CHALT endorses Town Council candidates

Chapel Hill town council candidate Hongbin Gu poses for a portrait in front of the Chapel Hill Town Hall building.

The Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town has endorsed incumbent Mayor Pam Hemminger and Chapel Hill Town Council candidates Allen Buansi, Hongbin Gu, Rachel Schaevitz and Karen Stegman for the 2017 Chapel Hill municipal election.

CHALT has set criteria for candidate endorsements including their commitment and ability to offer solutions for CHALT’s community goals — an inclusive community for all income levels, traffic and transit solutions, comprehensive land-use policies, a healthy environment and other goals.

“What’s really important for a candidate is not just how they vote, but how they proceed on a day-to-day basis,” CHALT member Julie McClintock said. “It amounts to someone who is committed to making steady progress towards these goals.”

McClintock said Chapel Hill is notorious for planning initiatives without truly implementing them. 

“For example, we have a wonderful bike plan, but we really want to see the bike plan implemented,” McClintock said. “We’re looking for candidates that will offer practical suggestions and a commitment.”

CHALT was also interested in not just candidates' goals and policies, but their character traits.

“Of course personal qualities and skills that are needed,” McClintock said. “A council member who will really listen to folks when they come down to town hall and not be lectured.”

The endorsement process involved candidate interviews and a forum held by CHALT. The information collected from the interviews and forum was then discussed at a meeting with CHALT’s most active members — around 30 people — where the final decisions for the endorsement were made, McClintock said.

CHALT’s town council endorsements did not include incumbent council members Maria Palmer and Ed Harrison.

CHALT said Palmer declined her candidate interview.

“I didn't seek their endorsement because they have misrepresented the will of the people and the work of Council members I have had the privilege and pleasure to serve with,” Palmer said in an email.

McClintock said there was particular debate about Harrison during their endorsement meeting.

“I think we value Ed Harrison’s service,” McClintock said. “He’s been serving for a long time and he has certain amounts of expertise.”

In the 2015 municipal election, CHALT did not endorse any of the incumbents running for re-election either. Two out of their three town council endorsements won as well as their pick for mayor, Pam Hemminger. 

CHALT will be canvassing for their endorsed candidates as well as disseminating information to voters. CHALT also has a PAC — Chapel Hill Leadership Political Action Committee. 

Gu said she's excited to have their endorsement.

“I am honored to have the support by the CHALT organization,” Gu said. “I think that their ideas are consistent with what I am trying to propose with my campaign.”

Mayor Pam Hemminger said she's endorsed by NC Equality and the Sierra Club.

“It’s interesting — the group endorses you, but you don’t necessarily get to endorse the group," she said. "We align in some ways that make me seem like a viable candidate they want to support.”


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