Greene will seek open council seat

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Former council member Sally Greene announced Sunday that she will be seeking the vacant council spot left by Councilwoman Penny Rich.

The Chapel Hill Town Council might be getting a blast from the past.

Former Town Council member Sally Greene announced on the Orange Politics blog Sunday that she will be seeking the vacant council spot left by council member Penny Rich.

Rich, whose last meeting on the council was Monday, will be leaving to join the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

Greene, who served on the council from 2003 to 2011, decided not to seek reelection last year because of the demands of her job.

“I’ve had to throttle back for the last two years,” she said.

But she will soon be stepping down from her job at UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South for a part-time teaching position in the Department of English and Comparative Literature.

And she’s hoping to tackle issues in the town related to homelessness and affordable housing — interests she said she shares with Rich.

“In many ways, our values are similar,” Greene said.

Council member Jim Ward said so far only two people have expressed interest in the opening.

Maria Palmer, co-chairwoman of the Chapel Hill 2020 transportation theme group, is the only other applicant thus far, Ward said.

He said each applicant will make a statement to the council at a meeting in January.

Depending on the number of applicants, the council might take a vote at that same meeting, he said.

Five of the eight council members must approve a candidate.

In her eight-year tenure, Greene helped pass an inclusionary zoning ordinance, which required developers to sell some of their units at prices affordable to low-and moderate-income residents.

Rich, who has been on the council since 2009, said Greene’s passion for solving town issues inspired her.

“When I came to the council, she had been a mentor to me,” Rich said.

She said she hopes the council will maintain its female representation after she leaves.

“I think it’s important that any board maintains diversity,” she said.

Greene said if she is selected by the council, her priorities would include working with apartment complex owners and managers to make rental housing more affordable.

“What we don’t have is a satisfactory way to address the affordable rental problem,” she said.

She also hopes to create incubator space for students and young professionals looking to start businesses.

“I think that right now is a critical time to think about downtown,” she said.

Ward said he enjoyed working with Greene for eight years and witnessed her dedication.

“She’s somebody who comes to meetings well-prepared,” he said. “She could hit the ground running.”

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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