With the Orange County election season on May 17, one group will be missing from the primary ballot: Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
In this election, all candidates for the Board of County Commissioners are running uniquely unopposed for their respective seats. The candidates, however, will appear on the general election ballot, per an emailed statement from Orange County Board of Elections Director Rachel Boyce Raper.
“I do not remember another time that no commissioner had opposition,” said Earl McKee, Orange County District 2 commissioner.
McKee said despite his lack of opposition, he has felt an obligation to attend campaign events and interact with his constituents.
Here is what you need to know about each candidate for the Orange County Board of Commissioners:
Jamezetta Bedford is an incumbent candidate from District 1 and the current vice-chairperson of the BOCC. She also works as a certified public accountant.
Bedford said she wants to see a climate action plan implemented in Orange County. In October, she seconded a motion to recommend climate action grant projects for the 2021-22 fiscal year.
"And then I want collaboration across the county with the chamber, with businesses, with our homes,” she said.
Bedford also said she wants to help schools in Orange County by welcoming the idea of a mental health care center, as well as a crisis diversion center, which would provide supportive assistance to individuals in urgent situations.
Incumbent candidate Anna Richards is running to fill a second District 1 seat. She was appointed in September to the BOCC to fill the vacancy left by Mark Dorosin in July of 2021. She would need to be reelected in November to finish the term through 2024.
Richards has spent several years as an activist in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area since relocating here following her retirement in 2013. She served as president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP from 2017 to 2021 and is currently the 3rd vice president of the chapter.
She noted that she advocates for social justice and equity in education, citing how Orange County needs to provide a safe learning environment and high quality of education for all students.
“Many of our schools in the district are aging and have serious needs in terms of facilities,” she said. “Right now we've got learning gaps on top of learning loss that occurred during the pandemic, and we’ve got to do more to help students stay on track.”
Running for his fourth term, incumbent candidate for District 2 Earl McKee has served on the BOCC since 2010.
He has also been part of various community organizations, including the Orange County ABC Board and Orange County Fire Chiefs Association.
In particular, McKee hopes to expand broadband internet access. He currently serves on the Orange County Broadband Task Force.
“It's going to be life-changing for a lot of people,” he said. “It will be expensive, it will be a long-term solution. This would not have happened overnight because there are hundreds of miles of roads in Orange County where the fiber installation would have to occur."
He said broadband service would provide more quality internet access for children in school and people who work at home.
Sally Greene is an incumbent candidate for Orange County at-large. Prior to being elected in 2018, she served three terms on the Chapel Hill Town Council. She recently received the 2021 Outstanding Commissioner Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.
Greene said she has supported the Criminal Justice Resource Department in its efforts to develop a Street Outreach, Harm Reduction and Deflection team, which consists of trained mental health professionals who help guide individuals in Chapel Hill to the resources they need.
“This leads to better outcomes than just arresting them for bad behavior and putting them in jail,” Greene said.
Greene serves on the Broadband Task Force alongside McKee.
"The county is involved in working to find a partner in the internet service provider business to work with us to bring true fiber optic 21st-century broadband access to rural Orange County," Greene said.
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