This story is part of The Daily Tar Heel's annual Year in Review issue as we look back on 2015. Read the rest of the Year in Review stories here.
Chapel Hill’s first political action committee, Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town, has made its mark after just one election cycle.
CHALT, a grassroots movement made up of people, was formed in January and saw its endorsement for mayor, Pam Hemminger, and two of its endorsements, Nancy Oates and Jessica Anderson, for town council win their respective elections in November.
For CHALT members, this was unsurprising. The movement started due to discontent over how the town was developing and has grown from there.
“It was sort of a spontaneous combustion of a lot of people who felt shut out of the planning process,” CHALT member Ann Loftin said.
“A lot of people felt input wasn’t valued and that the town already had its own ideas of what they wanted, and what they wanted was high-rise and high-density. So we’re trying to give a new direction to things.”
CHALT's endorsements have carried a lot of weight so far, as incumbents were displaced in both the mayor and town council elections.
“There’s going to be development, and my colleagues on CHALT are all in favor of development, but it’s got to be what we call sustainable development,” CHALT founding member Tom Henkel said. “I don’t think people want Chapel Hill to be Manhattan South.”
As a Town Council member, Anderson said she wants to focus on education policy. Oates said she wants to work on the inspections department and the improvement of affordable housing options in Chapel Hill.
“Our candidates are beholden to the people of Chapel Hill, not beholden to development outside of Chapel Hill,” Henkel said.
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