CARRBORO – With the deadline to file for municipal elections ending at the end of this week, one new candidate has filed for Hillsborough’s board of commissioners while two incumbent members of the Carrboro board of aldermen have filed to run for their seats again.
In Hillsborough, Kathleen Ferguson filed on Monday to run for one of the town’s two available seats on the board of commissioners.
In Carrboro, Randee Haven-O’Donnell and Jacquelyn Gist are both running for their seats on the board again. There are three seats available and the other incumbent board member, Sammy Slade, has also filed for reelection.
Gist, the longest serving member of the board, says she’s worked to promote local business in her last term, initiating the purchase of the now-public parking lot on Greensboro St.
“Normally, you wouldn’t consider a parking lot to be a huge accomplishment, but the minute that we opened it, it pretty much filled and the downtown businesses were delighted,” Gist says.
Haven-O’Donnell says she worked on a number of issues during her time as an alderwoman, from working on better conditions for day laborers to economic development across the town.
“There’s a few overarching areas with county work that I’ve done in addition to here in the town of Carrboro,” Haven-O’Donnell says.
Gist says she is particularly excited to run for reelection now because she feels Carrboro is on the cusp of an economic transition where the town’s creative reputation will give way to more investment by businesses.
“We’re now beginning to attract organizations that are based on having very creative, very involved employees and people who are excited about living in a community that meets their lifestyle needs,” Gist says.
But, to Gist, just attracting business with local spirit will not be a simple task.
“Our challenge is to make that happen in a way that keeps Carrboro what we all love about it, while at the same time, growing so that we’re bringing in organizations and employers who are not just storefronts, although the storefronts are important,” Gist says.
Haven-O’Donnell says she wants to see Carrboro’s residential and commercial tax ratio balanced to preserve that same Carrboro spirit.
“One of the wonderful things about living in Carrboro is the way Carrboro feels,” Haven-O’Donnell says. “Everybody really likes the way she feels and the sense of place that we have here and keeping that affordable is a great challenge.”
She says she sees economic expansion in Carrboro’s future as well. And, she says that Carrboro used to be a very service-oriented town, and that could come back to the community.
“One of the things that we’re looking to do now is fuse not only the arts and entertainment and innovation side of Carrboro, but also relaunch the side of Carrboro that provides services,” Haven-O’Donnell says.
Ferguson, former chair of the Orange County economic development advisory board, started off her work in Hillsborough by working to form a community watch group in the town and joining the Interstate 70 task force.
“All along, it’s just fueled my interest to continue contributing,” Ferguson says.
Ferguson says she believes Hillsborough has been going in the right direction over the past years, but there are still some changes she wishes to see in the town.
“We don’t have private sector jobs available here for many of us and I’d like to see that change,” Ferguson says.
Hillsborough is in a fluctuating period, according to Ferguson, where developments are starting to come back to the town while the state legislature is unsupportive on budgetary issues.
“There’s not an unlimited supply of budget,” Ferguson says. “How do we apply those resources smartly and how do we collaborate so that we don’t function as an island of one?”
Election Day for all the positions is November 5. The filing period ends Friday at noon.