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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Town Council member Rachel Schaevitz resigns


Photo courtesy of Rosario Vila

Just weeks into the new term, Chapel Hill will soon have a new member on its town council.

Rachel Schaevitz, member of the Chapel Hill Town Council since 2017, announced she would be resigning her seat and moving to New Zealand in a press release on Monday. 

According to the release, Schaevitz and her husband “plan to pursue a unique professional opportunity and give their children a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“We always wanted to live abroad while our kids were young,” Schaevitz said in an email. “They are five and seven now, and a professional opportunity came up quite quickly that allowed us to live and work in Auckland, New Zealand and so we made the decision to go in time for the kids to start the New Zealand school year in February. We look forward to learning about a new culture and country and tackling the challenge of living abroad together as a family.”

Apart from her work on the council, Schaevitz works as a postdoctoral fellow for Carolina Public Humanities. Schaevitz came to the Council in 2017 among a wave of candidates endorsed by CHALT.

Jeanne Brown, mayoral aide for Chapel Hill, said the council will discuss the process of appointing someone to fill Schaevitz’ seat at their upcoming retreat.

“The process begins once the seat has been formally vacated at which time the mayor will announce the vacancy,” Brown said. “The council is planning to talk about the details at their upcoming retreat on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1., and after that time we will know more specifics on the process." 

Nancy Oates, who narrowly lost reelection to the council in 2019, said she will be applying to fill the vacancy left by Schaevitz.

“I am hopeful that the council will consider people who have run for office,” Oates said. “It takes a tremendous commitment to wanting to serve in that role and the council will recognize that.”

Oates called for a recount of the 2019 election after losing to Tai Huynh by just 24 votes and did not rule out mounting another run for town council after the results were finalized.

But Schaevitz said she sees the appointment process as a chance to add new voices to the council.

“I have every confidence that the council will choose an excellent candidate to fill the vacancy, and I think an appointment provides an opportunity for someone who may not be in a financial position to campaign to serve the town in this role,” she said.

Schaevitz pointed to successes in affordable housing and environmental policies during her time on the town council. 

“I’m very proud of the progress we have made as a council on several important issues facing our town including passing the affordable housing bond, preventing the elimination of existing affordable housing along (Martin Luther King Jr.) Boulevard, and the prioritization and creation of our climate action plan.”

Schaevitz will officially vacate her position on the Chapel Hill Town Council in mid-to-late February.


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