Faced with the opportunity to fill the vacancy created when Penny Rich resigned to join the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Chapel Hill Town Council overwhelmingly opted for experience.
And while many of the 11 candidates could make a good case for their ability to serve, the council unquestionably made a good choice in naming Sally Greene to fill the slot. The council made that decision two weeks ago; Greene was sworn in last Monday night.
When the council voted 7-1 to name Greene, Laurin Easthom offered this observation:
“The community has had the confidence in Sally the last two elections prior and we have also recent community support in an onslaught of email for her. In my opinion she is the most qualified, has the most experience and that’s what this council needs at this time.”
Greene brings a strong resume back to the council table. She served previously for eight years, from 2003 until 2011. She decided not to seek reelection to a third term.
Greene herself, when the applicants made their pitches to the council in mid-January, had this to say:
“Everyone here tonight brings a unique background and many valuable skills and there are many ways you might think about making this appointment. I’d like to suggest it could be useful to bring on someone with experience, someone with a proven record of accomplishment, including making hard decisions.”
Council members in pondering the appointment had indicated that it was important to have a new colleague who could quickly get up to speed on budget matters, and who was familiar with such key town issues as transit, development and affordable housing.
At her swearing in Monday night, Greene alluded to the increasing challenges to local governments as state and federal budget decisions cut into programs important locally. But those decisions are not just about dollars and cents. “We obviously have a budget challenge, but these are human challenges,” she said.
That attitude of compassion combined with her depth of experience in town matters made Greene a natural choice.
And, as Easthom noted when the council voted on Greene, voters will soon have a chance to ratify or nullify the decision. The seat will be contested for a full term in this year’s municipal elections, for which filing opens in a scant five months.
“If there is anyone out there who doesn’t like our council choice tonight, I’m sure that most people do, but if they don’t, they have a chance to vote for their candidate if they run in the fall or they can run themselves,” Easthom said.
We look forward to a spirited election contest this year.