Orange County

Who’s running for office in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and why?

Sally Greene, at left, and George Cianciolo will not seek re-election in November to the Chapel Hill Town Council.
Sally Greene, at left, and George Cianciolo will not seek re-election in November to the Chapel Hill Town Council. Contributed

Voters will elect at least two new Chapel Hill Town Council members this fall and have their choice of Carrboro and Hillsborough mayoral candidates following the close of filing Friday for the 2017 elections.

Chapel Hill council members George Cianciolo and Sally Greene did not file for another term; they will leave the council in December. Efforts to reach Greene were unsuccessful, but Cianciolo said it’s time to spend more time with his family after giving 18 years to local and regional boards. He also plans to stay involved with a number of nonprofit groups, including Club Nova, Learning Outside and the Chapel Hill Library Foundation, he said.

“I just felt that it was time we move forward with our lives, and I want to see some more people get involved,” he said. “I want to see some young people get involved, and I’m glad to see there’s one or two young people involved, because I think it’s important. They’re the future in Chapel Hill.”

Greene congratulated the candidates in a tweet Friday afternoon.

“My decision not to run for a fourth term rests on a firm belief that Chapel Hill is well positioned to meet future challenges,” she said. “Thank you for the privilege of representing you. I’m grateful for all we’ve accomplished together.”

Challenges also emerged this year to Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle from former Station owner Mike Benson and to Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens from travel counselor Cindy Talisman. Those and other candidates in the Nov. 7 elections are:

Chapel Hill Mayor

▪ Pam Hemminger (incumbent)

Age: 57

Address: 108 Boxwood Place


Elected office held: Chapel Hill mayor, 2015-present; Orange County commissioner, 2008-12; Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, 2004-08

Relevant experience: chair, Upper Neuse River Basin Authority

Career: Owner, Windaco Properties LLC

Why are you seeking re-election? “I’m excited, honored and privileged to serve the citizens of Chapel Hill, and I’m looking forward to a great next term and to continue the progress that we’ve made. I’m also looking forward to hearing what the citizens have to say during the campaign season; I do plan on participating and hearing more from the community.”

Chapel Hill Town Council (4 seats)

▪ Allen Buansi

Age: 30

Address: 305 Copperline Drive


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: Policy and field director, Josh Stein Campaign for Attorney General

Relevant experience: Legal Redress chair, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP

Career: Civil rights attorney

Why are you seeking election? “I bring a unique perspective as a lawyer and a young, homegrown product of Chapel Hill. I want to plug young people into local government and ensure that the perspectives of historically underrepresented communities, low- and middle-income families, and seniors are at the decision-making table.”

▪ Hongbin Gu

Age: 49

Address: 113 Parkridge Ave.


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: Chapel Hill Environmental Stewardship Advisory Board; organized Chapel Hill LIGHTUP 2017; Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools District Asian American Parents Advisory Board

Relevant experience: Former principal and current board chair of Chinese School at Chapel Hill

Career: faculty, quantitative researcher at UNC School of Medicine

Why are you seeking election? “I’m running for Town Council to provide fresh ideas, sensible solutions and tangible results that will ensure Chapel Hill's better future for all of us. ... I will assess the town’s existing policies to see whether they actually generate the intended results, taking a fresh look at the financial, environmental and social costs of town policies and their impact on cost of living and affordability.”

▪ ▪ Ed Harrison (incumbent)

Age: 66

Address: 58 Newton Drive


Elected offices held: Town Council, 2001-present; Durham Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, 1990-2001

Relevant experience: Metropolitan Planning Organization board member since 2001, and an advocate for environmental protection and highway alternatives

Why are you seeking re-election? “To continue public service to the community of Chapel Hill, and to the region and state on behalf of our town; to continue practicing excellent constituent response on matters of daily quality of life and of involvement in community planning. Also, to complete long-term projects, especially for connecting Chapel Hill better to itself and to other communities, that I initiated or cooperated in starting; to continue my close work with our citizens on planning processes for land use management, parks and recreation, affordable housing, transit and other important issues – one of the most important being the major rewriting of our development regulations.”

▪ Maria T. Palmer (incumbent)

Age: 56

Address: 303 Forbush Mountain Road


Elected offices held: Chapel Hill Town Council, 2013-present

Political experience: State Board of Education, 1999-2005

Career: Minister, educator

Relevant experience: Chapel Hill 2020 Task Force

Why are you seeking re-election? “I want to continue fighting for values that matter to our town: social, racial, and economic justice, affordable housing, affordable recreation, connected and bikeable greenways, and environmentally responsible development. I want to continue advocating for those individuals who are often overlooked, such as working-class families and members of our immigrant communities, and to make Chapel Hill better than it has ever been.”

▪ Rachel Schaevitz

Age: 37

Address: 101 Braswell Court


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: chair, American Legion Task Force; Cultural Arts Commission

Relevant experience: Planned and executed UNC creative events for public school teachers, community colleges, museums, local nonprofits and businesses to foster civil dialogue and a more humane world

Why are you seeking election? “I want to apply my skills and experience to encourage fact-based decision-making that keeps our town affordable for our workforce, re-balances our tax base and reflects the values of our residents. I would like to see us move away from the trend of constructing high-density luxury apartment buildings and toward more creative solutions that are community-driven and meet the needs of our growing town.”

▪ Carl Schuler

Age: 49

Address: 102 Vintage Drive


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: Council candidate in 2011 and 2013; Board of Adjustment; IFC Community House Advisory Committee; IFC Good Neighbor Plan Advisory Committee

Relevant experience: Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate

Career: Clinical research associate, Duke University School of Medicine, Duke Clinical Research Institute

Why are you seeking election? “I want to continue the 2016-2018 council goals for the town of Chapel Hill and to carry on the council’s good work. My particular areas of interest are affordable housing, transportation for the town and community – education, inclusivity, and recognizing the diversity of the town’s citizens.”

▪ Karen Stegman

Age: 48

Address: 2525 Buxton Court


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: Chapel Hill Housing Advisory Board

Relevant experience: PORCH neighborhood coordinator

Career: Director of business development, IntraHealth International

Why are you seeking election? “I have been an active participant in the civic life of my community, with an emphasis on issues around poverty and equity. The Chapel Hill I know is progressive, welcoming, and proud of its history as a state leader in environmental protection, civil rights and social justice; I decided to run to help chart a course for Chapel Hill that stays true to those roots.”

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education (3 seats)

▪ James Barrett (incumbent)

Age: 47

Address: 100 Morgan Bluff Lane


Elected offices held: School board, 2011-present, current chairman

Relevant experience: Justice United strategy team founding member

Why are you seeking re-election? “My top reason is that I want to continue my efforts to seek solutions to our opportunity gaps for underserved students, and continue work on my other priorities, such as transparency and better budgeting. With a new superintendent, we need board members who have strong community and board experience to ensure that we uphold our Chapel Hill-Carrboro values while we push the changes needed for equity.”

▪ Joal H. Broun (incumbent)

Age: 56

Address: 107 Creekview Circle


Elected offices held: Elected to school board in March 2016

Relevant experience: Chapel Hill High School School Improvement Team

Career: Lobbyist Compliance director, N.C. Department of the Secretary of State

Why are you seeking election? “I am running as a board member to continue the work to close the achievement gap and to maintain the excellence of the education for all of our children in the District. I am also want to increase the opportunities for use of technology to provide greater opportunities for students and to increase accountability.”

▪ Calvin Deutschbein

Age: 24

Address: 1105 N.C. 54


Elected offices held: Westwood precinct secretary, Orange County Democratic Party

Relevant experience: Six years working in academic advising, recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago

Career: UNC doctoral student in computer science

Why are you seeking election? “In a recent listening session at my church organized by Orange County Justice United, the most talked about issue among my fellow parishioners and community members was concern over a lack of fair treatment by Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Given my lifelong passion for and background in education, I felt called to leverage my radical ideals of equality and unique perspective as student and millennial to deliver results for every student.”

▪ Amy Fowler

Age: 48

Address: 102 Nuttal Place


Elected offices held: None

Relevant experience: Chair, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Special Needs Advisory Council

Career: Pediatrician, Chapel Hill Children’s Clinic

Why are you seeking election? “In this political era, I am committed to keeping our local public school strong. And while we have a really strong school district, one of the best around, we need to continue working to improve supports for students with disabilities, students in lower SES and students in underrepresented minority groups.”

▪ Mary Ann Wolf

Age: 46

Address: 418 Hogan Woods Circle


Elected offices held: None

Career: director, Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative, N.C. State University Friday Institute for Educational Innovation

Why are you seeking election? “I would welcome the opportunity to utilize my business and education background, working with schools and districts across the country for nearly 20 years, to help our district thrive to meet the needs of each student. I will use this experience, as well as my personal connection through my own children in our CHCCS schools, to ask questions about and consider how we best support the administrators and educators in the school district to continue to grow the potential, personalized learning experiences, and empowerment of our students.”

Hillsborough Mayor

▪ Tom Stevens (incumbent)

Age: 63

Address: 213 W. Tryon St.


Elected offices held: Mayor, 2005-present

Relevant experience: Former board president/Hall of Fame member, Leadership Triangle

Career: Artist and consulting business owner, Esquare Leadership LLC

Why are you seeking re-election? “There is so much in the last decade of which we can be proud: taking care of our infrastructure; building parks and Riverwalk; enhancing connectivity and walkability; sticking to our long-term development plan; maintaining a 40 percent commercial tax base; environmental stewardship; making Hillsborough a great place to live, work, and play. I want to continue to have a part in keeping us on a path so Hillsborough is as loved 50 years from now as it is today.”

▪ Cindy Talisman

Age: 56

Address: 2105 Magnolia Lane


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: 2015 Town Commissioner candidate

Relevant Experience: As a woman, mother and entrepreneur with my own business, I am adept at juggling a lot of hats and doing each with the greatest of ease while being successful.

Career: Certified travel counselor for 30-plus years

Why are you seeking election? “I feel that it’s time to break that glass ceiling and vote a woman into the highest position our town has to offer. Making our town more business friendly with less government regulations will lead to the creation of more jobs and bring about more tax revenue, and I also feel it’s time to put all classes of people back into control and not just an elite few.”

Hillsborough Town Commissioners (2 seats)

▪ Kathleen Ferguson (incumbent)

Age: 54

Address: 517 Central Ave.


Elected offices held: Town Commissioner, 2013-present

Relevant experience: Orange County Economic Development Commission and Small Business Loan Board of Directors

Why are you seeking re-election? “I continue to believe that having members from outside the Historic District is important to ensure representation of neighborhood interests. I believe that the board is directionally heading correctly and want to ensure that we have sufficient policies, planning and resources needed for long-term quality of life and sustainability in place as we continue to face the challenges related to affordability and strategic growth management.”

▪ Jennifer (Jenn) Weaver (incumbent)

Age: 43

Address: 323 W. Queen St.


Elected offices held: Town Commissioner, 2013-present

Relevant experience: Various boards; Upper Neuse River Basin Association and water justice researcher with Clean Water for NC

Why are you seeking re-election? “I want to keep working to keep Hillsborough a place where all of our residents from every neighborhood feel at home – whether they’ve been here 80 years or eight days – and work to get more of our residents engaged with our boards and decision-making. I also want to help Hillsborough keep looking toward the future in taking steps to be more sustainable and equitable, while prioritizing affordability and vitality.”

Carrboro Mayor

▪ Michael (Mike) Benson

Age: 50

Address: 504 Davie Road


Elected offices held: None

Relevant experience: Negotiated U.S. trademark and sole U.S. importer (6 years) for Viking Beer (Iceland)

Career: 23-year small business owner, negotiating local licenses, building and operating permits

Why are you seeking election? “I will transition the mayorship into a full-time commitment that is the one key focus for the person holding the job, rather than having a part-time mayor who maintains substantial time commitments to another full-time position. As a full-time mayor, some of the issues I will tackle are how to support existing small businesses that have weathered the active growth of our town, forge new win-win collaborations to address our most challenging issues such as parking, expand profile of festivals and events, support and expand Carrboro’s creative community, and enhance the public profile of Carrboro to make it even more of a destination town.”

▪ Lydia Lavelle (incumbent)

Age: 56

Address: 8107 Kit Lane


Elected offices held: Mayor, 2013-present; Board of Aldermen, 2007-2013

Relevant experience: Various town and regional boards, including Orange County Visitors Bureau Board of Directors

Career: Associate law professor, N.C. Central University

Why are you seeking re-election? “I am seeking re-election as mayor to continue work on several important initiatives we have in progress, such as our project with Orange County at 203 S. Main St., which will include the Southwest Library Branch. I also believe it is important to have local leaders who are informed and able to respond to legislative issues.”

Carrboro Board of Aldermen (4 seats)

▪ Paul Clark

Age: 34

Address: 307 Sunset Creek Circle


Elected boards held: None

Relevant experience: Small business owner, property manager and HOA board

Career: Durham Police corporal, Community Resource Unit

Why are you seeking election? “I love Carrboro, and I want to be an active part of this great town.”

▪ Barbara Foushee

Age: 52

Address: 100 Williams St.


Elected offices held: None

Political experience: OWASA Board of Directors since 2015; Human Services Advisory Board

Relevant experience: Advocacy and service work with several organizations – Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. and the Community Awareness and Political Action Ministry at First Baptist Church – keeps me grounded and connected with community members on the issues

Why are you seeking election? “I am running for the Board of Aldermen because I want to use my knowledge and my community activism experience to continue to promote positive change and growth in Carrboro. I also believe that if you really want to be a part of change, you have to have a seat at the table where the changes are being made.”

▪ Jacquelyn Gist (incumbent)

Age: 62

Address: 233 Sweet Bay Place


Elected offices held: Board of Aldermen, 1989-present

Relevant experience: Founding Board of Orange Community Housing Corp. (now Community Home Trust)

Career: Career counselor, UNC

Why are you seeking re-election? “I have lived in Carrboro since 1976 and have served on the Board of Aldermen since 1989, although many things have changed during that time, the one thing that remains the same is Carrboro’s true sense of community. My love for Carrboro and all that makes our town a home, my pride in helping to lead our town this past spring as we worked together to site the new library, design the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Park and develop a concrete plan to address flooding issues, coupled with my belief in our shared commitment to successfully addressing ongoing complex problems, such as housing affordability and environmental protection, combine to make me excited to announce that I am seeking re-election to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.”

▪ Randee Haven-O’Donnell (incumbent)

Age: 66

Address: 106 Fairfield Court


Elected offices held: Board of Aldermen, 2005-present

Political experience: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and county boards

Relevant experience: Leadership Triangle alumna

Career: Science, certified environmental and diversity educator

Why are you seeking re-election? “I seek re-election to advance programs and projects begun with my colleagues on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. I actively engage and promote participatory government to advocate for Carrboro’s social, economic and environmental well-being.”

▪ Sammy Slade (incumbent)

Age: 42

Address: 105 Dillard St.


Elected offices held: Board of Aldermen, 2009-present

Political experience: Orange Food Council; Orange County Democratic Party; NC WARN

Relevant experience: Community organizer and activist with Carrboro Greenspace

Career: Carpenter

Why are you seeking re-election? “First and foremost to continue to work on assuring that future generations have a livable place to exist and thrive. I want to continue to work on addressing institutional and systemic racism; affordability in housing and healthcare; and transportation, sustainable food and energy. Additionally, one of my biggest priorities is seeing through the climate change plans that Carrboro has developed and adopted for action both internally within the various departments and for the community at large.”

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb