Pam Hemminger has won reelection for her third term as mayor of Chapel Hill in a landslide.
Unlike 2017 when she faced a write-in candidate, opponent Josh Levenson filed to challenge Hemminger this year. But, Hemminger out-raised him and earned endorsement after endorsement through campaigns from groups like the Sierra Club and Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town.
Hemminger defeated Levenson with 88 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.
She was first elected in 2015 after defeating then-incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt by 8 points. Before becoming mayor, she served on the Orange County Board of Commissioners and on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
One of her primary focuses during her reelection campaign was bolstering the Town's commitment to addressing climate change. She previously served as chairperson of the board of the Orange-Chatham Sierra Club, and after the election, she has promised to address transportation, stormwater management and water quality, as well as sustainability.
"We’re really, really focused on a climate action plan that engages the whole community so that we can really move the needle on our carbon footprint reduction," Hemminger said at her result watch party on Tuesday night. "We’ve got some great traction going and we’re excited about those opportunities."
Hemminger has called for livability in many aspects of life in the town.
While environmentalism is one of her major policy initiatives, she has also said she plans to focus on creating a more equitable, welcoming town by expanding partnerships with groups like the Historic Civil Rights Task Force and Northside residents.
She also promised to advocate for increasing affordable housing in Chapel Hill, diversifying the town's tax base to make it less reliant on property taxes and balancing development needs. She hopes to attract and retain businesses and startups, but she also said she believes the benefits they bring should be balanced with green spaces and affordable housing.
And these issues were just some that voters thought about on Tuesday.
"I care about issues of affordable housing and preservation of town character, which already seems to be greatly eroded from the time I’ve been here," said Michele Natale, who has lived in Chapel Hill since 1991. "I wish there was a way we could grow with more architectural beauty and innovation instead of these kind of block buildings we’re getting downtown."
Voters particularly resonated with candidates' message of addressing development, environmentalism and equity.
"I’m concerned about the historic district in Chapel Hill and about the high-rise development buildings that are taking over the town, and it’s losing some of its appeal and charm," said Chapel Hill resident Randall Roden. "Even though we do need economic development, we need people to prosper.”
By the early voting period, Hemminger had raised $5,889.35, with individual contributions averaging $93.48.
The mayor serves two-year terms, so she will remain in office until the 2021 election.
Sofia Lesnewski, Sonia Rao and Morgan Pirozzi contributed reporting.