For Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Maria Palmer, students who graduate from UNC without voting haven’t learned how to be responsible citizens — and Palmer hopes to combat that.
Palmer joined other council candidates in the Pit on Monday afternoon to educate students about the issues in the upcoming municipal elections.
Two other candidates, George Cianciolo and Loren Hintz, joined Palmer in the Pit.
The Young Democrats hosted Monday’s event to allow students and candidates to converse about town issues affecting students, said Lindsey Rietkerk, the vice president for the group.
“It is very important for us to listen and let students know that Town Council members listen,” Cianciolo said.
“Students are half of Chapel Hill, basically. We need the University, and the University needs us.”
Hintz said he enjoyed talking to the students in the Pit and exploring the other booths — and he took the time to purchase apple cider from students.
In order to protect the services it provides, the Town Council will have to closely examine where it gets its revenue, the candidates said.
All three candidates said one of the most pressing issues in the upcoming election is to find creative ways to enhance town revenue streams.
“We need to balance our needs and increase our commercial base,” said Palmer.
“Chapel Hill is quickly becoming unaffordable, and I don’t want it to become a bed for the wealthy.”
Cianciolo said the recession of the last five years has forced the town to dip into reserves for things residents enjoy and expect from their local government — an issue impacting everyone, even students.
The candidates urged students to get involved with local government by serving on advisory committees, attending Town Council meetings and staying informed about local issues.
“Local politics are very important, maybe even the most important,” said Hintz.
“That’s what controls our everyday lives, so people should learn about the issues and vote.”
Palmer spent most of her time in the Pit approaching students and passing out campaign pamphlets.
Voters between the ages of 18 and 25 made up about 3 percent of total voters in the last municipal election in 2011.
By attending events like the one on Monday, Palmer said she hopes more students will be encouraged to vote.
“Students are the life of the town,” Palmer said.
“I want students to know who I am. I want to know what they are thinking, what their concerns are and why they aren’t voting.”
Junior Jorian Hoover came to the table where the candidates were stationed because he saw his friend there — but he stayed to talk to a candidate.
“I think it’s important that candidates address university-town relations,” Hoover said.
Wilson Parker, co-chairman of the Political Action committee for the Young Democrats, convinced Hoover to come to the table and talk to the candidate.
“It’s an important forum for students to meet town council candidates,” Parker said.
“Many students don’t know much about the local government, and they should.”
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