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Saturday December 3rd

Chapel Hill Town Council is accepting applications for vacant seat

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger speaks alongside council member Rachel Schaevitz during a Chapel Hill Town Council Work Session at the Chapel Hill Public Library on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020.
Buy Photos Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger speaks alongside council member Rachel Schaevitz during a Chapel Hill Town Council Work Session at the Chapel Hill Public Library on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020.

The Chapel Hill Town Council may or may not be getting a new member soon. 

Following the resignation of Chapel Hill Town Council Member Rachel Schaevitz, the council is accepting applicants to fill the vacant seat. Her seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council has remained vacant as the council decides what will be done with the new vacancy. 

At the council’s retreat on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, members discussed the possibility of using the vacancy as an opportunity to reduce the number of seats on the council from nine to seven, a possibility that council members say is still not ruled out despite the application process having been started.

“So we had talked about, during our retreat, the separating those two things, so kind of having the conversation about going down to seven separately from this conversation about making an appointment,” said Chapel Hill Town Council Member Tai Huynh. “And so we have opened up the application process, but we don’t necessarily have to fill the vacancy.”

If the council chooses to continue with the appointment process instead of reducing the number of seats before the end of Schaevitz’s term, they will read over the applications submitted before voting on a new council member.

“I don’t think that we have a specific profile and say, ‘oh, we want someone that’s working on transportation’ or ‘we need someone that has expertise working on housing,’” said Council Member Hongbin Gu. “I don’t think that we have a profile of that we just — first of all, we’re going to listen to the community."

Although there is no set list of criteria for a new council member, there are several traits that council members said they personally would look for in applicants.

Council Member Jessica Anderson said she is looking for an applicant who is experienced and open-minded. 

“I think it would be great if we had somebody collaborative, somebody who has some board experience, somebody who really understands the nature of our community and the interests that the public tends to have,” she said. “Somebody who’s willing to dig into the issues and be open to different ways of solving problems, who, you know, could really be a good team player with the rest of us.”

Huynh said the traits he looks for in applicants include cooperation, experience and social justice work.

“I think representation is at the top of my list, getting a diverse council, diverse perspectives, as well as someone with either knowledge, preferably experience, around how the town operates and works,” he said. “And then I would really prefer someone who is working or is an advocate in the social justice space, whether that be affordable housing, organization in and around that."

Applications for the vacancy will be open until March 27 at 5 p.m. and can be submitted online, in-person or by mail to the Town clerk’s office.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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