The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Town Council should appoint Matt Pohlman to vacant seat to ensure democratic process

The election has made it clear: Matt Pohlman deserves to be appointed to Bill Strom’s former seat on the Town Council.

In Thursday’s election, Pohlman finished fifth. He was just 201 votes behind Gene Pease. The two garnered 12.93 percent and 13.65 percent of the support, respectively.

The editorial board has stated before that the fifth place finisher in the election should be appointed to the seat that Strom left vacant when he resigned July 30 — which was past the deadline for local election filings.

The Town Council is expected to govern on behalf of the people of Chapel Hill.

It is therefore imperative to appoint the person who most likely would have been elected on Thursday if Strom had resigned soon enough to allow voters to select a fifth candidate.

And now the voters have spoken. That person is Matt Pohlman.

It has been suggested that Pohlman will not be selected because he would be a white addition to a Town Council that is already all white.

Jim Merritt, who is black, did not earn the votes to keep his seat on Thursday. He had been appointed following the death of Bill Thorpe. But he finished sixth in the election, albeit not far behind Pohlman.

However close the margin, though, the simple fact remains that the Town Council would compromise its democratic legitimacy by appointing anyone other than Pohlman.

The current council is leaning toward waiting until the new council takes over to make an appointment — a decision that was supported by mayor-elect Mark Kleinschmidt.

So the first important task of the newly elected council will be to fill this seat.

The newly elected council should support the voters’ choice and select Matt Pohlman to join their ranks.

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.