The newest member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen was sworn in Tuesday night at Town Hall, and then she got right down to business.
Carrboro Planning Board Chair Bethany Chaney took her seat next to Mayor Lydia Lavelle – who moved from that seat, back when she was elected Mayor – at Tuesday night’s Aldermen meeting.
The swearing in was performed by Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour, and was preceded by a reception with food, friends, and lots of supporters.
After Baddour made it official, Chaney stepped behind the speakers’ podium and thanked a lot of people – including her new colleagues on the Board of Aldermen.
Chaney won the seat in a three-way race with Talal Asad and Theresa Watson on May 6, and on Tuesday night she credited the Alderpersons for treating all three candidates equally.
She said that helped make the special election a real race.
“Talal and Theresa and I all appreciated your mutual support,” said Chaney, “and the opportunity to meet each other and learn about each other, and compete with each other on the campaign trail.”
When it was time for the Mayor and Alderpersons to speak – including a vacationing Michelle Johnson, who sent a video – there were praises for Chaney’s work with the Planning Board, as well as in the areas of affordable housing and climate change.
“I’m just looking forward to learning from you,” said Alderperson Damon Seils, “because one of the experiences that I’ve had that’s been special to me about getting to know you on the Planning Board, and since that time, is that I do learn from you.
“And I think that’s what a lot of us have the ability to do up here. That’s the best part of this job — I think it’s when we’re able to learn from each other and learn from people in the community about how to do things better.”
Afterward, the Board unanimously appointed Chaney to join Seils as the Board of Aldermen’s second representative to the Transit Partners Committee.
Chaney joins the Board of Aldermen just as they are working on the budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015.
Only four members of the public stepped up to speak about the recommended $29.5 million budget on Tuesday night. Most of them were there to thank the Board for various actions.
Mary Jean Seyda from the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness asked the town of Carrboro to create a dedicated funding source for affordable housing – a request the Partnership is making to all local municipalities.
Alderperson Sammy Slade replied that the Affordable Housing Task Force is currently making that a priority.
Some of the votes Chaney participated in on that first night included the unanimous approval of a walkup ATM at Carrboro Plaza; and the unanimous conditional approval for a text amendment to change the designation from affordable homes in the Legends subdivision, to benefit current owners struggling with HOA dues and other costs. They want to be able to sell the homes at market values.
Chaney also nominated Carrboro community organizer Quinton Harper to a seat on the Board of Directors of Orange Water and Sewer Authority. That also passed by a unanimous vote.