The November election is coming up, so The Daily Tar Heel is breaking down every state and local office on the ballot, from governor to county commissioner. Here, we broke down who the candidates are for Orange County Board of Commissioners districts one, two and at-large.
This November, Jean Hamilton, Renee Price, Mark Dorosin and Amy Fowler are running unopposed for a position on the Orange County Board of County Commissioners for districts one, two and at-large.
For more election coverage from across North Carolina, visit One Vote N.C., a collaborative between The Daily Tar Heel and six other student newspapers that aims to help college students across the state navigate the November election.
The Board serves as the governing body for Orange County and is in charge of adopting the annual budget, establishing the annual property tax rate, enacting local ordinances and appointing advisory boards and commissions.
In one of the DTH's surveys, UNC students said they cared the most about issues of health care, student debt, civil rights, the environment and LGBTQ+ rights and policies. Here’s what the candidates had to say on these issues.
Price said she would financially support the county Board of Health and community health initiatives. Additionally, she said she would be vigilant in supporting local health programs, which focus on mitigating the health impacts of COVID-19 for marginalized communities.
Hamilton said she hopes to look at the budget to make sure resources are being allocated properly to provide health services fairly and to the most vulnerable in Orange County.
Fowler said she plans to address the aspects of individuals' health that stem from their environment or access to resources. She said she particularly wants to address the barriers that race and socioeconomic status pose to health care access.
Dorosin said he will adequately fund the Orange County Health Department, making sure medical, dental and mental health services are all available through county programs.
Price said she hopes to continue providing funding to Durham Technical Community College in addition to continuing to fund scholarships for students of all backgrounds. She said she sees Durham Tech as instrumental for Orange County's economic development, and that it provides a less expensive pathway to vital education.
Hamilton said student debt is most addressable on the state and federal level. However, she said she would be interested in educating and assisting students on their financial options.
Fowler said student debt isn’t something she has often thought of from the local level. But she said the current shortage of teachers would allow for the creation of local programs comparable to Teach for America, through which students could teach in order to pay off student loans.
Dorosin said he wants the county commissioners to be more active within the management of UNC. He said students are constituents of the county, and that he is committed to looking into its cost of living and advocating for scholarships, efficient uses of University resources and an overall more equitable system.
Price said in the next four years she plans to push for the further inclusion of all people in the policies and initiatives the Board enacts. Additionally, she said as a county commissioner, she wants to be more intentional in having people of all cultural backgrounds on county advisory boards.
Hamilton said she wants to continue having county listening sessions to create dialogue between members of the community and law enforcement, county officers, members of the county Department of Social Services and private sector groups.
“There needs to be places and times where citizens can give their input in a way that is effective,” she said. “And the county commissioners need to hear that and use it to ask questions of their own offices or businesses in the community about how they are treating people.”
Fowler said she would be willing to write statements, resolutions and letters to state and federal representatives on issues of racial inequity and police brutality. In addition, she said as an active member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, she has been working on overhauling the code of conduct within local public schools so it is focused on building community and mutual respect.
Dorosin said he wants to engage with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office to implement more equitable police procedures, abolish police officers in public schools, require body cameras for officers and require written consent forms for searches. Additionally, he said he wants to make structural changes to the local housing policy to promote racial equity, along with pressuring state leaders to decriminalize marijuana.
“I think we need to also look at our housing policy — we are a community that is really torn by the educational, economic, and racial disparity," he said. "This is a really good community to live in if you are white and wealthy, but if you are not, it’s not as great a place to live in."
Price said she wants to continue to preserve and conserve non-renewable resources, in addition to managing and controlling economic growth to foster sustainable development.
“Too often we separate human beings from the environment — we are a part of the environment," Price said. "If we expect to survive as a species, we take care of the environment and realize we are interconnected."
Hamilton said she hopes to understand and address the ways climate change directly impacts Orange County, whether that is identifying the areas of the county that are most impacted by flooding or knowing what communities are most impacted by toxic waste sites.
Fowler says she hopes to focus on addressing environmental justice within the county. She said she sees the need for new school facilities in the Orange County school district as an opportunity to bring schools up to environmental standards while furthering education.
"If you can bring all these schools to modern day environmental standards, that could help the environment and the schools at the same time, which to me seems like a win-win," she said.
Dorosin said he believes Orange County has done a good job of preserving natural resources, but has failed in promoting sustainable economic development. He said he is committed to allocating funds from the budget toward preservation that is equitable for all county citizens.
Price said discrimination is something that universally bothers her, and she is committed to fighting for the rights of all people regardless of sexuality, sexual orientation or gender.
Hamilton said she advocates for full rights for people of all sexualities and gender identities. She said she wants to create a community where individuals feel comfortable reporting and expressing discrimination they or others in the community face.
Fowler said she sees upholding the rights of the LGBTQ+ community as an essential part of creating equity in the county and sees the protection of these rights as a mental health issue.
Dorosin said he has been a consistent opponent to HB2 and has pushed for local ordinances to be as protective as possible for the LGBTQ+ community. In the future, he said he is committed to adopting anti-discrimination policies on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
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