Carrboro sets special election for March 19

Jan. 19, 2013 @ 11:48 AM

A special election to fill an empty seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen has been set for March 19.
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen voted on the date after a short discussion of its options during its meeting Tuesday. The Aldermen agreed they want to hold the election as soon as possible but also give possible candidates time to decide whether to run and time to campaign before the election.
The special election is expected to cost about $11,000, said Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections.
Former Aldermen Dan Coleman resigned on Jan. 5 to move to Australia, leaving the open seat.
Because there was controversy surrounding Coleman’s appointment to the Board of Aldermen when he was appointed by the other Aldermen to fill an empty seat on the board in 2006 when Mark Chilton was elected mayor, the Aldermen decided to change their process for filling an empty seat.
They decided to hold a special election to allow the citizens of Carrboro to select a replacement, but at Tuesday’s meeting they wondered if they had made the right decision when they learned it could cost as much as $18,000 to hold the election.
The next election when they could have put the election on the ballot is in November.
Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said if they hold an election this spring, the Aldermen wouldn’t have that many meetings before the November election, since they take two months off during the summer.
“I just wonder if that many meetings is worth that amount of money,” Gist said.
Gist, however, said that since she was one of the ones that voted for the change, she would go along with it this year. She and other Aldermen agreed, however, that after this election, they might revisit their policy of holding special elections.
To save money, the Aldermen agreed not to have early voting at the Carrboro Town Hall, since that could cost the town about $18,000.
If the Alderman had decided to hold early voting at the Carrboro Town Hall, it would have required paying three people to man the voting site, Reams said.
However, state law requires that if a town allows absentee voting, it must allow early voting, Reams said.
So the Aldermen decided to hold early voting at the Orange County Board of Elections in Hillsborough.
“We’re just going to have it here in our office and let the staff help them when they come in,” Reams said.
Reams doesn’t expect many early voters in Hillsborough, or many voters to vote in the election at all, she said.
Carrboro has 15,697 registered voters, Reams said.
“It’s sad to say but I think if we get five percent we’ll be lucky,” she said.
The Aldermen also decided to set the filing period from noon on Feb. 1 to noon on Feb. 15.
People can register to vote in the election until Feb. 22, Reams said.
Once the filing period is over, the staff at the Board of Elections has to quickly prepare the ballots and get them printed before early voting starts on Feb. 28. Early voting ends on March 16 at 1 p.m.
Reams said she’s only heard of one person so far who has expressed interest in running for the seat.
“We hope at least more than one person files, otherwise it will be almost for nothing,” she said.