Local Elections Matter
By Julie McClintock
In the municipal election of 2015, Chapel Hill voters chose a new mayor over an incumbent, Mark Kleinschmidt in an upset victory. Pam Hemminger, whom C.H.A.L.T. endorsed, became Mayor of Chapel Hill on December 2nd. Jessica Anderson and Nancy Oates, also endorsed by C.H.A.L.T., won two of the four available seats on the Town Council. Michael Parker was also elected to a seat, and incumbent Donna Bell was reelected. Congratulations to all who won. To view the video of the ceremony – a farewell to the old council and the seating of the new – click here.
Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town supporters worked hard in this election to clarify the choices for the voters. We campaigned for the candidates we believe will best promote transparent fiscal management, responsible environmental stewardship, and new development that is consistent with our college town character. In addition we supported candidates who exempified progressive values and who will work to make Chapel Hill a more affordable place to live, reduce traffic congestion, and who will respect the informed recommendations of citizens and advisory boards.
We are very grateful to our many volunteers who wrote postcards and letters, hosted neighborhood meetings, canvassed, designed ads and in numerous other ways helped build support and turn out the vote for the candidates we endorsed. Thank you!!! It takes a tremendous team to run a successful campaign, and we are proud to have reignited a high degree of community activism.
Campaigns have tremendous value, especially when there are contentious issues at stake. Many neighborhoods were unhappy with recent Council decisions and felt excluded from the Council decisions affecting them. The campaign provided a forum for a necessary public dialogue on the issues. We put forth our point of view on these topics as clearly as we could. While we wish there had been a higher voter turnout, more Chapel Hill residents cast votes this year than in any municipal election since 2001, and we hope this trend toward greater engagement will continue.
David Schwartz, whom C.H.A.L.T. endorsed, barely missed winning a seat, finishing only 295 votes behind fourth-place finisher Michael Parker. David’s research and analysis of land use decision-making were instrumental in forming our ideas, and through his writing and public speaking he has greatly enriched the public debate. We look forward to his continuing contributions and leadership.
As we have in the past, C.H.A.L.T. will continue to promote informed public discussion of town governance issues by holding talks and presentations on affordable housing, green building techniques, stormwater management, safe biking and walking, transportation challenges, and smarter economic development. We will also continue to advocate good fiscal management, improved transparency and greater public participation in our civic affairs. In the near term, we will be especially interested in helping to improve the plans for Ephesus-Fordham district and ensuring that the bond money approved in the recent referendum is spent wisely.
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