Jess Anderson will be Chapel Hill's next mayor, per unofficial results. Anderson won 58.79 percent of the vote, compared to Searing's 40.97 percent with a difference of more than 2,000 votes.
Anderson particularly outperformed Searing in the historically Black Northside neighborhood, where Anderson won more than 75 percent of the Election Day vote. The only precinct Searing won was Eastside, by just two percent.
Anderson — who won a town council seat in 2015 and was comfortably re-elected in 2019 — positioned herself during her campaign as a mayor who would work toward compromise. She currently teaches graduate-level public policy at UNC.
During the campaign, Anderson started a program with town council member and incumbent candidate Amy Ryan called "Know Before You Vote," to combat misinformation in the election. Ryan was re-elected to the council.
This election had the highest turnout for a Chapel Hill mayoral election in at least the last 10 years.
Anderson said she was surprised by her margin of victory.
"I think it gives us a really clear mandate for the work we're doing," she said. "Which I think is so important because it also tells me that the vast majority of this town understands what we're trying to do, that they understand that we need to change."
Her main goals for her term are to continue implementing the Chapel Hill Complete Communities initiative and to heal a town that had been divided by the hotly contested and divisive mayoral election.
The Anderson-Searing mayoral contest was largely defined by Searing's opposition to the Housing Choices LUMO amendment that was passed this summer by the town council, 6-3. He quickly became the leader of the pushback to the amendment and promised supporters he would overturn the amendment — which has yet to substantially impact the Chapel Hill housing market — if elected. He staked his campaign on the idea that new developments should not come at the expense of parks and green space.