The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday September 26th

N.C. State Student Eyes Council Seat

But while his classmates might be looking for a job as graduation nears, Croom is campaigning for Raleigh City Council.

Croom has been a resident of District D in Raleigh since 1983 and said he is frustrated with seeing candidates run virtually unopposed and ignore the many N.C. State students living in the area.

Croom said he decided this election would be a great time to get students involved in city politics. "If there was ever an opportunity to take advantage of a weak incumbent and get students to vote, this was it," he said.

This year there are three candidates for the District D seat -- Croom, incumbent Benson Kirkman and Michael Gardner.

Gardner said he relates to Croom because they are both 26, but he said he is not campaigning on campus because of low voter registration and turn-out.

Kirkman said he encourages competition because it brings media attention to the issues. "I was delighted I have political opponents because last time I ran unopposed and didn't appear newsworthy."

Croom said he doesn't think the incumbent listens to his constituents.

But Kirkman has three degrees from N.C. State and said he makes himself available to students by being the first council member to have office hours on campus. "I've opened the door of communication, but they have to walk through the door for themselves," he said.

Darryl Willie, N.C. State student body president, said student government is not endorsing a candidate but that he is excited a student is running. "I like options, and I think any time students are given the opportunity to decide and not just given one choice it is a good thing."

Willie said student government is working to register more students and encourage them to vote. "The past week we've gotten 2,000 to 3,000 registration forms out to the residence halls," he said.

Croom echoed Willie's concerns about a lack of registered voters in the district. He said there are 90,000 people in district D but only 41,000 are registered. He said that in the last election only 5,000 people voted and 2,000 people didn't vote for the incumbent -- the only candidate. "I'm providing a voice for those 2,000 people," he said.

Croom said his campaign is unique because he is trying to encourage voter registration and address needs of two groups. "I can't go off campus and talk about student concerns, and I can't talk on campus about community concerns."

Kirkman said he doesn't think Croom is aware of the time commitment required for a council position. "I hope he's willing to sacrifice the time," he said. "He's a rising senior, and I'm not sure he knows how much time it takes."

Croom said he is familiar with the job description and has experience in governmental meetings and from his time in student senate. "If I didn't want to get out there, I wouldn't be doing it."

Some critics say Croom is running to restore the Brent Road party, but Croom said the party is not in the top three issues of importance. "The issue is not the party, the issue is the city spends $150,000 for one night to enforce the party," he said.

Two years ago Kirkman proposed the Nuisance Party Ordinance, which has turned the block party of college students into a gathering of police.

Willie said having a student candidate on the ballot and having a large student voter turnout is about letting the community know that students care about what is going on in local government.

"We'd really get our voice heard because they'd realize N.C. State is a large portion of the city and we have a big voice and should have a big voice."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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