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Orange County residents discuss their priorities for Tuesday's primary elections

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, a polling place, is pictured on May 17, 2022.

In the Tuesday primary elections, Orange County voters cast their ballots for several federal, state, county and local positions.

Voters were able to decide on a number of hot-button issues such as abortion rights and the discussion of sexuality in schools.

Chapel Hill resident Margaret Rich is 76 years old, but she said she voted in Tuesday’s primary election because she has never seen American values in jeopardy like they are today.

“I never thought I would live this long to see our democracy so at risk and our Constitutional rights being taken away from us,” Rich said.

Rich said her comment on Constitutional rights was in reference to the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade, after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion suggested laws about abortion access are likely to be sent to the states.

Like Rich, UNC student Nikhita Tsambasis said her main reason for voting in the primary was abortion rights.

"The woman's right to choose is very important to me," she said. "That's something that's being possibly contradicted now."

Several Chapel Hill voters said they also thought about the overturning of Roe v. Wade when going out to vote, while others said they vote in every election, simply to have their voices heard.

Along with several other voters, Rich said she was particularly interested in the N.C. House of Representatives Democratic primary for the 56th District between Allen Buansi and Jonah Garson.

“I am a big fan of Jonah Garson, so I’m here for him. He’s really put the shoe leather in,” she said.

Early voting numbers released by Orange County suggested voters are turning out in higher numbers than in previous midterm primaries, with more than 14,000 people voting before Election Day in the county. That turnout is more than the early voting totals from 2018 and 2014 combined.

Fifth-generation Chapel Hill resident Christian Foushee-Green, 34, said he voted on Tuesday because he wanted to make a policy difference on both the state and federal level.

“Things near and dear to me are affordable housing, environment, climate and, of course, inflation and matters of gentrification,” Foushee-Green said.

Local real estate agent Janice Woychik also said affordable housing was on her list of voting priorities after seeing a rise in costs for homeowners and renters in the Chapel Hill area first-hand.

“I see the monthly rental price go up and up and up, and I feel really bad because I know most of the people that I rent to are related to the University, and they have limited budgets,” Woychik said.

She said one way to improve the state of affordable housing is to encourage sellers and neighborhoods to distinguish between investors who wish to rent out the property and buyers who want to live there.

Chapel Hill may need to expand into the surrounding rural buffer or eliminate green spaces within town limits to build high-rise buildings to provide more housing for the community, Woychik said.

“These investors are coming into the market, they’re buying homes at very attractive rates, and that leaves fewer homes or condos or townhomes for individuals to purchase for their own use,” Woychik said.

East Chapel Hill High School student Rama Varanasi said his main priorities in the election were the environment, civil rights and equity.

"I just want my voice heard as a young person in the U.S.," he said.

@ethanehorton1 @sarahchxi

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Ethan E. Horton

Ethan E. Horton is the 2023-24 city & state editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a city & state assistant editor and as the 2023 summer managing editor. Ethan is a senior pursuing a double major in journalism and media and political science, with a minor in history.