CHAPEL HILL – We might have a shake-up coming in the Chapel Hill mayoral and Town Council races due to a last minute write-in campaign sparked by the Central West planning process controversy.
Many residents in the area identified as Central West were angered by plans proposed for future development near of the intersection of Estes Dr. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
That frustration has led to a write-in campaign supporting Tom Henkel for mayor, challenging incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt, who is running unopposed.
“I didn’t seek some people to vote for me until they said they [would], and I am fine with it,” said Henkel, who lives off Mt. Bolus Dr.
Henkel, a solar energy consultant who owns his business, Henkel Solar, Inc., said if he were elected, he would work to reinvigorate the Town’s interest in reducing its carbon footprint.
Henkel’s neighbor, Will Raymond, has also gained the support as a write-in candidate for Town Council.
Raymond, a software developer, is a three-time council candidate and a member of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors.
He was one of the residents opposed to the work of the Central West committee and subsequently circulated a lower-density citizen’s plan.
“It is quite clear that most of the candidates this year are cut from the same cloth as the current council,” Raymond said. “There is a lot of frustration because a lot of the council members have forgotten their place is really to serve us, and it really is not our job to serve them. It has been very disappointing to see with Central West how citizens have been routinely cut out of the process.”
There are nine declared candidates for four open Town Council seats. The incumbents include Council members Sally Greene and Ed Harrison, and challengers George Cianciolo, Loren Hintz, Gary Kahn, Paul Neebe, Maria Palmer, Amy Ryan and D.C. Swinton.
Raymond encouraged residents to write-in for Henkel and to also write-in the name of any person for the Council seat who would listen to residents’ concerns about planning for the future of the Town.
“I’d be honored to serve. I feel like I’d be prepared to serve,” Raymond said. “I do encourage folks to write-in. If they are predisposed, they know who I am, and they know what I am up to. If they know somebody in their neighborhood who has been active on Obey Creek, Ephesus Church or Central West, and they feel like they could do a better job in listening to the citizens, then I suggest they write them in, too.”
Stay tuned to WCHL as we host our Election Night special beginning at 7:00 immediately following the Tuesday Evening News, as we track the polls and bring you all the latest as results roll in.