Chapel Hill voters returned three incumbent town council members in Tuesday’s election but also brought in one fresh — and younger — face.
Voters chose Lee Storrow to join Donna Bell, Matt Czajkowski and Jim Ward on the council, according to unofficial election results.
With 17.2 percent of the vote share, Bell gained more votes than any other candidate.
Ward came in second with 16.2 percent of the votes. Storrow followed close behind with 15.8 percent, beating Czajkowski’s 15.4 percent by 103 votes.
Storrow, a 2011 UNC graduate, is the youngest candidate to win a council seat since former Chapel Hill Town Council member and current Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton won in 1991 as a college senior, Chilton said.
“It’s about finding ways to include students in our process,” Storrow said after hearing the elections results. “I’m really excited about the work I’m going to be able to do over the next four years to engage young people.”
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt visited Storrow’s election party and congratulated him.
“You made history tonight,” he told Storrow.
Bell, who was appointed to the council in 2009 after Bill Strom resigned, won a seat by public vote for the first time.
Bell’s election ensures a minority presence on the council for the next four years as the council prepares to deal with issues relating to Northside, a historically majority black neighborhood.
Bell said her campaign’s success proves the viability of Chapel Hill’s publicly funded elections program, a pilot in the town set to sunset after this election.
“You can do well without having to run an expensive campaign,” she said.
Czajkowski’s fourth place finish capped a successful end to his campaign, which raised the most money among council candidates in October.
He was first elected to the council in 2007 and made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2009.
Czajkowski said his wife was a big part of his success.
Jill Czajkowski, who served as her husband’s campaign manager, said the race was competitive despite the absence of a singular polarizing issue.
“You’re always vulnerable,” she said. “You never know what’s going to happen before it does.”
Ward’s re-election marks the start of his fourth term on the council.
“I’m delighted to be given another four years to serve Chapel Hill,” he said. “I want to continue to be receptive to new ideas and be creative in cutting costs and finding revenue.”
Candidates Jason Baker, Augustus Cho, Laney Dale, Jon DeHart and Carl Schuler all lost their bids for council.
Baker and DeHart came in fifth and sixth place, respectively.
The losses mark both candidates’ second unsuccessful council bids.
Though he didn’t win, DeHart said his fundraising and sixth-place finish this time marked an improvement. He said he wouldn’t rule out a future run.
“It’s too early to say, but I never say never,” he said.
Staff writers Janie Sircey, Nathan Vail, Brian Fanney, Conor Furlong, Pete Mills and Ethan Robertson contributed to reporting.
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