.  During his previous tenure on the council, he made it a practice to question Strickland’s shenanigans.  Drum is a big fan of government transparency.  Unfortunately, that made him the target of some dirty Strickland tricks that led to his reelection loss.  But not to worry — Kevin has a lawsuit in the court system that should make the guilty parties within the Village Hall cabal pay for their sins when all is said and done.

Kevin is the kind of guy who will ask the uncomfortable questions and shake up things that need shaking up.  That’s something we can appreciate in these parts.

The Council.   There are five candidates seeking to fill two seats. Lydia Boesch of Pinewild is the only incumbent. (Jane Hogeman, who recently passed away, would have been the other.). Former council member and mayoral candidate Clare Berggren will also be on the ballot.  Newcomers Cara Mathis, John Taylor, and Barbara Ficklin round out the field.

Some may recognize Mathis and Taylor from the village’s Historic Preservation Commission.

The mean-spirited ‘pull-up-the-drawbridge’ group that gave us the last four years – The Friday Group – is sending out emails endorsing Pizzella for mayor, and Taylor and Ficklin for council.  (Ficklin is registered unaffiliated and — as late as 2018 — asked for the Democrat ballot.).  According to the county board of elections, Ficklin is also affiliated with THIS Jeffrey Heintz. 

There are not a whole lot of good choices on the council side.  This will likely get resolved by the ol’ cocktail party method.  It’s bad for us as taxpayers.  It’s bad for democracy.  Instead of throwing up our hands, we need to keep their feet to the fire — regardless of how bad a lot is cast for us.

Issues. Boy do we have issues here in the village.  I’m told the police chief is struggling to hire and retain good help and to even staff the patrol schedule.  I’m told village administration regularly and vehemently refuses requests for more money for our cops.

Meanwhile, driving through Pinehurst has become a sheer nightmare.  At certain points in the day, we’re talking Raleigh and Fayetteville-style traffic jams.  The kind of things that could be dealt with via some intensive old fashioned traffic directing.  But we apparently don’t have the money. (But apparently we DID have the money to setup and monitor cameras downtown at the behest of ‘Parachute Pat.’  Those UPS and FedEx trucks just had to be counted.)

If you read this site regularly, you’ve seen the insolence, arrogance and insubordination of village manager Jeff Sanborn on full display. Apparently, no one has explained to him that he is NOT a deity, but a mere public servant. He even ran crying to The Pilot about how “mean” some of his bosses (and THIS website) were to him. Only in Pinehurst could you get away with going to the local newspaper and complaining on the record about your bosses.  

Mayoral candidates Pizzella and Morgan have proudly defended Sanborn.  Mayoral candidate Kevin Drum?  Not so much.

The planning and zoning staff are still a huge problem.  They chase away people seeking to do business here.  People describe dealing with them as worse than dealing with the DMV.  Granted, The Friday Group and their pet council people have been excessively micromanaging that department the last four years.  But that office is ONE MORE that needs a real attitude adjustment.