CHAPEL HILL-The Chapel Hill Town Council welcomed new and returning members on Monday, as well as honoring those who chose to step aside.

“I have never been more excited to be a part of this council,” said Mark Kleinschmidt, who was sworn in for his third term as Chapel Hill’s mayor. “After 12 years of service, I have never been so excited about tomorrow in Chapel Hill than I am today.”

Kleinschmidt took the oath of office along with returning council members Sally Greene and Ed Harrison, and newcomers Maria Palmer and George Cianciolo.

The newly-seated council voted unanimously to name Greene as Mayor Pro tem, and then took a moment to thank outgoing members Laurin Easthom and Gene Pease for their service to the town.

Easthom, who served on the council for eight years, recalled occasions when she cast the lone vote in opposition to the majority of the council.

“Differing opinions are not always attempts at political grandstanding,” said Easthom. “Differing opinions are not always trying to show someone else up, or trying to be better than the other person, or showing who is right in a competitive sense. Differing opinions are the beauty of what we do in Chapel Hill. We listen, we educate ourselves, we engage and we decide.”

Pease said he too has stood in the minority, and he thanked his peers for their thoughtful deliberations during his term in office.

“I want to thank all the council members for the last four years,” said Pease. “In many cases we didn’t agree on certain issues, but I thought we always had a fair and balanced- and to some degree unemotional- conversation. I think that’s all we can ask between different opinions.”

Looking ahead, Kleinschmidt acknowledged the council will face tough decisions in the future, but he urged the council and public to maintain civility in the face of opposing views.

“We need to be respectful with each other,” said Kleinschmidt. “We need to be civil. We need to understand that when we disagree it doesn’t mean we have stopped liking each other. It doesn’t mean we dismiss each others value. We’re all in this together.”

The council is on hiatus for the rest of the year. Regular meetings will resume in January.