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The Daily Tar Heel

Candidate debate attracts UNC students

The forum was held in the Student Union. Topics covered included affordable student housing, commercialized property in the town and student safety in light of the Chapel Hill shooting in February.

Diana Dayal, a senior and the director of state and external affairs of student government, was one of the organizers of the event.

“I think it’s really important to bring candidates to campus,” Dayal said. “Historically, university students have not been very engaged in local politics, but they have an immense need to be involved in these conversations. So bringing the conversations right into the Student Union is a great way to inform students of the upcoming election.”

Dianne Heath, a senior and another organizer of the forum, said her new organization Tar Heel Town will allow students to get involved with town issues more actively throughout the year.

“Students should be interested in city government because healthy civic engagement keeps them updated about the issues,” Heath said. “When you’re disconnected from the issues in your town you’re disconnected from the global issues that connect to your town.”

Organizations, including the Resident Hall Association and Campus Y, brought up student housing, downtown development, transit, youth involvement in the community and the deficit in Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Michael Parker attended the debate, and said he encourages students to vote.

“We have (29,000) university students in Chapel Hill, and that is an immense latent power,” Parker said. “It’s the people who vote who get the goodies. Many issues with university budgets occur because students do not vote in large numbers.”

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt talked about his connection to the University as a former student, and how he and current town council members represent students.

“I’m really proud of the great work we’ve been doing in this community with the most diverse council we’ve ever had in this town,” Kleinschmidt said. “I think we have set ourselves on the best path. We are a place where other communities come to learn.”

Mayoral candidate Pam Hemminger expressed her commitment to keeping Chapel Hill affordable and creating opportunities for commercial business.

“I care about the students of Chapel Hill,” Hemminger said. “I’m connected to the University, and I want to see us tie in together with the students to make their voices heard.”


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