Carrboro and Chapel Hill Town Councils have officially welcomed new members following the 2019 elections. Here’s what you need to know about them, their backgrounds and their goals for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.
Susan Romaine, Carrboro Town Council
Susan Romaine has had an extensive background in public service, and said she wants to use her time in office to continue her service to the Carrboro community.
She is the founder and director of two local nonprofits, PORCH and Orange County Living Wage, which seek to provide support to local lower-income families.
Romaine said her desire to run for Town Council came from a desire to build on the work she has been doing, saying one of her goals is to make Carrboro more affordable.
“Rent is very high in Carrboro, and taxes are very high in Carrboro," she said. "And we are really at risk of losing some of our low and moderate-income families.”
Romaine said while affordability is a problem, she already has ideas about ways the council can begin to fix the issue. These options include providing more affordable housing and bringing in businesses that pay a living wage.
“People with no income, people with fixed income, people with all incomes can be here and create diverse community that I think goes to the real core of who we are," she said.
Tai Huynh, Chapel Hill Town Council
Tai Huynh is a senior at UNC who hopes to use his position as a student to bridge the gap between the town and the University.
Huynh said his past experience serving as vice chairperson of the town’s Housing Advisory Board was one of the reasons he decided to run for council.
“I have been sitting in that board for about three years before that, and working on that board and working alongside local affordable housing agencies and nonprofits gave me a really in-depth look behind the scenes at some of the racial disparities that exist in our town," he said. "And I wanted to do something about that.”
He also said increasing affordability is something he believes the town can improve upon.
“Some of the biggest things I want to accomplish revolve around increasing affordability in the town, and social and economic mobility," Huynh said. “One of the big programs I want to undertake is establishing a workforce development program in the town for moderate and low-income families. And making it easier to do more middle housing in our town.".
Huynh said contrary to the beliefs of people skeptical of his ability to serve on the council as a student, he believes his unique position will allow him to connect the two communities together.
“Being a student allows me to act as a bridge between the University and the town, and town-university relations are possibly one of the most important things in our community because we are a college town, and I think that will be an essential part of my role on the council,” Huynh said. “Also, being a student and being an avid user of some of the town resources that other residents might not be, for example the transit system, also gives me another perspective about the residents and their lives."
Amy Ryan, Chapel Hill Town Council
Amy Ryan has been a resident of the town of Chapel Hill for more than 20 years. She has served on the Morgan Creek Greenway Committee, the Sustainable Community Visioning Task Force, the Central West Focus Area Steering Committee and the Community Design Commission.
Most recently, she served for eight years as the chairperson of the Town’s planning committee.
”I've spent my career as a writer and independent book editor," Ryan said on her website. "My interest in land planning and design was fostered during my graduate work at N.C. State, where I earned my master's degree in landscape architecture and did advanced work on the history of design, with an emphasis on public spaces.”
Ryan said her main goals are allowing the town to grow sustainably, foster diversity and ensure environmental health. She said she hopes to ensure diversity within the Chapel Hill community by building a connected park and greenway system, ensuring a variety of available transit options including buses, bikes, and pedestrians and providing affordable housing.
Ryan said her overarching goal for the community is ”to provide community benefits like affordable housing, encourage vibrant public spaces, and promote economic development and a balanced tax base."
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