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Originally published: 2013-10-22 17:12:32
Last modified: 2013-10-22 17:14:35

Templeton revives Citizens for Change PAC

by Anna Oakes

Local businessman Jeff Templeton on Oct. 9 filed documents with the State Board of Elections returning the Citizens for Change political action committee to active status.

Templeton, owner of Christian travel agency Templeton Tours, formed the PAC -- a committee that raises and spends money to support or oppose candidates or issues in elections -- in response to the steep slope and viewshed regulations enacted by the Democratic-led Boone Town Council in 2006. The regulations banned high-density development on hillside areas to protect areas in danger of slope failure and to preserve Boone's scenic beauty.

"Citizens for Change was formed by a diverse group of citizens to promote candidates for the Boone Town Council who shared their vision of local government," Templeton said in an email this week. "We warned the town council that the over-reaching regulations could have the unintended consequence of encouraging large-scale apartment development outside the town's planning jurisdiction, and now we see that prediction coming true with The Cottages (of Boone)."

Templeton said he reactivated the committee, which has been inactive since 2009, "to promote common sense candidates for Boone Town Council." He also mentioned opposition to the town's new supplemental standards for housing, which were approved in February in an attempt to create more housing stock suitable for families and the workforce.

The standards require new multi-family units to include master bedrooms, garages or storage space and a mix of unit sizes, and they mandate that no more than two unrelated persons can reside in each unit.

Templeton's father, developer Phil Templeton of Templeton Properties, withdrew his offer to purchase Watauga County's old high school property in Boone this spring, stating the new standards made development of the property unfeasible. But the language adopted offered an exception from the new standards for mixed-use projects approved via the conditional B-3 district rezoning process; under the exception, if phased construction is planned, the developer is required to provide the town with financial assurances that commercial portions will be built.

Templeton said Citizens for Change will likely make financial contributions to the campaigns of council candidates James Milner, Mark Templeton and Matthew Long and mayoral candidate John Mena, but that "there will be no official endorsements per se."

The four candidates did not immediately respond on Tuesday to an emailed question asking if they would accept contributions from Citizens for Change.

"A mailer is being considered that would highlight the issues of transparency, wasteful spending and the poor relations between Boone and its neighbors," Templeton said.

Mark Templeton, a registered Republican, is Jeff Templeton's brother and works for Templeton Properties.

In 2007, according to campaign finance reports, Citizens for Change spent $42,772.65, largely in printing and advertising -- including a total of $9,800.56 to High Country Media, the media group that includes Watauga Democrat.

Individual contributors to the PAC included several Templeton family members, business owners, retirees and professionals in the real estate, construction and property management sectors.

At the time, the PAC endorsed council candidates Ethan Dodson, Dempsey Wilcox and Stephen Phillips and mayoral candidate Tim Wilson; of those, only Phillips, a Democrat, was elected.

If Citizens for Change contributes to local candidate committees, it will be required to file a pre-election campaign finance report a few days before the Nov. 5 election, said Watauga County Elections Director Jane Hodges. However, if no contributions are made directly to candidates, the PAC does not have to file a campaign finance report until the year-end report is due in January.

When asked if he planned to keep the PAC active for future elections, Jeff Templeton said it would depend on the results of the 2013 Boone municipal elections.