The challengers, including Hemminger, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson and David Schwartz, are all endorsed by the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town. CHALT has gained momentum in this year’s municipal elections.
A poll done last week by Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning polling firm, showed Hemminger in the lead, with 43 percent of participants reporting they would support her in the upcoming election, compared with 37 percent for incumbent Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt. Gary Kahn, another candidate, polled at 2 percent.
Hemminger, a former Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board member and Orange County commissioner, rose 18 percentage points since the last Public Policy Polling survey in late September.
Hemminger said she was encouraged and excited by the polling results.
“I’m just excited my message is getting out there,” she said.
Kleinschmidt said voter turnout is going to be the critical factor.
“Polling at a municipal level in a town as small as Chapel Hill is really just information,” he said. “I think what that tells us is that it’s really close.”
Town Council candidates endorsed by CHALT came out as front-runners as well, according to the poll results, along with incumbent Jim Ward.
Of the four votes residents can cast for Town Council, 30 percent of voters polled said they would give a vote to Nancy Oates, 29 percent would give one to Jessica Anderson, 28 percent would give one to Jim Ward and 25 percent would give one to David Schwartz.
Schwartz, co-founder of CHALT, said he believes it has a good sense of what is going on in the town because the organization is made up of Chapel Hill residents.
“I think it suggests that CHALT has a better sense of what’s going on in Chapel Hill and what the people here are interested in,” he said.
He said the poll results show the hard work of the challenging candidates and that what really matters is which campaigns can get enough voters to the polls.
The results also showed many voters are still undecided. Of the people surveyed, 18 percent were not sure who they would support for mayor, and 39 percent were unsure of their first choice for a Town Council member.
Anderson said she was pleased to have risen in the polls and campaigned cleanly, but that it is still a tight race.
“I really do believe the most important poll is going to be Election Day,” she said. “It’s the only sample that matters.”
Paul Neebe, with only 8 percent of people surveyed supporting him, said he believes the election is still wide open.
“Well, it seems like money helps in politics,” Neebe said.