Orange County

Longtime Orange County commissioner Barry Jacobs pulls out of race. Who’s jumping in?

Sally Greene and Brian Crawford have filed for the at-large race to serve on the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
Sally Greene and Brian Crawford have filed for the at-large race to serve on the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Submitted

Longtime Orange County commissioner Barry Jacobs has withdrawn from the upcoming election.

The Orange County Board of Elections website showed that Jacobs, who had filed earlier this month for re-election, withdrew his name from the county’s Board of Commissioners race Friday. Jacobs, whose term expires in 2018, is an at-large member of the board and has been a commissioner since 1998.

He previously served on the Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors and also is an author, who has contributed regular sports columns to the News & Observer, The Herald-Sun and other McClatchy-owned and national newspapers.

Barry Jacobs

Jacobs said Saturday in a letter to the editor that he “had every intention of standing for re-election.”

“After 31 years of public service on the board of commissioners plus the county planning board and OWASA, my gut tells me I’ve had enough,” he said. “We have a strong group of incumbent commissioners and a superior managerial staff, so I know we’ll remain in good hands after my departure.”

The decision means voters will send at least two new commissioners to the board next year. Besides Jacobs, Commissioner Mia Burroughs will leave the board this year. Former Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board member Jamezetta Bedford is the lone candidate for her District 1 seat.

However, two-term Commissioner Earl McKee is seeking re-election and faces a challenge from Tommy McNeill, a Durham city resident who lives in Orange County, for the District 2 seat.

Jacobs, in his letter, gave his support to Sally Greene, a three-term Chapel Hill Town Council member who filed Friday for the at-large race.

Greene, 62, is an associate and research attorney at BalBrenner, who helped create the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness and negotiate Chapel Hill’s 140 West Franklin downtown revitalization project.

Those and other council experiences can be applied at the county level, she said.

“My focus on the council was on human services issues, including homelessness, access to housing, the rights of the formerly incarcerated, the need for effective mental health interventions, and food access and security,” Greene said. “My work supporting the arts community has involved engaging with the county to support the hundreds of artists whose work contributes to the vibrancy of Orange County.”

She is running against Hillsborough attorney Brian Crawford, 54, who spent 12 years in private practice focused on commercial real estate and community development before being named a partner at Sanford Holshouser LLP.

Crawford also has served as a member, vice chairman and chairman of the Orange County Planning Board, founding chairman of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board and as a former senior vice president and general counsel with the N.C. Community Development Initiative. He currently is the managing director of Durham’s Carter Community Charter School.

Crawford said he wants to be an active voice for all Orange County residents.

“It’s been weighing on my heart to stop posting and act,” he said. “Politics are local and in Orange County the schools, affordable housing for all and transportation is lacking. I do not think our current leaders are listening to the constituents to find solutions that work for all.”

The filing period for this year’s local, state and national races ends at noon Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews