The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 5th

Carrboro prepares for special election

Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle’s vacated seat on the Board of Aldermen will be filled through a special election to take place in May.

Carrboro held a similar special election last spring that drew 261 voters – a 1.7 percent turnout.

election costs

spent on the 2013 Carrboro special election

turnout for the 2013 Carrboro special election

estimated cost of the 2014 Carrboro special election

Town Clerk Cathy Wilson said there were two main factors in the low turnout.

“Last year the election was held at a time where no other elections were happening and only one candidate was running,” Wilson said. “That put a damper on turnout.”

Tracy Reams, director of elections for the Orange County Board of Elections, said this year the turnout would likely be much higher because of spring primary elections.

“Since the special election and primary are taking place at the same time, we can expect to have a higher turnout,” Reams said.

Last year, the town spent $11,422.97 on its special election.

Wilson said this year’s election would cost Carrboro around $1,000 — but won’t cost the town any extra money because that $1,000 was left over from the November elections.

“This election has a very low cost because it doesn’t take much to add another contest to the ballot,” Reams said.

Current Planning Board Chair Bethany Chaney is so far the only person to declare her candidacy for the vacant chair.

Chaney said she wants to expand affordable rental housing and home-ownership opportunities in Carrboro for families, seniors and people with special needs.

“It’s not just a deficient thing, it’s about making assets to make our economy healthy,” Chaney said. “We have to frame the issue the right way.”

Chaney said her experience on the planning board allowed her to become familiar with the issues surrounding affordable housing.

“I can add a layer of expertise and ask the right questions that are needed at that level to make sure the affordable housing policy is in the best position it can be,” Chaney said.

Chaney also wants to focus on infrastructure improvements and increase community engagement.

“People are interested in town projects and want to weigh in, but they are confused about the process of participating in conversations,” Chaney said. “It doesn’t lend itself to resident input.”

Carrboro Alderman Damon Seils, who was the sole candidate in last year’s special election, said the election would still take place even if Chaney were the only person to run.

Every other municipality in North Carolina fills its board vacancies through appointments. In 2007, Carrboro opted to hold special elections to fill its vacancies.

“There will be nothing but an election,” Seils said. “No appointment will be made. We already decided that.”

Chaney said Carrboro residents should come out and vote.

“If we don’t go out and vote, we are not engaged and we are giving up a whole lot,” Chaney said.

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