County commissioner announces retirement

alicegordonorangecountycommissioner

Alice Gordon is retiring from the Orange County Board of Commissioners at the end of December. Courtesy of Alice Gordon.

When Alice Gordon thinks about her 24 years as an Orange County commissioner, she remembers conserving thousands of acres of land across the county and approving innovative science wings at schools.

Gordon announced last week she would not be seeking re-election. She was first elected to the Board of County Commissioners in 1990, and her sixth and final term will expire this December.

“I felt it was time,” Gordon said. “I’ve accomplished most of what I wanted to do.”

During her time as commissioner, Gordon focused on protecting the environment, improving public schools and developing public transportation.

Gordon said she believes her greatest accomplishment in environmental protection is the county’s Lands Legacy Program. It has protected over 2,500 acres of forest, farmland and historic sites to date through both outright purchase and donated or purchased conservation easements.

She emphasized she will continue to work on improving educational facilities during her remaining time on the board.

And she said she takes great pride in the new Culbreth Middle School science wing.

“I really hope we can take these older schools and improve them,” Gordon said. “I’m hoping this Culbreth science wing can be a model of what we can do.”

Carrboro Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell, who Gordon helped mentor in her initial campaign for the Board of Aldermen, said she is sad to see her leave.

“Gordon was one of the most conscious, thoughtful leaders in not only our county, but in our state,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “She had always been so truthful and transparent.”

Gordon served as chairwoman of the Triangle Transit Board of Trustees and on the policy board of the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization. She is now a member of the organization, the regional transportation planning body for the western part of the Triangle area.

Gordon was awarded the Goodmon Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership by an Elected Official in 2006 by the Leadership Triangle for her significant contributions in the areas of environmental protection and regional transportation.

And in 2012, the Chapel Hill Historical Society honored her as a Town Treasure for her many contributions to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.

“I’ll miss the people and interactions with the various people — the commissioners, the staff and the other jurisdictions,” Gordon said.

She said she hopes to leave a legacy of passion and drive.

“I hope they remember I was a passionate, caring commissioner, and they remember I did work hard over these years to leave a legacy of my three major focus areas of environmental protection, improved education and accessible transportation,” Gordon said.

Commissioner Renee Price said she is sad to see her leave but believes her legacy will live on.

“When I found out she was retiring, I immediately emailed her telling her that we still need her to help with everything because she is such a great resource,” she said.

Gordon said she hasn’t considered her plans for after retirement.

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