Local News

Chatham County Candidates, Voters Bothered By Poll

Posted August 14, 2002

— In Chatham County, many wonder whether there is a connection between a political campaign, a failed development and mysterious phone calls.

Gary Phillips is chairman of the Chatham County Commission. Last May, he and the other commissioners voted against a 1,500-acre, 2,000 home development called Briar Chapel.

Three months later, Phillips and other commissioners are running for re-election. In the midst of the campaign, someone is calling voters asking questions such as "Would you vote for a candidate that was anti-growth?"

Some voters said they traced the calls to a polling company in San Diego, Calif., called Competitive Edge Research. The San Diego area is also where the developer of Briar Chapel is from.

"The fact that somebody would commit probably $25,000 to $50,000 to this poll, which is more money than any candidate for county commission for Chatham County has yet raised, indicates that somebody expects to make a lot of money off the decisions that are made in this election," Phillips said.

The president of the polling company did not return WRAL's calls.

A spokeswoman for the developer behind Briar Chapel, who some voters suspect may have hired the polling company, denied the company's involvement.

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