Orange County

Carrboro Mayor Lavelle wins re-election; Foushee will join 3 incumbent aldermen

Challenger Barbara Foushee and Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade
Challenger Barbara Foushee and Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade Staff photo

Incumbent Mayor Lydia Lavelle easily won re-election Tuesday night, along with three Board of Aldermen incumbents and newcomer Barbara Foushee.

Lavelle garnered 3,196 votes to 421 votes for her opponent, former Southern Rail owner Mike Benson, with all eight Carrboro precincts reporting. Over 4,400 people voted during the early voting period in Orange County.

“You never want to take anything for granted, and when I knew I had an opponent, I wanted to be sure I ran a solid campaign,” Lavelle said. “I feel like we did that, and I feel like the voters of our community are happy with what we’ve been doing with the Board of Aldermen.”

Lydia Lavelle
Lydia Lavelle Alicia Stemper Contributed

In the town’s Board of Aldermen race, challenger Barbara Foushee led the way with 3,267 votes, followed by incumbents Jacquelyn Gist, Randee Haven-O’Donnell and Sammy Slade. Challenger Paul Clark, a Durham Police Department corporal, trailed the group throughout the night.

Slade, as the fourth-highest vote-getter, will complete former Alderwoman Michelle Johnson’s term in office. Johnson resigned earlier this year to move out of state; her term expires in 2019.

Foushee will join the board in December. She has been active in the Carrboro community for many years, serving, among other roles, on the Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors and the town’s Human Services Advisory Commission.

While getting some sleep is high on her priority list right now, Foushee said, as she left Hickory Tavern for another campaign party, she also wants to continue to engage with the people who elected her.

“I’m still trying to take it all in,” she said. “Our campaign did a lot of work. We were high visibility from the beginning, we did a lot of canvassing, making voter contact, which I think was key. ... and being at the polls during early voting.”

Gist and the other incumbents – Haven-O’Donnell, an educator elected in 2005, and Slade, a carpenter elected in 2009 – also ran on a platform of social justice, affordability and preserving what makes Carrboro unique.

Gist is the longest-serving board member, having been first elected in 1989. The UNC career counselor has lived in Carrboro since 1976 and said her goal is to bring people together to collaborate on solutions that build a sense of community.

Lavelle, a two-term mayor and former alderman, agreed the town’s biggest struggle is remaining affordable, which means supporting local business and bringing more visitors and residents downtown.

She and the aldermen will wrestle with the pressures to grow Carrboro, while keeping its residential and commercial spaces affordable.

Lavelle said she’s “really excited” to continue working on several ongoing projects, including a new Southern Branch Library planned for a town parking lot at 203 S. Greensboro St. The aldermen also are awaiting another development proposal for the Lloyd Farm property on N.C. 54, working with local partners to plan the county’s solid waste future, and drafting a plan for affordable commercial space on town land off Old N.C. 86, she said.


Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb

Carrboro races


Lydia Lavelle* ... 87.80%

Mike Benson ... 11.57%

Board of Aldermen (4 seats)

Paul Clark ... 7.16%

Barbara Foushee ... 25.33%

Jacquelyn Gist* ... 23.21%

Randee Haven-O’Donnell* ... 22.50%

**Sammy Slade* ... 21.395%

* incumbent

** Will serve vacant two-year term

8 of 8 precincts reporting