Candidates: Jess Anderson, Adam Searing
Jess Anderson has had a formidable tenure on the town council, where, among other successes, her leadership was key to the adoption of the Complete Community Strategy, which Anderson envisioned to include introducing diverse housing types and access to shopping and job opportunities without car use.
In addition, given her career as a professional policy analyst and position as a professor in UNC’s Department of Public Policy, we feel that Anderson is well-qualified and prepared to lead public policy in a mayoral position.
Anderson also spoke of collaboration with the board as a whole and wants to work with every player possible, including the University, to combat real town issues. She doesn’t believe in “people or environment,” but rather a solution that promotes positive outcomes for both.
We particularly favored her attitude surrounding affordable housing. She acknowledged the discriminatory practices around Chapel Hill’s “legacy of redlining” and how they led to high prices which drove specific demographics out of town. She said when looking for solutions, she was not willing to just say no to ideas because of fears of change or being scared of people "who maybe don't look like us living near and with us.” We thought this was a sentiment that embodied exactly the kind of leadership this Town needs.
Chapel Hill Town Council
Candidates: Theodore Nollert, Erik Valera, Jon Mitchell, Amy Ryan, David Adams, Breckany Teal Eckhardt, Jeffrey Hoagland, Melissa McCullough, Renuka Soll.
As a Chapel Hill Planning Commissioner and former UNC Graduate and Professional Student Government president, Theodore Nollert seeks to bring a young, insightful perspective to the council that promises to champion small businesses, affordable housing and transit. Nollert looks upon the UNC community and its students as an asset, not a scourge, and will be a much-needed advocate for young renters in the town. Nollert’s experience as a graduate student leader at UNC, with successes like achieving a pay raise for graduate students, also makes him the best liaison for working with the University.
With two decades in nonprofit management, community leadership, and public health, Valera brings a diversity-focused viewpoint to the table. A second-generation immigrant of Cuban and Mexican descent, Valera served as the COO of El Centro Hispano, the oldest Latino organization in North Carolina, as well as on Governor Roy Cooper’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino affairs and Chapel Hill’s Town Planning Commission. Valera plans to make inclusion a cornerstone factor in considering in any and all decisions, connecting the community by prioritizing art and culture and eliminating structural inequalities.
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Jon Mitchell emphasizes the alignment of Chapel Hill’s growth with the values of livability, affordability and environmental sustainability. He contends to take a measured approach to development that puts ideas into action, which is shown through his stated commitment to implement the Complete Community framework. Mitchell has also served as the chair of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission, giving him valuable experience in local government and making him suitable to be part of addressing the issues of affordable housing and sustainable development. We appreciated his discussion of historically discriminatory practices associated with single-family rezoning in our interview and hope he will bring similar nuanced insights to discussions of development and housing if elected to council.
As the only town council member running for re-election, Amy Ryan adds a level of experience to the ballot that other candidates do not offer. While we do not agree with Ryan’s vote against the Housing Choices text amendment, we believe that she will still work to address the issue of affordable housing, as evidenced by the record 435 units of affordable housing that Ryan helped to create and preserve during her time on the town council. Ryan has also had a hand in increasing park and greenway funding and adopting the Complete Community framework, which demonstrates her involvement in a wide breadth of issues.
Candidates: Barbara Foushee
While Barbara Foushee is running unopposed, we felt we should still voice our support for her mayorship. With her long-standing commitment to public service both on the Carrboro Town Council and through community organizations such as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, Foushee brings years of experience that will help her lead Carrboro towards goals of housing affordability, community safety, equitable transportation, and sustainable development.
Carrboro Town Council
Candidates: Catherine Fray, Jason Merrill, April Mills, Eliazar Posada, Stephanie Wade.
As a Carrboro Town Council incumbent, Eliazar Posada has already demonstrated his commitment to creating a more diverse and equitable community by improving funding for affordable housing, implementing a language equity plan and supporting Carrboro Connects, Carrboro’s comprehensive plan. In addition to his experience in the Carrboro municipal government, his work as the acting president and CEO of El Centro Hispano, a nonprofit that aims to increase engagement and representation of the Hispanic and Latino community, further shows his dedication towards advocacy for underrepresented communities.
Fray has over a decade of experience on the Carrboro Planning Board, which makes them a great candidate to help further address issues of affordable housing and sustainability. Their platform includes initiatives such as revising the land use ordinance, strengthening stormwater infrastructure, and improving diversity in community engagement, such as representation on the town’s advisory boards. Given their expertise and these specific goals, Fray is a knowledgeable candidate who will help lead the town council in effectively addressing specific issues.
While the Editorial Board did not feel as strongly about a third choice for Carrboro Town Council, we felt that Jason Merrill’s platform aligned the closest to what we were looking for in a third candidate. Merrill’s background as a small business owner and six-year member of Chapel Hill Transportation and Connectivity Advisory Board will bring insights about the needs of local businesses and municipal government functions to the table. In addition, Merrill’s support for multimodal transportation and equitable community engagement through the Comprehensive Plan, are two priorities we can get behind.
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