After Filing, Crowded Ballot For OC In 2015 Election

The filing period has wrapped up for candidates running for local office this year, and there are going to be several crowded races this fall.

Three candidates filed to run for office in Orange County before the deadline on Friday. Incumbent Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell filed to run for reelection – and two residents filed to run for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School board, Gregg Gerdau and former Carrboro Alderman Joal Hall Broun.

Both races will be highly contested: there are now nine candidates on the ballot for four open spots on the Town Council, and eight candidates for four spots on the school board.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck and Elizabeth Friend broke down the ballot on the Friday evening news.


Get the full list of candidates here.

Ballots Crowding Up In Chapel Hill, Hillsborough

With one day left in the filing period for local office, three more candidates added their names to the ballot.

There are two new candidates in the race for Chapel Hill Town Council: incumbent Jim Ward and challenger Adam Jones. Jones is a realtor; earlier this year he applied to be appointed to the Council to fill the seat left vacant by Matt Czajkowski when he stepped down to move to Africa. (The Council elected not to fill that seat.)

Ward and Jones are among eight candidates – so far – for four open seats. Incumbent Lee Storrow has also filed to run, as have challengers Michael Parker, Paul Neebe, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson, and David Schwartz. One more incumbent, Donna Bell, has not announced her intentions yet.

There’s also another candidate in the race for Hillsborough Board of Commissioners. Cindy Lee Talisman filed to run on Thursday; on Facebook she said she was running in response to the Board’s decision this week to take down the words “Confederate Memorial” from a public building downtown.

Talisman is the fifth candidate in the race for three open seats. Also on the ballot: incumbents Brian Lowen and Evelyn Lloyd, and challengers Mark Bell and Ashley DeSena.

See the full list of candidates for local office in Orange County.

The filing period ends on Friday at noon.

Races Heat Up For CHCCS, H’boro Town Board

We’re almost through the filing period for local elections – and on Wednesday, four new candidates added their hats to the ring.

Incumbent David Saussy and challenger Pat Heinrich are now officially in the race for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School board. Saussy is running for his first full term; he was appointed to the Board last December to fill the seat left vacant by Mia Burroughs when she got elected to the Board of County Commissioners.

Saussy and Heinrich join incumbent Annetta Streater and challengers Rani Dasi, Theresa Watson, and Margaret Samuels in what is now a six-person race for four open seats on the board. Two other incumbents, Jamezetta Bedford and Mike Kelley, haven’t announced their intentions yet. (Bedford, though, has previously indicated that she was not planning to run again.)

And the race for Hillsborough Board of Commissioners also heated up Wednesday with two more candidates: incumbent commissioner Brian Lowen and challenger Ashley DeSena.

DeSena currently works as operations coordinator for the Pope Center for Higher Education, but she spent nearly five years as program coordinator at the Alliance for Historic Hillsborough from 2010 until this February. She also serves as vice chair of Hillsborough’s Parks and Recreation Board.

Also in the race for Hillsborough town commissioner: incumbent Evelyn Lloyd and challenger Mark Bell.

See the full list of candidates who have filed to date.

The filing period ends on Friday at noon.

Schwartz, Samuels Throw Their Hats In The Ring

There’s another candidate in the race for Chapel Hill Town Council: David Alan Schwartz filed to run for office on Monday.

Schwartz has been recently active with the group Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town, or CHALT. He’s the sixth candidate to file to run for Town Council – joining Michael Parker, Paul Neebe, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson, and incumbent Lee Storrow.

There are four seats up for election on the Council this year – one of which is vacant, following Matt Czajkowski’s departure earlier this year. In addition to Storrow, the other two incumbents are Donna Bell and Jim Ward; they haven’t announced their intentions publicly yet.

Elsewhere, there are now four candidates in the race for a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board.

The terms of Mike Kelley, Jamezetta Bedford, Annetta Streater and David Saussy expire this fall. To date, Streater is the only incumbent who’s filed to run for re-election.

The challengers are Rani Dasi, Theresa Watson, and now Margaret Samuels. Samuels is president of OE Enterprises, which provides job training services for people with disabilities.

Dasi is a business analysis manager at Lord Corporation, as well as a board member for The Walking Classroom.

Theresa Watson has worked for years as a youth mentor. She ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen in May 2014.

See the full list of candidates in Orange County.

The filing period continues through Friday for those seeking office on the Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Hillsborough Town Board and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School Board.

Kleinschmidt Running For Fourth Term As CH Mayor

There will be at least three candidates on the ballot for Chapel Hill Mayor this year: incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt, former Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Gary Kahn, and former Orange County Commissioner and CHCCS Board member Pam Hemminger.

Kleinschmidt is a constitutional attorney; first elected mayor in 2009, he’s running for his fourth two-year term. He says he’s proud of what Chapel Hill has accomplished in the last two years, particularly with regard to inclusivity. But he says there’s still more yet to do, especially around housing – working to ensure that everyone who wants to be in Chapel Hill can find safe, quality, affordable places to live.

Read more about Mark Kleinschmidt on the Town’s website.

Mark Kleinschmidt spoke Thursday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


The filing period for local elections runs through Friday, July 17. Election Day is November 3.

Former OC Commissioner Hemminger Makes Bid For CH Mayor

There will be at least three candidates on the ballot for Chapel Hill Mayor this year: incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt, former Chapel Hill Town Council candidate Gary Kahn, and former Orange County Commissioner and CHCCS Board member Pam Hemminger.

Kahn announced he was running earlier this spring, but Hemminger had not announced her bid publicly before filing to run on Monday. She says she was motivated partly by concerns over the direction of Chapel Hill’s development decisions – and partly by her concern that the town wasn’t doing its part to help the Rogers Road community.

Visit Hemminger’s campaign site.

Pam Hemminger spoke Wednesday with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


The filing period for local elections runs through Friday, July 17. Election Day is November 3.

Carrboro Alderman Chaney Running For Re-Election

It’s official: all three Carrboro Aldermen whose seats are up for election this year will be running for re-election.

Incumbents Damon Seils and Michelle Johnson made their announcements earlier, and on Thursday they were joined by Bethany Chaney. Chaney will be running for her first full term on the board; she won her seat in a special election last year to replace Lydia Lavelle after Lavelle became mayor.

WCHL’s Aaron Keck spoke Friday with Bethany Chaney.

The filing period begins on Monday for candidates running for office and runs until Friday, July 17.

Michelle Johnson Running For Re-Election

Carrboro Alderman Michelle Johnson made it official Tuesday on WCHL, announcing her intention to run for a second term on the Board.

Listen to Johnson’s conversation with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


First elected in 2011, Johnson is a clinical social worker and yoga instructor. Thus far, she says she’s proudest of her work with the Rogers Road Task Force to bring long-awaited remediation to the Rogers Road neighborhood – but she says there’s a lot more to do in the next few years.

“Affordable housing’s going to continue to be an issue,” she says, “(as well as) the ArtsCenter, (the) Arts and Innovation Center, the library and the Cat’s Cradle…

“And then one more issue is the police forums: in response to what’s going on in our country with police and institutional racism and cultural racism, we’re trying to be proactive with our police force and suggesting racial equity training and having some conversations with the community.”

(The next one of those conversations will be a public meeting this Monday, June 29, at 7 pm in Carrboro Town Hall.)

Johnson was elected to the Board in 2011 along with Dan Coleman and Lydia Lavelle. As it happens, she’s the only one of the three who’s still in that position: Coleman moved to Australia in early 2013 and Lavelle was elected mayor later that year. Damon Seils and Bethany Chaney now fill those seats – they won special elections in 2013 and 2014, respectively. (Neither Seils nor Chaney have announced their reelection plans publicly yet.)

Visit Johnson’s campaign page.

The filing period for local offices begins on Monday, July 6 and runs through Friday, July 17.

Czajkowski To Step Down: Will CHTC Appoint A Replacement?

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt has worked alongside Matt Czajkowski for nearly eight years – and squared off against him in a 2009 race for mayor that was one of the closest Chapel Hill had ever seen.

They’ve had disputes – but with Czajkowski about to step down from his Town Council seat at the end of this month, Kleinschmidt says he will be missed.

RELATED: WCHL’s Elizabeth Friend spoke with Czajkowski about his decision to leave the Chapel Hill Town Council to continue non-profit work in Africa:

“One of the things we say after every election is that with any change, even with one member, the Council becomes a different body,” Kleinschmidt says. “(Czajkowski’s departure) is certainly going to change the way our Council functions and operates and the way in which we have conversations and conduct our deliberations…

“I think Matt has added what he’s promised, which is a different view, an alternative view, and (he’s) helped ensure that our Council’s deliberations were enrichened with varying perspectives – and I think we’re going to miss that.”

Now the question becomes: will the remaining members of the Council appoint someone to fill Czajkowski’s seat until the November election? Following the town charter, Mayor Kleinschmidt will officially announce a vacancy on the Council after Czajkowski steps down, and the town will begin accepting applications for an appointment – but what the Council members do with those applications is up to them.

“Because there is no deadline on when such an appointment has to take place, it really depends on what conversations the Council has and how it responds to the applicant pool,” Kleinschmidt says.

Council members have two options for an appointment: they could choose to appoint a new member who would then run for a full term in November – or they could appoint a member who vows to serve only as a placeholder for eight months and not run in the fall.

Mayor Kleinschmidt says there are advantages and disadvantages either way – but any appointee would have to be experienced.

“There are several people out there who are contemplating Council races in the coming year, and we have to be thoughtful about what it means to appoint someone who’s presented themselves as a potential candidate,” he says. “Another way we could go is to perhaps seat someone who’s committed to not running, someone who’s a placeholder – and I think if we were to go in that direction, we would want someone who could come in and very quickly fill an important role that would involve finalizing our budget for the coming year as well as contributing to the Obey Creek development agreement process.

“Those are very complicated and difficult issues, and if we appoint somebody, they’re going to have to deal with those things immediately.”

There is also a third option: Council members could simply choose not to appoint a new member and leave the seat vacant until the fall.

Kleinschmidt, for his part, says he’s not sold on that option yet. “That would leave the Council with only eight members, and I’m somebody who thinks there’s a purpose behind the fact that the Council is made up of eight members and the mayor,” he says. “It’s been about 40 years since the town made that decision, and I think there’s value in maintaining a full set of officials to help make decisions. In that way, I think we can ensure that a diversity of views is being brought to the table during our deliberations.”

Regardless, the discussion about whether to appoint or not to appoint will not officially begin until after Czajkowski steps down at the end of March. And his term expires in November – so one way or the other, voters will elect a new council member to serve a full term in that seat by the end of the year.

Dems Gain In NCGA, But GOP Keeps Supermajority

As expected, the Democratic Party gained some seats in the North Carolina General Assembly in Tuesday’s election – but not enough to overcome the GOP’s veto-proof majority in either house.

It was a foregone conclusion that Republicans would retain their majorities in the State House and Senate; the GOP entered Tuesday’s election with a 77-43 advantage in the House and a 33-17 edge in the Senate, and very few of those 170 total districts were competitive in this cycle. (Many candidates ran unopposed.) But Democrats were hoping to gain enough seats to end the Republican veto-proof “supermajority”: as long as the GOP holds more than 60 percent of the seats in both houses, a united party can override any gubernatorial veto.

According to the State Board of Elections, Democrats did pick up three net seats in the House to cut the GOP’s advantage to 74-46 – but they needed at least three more gains to overcome the supermajority. In the Senate, Democrats actually dropped one seat, giving Republicans a 34-16 edge.