10 Candidates File As 2013 Election Season Gears Up

By Elizabeth Friend Posted July 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm

HILLSBOROUGH- The filing period for the 2013 municipal elections opened at noon on Friday, but already some familiar faces have come forward to run for office.

Mark Kleinschmidt is seeking his third term as mayor of Chapel Hill. He says he’s seen the town change for the better since the economic crisis of 2008.

“I think during the last few years we were able to come through those times successfully with minimal disruption to services,” says Kleinschmidt. “We’ve come out on the other side now with a much more healthy fiscal perspective and a much more clearly defined set of goals and ambitions for our community.”

Now that the first phase of the town’s new comprehensive plan is complete, Kleinschmidt hopes to focus on the implementation of the community’s vision as detailed in the Chapel Hill 2020 process.

“Its time to now focus in on the needs of smaller segments of our community and what they’re going to be moving forward,” says Kleinschmidt. “Not every block or street in Chapel Hill will require the same kind of treatment.”

Town Council member Sally Greene has also filed to run for re-election. Greene served two terms as a council member before stepping away from public office for a year. In January she returned to the council when she was appointed to fill Penny Rich’s vacant seat.

Educator Maria Palmer and Southern Village resident Gary Kahn also applied for that vacancy. They’re each making another bid for office by putting their names in the hat to run for a council seat.

Kahn says he’s concerned about a number of pending development plans, as well as the town’s budget crunch.

“Basically I think the issues are affordable housing, development, where our budget is going to go in terms of taxes and things,” says Kahn. “I think those are the major concerns right now.”

In Carrboro, Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle has filed to run for mayor. She made her plans known after current mayor Mark Chilton announced he would not be seeking another term.

Lavelle says Carrboro faces the challenge of integrating new development into an already busy downtown.

“Development is always a challenge,” says Lavelle. “It’s a good thing, but it always brings with it accompanying concerns like traffic and parking and the pros and cons of commercial versus residential versus mixed use.”

Looking ahead, Lavelle wants to focus on the question of how to provide affordable housing. A recently convened taskforce has developed a series of recommendations for the board to consider in the future.

“We’re looking at ways to examine our land use ordinance in a way we’re not thinking about that may be able to help up increase our housing stock,” says Lavelle. “Beyond what we do with the Community Home Trust, which is wonderful, maybe looking at other ways we can increase our housing stock.”

Alderwomen Randee Haven-O’Donnell and Jacquelyn Gist also signed on to run for re-election. Haven-O’Donnell was first elected in 2005, while Gist has served on the board since 1989.

James Barrett is the first Chapel Hill-Carrboro City school board member to file to run. He was elected to a two-year term in 2011.

Barrett says he’s excited about helping Superintendent Tom Forcella implement his plan for improving the school system.

“It touches on a lot of areas that I think we need to do a better job at; great instruction in every single classroom, better use of technology, better use of data in looking at student growth in particular,” says Barrett. “These are all things that I want to see through to being implemented very well.”

In Hillsborough, Tom Stevens has filed to run for his fifth term as mayor, while newcomer Jenn Weaver is the first to file for a seat on the town board.

The filing period runs through July 19, and many more candidates are expected to enter the race. With a slew of incumbents in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and on the school board who have announced they will not seek re-election, there will be new faces on each board come November.

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