Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board incumbents stay on


Orange County Democratic Party Chair Matt Hughes congratulates James Barrett on his election to the Board of Education Tuesday evening at 411 West.

It was minutes before the final results rolled in, and 11-year-old Thea Barrett had her eyes glued to her laptop and her favorite good luck trinket — a tiny turtle charm — on the table.

Soon Thea Barrett informed her family that her father, James Barrett, was in second place with 30 percent of the vote. James Barrett said that was good enough for him.

“Of course I’m nervous. It’s an unknown,” James Barrett said before the results rolled in. “You could say I didn’t sleep much last night.”

James Barrett won his seat with 30.37 percent of the vote, according to Tuesday night’s unofficial results from the Orange County Board of Elections.

James Barrett’s family and friends cheered, “Here’s to four years!” when the final results finally announced his re-election to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. Fellow incumbent Michelle Brownstein kept her seat on the board, winning 33.3 percent of the vote, while newcomer Andrew Davidson took the third open seat with 21.2 percent, according to unofficial results.

James Barrett’s closest friends gathered at 411 West restaurant on Franklin Street to first wait for, then celebrate, another victory. Barrett said it was much easier to run as an incumbent.

“It’s a meaningful decision, and I’m honored for the people to make it,” Barrett said.

Barrett’s wife, Sharon Barrett, said she was both excited and nervous.

“I never count my chickens before they hatch,” she said.

After his victory, Barrett said he was most excited about working with Davidson, the board’s newest member.

Brownstein also said she was excited to continue moving the district forward.

“I plan on looking out for all children but especially those being left behind,” she said.

Sharon Barrett said their kids were pretty into the campaign, but got tired of hearing about it at the dinner table.

“I can’t imagine doing it if you didn’t have kids in school,” Sharon Barrett said. “It’s the only way to be plugged in with the kids and the other parents.”

Baxter Barrett, James Barrett’s son, said he liked to listen to the different perspectives on issues facing the school district.

At the other end of the table, Roberta Barrett, James Barrett’s mother said she was so proud of the work he has done so far.

“I’m confident,” Roberta Barrett said. “He does a fine job and people know he’s conscientious about his work.”

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