Since Mark Dorosin announced he would step down from the Orange County Board of County Commissioners after serving for over eight years, four women have filed an application to be considered for the position.
The candidates, Rani Dasi, Marilyn Carter, Anna Richards and Penny Rich, all are registered Democrats in District 1, which is required by state law. BOCC members are typically elected by registered voters for four-year terms, but as there is an atypical mid-cycle opening, an appointment process is used to fill the vacancy.
The board will meet on September 2 to choose a candidate who will serve through November 2022. The candidate chosen to serve on the board will work alongside six members — Renee Price, Jamezetta Bedford, Amy Fowler, Sally Greene, Jean Hamilton and Earl McKee. A special election will be held next year for the final two years of Dorosin's term.
“The Board is a branch of local government chartered with ensuring basic human services and infrastructure across our community that maintains, protects and promotes the well-being of all county residents,” Carter said.
She also said the BOCC is responsible for creating community development policies, which ensure a thriving and equitable economy that has sustainable growth.
Dasi, the finance director at RTI International, said she will take a people-focused approach if selected for the board, and that her professional experience in corporate finance and strategy will help her excel at the role.
“I think a lot about how processes should work to be more efficient to deliver outcomes,” Dasi said. “That's a really foundational strength."
She said she contemplates how the county operates at a higher level, what the board's goals and priorities should be and how to efficiently base their actions on the needs of the people.
Dasi has also served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education for the past five years.
Carter said she is a member of the Governor's Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, a former chair of the Orange County Democratic Party and a retired corporate operations leader.
She said she is running because as the pandemic showcases the inequalities in the community, Orange County needs leaders who can work across different groups to bring community members together.
Carter also said the new leader must collaborate with other board members in order to solve the community's problems.
“I bring the track record, energy and life experience to do that as a member of the Commission," Carter said.
Richards, a community advocate who formerly worked in corporate finance, said the fact she is not a career politician gives her a unique perspective.
After witnessing disparities in Orange County due to the pandemic, Richards said she saw the potential role the county will have in moving forward to create a more equitable future.
“I think learning from what we experienced during the last year, I felt my voice coming from a community advocate and a social justice advocate, that I could lend a different voice to determine what that future looks like,” Richards said.
She also works as the third vice president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the NAACP.
Rich said she served on the BOCC for eight years, with her terms spanning from December 2012 through 2020. When she ran for the seat in March 2020, she said she lost the election by a slim margin of 0.02 percent.
Beforehand, she served as a Chapel Hill Town Council member.
Rich said she thinks she is the most qualified candidate of the four women, and two other candidates have never held an elected position in the past.
“County commissioner is a lot of work — you just don't read agendas and make policy," Rich said. "It's a lot of models, communicating, collaborating, dealing with people on the outside and making yourself available for your constituents. And these are just the kinds of things that I really like to do.”
To learn more about the Board of County Commissioners, visit its website.
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