Eliazar Posada will fill the vacant seat on Carrboro Town Council, according to unofficial results from the Tuesday election.
Posada will be the first openly gay Latino serving in North Carolina when he takes office in June.
He will take over the seat vacated by Damon Seils when he was elected mayor of Carrboro in November. Posada will serve the remainder of Seil’s council term, which ends in 2023.
"I look forward to welcoming him officially as Council Member Posada on June 7," Seils said about Posada in a tweet.
Posada received endorsements from Chapel Hill Town Council members Paris Miller-Foushee and Tai Huynh and state representatives Graig Meyer and Ricky Hurtado.
He defeated Aja Kelleher, the other candidate running for the seat, by a wide margin. Posada finished with 3,396 votes, winning 74.44 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, Kelleher finished with 1,123 votes, 24.64 percent.
“First, thank you for the enormous trust that people are putting in me,” Posada said. “And second, that I'm gonna do everything I can to make them proud.”
Posada said that regardless of the results, he planned to continue to work in the community through the Carrboro Planning Board and other groups he is a part of.
“I'm going to continue working for the community I've been working for, for the last six years," he said.
Posada ran on a platform to improve affordable housing, create equity in the community and improve equitable public transport. He said these goals have not changed and that he is ready to listen to community input on other issues that need attention.
“Part of an official's role is to respond to the community so I'm always willing to have a conversation with folks,” Posada said.
To celebrate the projected win, Posada and his supporters gathered at Vecino Brewing Co., where they enjoyed authentic Mexican food prepared by his mother. One of Posada's brothers served as the live DJ while the votes were counted.
Posada, his campaign team, supporters and Mayor Pro Tem Susan Romaine attended the event. Posada’s 16-year-old brother, Jonathan Veloz-Lara, was also in attendance.
“I’m very proud of my brother," Veloz-Lara said. "He’s really achieved a lot, and from here it just goes up.”
While speaking at the celebration, Posada said that a "posada" is a traditional celebration that happens during the holidays. He said that he and his team were having a "posada for democracy."
Kelleher said she wishes Posada the best and she is happy with the awareness she brought to the need for transparency in politics.
“I just wish them all the best, you know, try to keep it positive,” Kelleher said. “Congratulations, and all the best. I'm sure he's going to have a lot of work to do, like any of us would.”
Posada said that despite differences of opinion, he is always ready to have dialogue with Kelleher or any other political opponents.
Kelleher said that the campaign was a good experience for her, despite finding it difficult to run as an independent in a town that considers itself primarily Democratic.
She said that she doesn’t plan to run again for the town council in the near future, but she will stay involved in the community working to ensure transparency in government.
“I don't plan on not being involved and holding the town accountable on things that I'm seeing that clearly isn't transparent,” Kelleher said.
Kelleher said that she will continue to get involved when issues such as affordable housing and city projects are up for discussion. She said she will continue to attend Carrboro Town Council meetings, in addition to others.
Kelleher said that when she first ran for the council in the November 2021 election, she was surprised to receive over 1,000 votes and did not expect to do the same again this time.
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