Council election on the horizon

Jun. 29, 2013 @ 05:01 PM

Gary Kahn’s in, and so are Sally Greene and Maria Palmer.
George Cianciola’s name is mentioned frequently and so is Amy Ryan’s.
If the conventional wisdom holds true, the handful of residents mentioned above will definitely be among the candidates who march to the Orange County Board of Elections next month to plunk down $5 for the chance to compete for four seats on the Chapel Hill Town Council.
Of course we won’t know for certain who’s in the race until after the filing period opens on July 5 and ends a couple of weeks later on July 19.
And in the mayor’s race, Mark Kleinschmidt is expected to seek re-election, and could run unopposed. No challenger has yet emerged with only a few days left until the filing period opens.
Mayor Pro Tem Ed Harrison is the only other incumbent expected to seek re-election.
Both Laurin Easthom and Gene Pease have announced they will not seek re-election.
Green, a former council member who was appointed to fill a council vacancy earlier this year after former councilwoman Penny Rich was elected to serve on the Orange County Board of Commissioners, is expected to toss her hat into the ring for one of the four council seats.
Ryan, who currently co-chairs the Central West Focus Area planning committee, said last week that she has not decided about whether to run, but is leaning toward seeking one of the council seats up for grabs.
“It’s definitely a possibility,” Ryan said. “I just have to do some thinking about how much time I’ll have to devote to it. I think it’s important that I be able to make that commitment.”
Ryan was one of 11 applicants who sought to fill the council vacancy created by Rich’s departure, and the only one to receive a vote for the seat other than Greene.
Kahn, Palmer and Ryan also applied to fill the vacancy, and Palmer, disappointed at not being selected, said in January that she would run for council.  
“I’m planning on it,” Palmer said when asked last week if she still planned to file for election. “I’ve committed to a lot of people who support me, and I feel like I owe it to them and I owe it to myself.”
Meanwhile, Kahn, a Southern Village resident who rarely misses a council meeting, has made no secret of his plans to seek office, having announced his candidacy back in May.
The one thing certain is that the departures of Easthom and Pease will guarantee at least two new faces around the dais.
Pease announced last week that he would not seek re-election, citing family and work commitments for his decision not to seek a second term.
“I have family commitments on the West Coast, an increased workload at my company, a second book due to my publisher, and do not feel I could give a campaign and second term the commitment it deserves,” Pease said. “I have enjoyed 15 years of public service to Chapel Hill, the last four as a Town Council member, and look forward to staying involved in important town issues in the future.”
Explaining her decision to not seek re-election in January, Easthom said she needed a break from the council, adding that the council needs fresh voices.