The OC Voice is a portion of the OC Report newsletter where local residents may have a platform to talk about local issues they care about. Josh Mayo is a graduate student at the Department of City and Regional Planning and a 2017 graduate of UNC, majoring in public policy and political science.
With the primary election underway, candidates are reaching out to students to secure their support and their vote. But Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich’s engagement with students goes well beyond election day, and I believe her experiences with UNC students make her the best candidate to address our needs in office.
As someone who has been engaged in the community since moving here in 1998, Penny uses her leadership experiences to support student leaders. She participates in the Kenan Mentor Program, using her knowledge as a small business owner to help support entrepreneurial-minded students. She has also participated in multiple classrooms as a guest lecturer, explaining how students interact with the county and getting feedback on how it can better respond to issues.
As the mother to two sons in higher education, Penny understands the need to create opportunities for those coming out of school as well. As chair of the Board of Orange County Commissioners, her work on economic development has been strong and helped bring over 600 jobs to Orange County over the next five years. She also understands how young people have different preferences for where they want to live and is committed to making those options available.
I can personally testify to Penny’s willingness to engage with students as well. Her guidance and willingness to talk have helped guide me towards my intended career path in urban planning, and her willingness to connect me with knowledgeable folks has helped me better understand what I want to do moving forward. It’s not just me though — her campaign is supported by multiple professors and students, including Chapel Hill Town Council Member and UNC student Tai Hyunh.