The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday October 18th

Board of Aldermen candidates talk economy, environment and equity

Lydia Lavelle is the current mayor of Carrboro, who is running for reelection. Photo courtesy of the town of Carrboro.
Buy Photos Lydia Lavelle is the current mayor of Carrboro, who is running for reelection. Photo courtesy of the town of Carrboro.

As Carrboro’s Nov. 5 election approaches, the candidates got a chance to talk to voters directly.

Incumbent Mayor Lydia Lavelle spoke alongside the five candidates for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen at an Oct. 3 meet-and-greet in the OWASA Community Room.

“I’m excited that we have a race for Alder-folk," Lavelle said. "Because whenever you have a competitive race, and I guess that’s one thing about me not being opposed, but why I’m still trying to get out and talk to people about issues and priorities, it really does raise awareness about all the important issues facing us.”

The event, sponsored by The League of Women Voters of Orange of Durham and Chatham Counties and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, raised questions of platforms and priorities. 

Lavelle, who is running unopposed for her fourth term as mayor, cited climate change, parking and economic stagnation as council and town priorities.

Two incumbents, Sammy Slade and Damon Seils, are also seeking re-election. 

Seils cited progress in racial equity, public transportation and comprehensive planning as the three issues at the focus of his term if he is elected. Seils, who has served on the council for the past six years, cited the town’s decision to send town management to racial equity workshops and to join The Racial Equity Alliance as a South core member as important progress that has already been made towards racial equity.

“Racial equity work is something that ought to be infused into all the work that we do as a town,” Seils said.

Seils added that he believes it's important to implement Chapel Hill's short-range transit plan in Carrboro, an item Slade supports as well.

“My main priority is addressing climate change,” said Slade. 

He is the only candidate to openly support not building new parking areas in downtown Carrboro in an effort to combat environmental injustice and rising global temperatures.

Matthew Clements said he supports building parking decks but has proposed a system in which businesses would give permits to customers to temporarily park in designated areas.

Clements said the focus of his candidacy is to better manage the town’s tax revenue, and he has pledged not to raise taxes if he were to be elected.

North Carborro resident and board candidate Susan Romaine also had concerns about high tax rates. Romaine played a role in founding PORCH Chapel Hill-Carrboro, a local hunger relief organization, and Orange County Living Wage, which aims to encourage local business owners to raise employee wages.

“What I would love to do is try to find more ways that we can borrow our commercial tax base,” Romaine said. 

Like Lavelle, Romaine is interested in small business incubators to stimulate the local economy.

Steve Friedman, the final candidate for the board, works in marketing and cites commerce, communication and consensus as his three main concerns. He hopes to see more council unity on big-ticket issues like the opioid crisis, and more citizen involvement in local government in the coming years. 

“We’ve got to bring more people to the political process," Friedman said.

The five candidates are running for three seats on the town board, and the deadline to register to vote in the election is Oct. 11. Regardless of this election’s outcome, Lavelle said she's hopeful for her town.

“I’m pleased with the field of Alder-folk candidates," Lavelle said. "I think whatever three are elected are going to do good work.”


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