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Carrboro Town Council to hold special election to fill vacant seat

Carrboro-new-council-election
Photos courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Carrboro Town Council voted unanimously on Dec. 5 to hold a special election to fill Mayor Barbara Foushee’s now vacant council seat, following her unopposed run for the mayoral seat in November. The council decided that the special election will be held on Nov. 5, alongside state and national elections.

To replace the seat vacated by Foushee, the council needed to choose between filling the seat via special election or via appointment.

“We also could have done an appointment, which is actually the gold standard across the state of North Carolina,” Foushee said.Durham City Council is getting ready to appoint somebody to the seat — the remaining time on the seat — that Mayor Leonardo Williams vacated when he became the mayor.”

Carrboro is one of just a few municipalities in North Carolina that have the choice to hold a special election in place of an appointment, council member Catherine Fray said. 

Fray said since the town added the election option to its charter in 2007, Carrboro historically opted to use the special election to fill seats when necessary. Former Mayor Damon Seils' town council seat was filled by a special election when elected mayor in 2021.

Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said part of the reason the Council chose to hold the special election in November is to allow candidates to have adequate time to file for candidacy and build a strong campaign.

"It could have been that [the special election] would be aligned with the primary in March, but that had a very short window,” Haven-O’Donnell said. “In fact, the filing for candidates would have been Dec. 4, and we met on the 5th, so that window was very short, and folks felt that was unfair.”

She said she thinks it will be very positive to hold the special election on the day of the general election in November because it is a presidential and state election, and community members are more willing to find out who is running.

Fray said holding a special election in November could serve as a trial to see if there is an impact on voter turnout if municipal elections are held in even years.

Foushee said the council took many things into consideration when choosing how and when to fill the seat she left vacant. The council, she said, listened to the community and decided to fold the special election into an existing upcoming election. 

“We chose the general [election] just trying to be equitable and fair,” she said.

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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