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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: The Editorial Board's endorsements for Orange County's municipal elections

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The Editorial Board makes their endorsements for this year's Orange County Municipal Elections. The positions being voted on include: Chapel Hill Mayor, Carrboro Mayor, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education, Chapel Hill Town Council and Carrboro Town Council.

The Editorial Board — made up of eight undergraduate and graduate students — has made its endorsements for each position on the ballot during the Orange County municipal elections. More in-depth details on how we made these endorsements can be found here.

Early voting for the Chapel Hill and Carrboro government elections end Oct. 30. The absentee request deadline is Oct. 26. Election Day is on Nov. 2.

We believe the endorsed individuals below would make strong candidates for office in Orange County. Our interviews with each candidate are hyperlinked throughout the article. 

We urge you, if eligible, to vote in municipal elections in the upcoming month and support our local government.

Chapel Hill Mayor: Pam Hemminger

Candidates: Pam Hemminger (Incumbent), Hongbin Gu, Zachary R. Boyce

Pam Hemminger is one of the most qualified candidates on the Orange County Municipal Ballot. She has extensive experience working with departments across Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Alongside working with national leaders and mayors, she has a practical understanding of town funding for affordable housing and development. She has consistently facilitated and encouraged inclusiveness and understanding across the community — one example is her creation of the local Civil Rights Task Force in 2017. 

During her last terms as mayor, she adopted a Climate Action Plan, convened task forces on  public safety and completed development on greenways, affordable housing and public sector jobs. She is a reliable leader who is dedicated to working with the Town Council to work on her goals. We are very excited to endorse her for another term.

Chapel Hill Town Council: Paris Miller-Foushee, Karen Stegman and Camille Berry

Candidates: Karen Stegman (Incumbent), Robert Beasley, Adam Searing, Jeffrey C. Hoagland, Camille Berry, Paris Miller-Foushee, Vimala Rajendran 

For the four seats available for Chapel Hill Town Council, we have decided to endorse three candidates: Paris Miller-Foushee, Karen Stegman and Camille Berry.

Miller-Foushee is an affordable housing advocate who has a strong interest in promoting racial justice within Chapel Hill, and has served on the Chapel Hill Community Policing Advisory Committee and the Re-Imagining Community Safety Taskforce. She has a bold vision for increasing our stock of affordable housing while maintaining green space, promoting diverse modes of convenient transportation and demonstrating a fluency for town council's capabilities and limitations.

Karen Stegman’s experience on Town Council as a powerful advocate for affordable housing and community safety make her a viable candidate for a second term. During her time on the Council,  she has helped launch the Criminal Justice Debt Fund and the Re-Imagining Community Safety Task Force. As a queer woman dedicated to inclusivity and town unity, we endorse Stegman for her clear and decisive plans to move Chapel Hill forward.

Berry is a community organizer who has worked in affordable housing for years. She has a strong vision for a diversity of housing and transportation options to make Chapel Hill home for the working-class people who work here. Additionally, she hopes to make the most of our greenway systems and build our bike lane infrastructure to make travel by bike and footpaths safer, and retains a clarity around the reality of the climate crisis and how Chapel Hill can enforce its climate standards.

 Carrboro Mayor: Damon Seils

Candidates: Michael Benson, Damon Seils

We have decided to endorse Damon Seils for Carrboro Mayor. His previous experience on the Carrboro Town Council and his vision for the town sets him apart. Seils’ commitment to affordable housing, environmentally sustainable development and public transportation all factor into our decision to endorse him in this mayoral race. 

His knowledge of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, as well as his previous involvement in local government makes him more than qualified to step into this role. Additionally, his work on the Town's CarrboroConnects plan, which includes efforts to work with residents of Carrboro to develop affordably and sustainably seems like a promising program for the future of the town. 

Lastly, his articulate plans to address issues of racial disparities in Carrboro are meaningful in our decision for his endorsement.

Carrboro Town Council: Randee Haven-O'Donnell, Barbara Middleton-Foushee and Danny Nowell

Candidates: Barbara Middleton-Foushee (Incumbent), Jacquelyn Gist (Incumbent), Randee Haven-O’Donnell (Incumbent), Aja Kelleher, Danny Nowell

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For the three seats available for Carrboro Town Council, we endorse Randee Haven-O'Donnell, Barbara Middleton-Foushee and Danny Nowell. 

Haven-O'Donnell, the incumbent for the position, has shown a strong interest in involving the community in Council decisions. They have a strong desire to develop transit to support demand for the town, as well as working toward using renewable energy sources. In addition, they have worked with several boards and legislators across the state towards efforts concerning education and infrastructure development. Simply put, their passion for developing and improving Carrboro is unmatched.

Middleton-Foushee places heavy emphasis on community outreach and hearing the voices of people of color on advisory boards and commissions. She hopes to encourage community engagement opportunities in guiding policy decisions, and integrated a strong mass transit system. Additionally, she supports funding of bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and is dedicated to expanding BIPOC small businesses in Carrboro's developing downtown. When asked about DEI efforts, Middleton-Foushee explicitly tackled systemic racism. 

Nowell has significant experience with racial and economic justice groups through his political organization with the Democratic Socialists of America. He recognizes how strategic development must occur that accounts for the rural buffer around Carrboro, but also wants to implement infrastructure to make the town more car-free. He hopes to diversify Carrboro via more affordable and sustainable development that can attract more working-class residents.

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education: Riza Jenkins, George Griffin and Mike Sharp

Candidates: George Griffin, Ryan C. Jackson, Riza Jenkins, Meredith Pruitt, Mike Sharp, Tim Sookram

Editor’s Note: Ryan C. Jackson did not respond to request for interview despite multiple emails and phone calls.

For the three seats available for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, we endorse Riza Jenkins, George Griffin and Mike Sharp. 

Jenkins believes in creating accessibility between the board and the community by having sessions in lower income communities and supporting activities, and hopes to expand the county’s virtual academy using other counties models for students who thrived in online learning. She supports vaccination to attend school and would like to improve the quality of communication between the board and the community.

George Griffin, the only candidate endorsed by Equality NC, has extensive experience as a hands-on educator and administrator. He hopes to expand equality in the classroom, starting with eliminating  “higher achievement” levels in elementary schools, due to systemic barriers marginalized students experience being able to access these programs.

Sharp also is a very strong candidate, and hopes to implement racial equity training within the school system, focused on the achievement gap. He is an advocate for mask and vaccination mandates, and hopes to remove school resource officers, given Black students' experiences with police brutality.


CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly referenced the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. The article has since been updated with the correct attribution. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.

The article also incorrectly identified the lead on the CarrboroConnects plan. The effort is spearheaded by the Carrboro Connects Task Force. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.