Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story referred to Kevin Wolff as former mayor. He has run for mayor three times, but never won. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Tim Sookram has often turned to literature for advice.
While making the decision to enter the race for mayor of Chapel Hill, Sookram remembered a piece by Douglas Adams that describes a planet run by lizards.
On Adams’ planet, none of the citizens question their reptilian rulers and continue to vote them into office while later complaining about them.
“A lot of people are like that with politics,” Sookram said of the current political system.
“I just saw there was a low barrier to entry, and I felt like doing my fair share of trying to affect change in the community,” he said.
Sookram, who moved to Chapel Hill a year ago, said he doesn’t think his short time in town will be an obstacle in addressing the challenges Chapel Hill faces.
“I think I can provide a different outlook as opposed to someone who has been here for a long time,” he said.
Sookram said he wants to address urban development, government inefficiencies and issues like bike lanes, transportation opportunities and the town’s walkability.
“I’ve noticed that on the street I live on folks are contemplating shutting down bus stops,” Sookram said. “It is going to make it tough for anyone who works at UNC or works downtown or goes to school there.”
Sookram graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in French but is now an independent web designer, he said.
Despite not having a background in politics, Sookram said he believes his skills as a programmer will help him if he is elected mayor.
“Basically, anybody that works in programming is looking for fixing problems and making efficiencies, trying to see the product through the eyes of the users and trying to improve it,” he said.
“So I feel like that same kind of strategy would help us into trying to figure out what the problem is and how we could make it better.”
Aside from creating websites, Sookram said he likes listening to music, watching movies on Netflix and playing the guitar and singing in his band Gentle Robot.
Desmond Mullen, the band’s drummer, described Sookram as quiet, clever and thoughtful, and said he thinks Sookram’s talent with languages sets him apart from other candidates.
“I think he would make a good mayor because he would consider the ramifications of his actions,” Mullen said.
In November’s election, Sookram will run against incumbent Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and former mayoral candidate Kevin Wolff, who has run three previous times.
“I think having a competitive mayoral race is always a good thing for the community,” Kleinschmidt said.
“It is a vehicle for the community to discuss some of the important issues. I look forward to having conversations with (Sookram) and Mr. Wolff about their visions for Chapel Hill.”
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