With four candidates running for three seats and only two incumbents, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen is sure to see fresh blood this election.
But the two challengers — newcomer Michelle Johnson and former alderman Braxton Foushee — offer the town different perspectives. They will run against incumbents Lydia Lavelle and Dan Coleman.
Both new candidates are black, which means the white-dominated board will gain diversity. But despite some overlap, the newcomers offer voters different backgrounds and priorities.
Johnson, who works as a social worker and a yoga instructor at Carrboro Yoga Company, has never run for the board before.
Foushee, on the other hand, served as an alderman from 1969 until 1981. He has also been first vice president of the N.C. NAACP and a secretary for the Orange Water and Sewer Authority.
While both Johnson and Foushee say they will focus on development, Johnson has said she favors high-density growth downtown, where appropriate — a position Foushee disagrees with.
“I think we should encourage development in particular places,” he said.
Johnson said she will prioritize improving the town’s mental healthcare, a point Foushee’s platform does not address.
Unlike Johnson, Foushee has made the Water and Sewage Management, Planning and Boundary Agreement a major focus of his platform. He said the plan, which could allow Carrboro access to Jordan Lake as a water source, could protect the town’s water supply in case of a drought.
While both said they will make diversity a priority, Johnson said as both a woman and an African American she will offer the board a unique perspective.
“We’ve had an African American woman on the board for several terms now, and I feel like it’s an important legacy to continue,” she said, referring to Joal Hall Broun, who decided not to run for re-election.
And Foushee said he will encourage other types of diversity in the town government by encouraging Latino involvement.
“We have to be more open and encouraging,” he said.
A larger race
Johnson and Foushee are facing two incumbents who say they will bring more than just experience to the board if re-elected.
Lavelle said she is the only member of the board who lives in northern Carrboro.
“Part of what I bring to the board is the perspective of someone who doesn’t live right downtown, and so I can help brainstorm ideas that concern all of our residents,” she said.
Lavelle also said that as a member of two transportation committees, she knows a lot about the issue, which she said is very important in Carrboro.
Coleman, who said he has served in the town government for more than 20 years, said his goals include calming traffic in neighborhoods, increasing the use of alternative energy and bringing a free-standing library to Carrboro.
All four candidates have said they would focus on human rights issues, like the day laborers that gather on Davie and Jones Ferry Roads if elected.
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