Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle kicked off her election campaign at Steel String Brewery Friday mingling with community members.Local residents will cast their ballots this November and choose between Lavelle or her opponent, Mike Benson.
Lavelle said every opponent should be taken seriously.
“Mike Benson is my opponent, and he’s born and bred in Chapel Hill and he’s a local business owner,” Lavelle said. “He understands the good and the bad about this town and I expect he’ll run a good campaign just like I want to.”
Former Mayor of Chapel Hill Mark Kleinschmidt said that having an opponent will give her the opportunity to communicate more with Carrboro community members.
“Most of the times I ran I had an opponent, and I found that having someone running with you on the ballot for a particular seat actually helped make you a better messenger of your vision and your goals,” he said.
Lavelle is currently serving her second term as Mayor of Carrboro after being reelected in 2015. Previous to becoming mayor in 2013, she served on the Board of Aldermen in 2007 and 2011.
“For a long time, Carrboro was just this small town next to Chapel Hill, but today, under her leadership and in the past couple mayors' (leadership), but particularly Lydia, she’s made Carrboro a strong voice around regional planning, transit, land use, environmental protection, clean air and solid waste,” Kleinschmidt said.
Jeff Herrick, a Carrboro resident, said Lavelle has focused on social justice issues and has brought people together over many different subjects.
“She’s really passionate about a lot of different issues in the town, she’s welcoming, and also she’s on the national stage a lot and she’s representing Carrboro really well.”
Kalani Allen, a Durham resident who works in Carrboro, said Lavelle has placed a standard of caring for every citizen.
“I’m excited to see Mayor Lavelle be out and basically vocalizing what she has done in the past and what she plans to do here locally as well too,” she said.
Though Lavelle has improved Carrboro's brand as a town, there are still many challenges that persist, Kleinschmidt said.
“How this community is going to continue to grow, meet the needs of its citizens and hold on to its character, there’s a huge challenge for any leader, (and) it’s going to continue to be one for Lydia,” Kleinschmidt said.
Herrick said he thinks it will be a good election, as both candidates are running great campaigns.
“I hope Lydia wins, I think she will because she’s really great for the town and she’s done a lot of things already,” Herrick said.
Lavelle said she hopes Carrboro will continue moving forward by being a leader for North Carolina and the nation.
“I hope I see us continuing to be a beacon for the state," she said. "We speak out appropriately against policy that comes down not just from the federal government but the state government that I think takes away our authority at the local level."
Lavelle said if more towns were proactively aggressive like Carrboro, the state wouldn’t be in the shape that it is in right now.
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