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Social worker kicks off alderman campaign

Photo: Social worker kicks off alderman campaign (Erin Hull)

Michelle Johnson, a social worker, sits in her office in Carrboro. Johnson announced she will run for a seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

Michelle Johnson starts every morning with a session of meditation on her kitchen floor.

As a part-time yoga instructor and a full-time social worker, Johnson said practicing yoga while opening her private practice has enabled her to see people as holistic beings.

“It has completely transformed me physically, mentally, and emotionally,” she said. “We have to understand that our thoughts impact how we live, move and breathe.”

Now that her practice has taken off, Johnson is ready to accomplish a new goal: joining the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

Johnson, who announced her candidacy on Friday, said talks of opening a CVS Pharmacy down the street from her 302 Weaver St. office piqued her interest in becoming an alderman.

“I started attending hearings and noticed in the process that CVS has not been willing to cooperate with resident interests,” she said. “Residents want a walkable, bikeable mixed-use space there that really fits the downtown.”

Aside from downtown development, Johnson said she is also interested in promoting the local arts scene, human rights issues, and accessibility of services.

“What I understand is how power works and how systems work,” she said. “I can look at details and make a plan and think, ‘How will this be in three years?’”

Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell, who is up for re-election in 2013, said she thinks the board’s greatest issues in the next term will be economic development, budget constraints and launching more town programs.

Haven-O’Donnell said an aldermen candidate should be approachable, open-minded, and a good listener.

“Anyone interested in running for office in Carrboro really needs to know Carrboro — downtown, around town and beyond town,” she said. “Being a creative thinker who approaches things from outside the box is what works.”

Aldermen Joal Hall Broun, Lydia Lavelle and Dan Coleman all have terms that expire this year but have not declared whether or not they will run for re-election.

Johnson’s husband, Jeffrey Herrick, who she met while they both volunteered as disc jockeys at the Duke radio station WXDU, said he thinks his wife makes a great candidate because she can assess information well and come to smart solutions.

“She’s been on numerous boards and is really interested in what’s going on” he said. “We normally watch the meetings on TV so we can heat up dinner at the same time, but lately we’ve been going in person.”

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