Council members-elect sworn in; Greene new mayor pro tem

Dec. 07, 2013 @ 09:03 AM

Council members-elect sworn in; Greene new mayor pro tem

BY JAMICA C. ASHLEY
jashley@heraldsun.com; 919-419-6675
HILLSBOROUGH – Chapel Hill council members-elect Maria Palmer and George Cianciolo were sworn-in last week along with re-elected members Sally Greene and Ed Harrison and mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.
Before family, friends and well-wishers, the newly elected officials took their oaths of office, were seated and performed their first item of business by voting for Greene as the new mayor pro tem.
"I want to thank my strongest supporter, my wife of 43 years Cresha, for putting up with me through 14 years of Town Advisory Board and committee meetings and now agreeing to do it for at least another 4 years,” Cianciolo said via email. “And finally I want to thank all those who supported me and voted for me and put their trust in me to help lead Chapel Hill over the next four years.  I will do my best to earn that trust.
“And to those who didn't vote for me I will do everything I can to earn your trust as I work to help all the citizens of Chapel Hill in my new role of Council member," he added.
Cianciolo was sworn-in by Senior Superior Court Judge Carl Fox while Palmer was sworn-in by state Rep. Larry Hall.
“It was a great honor to be given the oath by Larry Hall and to have my family and friends present,” said Palmer via email. “I am thrilled with my committee assignments and look forward to my service.”
Kleinschmidt and Harrison were sworn-in by Fox while Greene was sworn-in by District Judge Beverly Scarlett.
Former council members Gene Pease and Laurin Easthom sat with the council one last time prior to the swearing-in. Before officially giving up their seats and sitting among the crowd, both reflected on their time with the council.
Easthom looked back to the time when the town was at odds with the expansion efforts of the university and said that she “wanted to be a part of protecting the town.”
“I’ve always been a staunch supporter of neighborhood interests and freedom of speech,” she continued. “I was often the lone voice on the council, voting differently than my colleagues. But I always felt I was making the right decisions by the town.”
Thanking former and current council members, Easthom added that the variety of perspectives is part of what makes the council so dynamic.
“The different opinions are the beauty of what we do in Chapel Hill,” Easthom said. “Leadership is a different responsibility and those on the council know we don’t take that responsibility lightly.”
Ending an eight-year career on the council, Easthom stepped down along with Pease, who had served one term. Another resident who was not pleased with UNC expansion plans in the past, Pease said that he was given a piece of advice that launched his official political career, to stop complaining and get involved.
“This is truly an honor to serve you and for the most part it was a joy,” he said. “In many cases we didn’t agree but we always had a fair and balanced and emotionally charged conversations and that’s all you can ask for when you have different opinions.
“Very few decisions we make are black and white,” said Pease. “Thank you Chapel Hill. I’m not leaving. I’m just taking a break from 16 years of community service.”
Their colleagues on the council spoke highly of Easthom and Pease and collectively agreed that their contributions will be missed.
Council member Lee Storrow said that he will always remember Pease telling him to “look at the bigger picture in the work we do on the council” and Easthom being “a dedicated advocate for her progressive and democratic values.”
Council member James Ward said that even though both were community advocates before joining the council, through their work together he was able to see more of them including the complexity of their arguments and wisdom they brought to council decisions.
Resolutions of appreciation for both Pease and Easthom were passed by the new council.