S.C. native sees ways Chapel Hill could be better

tgrubb@newsobserver.comOctober 8, 2013 

D.C. Swinton, candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council, 2013

SUBMITTED

  • Candidate Profile

    Name: D.C. Swinton

    Age: 25

    Address: 611 Hillsborough St., Apt. 1, Chapel Hill

    Occupation: Unemployed; former program assistant with Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation Department

    Previous political experience: Two-time candidate for the S.C. House of Representatives

    Relevant community service: former member of the Environmental Action Coalition in South Carolina, Moral Monday protester, volunteer at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center

    Other interests: Swinton plays drums and piano, and is learning rhythm and bass guitar. He recently formed a 1980s-style New Wave band and loves the music of Fleetwood Mac and Duran Duran

  • Need to know

    The 2013 municipal and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board elections will be held Nov. 5. Early voting and same-day voter registration runs Oct. 17 through Nov. 2.

    The following locations will allow early voting:

    Board of Elections office, 208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough

    Carrboro Town Hall, 301 W. Main St., Carrboro

    Rams Head Dining Hall, second floor, UNC campus, 320 Ridge Road, Chapel Hill

    Seymour Senior Center, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill

    For more information about early voting, go to bit.ly/1hkMDjH.

— Dante “D.C.” Swinton wants to bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to the Chapel Hill Town Council.

At 25, he wouldn’t be the youngest person on the council; Lee Storrow was 22 when elected in 2011. But Swinton said he would represent many residents who are not regularly heard: young, black, working class and unemployed, non-student bus riders. He’s also a relative newcomer, having moved here last year from his native Greenville, S.C.

Older candidates may have experience, but that doesn’t mean they have all the answers, he said. Swinton said he’s always had ideas for improving places.

“I pride myself on that. Even though I’ve only been here since August 2012, I’ve always observed the community and think what could be better about it,” he said.

His top issue: Building local support and resources for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. He also wants to improve local and regional bus routes, encourage more conversations and develop affordable housing, businesses and jobs that will keep the local population socially and economically diverse.

This is not his first campaign. He ran unsuccessfully for the S.C. House of Representatives in 2010 and 2011. He would like to be governor one day, he said.

Chapel Hill leaders are very progressive but need to go into the neighborhoods and talk to people who lack time and money to be politically involved, he said.

One of those under-served groups is sexual and domestic violence survivors, he said.

Swinton was raised by three women – his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – and has friends who’ve survived sexual violence. He’s also an Orange County Rape Crisis Center volunteer.

“It’s very traumatic and it’s very embarrassing, and people feel very ashamed of themselves,” he said. “I don’t like the fact that we don’t have a community that allows for people that are affected that way to feel that if they say something they will get justice.”

Orange County survivors face a number of hurdles, he said. Protective orders are only available on Wednesdays when the Hillsborough magistrates’ office is open, he said. The one bus from Chapel Hill to Hillsborough has limited hours, and there’s no local shelter for battered women or place for the children affected by violence, he said.

Better transportation also is vital, for social and economic diversity and to reduce traffic’s effects on the environment, he said.

Swinton is a regular bus rider and doesn’t support building a light-rail line line from UNC Hospitals to downtown Durham. The money should fund more bus routes and hours, which also will attract new businesses, he said.

Swinton left his part-time job with the town’s Parks and Recreation Department to run for the council. Before that, the environmental studies graduate held a variety of retail and restaurant jobs. Commercial development will help the town’s tax base but also give more residents more job opportunities, he said.

The town should ask for what it wants, whether that’s energy-efficient buildings, affordable housing or density, while avoiding long-term tax incentives that can be harmful, he said.

“I feel like there are ways to build up without obstructing too much of the view, and that we should not push those buildings right out to the town’s edge. We can find places within town limits that could be developed and these developments would be very sustainable,” Swinton said.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

Chapel Hill News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service