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An early look at Chapel Hill Town Council elections coming up in November

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Chapel Hill Town Hall stands on Sunday, March 19, 2023. 

This November, Chapel Hill residents will be able to vote on four Town Council positions. These seats are currently held by Jessica Anderson, Tai Huynh, Michael Parker and Amy Ryan.

The Chapel Hill Town Council is made up of nine members, including the mayor, who serves a two-year term. The other eight members serve staggered four-year terms, which means there is an opportunity for turnover on the council every two years.

Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said the main job of town council is to set a path for the town as well as take care of other local issues like zoning. She said local government elections are extremely important because they affect the community in a more direct way than state and federal elections. 

“Local elections affect you the most,” she said. “We set your property tax rate, we set the vision for the community, we are in charge of zoning, we set the priorities of whether certain streets get paved.”

Though candidate filing has not officially opened for town council or any other local positions, some candidates have already announced they will be running.

Melissa McCullough

Melissa McCullough, who moved to Chapel Hill in 2011, was one of the first candidates to announce her campaign for a town council seat. McCullough, who earned a Master’s degree from Duke’s School of Environment, has spent over 30 years with the EPA in a variety of positions. 

She said her work experience in environmental management and community sustainability gives her a unique perspective that inspired her to run for town council.  

“Communities are very much like ecosystems, so my background in community sustainability gives me that opportunity to bring something new and the desire to apply it here where I live,” she said.

She said she believes making Chapel Hill a more sustainable community is extremely important. Her other priorities include housing and transportation.

“The sustainable community model ends up not only decreasing our air pollution, decreasing our climate, gas contributions, it makes people happier,” she said. 

Michael Beauregard

Micheal Beauregard has also declared his candidacy for a town council seat. Beauregard earned his Bachelor’s degree from UNC in 2022. He is now pursuing a dual Master's degree in public administration and city and regional planning. 

He said affordable housing is an issue he has studied extensively in his coursework and is passionate about reforming. 

“I see a lot of issues with affordable housing and not just for people who are earning poverty wages," he said. "Teachers, nurses, firefighters, cops and people who work in the town can’t afford to live in the town. And I, for one, think that is unacceptable.”

He said economic development in Chapel Hill is also something he would like to work on improving if he is elected.

“Chapel Hill is really good at creating jobs for people with PHDs or masters, but really bad at making jobs for people with a high school education or associates,” he said.  “I would like to work with the economic development team in Chapel Hill to get more jobs just for people who aren't involved with the University.”

Outside of McCullough and Beauregard, no other candidates — including sitting council members — have publicly declared their candidacy for Town Council. Adam Searing, a sitting council member whose term does not end until 2025, announced his intention to run in Chapel Hill's mayoral race earlier this month.

The official candidate filing window opens on July 7 for this year’s elections. Elections for Chapel Hill Town Council will be held on November 7.

@DTHCityState | 

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