CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of Aja Kelleher. The article has been updated with the correct name spelling. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for this error.
When Damon Seils was elected as the mayor of Carrboro in November, he left his council seat open with two years remaining on the term.
And on May 17, voters will elect a candidate to fill his seat during a special election that coincides with North Carolina’s 2022 primaries.
A newcomer to politics, Kelleher ran for the first time in the Nov. 2 Carrboro Town Council election last year.
Kelleher became interested in the role after conversations from neighbors who noticed how involved she was in stormwater problems. She currently serves on the Town's stormwater advisory commission.
Running as an independent candidate is a difficult task in a town that considers itself primarily Democrat, Kelleher said.
“I didn’t want to be held to one platform or another … I like to look at it issue to issue,” Kelleher said. “So, what I tell people locally in town is, I don’t really care what party you belong to.”
Kelleher said she does not think the Town Council currently represents the diversity of opinions and perspectives found in Carrboro.
“Whenever you go to the town meetings, they seem to agree on most everything which I find hard to believe, you know," Kelleher said. "You can't even get that kind of agreement, I'd say, at our dinner table.”
She said she works to support underrepresented communities in Carrboro. Her Korean American background has empowered her to advocate for Asian communities in Carrboro, who make up over seven percent of town residents and families in the area, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Kelleher said her primary goals are transparency and accountability, infrastructure and responsible planning.
One infrastructure issue that Kelleher finds is important is stormwater management and flooding which she said affects her neighborhood and others in the area. She said infrastructure issues need to be prioritized over new developments, and there should be greater accountability and transparency on the processes that affect people’s lives and homes.
During a Carrboro Town Council meeting on April 12, UNC alumna and Kelleher’s campaign manager, Diana Newton, said Kelleher has had all but three campaign signs and banners destroyed or stolen.
“We all recognize that Carrboro has a reputation of being a progressive town, but of late I think that reputation is showing itself to have some threadbare spots,” Newton said during the council meeting.
The son of migrant farm workers, Posada would be the first openly gay Latino serving in North Carolina if he were to be elected.
“In order to better represent our community, we need to have all sectors of our community involved in the decisions made on council,” Posada said. “And I’m not just talking about diversity in the council itself, but also in all the other boards and commissions that inform the council decision.”
Since graduating from Campbell University in 2015, Posada has been involved in local government serving on the Carrboro Planning Board, Chapel Hill’s Reimagine Community Safety taskforce and the Raleigh Hispanic and Immigrant Affairs Board.
“All of my professional life has been dedicated to working with community members — not just here in Carrboro, but across Orange, Durham and Wake counties,” Posada said.”
Posada has secured several endorsements listed on his website from county and state-wide leaders including former Orange County Commissioner Penny Rich and Graig Meyer, D-Caswell, Orange.
“Eliazar will continue to be the voice of communities that don't always have a seat at the table,” Rich said in a statment posted to Posada's website. “He is dedicated to making Carrboro a place for everyone.”
His main goals are to improve affordable housing, create equity in the community and improve equitable public transport, noting all of these things are vital to ensuring that Carrboro is a place for everyone.
Posada said that for him, community outreach is not theoretical, but something he has been doing and intends to keep doing.
“I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and help Carrboro continue to thrive,'' Posada said.
Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Information on how to vote can be found here.
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