There is no lack of issues when it comes down to this year’s municipal election in Pinehurst. But whether it’s land-use planning, capital spending, expansion of critical services or absorbing Given Memorial Library operations, the root is growth.

Pinehurst is facing a growing demand from a younger demographic for services at the same time others want to “protect” the village’s unique character.

At the same time, development is occurring all around Pinehurst. Growth is happening to Pinehurst as much as in it.

What to do about all that is the fulcrum upon which is balanced this year’s Village Council elections. Two seats, currently occupied by Kevin Drum and Judy Davis, are available. While Drum is seeking a second four-year term, Davis has opted against re-election.

Competing with Drum are political newcomers — to Pinehurst, at least — Jeff Morgan, Patrick Pizzella and Emily Stack. We endorse Morgan and Pizzella.

Jeff Morgan

Morgan is easily one of the most accomplished candidates we’ve seen in a while. As a retired Army colonel, health care administrator and still-practicing orthopedist, he is a proven leader capable of amazing time management skills, given his myriad responsibilities.

On growth, Morgan has a keen sense that the village must work with surrounding communities — and the state. The village has never had great relationships with state lawmakers, so having someone who wants to work jointly is a huge advantage.

It’s that very efficiency that makes Morgan the strongest of the four running. He has sharp analytical skills, a wide expertise on issues and a forward-thinking approach to growth and shaping Pinehurst’s future. It’s that efficiency of thought and action that we like: He will trust the professional staff and their skills and make decisions as needed without being meddlesome or overbearing.

He brings a pragmatic approach to problem solving, budgeting and other management issues. That’s a winning combination for us.

Patrick Pizzella

Pizzella is also an accomplished leader, with most of his service coming at the federal government level over 30 years, including a short time as U.S. secretary of labor. He is a likeable, down-to-earth guy who has no problem talking to citizens and listening to concerns.

Pizzella is one of those concerned about preserving the uniqueness of Pinehurst and “tapping the brakes” on some of the growth. Yet he says that the village “can’t raise the drawbridge and put alligators in the moat.”

We suspect that Pizzella will want a more measured approach to future development. No one knows what that looks like, but we think Pizzella can balance it.

One word of caution on Pizzella, though. His campaign pledges he will treat the position as a “full-time job.” Wrong. There’s a competent staff to do that. Council members are part-time with limited roles. Heavy-handed meddlers over the years never served the village well. Don’t do it, Pat.

Finally, a note about Drum. This paper was prepared to endorse Drum, whose passion over his years on the council has been both help and hindrance. He was a staunch advocate for assuming the Given Library and Tufts Archives, of protecting the village’s downtown integrity and smart growth.

Unfortunately, Drum’s actions of late trouble us. His recent emails to local business leaders — for which he faces an ethics censure — lacked decorum and good judgment. It helped that he apologized, but he has often been tripped up by his own maverick personality. We just need leadership with better self-control.

In whole, Morgan and Pizzella will offer a good balance to each other and the council.

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(9) comments

Robert Hansen

I have watched Pinehurst evolve since 1963. It is a great, unique and irreplaceable gift to the American Community. As North Carolina in general is seeing expansive growth, there is no time better than now to have the right people in Pinehurst government to handle the challenges of protecting and maintaining the century old character and charm of the Village. Having served on the long range planning committee in the past, and having been elected to government previously, I understand the importance of a team of leaders with individual ideas but will common interests in the preservation and functionality of this world class community. At this time, we seem to be blessed with fine candidates for the Pinehurst Council. It is time for some change. Listening to Pat Pizzella and Emily Stack gives me hope for the future of the community, and the ability for the entire council to function peacefully and professionally. Pat and Emily appear to be accessible, reasonable...and willing. As a business operator in the Village, I have hopes for new blood to come forth and join our Mayor and current council to work together to keep Pinehurst Pinehurst.

Debbie Lalor

Jeff Morgan, if elected, would be the third Council person from the same gated community on the western side of Pinehurst. Pinehurst encompasses 17 square miles, includes 19 separate neighborhoods recognized by the Village as part of its Neighborhood Advisory Committee and houses some 16 thousand people. And yet, The Pilot has chosen to endorse someone from the same small area as two other sitting Council members.

In the face of the Village’s changing demographics, something on which everyone including the Pilot agrees, it also seems unusual that the Pilot did not give greater consideration to Ms. Stack. Her election would bring representation of all the younger people in the Village into play, plus geographic diversity on the Council.

And last, as the mother of two veterans, I believe Dr. Morgan, in his current professional capacity of Chief of Staff of the Fayetteville-North Carolina VA Coastal Healthcare System (which encompasses 15 clinics throughout the State and served 75 thousand veterans in 2018…last year for which data is apparently available) has a higher calling than being a member of the Pinehurst Village Council. While the time commitment required of a Council member in Pinehurst can be disputed, it must be recognized that being the President of a charitable organization involves a much different time commitment than being an elected representative of a large and growing “Village”. Time management can only carry one so far when a physical presence at meetings is required. It is unclear if Dr. Morgan’s current job requires any travel around the State that might conflict with Council meetings.

Mr. Morgan is a terrific candidate, just not at this point in his career.

Jim Tomashoff

Debbie writes: " also seems unusual that the Pilot did not give greater consideration to Ms. Stack." Respectfully Debbie, how do you know have much consideration the Pilot gave to Ms. Stack's candidacy"?

"Emily Stack is the grassroots coordinator for FreedomWorks. She works with the organization’s national director of grassroots to coordinate FreedomWorks events nationwide. Emily works with hundreds of grassroots activists across the country, educating, empowering, and mobilizing them to fight on a wide range of FreedomWorks’ core issues. Before joining FreedomWorks, she was secretary for her local North Carolina Tea Party chapter. "

So if you're a big fan of the Tea Party, of Glenn Beck (remember him), Rand Paul, and Ted Cruz, key figures in FreedomWorks extreme right-wing efforts, go ahead and support her. I guess The Pilot's editors, not being extreme right-wing adherents, chose not to endorse her for these, and many more, reasons.

Kent Misegades

Wow, see the Daily Haymaker for some balance to this. Pinehurst has some real internal problems it seems.

Jim Tomashoff

As usual Kent cites yet another extreme right-wing conspiracy laden source, The Daily Haymaker, for his take on all issues political.

Ce Foote

The Pilot should get out of the business of endorsing candidates period. Voters who wait for the newspaper to give their endorsement and don't do their own research are just LAZY. Voters should do their own research on the candidates and make informed decisions about each candidate and not solely rely on newspaper endorsements. Pizzella, really? I guess the newspaper will be sad when the money stops coming in for Pizzella advertising. The influence of outside money in a local election for a freaking council seat is just mind blowing. But voters are shallow and easily swayed. Sure, Obama also nominated Pizzella but that was because he had no choice in filling the position and Pizzella stunk the least at the time. Obama was unable to fill the position with rabid obstructionist #MoscowMitch running the show. So don't give me that, oh Obama appointed him too b.s. Morgan is just another Lyndia "lacks ethics" Boesch plant. Of the four candidates in Pinehurst there is not one of them that I would consider worthy of my vote. Does it always have to come down to voting for the candidate who stinks the least? Or can we send a clear message and just not show up to vote in this local election?

Tommy McDonell

Hi. Papers make endorsements. This is what they do. I doubt that many of us vote based on any paper. However as good as my search skills are (and they are very good), I seem only to find the same things said over and over again about the candidates). The stuff that is on the cards sent to me.

And alas I still don’t really feel comfortable with those running.

Tommy B. McDonell


Pinehurst NC

John Webster

One has to marvel at these endorsements. Nagy/Woronoff are right in that much of the choice is about growth although there are other issues too. On growth Nagy/Woronoff are clearly aligned with the developers lobby and sweeten growth by calling it "smart" as if more apartments and the destruction of Pinehurst's ETJ are smart.

Jeff Morgan is their choice because he is pro housing growth which is not surprising given his link to Lydia Boesch and therefore Jamie Boles who introduced the legislation to allow clear cutting. They readily acknowledge that Morgan already has a lot on his plate, but "time management" is a totally elastic concept which easily encompasses any additional serious time demands. As for allowing the staff to do their job unhindered by meddlesome Council members, Morgan's sponsor and treasurer Lydia Boesch admits she was trying to get rid of the Village Manager at Boles' urging. Little or nothing of this is reaching Pilot readers and letters to the editor on the subject are ignored, but, then, they also endorsed Jamie Boles. Great job, guys.

Laura Morgan

You, sir, obviously do not know my husband. It saddens me that one can make unmerited comments without really knowing someone. But I guess life is not fair….. have a good day!

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