As an infant, Bernadette Pelissier lived in Senegal. As a 12-year-old she lived in Damascus, Syria while her father worked for the United Nations, and in between her world travels, she lived in New Jersey.
After first coming to the county 37 years ago to attend UNC, Pelissier has served in local leadership positions for years — and now she has announced her candidacy to run again for her current spot on the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Pelissier, a Democrat, says she thinks her first term has gone well and she hopes to hold onto that momentum going forward.
“I’ll continue what I do now — sit down one-on-one with the community. I think that that’s how we proceed,” she said.
She said that if she is re-elected, she will make transit one of her major priorities.
“I think that the big challenge that we have right now — most immediate — is transit,” she said. “This is an issue that you have to look at the big picture.”
During her time as board chairwoman, Pelissier has pushed for increased regional coordination on the local light-rail transit plan.
Before serving on the board, Pelissier was a member of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority board of directors for six years. She has also been chairwoman of the Orange-Chatham Group of the Sierra Club, among many other activities.
“I think she’s a very hardworking person for our county,” said Shirley O’Keefe, a long-time personal friend of Pelissier’s and an Orange County resident.
Last month, Pelissier won a public-private partnership award from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce for her work with local businesses.
“Since her election to the Orange County Board of Commissioners, Chairwoman Pelissier has prioritized economic development and reached out to the chamber and treated us as an important partner,” Marc Pons, past chairman of the Chamber, said in a press release.
Though she is settled into her work in Orange County, Pelissier said her Ph.D. in sociology and her global background help her to see the big picture.
“My family is French. I go to France regularly. It opens your horizons and it opens you to new ideas,” she said.
Filing for Board of Orange County Commissioners began Monday and ends Feb. 29.
As of Tuesday night, both Pelissier and Republican Mary Carter have filed for the one county commissioner-at-large seat.
In all, seven candidates are running for four open seats on the Board of Commissioners.
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