The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 9th

Town Talk

CHALT holds conference to endorse candidates for mayor and town council

CORRECTION: The original version of this story misrepresented Jessica Anderson's relationship with the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town. Anderson is an independent candidate.

Some Chapel Hill residents haven’t been happy with the town council’s spending and development decisions, so they’ve found new candidates to support in this November’s elections.

On Monday, the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town met to endorse Pam Hemminger for mayor and two new candidates for town council –– Nancy Oates and David Schwartz.

“It was sort of a spontaneous combustion of a lot of people who felt shut out of the planning process,” CHALT member Ann Loftin said.

Loftin said the council hosted public hearings focused on the town’s development plan, Chapel Hill 2020, but was not receptive to what the public had to say.

“A lot of people felt input wasn’t valued and that the town already had its own ideas of what they wanted, and what they wanted was high-rise and high-density,” she said. “So we’re trying to give a new direction to things.”

In addition to high-density development that doesn’t provide affordable housing, other complaints expressed by CHALT members Monday included the dislocation of small, local businesses in favor of big chains and stormwater management.

CHALT is a group of Chapel Hill residents that became active in January and now has a political action committee to fundraise for the candidates.

Tom Henkel, CHALT member and CEO of Henkel Solar, Inc., said the idea of starting a grassroots organization first emerged last spring. He said a group of citizens put together a list of recommendations for the Ephesus-Fordham district building code, which included incentivizing affordable housing.

“They didn’t accept one,” Henkel said. “These were not wild ideas.”

Henkel said they realized the best way to enact change was to find and run new candidates whose platforms aligned with their values.

Jessica Anderson said before she decided to run for town council, she was already noticing things around town that didn’t seem to align with the town’s brand of progressiveness and sustainability.

“I don’t see our community as one that values that kind of development,” she said. “I know it’s not my vision.”


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