The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 7th

Year in Review: Competitive local elections bring new members to Carrboro and Chapel Hill governments

Both Chapel Hill and Carrboro’s governing bodies added new members after competitive 2011 local election races.

Recent UNC graduate Lee Storrow joined the Chapel Hill Town Council and council incumbent Donna Bell — who was appointed to council in 2009 — won her first election.

Incumbents Matt Czjakowski and Jim Ward also won seats on town council.

Jason Baker, Laney Dale, Augustus Cho, Jon DeHart and Carl Schuler lost their bids for town council — Baker by less than 2 percent of the vote.

In Carrboro, newcomer Michelle Johnson won a seat on the Board of Alderman, alongside incumbents Dan Coleman and Lydia Lavelle.

Braxton Foushee, who has previously served as an alderman, ran and lost.

Both towns returned their incumbent mayors to office.

Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt ran for a second term and won against newcomer Tim Sookram and four-time candidate Kevin Wolff in Chapel Hill.

“I’m very grateful to the people of Chapel Hill for this opportunity. It’s very humbling,” Kleinschmidt said on election night.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton will serve his fourth — and what he says will be his last — term as the town’s mayor after gaining the spot in an unopposed race.

Orange County voters also approved a new quarter-cent sales tax, which will be used to fund education and county economic development.

The quarter-cent increase is expected to bring in about $2.5 million in revenue to be split evenly between education and economic development.

The tax, which the county funded an information campaign to educate voters about after it failed to in 2010, drew some controversy.

Critics say it was unfair that the increase was placed on the ballot during a year when rural areas did not have municipal elections — possibly skewing the vote toward more urban residents who were already at the polls.

“Because of the budget cuts schools felt from state level, it was vital we do this as soon as possible,” said Bernadette Pelissier, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, before the measure passed.

This election season also marked what is likely to be the final cycle of Chapel Hill’s publicly funded elections ordinance.

After receiving approval from the N.C. General Assembly and Chapel Hill Town Council, the program — which allows candidates to receive public campaign funding if they limit individual contributions to $20 and reach a threshold amount of funds — was used in both the 2009 and 2011 elections.

However, the program is set to expire this year if it is not renewed by the N.C. General Assembly. Officials say it is unlikely that it will be renewed, since the legislature is now Republican-led and publicly funded elections came under fire in a recent Supreme Court case.

Rep. Rick Glazier, D-Cumberland, sponsored the legislation that created the bill and said last month he believes it has been a good experiment.

“The program creates the opportunity for experiments in democracy by allowing people of all economic backgrounds to seriously run for election.”

In 2009, Penny Rich and Mark Kleinschmidt used the program. This year, Jason Baker and Donna Bell received public funds through it.

Contact the City Editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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