15 Apply For Vacant CHCCS Board Seat

Fifteen applicants have put their names forward to fill the vacant seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.

School board member Mia Burroughs is making the move to the Orange County Board of Commissioners after easily winning the race to represent District 1. The school board will appoint a replacement on December 4 to serve until the 2015 election.

Among the fifteen applicants, two have sought public office in the past.

Ignacio Tzoumas ran for a seat on the school board last year, finishing fourth with 14 percent of the votes cast.

Theresa Watson ran for a seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen in the special election held last May. She came in second with 27 percent of the vote.

All applicants will answer board questions at an interview session Monday night scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Center on South Merritt Mill Road. The session is open to the public.

Here’s the full list of applicants the board will interview:
Anne DiBella
Desiree Cho
Gary Winzelberg
Greg Dye
Ignacio Tzoumas
Jennifer Clark
Jennifer Marsh
Joanna Cleveland
Katherine Worley
Kulwadee Yung
Mary Ann Wolf
Mary Litsilas
Rani Dais
Theresa Watson
David Saussy


Burroughs’ BoCC Win Leaves Vacant Seat On CHCCS School Board

Now that Mia Burroughs is making the move from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board to Orange County Board of Commissioners, fellow school board members will be looking to fill her vacant seat.

Burroughs won Tuesday’s District 1 race for a seat representing Chapel Hill and Carrboro. She’ll take her new oath of office in December.

At Thursday’s school board meeting, Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board members will discuss and approve the process for naming a replacement. The vacant seat will be filled by board appointment on December 4. The new member will serve until the next election in 2015.

The board will also receive the 2014 Opening of School Report, an extensive overview of what the school district looks like this year. Board members and administrators will discuss staffing, new hires, teacher turnover and school capacity.

The school board meets at 7 o’clock at Chapel Hill Town Hall. You can read the full agenda here.


Aldermen Opt For Special Election to Fill Vacancy

CARRBORO- By a 4-2 vote, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Tuesday opted to hold a special election to fill the seat left vacant when Lydia Lavelle stepped up to serve as mayor earlier this month.

“It is the principle of democracy,” said Alderman Jacquie Gist. “But it’s also getting out there and figuring out what’s going on. We all learn so much when we are out campaigning. Even though [the board] could do a perfectly great job of it, I’d rather turn it over to the electorate.”

The election will be held concurrent with the May 6 primary next year. The cost to the town will be $1,500. That’s a far cry from the town’s first special election held last March, which cost the town $11,000. In that election, Damon Seils ran unopposed and won with 232 votes.

He urged the board to consider the appointment process instead.

“Having a special election for what will effectively be an eighteen-month term, out of a four-year term, just seems like overdoing it a little bit,” said Seils.

Michelle Johnson also supported the idea of a board appointment. She argued changing the process each time creates uncertainty for the public.

“I think it is important to have a clear process and not change it based on whatever we want to do at a given time,” said Johnson.

Most municipalities in the state fill vacancies through appointment, but in 2006 Carrboro leaders requested the General Assembly grant the board the power to call a special election. This came after a contentious appointment process that lasted six weeks, resulting in the appointment of Dan Coleman.

However, following March’s special election, Aldermen reversed course and asked that the board’s power to appoint be reinstated.

During Tuesday’s discussion, several board members seemed split on the question of which to choose. Though Randee Haven-O’Donnell said she initially supported an appointment, she worried the process could prove divisive.

“I have said in the past I support appointment, but I would not want this decision to erode the trust that we have between us on this board,” said Haven-O’Donnell.

In the end, Haven-O’Donnell, Lavelle, Gist and Sammy Slade voted in favor of a May election, while Seils and Johnson were opposed.


Carrboro Aldermen To Pick Election or Appointment December 10

CARRBORO- Carrboro Aldermen voted unanimously on Tuesday to schedule a special session December 10 for the purpose of deciding how to fill the upcoming vacancy on the board.

When Lydia Lavelle is sworn in as mayor on December 3, she’ll leave an empty seat on the board. The Aldermen must choose to fill the vacancy by appointment or at a special election held during the May primary.

Although they also have the option to hold a separate town-wide special election before May, board members last week ruled that out as too expensive.

Carrboro’s special election this past March to fill Dan Coleman’s seat cost the Town approximately $18,000. Damon Seils was the sole candidate; he won with 232 votes.

Prior to that, the last vacancy filled on the board was that of Mark Chilton, who, like Lavelle, left a seat open when he was elected Mayor of Carrboro in 2005.

According to the town’s charter, the board must launch the replacement process at the first meeting after a seat becomes vacant.


Carrboro Special Election Set For March 19

CARRBORO- Holding a special election to fill the seat left vacant by the resignation ofAlderman Dan Coleman could cost the Town of Carrboro up to $18,000.

“It’s worth it, but just barely,” said Mayor Mark Chilton.

By a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the board of aldermen agreed to host the election on March 19, and open the candidate filing period for two weeks from February 1 though February 15. In an effort to keep costs down, early voting will only be available at the Board of Elections in Hillsborough.

The board does not have the option of appointing a new member, due to changes in the town charter put in place after the board’s last appointment, which happened to be that of Dan Coleman, in 2006.

That process proved so controversial that leaders were prompted to change the town charter to remove the option of board appointments. Alderwoman Jacquie Gist recalled serving on the board at the time.

“Our last appointment was really so contentious that it took a while for the community to heal afterward, and out of that came the commitment from this board that voters should decide who’s representing them,” said Gist.

Now vacancies must be filled by election, either during the general election in November, or during a special election held in the spring.

But Chilton said, seven years later, the decision to remove the appointment option seems shortsighted.

“I’m beginning to think it may be one of the silliest decisions I ever made, but it is the decision I made,” said Chilton. “I think we need to move forward with it.”

This will be Carrboro’s first special election under the new rules, but it might also be its last. Even as they agreed to set a date, board members called to reevaluate the appointment process.

“Now that a vacancy has actually arisen, I think a lot of us are wondering whether it is really worth spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on filling a seat through democracy, or whether it’s better to make a short term appointment and then let the regular election process fill it for the future,” said Chilton.

The board could ask the General Assembly to amend the town charter again to reinstate the appointment option, but board members agreed they would carry through with the special election before launching that process.

Whoever is elected to the seat will serve the remainder of Coleman’s term, which ends in 2015. So far, only Carrboro Planning Board Chair Damon Seils has announced he plans to run.