Voters in Carrboro will vote to elect a new mayor this November, choosing between business-owner and artist Mike Benson and Town Council member Damon Seils.
Lydia Lavelle, the current mayor of Carrboro, has served for the past eight years and will not be running for reelection. However, she's happy there are multiple candidates running for the spot.
"It provides an opportunity to explain to the community what they have been working on, what the current issues are and also to get out-and-about and hear from community members," Lavelle said.
Here's a look at the candidates:
Benson was born and raised in Carrboro, and is a product of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. He has been a server and bartender for over three decades and restaurant owner for over 25 years.
“As a small business person, I come from a background of supporting small local businesses and being active in the community as a business person — raising money for schools and the (UNC)Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center," Benson said.
One of the reasons Benson was encouraged to run for mayor was to give citizens a choice on the ballot, since Seils was initially running unopposed. He said it's important to give community members a chance to make decisions about who represents them.
Some topics on Benson’s agenda include parking accessibility, affordable housing, alternative energy options and lowering taxes.
If elected, Benson would like to hold regular office hours so he could be available to those who live within Carrboro's city limits. He also feels the job should be more of a full-time position since Carrboro has greatly developed in the last 20 years.
“I love Carrboro and everything that I’m proposing is progressive to try to help Carrboro," Benson said. "(Seils and I) are both working very hard to try to make Carrboro a really great place.”
Seils has been a member of the Carrboro Town Council since 2013 and has since been reelected twice. Before serving on Town Council, he was a part of the Carrboro Planning Board and the Orange County Human Relations Commission.
Seils said he is running for mayor because he wants to continue his work on many town projects. Some current projects include the recent hiring of a new town manager, the process of adopting and implementing the town’s first comprehensive plan, decisions on where to allocate federal recovery money from the pandemic and advancing the town’s goals of achieving racial equity.
“I have been leading on these issues as a member of the council and I think I am ready to lead as mayor on these issues," Seils said.
One of Seils' main focuses includes a comprehensive plan for Carrboro's growth.
“I want to articulate a vision for compact walkable transit oriented development in Carrboro," Seils said. "We would do that in a way that supports advancing our racial equity goals and supports a thriving downtown and local economy.”
Additionally, as a member of the Chapel Hill Public Transit Committee, Seils has been a leader in the region. He has worked to address public transit issues and increase walkability and citizens' ability to bike in their area.
Seils has also worked with Lavelle on state-wide issues to adopt LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination ordinances. Ten towns, cities and counties have adopted these ordinances — Carrboro being one of the first.
No matter who wins the election, Lavelle said she hopes both candidates will continue to work on issues she dealt with during her time as mayor.
“I would highlight working on our comprehensive plan, continuing to work on our emphasis on racial equity and also continuing to move forward the 203 Project," she said.
Eligible citizens can vote through absentee voting, early voting or Election Day voting. The voter registration deadline for November elections is Oct. 8. The early voting period will take place between Oct. 14 and Oct. 30. Absentee ballot requests must be submitted by Oct. 26, and returned by Election Day on Nov. 2.