Lone candidate files for vacant seat on Carrboro Board

Feb. 15, 2013 @ 06:28 PM

Just one candidate filed to run for a vacant seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, but the special election will still go on.

The filing period for the seat vacated when Dan Coleman left the Board ended at noon on Friday.

Only Damon Seils signed up.

Even before Seils became the only candidate, the Board of Aldermen expressed second thoughts about a policy change they made years ago to fill a vacant seat through a special election.
The change came after the board, under its old policy, appointed Dan Coleman in 2006 to fill a seat that was vacated when Alderman Mark Chilton became the mayor, leaving his seat vacant.

Some complained that the position should have been filled by election, so the Aldermen changed policy and decided to hold special elections.

In January, Coleman resigned his seat to move to Australia, so the process began to set up an election. The cost of the election, set for March 19, is expected to be about $11,000, according to Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections.

Alderman Lydia Lavelle was not on the board when the policy changed but said it was enacted with good intentions to allow a fair and open process for filling a vacant seat.

Appointing someone to a vacant seat is much easier and less expensive for the town and for the people who want to fill the position, and it’s not an uncommon practice for an elected government body to use the appointment process to fill vacancies, she said.

“I guess we live and learn,” Lavelle said.

It’s likely that the Aldermen will revisit the policy, Lavelle said.

Seils, 39, said he was a little surprised that no one else filed, because usually someone files at the last minute.

“I’ll be grateful for the less intense level of anxiety,” he said.

Seils announced his intentions early to run for the vacancy and set up a Web page and a Facebook page and began campaigning. He and volunteers have been canvassing neighborhoods. He said he plans to continue going door to door to talk to voters before the election.

Seils is a member of the Carrboro Planning Board and has been elected chair of that board twice. He also has served on the town’s Greenways Commission and represented Carrboro as the chair of the Orange County Human Relations Commission.

Seils believes that he shares a similar philosophy as most of the other members of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

“I don’t think there will be a lot of substantial disparities from the general direction of the board,” he said.

Seils said he will promote the idea of preparing a master plan for growth and development, especially for the northern areas of Carrboro and downtown.

“Development is not stopping and waiting for us to make these decisions,” he said. “We can’t sit back and watch any more.”

Voter registration for the special election is open until Feb. 22. Early voting, which will take place only at the Board of Elections in Hillsborough, begins on Feb. 28 and ends on March 16 at 1 p.m.