The race for Chapel Hill Town Council is almost too close to call.
It was one of the more competitive ones in this election cycle with seven candidates vying for four seats. Two incumbents managed to hold onto their seats, but two newcomers could drastically change the makeup of the board.
Incumbents Jessica Anderson and Michael Parker won reelection in a close race, according to unofficial results. But newcomer Amy Ryan, who previously ran for Town Council, and UNC student Tai Huynh also secured the remaining two seats.
Anderson and Ryan both won Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town endorsements. After Anderson's 18 percent of the vote, the remaining candidates are virtually neck-and-neck. Ryan, Parker, Huynh and Oates are all within 2 points of each other.
Oates said if the margin between her and Huynh remains between one percent, she believes there will be a mandatory recount. The timeline of that is uncertain, but results will be certified on Nov. 15.
"Then we'll see what happens there," she said on election night.
According to Huynh's campaign manager Hannah Snow, he slept through his election night dinner and was late to his watch party.
The candidates all focused on the main issues of how to address climate change, affordable housing and inclusion. They mainly differ on how they believe Chapel Hill should develop and balance those commercial needs with environmental ones like greenspaces.
Despite who ends up winning, Chapel Hill voters had a clear picture of what they wanted to see after the election.
“I care about Chapel Hill growing in a way that works for all citizens of all income groups," said John Morris, Orange County resident since 1959. "It shouldn’t grow so fast that we outgrow our transit system or push out locally-owned business.”
Some specifically mentioned voting for Huynh is what brought them to the polls.
“I mostly want to see a more diverse town council, including young people, so Tai was a big factor for me," Fouad Abuhijleh, a voter at the Chapel Hill Public Library, said. "I also turned out because, although I believe our democracy is flawed and needs reform, being able to vote and being entitled to that agency is really important to me, and we all have to realize that the decisions we make for ourselves can change what we’re unhappy with."
But not all of them necessarily felt strongly about any of the candidates.
"It was hard for me to know who to vote for this year. The candidates for Town Council all said the same thing, and you can’t tell the difference unless you’re paying really close attention," Harold Carmel, a voter at the Chapel Hill Public Library, said. "I’m paying more attention to the presidential race, to be honest.”
Those elected Tuesday will serve a four-year term through 2023. Results are unofficial until Nov. 15, when they will be certified by the Orange County Board of Elections.
Amena Saad contributed reporting.
Anna Pogarcic is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel. She is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism and history major.
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