Seven candidates are vying for the four seats that are available on the Chapel Hill Town Council this election cycle, including newcomers Robert Beasley, Jeffrey Hoagland and Adam Searing.
They are joined by three other newcomers to the council — Paris Miller-Foushee, Camille Berry and Vimala Rajendran — as well as incumbent Karen Stegman.
Andrew Creech told The Daily Tar Heel that he will be withdrawing his candidacy, saying he wants to redirect his focus to his business ventures in Chapel Hill.
Beasley said he was inspired to run for the Chapel Hill Town Council after learning about the growing concerns of the coal ash dump on which the Chapel Hill Police Department was built.
Beasley said the idea of building residential and commercial property on the coal ash dump could harm the community significantly. With the current home of this site being mainly concrete, the risk of community harm is low. That risk profile changes dramatically if this property were to be converted to a residential or commercial property.
“I don't know if I can sleep at night and know that I had an opportunity to run and help ensure that the town is making responsible decisions," Beasley said. "I just felt compelled to do it because I mean, this really set off a lot of alarms for me.”
As a North Carolina native and UNC alumnus, Beasley is passionate about the identity of Chapel Hill, which he believes is grounded in equity, social justice, facts, education, fairness, local artists, restaurants and businesses.
Beasley said he has worked for a global information technology company for 27 years, giving him experience with large bureaucratic organizations.
“I've got a lot of experience with multiple diverse competing needs, and building plans and solutions that meet those and come up with the best possible outcome,” Beasley said.
Beasley said his background in looking for ways to improve bureaucracy, as well as the ability to translate a set of goals and principles into strategy, is what sets him apart from the other candidates.
Hoagland said he has been interested in running for Chapel Hill Town Council for a few years, but the death of his roommate was the push he needed to officially run.
“I have only one life to live, so might as well get to it,” Hoagland said.
Hoagland has lived in the Chapel Hill area for around nine years. He said one of the greatest aspects of Chapel Hill is how the community comes together.
"I like living here," Hoagland said. "I want to make sure it grows properly and safely and well-balanced."
One thing that makes Chapel Hill so unique, he said, is its ability to combine great urban life with beautiful natural landscapes.
Out of college, Hoagland got a job working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which he said helped him learn to handle and solve very complex issues. In the last eight or 10 years he has been working in manufacturing, which involves finding the most efficient way to solve issues without compromising production methods.
Hoagland said his core goal if elected to the Town Council is to get parking efficiency in downtown above 60 percent.
“I believe that's one of the main causes of why a lot of the downtown businesses were declining since 2018 to '19,” Hoagland said.
He also said he hopes for Chapel Hill to establish a light rail system.
Searing has lived in Chapel Hill for nearly his entire life. He said he spent his childhood exploring the many trails and streams of Chapel Hill and has raised his children to appreciate the same land he grew up on.
In his career as a non-profit lawyer, lobbyist and health advocate, Searing said he has worked to improve health care and coverage for low-income members of the community.
Searing said he never had any intention of running for Chapel Hill Town Council, but he was inspired when he learned more about the development pressures threatening the Town's natural public property. He said that protecting the trails and streams of Chapel Hill was important enough for him to run.
Searing said he believes that his knowledge of the land of Chapel Hill sets him apart from other candidates.
“I really do know every piece of woods, every trail, every stream, every piece of undeveloped land in our community," Searing said.
With his work in social justice and his passion for Chapel Hill’s nature and community, Searing believes he would make a valuable member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.
“I have had a long history of sitting down with people that disagree with me on very difficult issues in health care and coming to agreements that we can all live with, and that is certainly — in my observations so far of how politics work in Chapel Hill — something we sorely need,” Searing said.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.