Chapel Hill has a new mayor, as Pam Hemminger was sworn in at a Chapel Hill Town Council meeting Wednesday evening, officially taking over for Mark Kleinschmidt.
Michael Parker, Nancy Oates, Jessica Anderson and Donna Bell were also sworn in.
“We’re a new mix of people who have been here a while and people who are new,” Hemminger said. “That brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and some fresh ideas to mix in so we can find those creative solutions.”
During the election in November, Bell retained her seat on the council, while Parker, Oates and Anderson replaced Jim Ward, Lee Storrow and the seat which was vacated by Matt Czajkowski.
Ward, who had served on the council since 1999, was emotional while addressing the crowd.
“Before getting here I Googled how do you keep from getting too emotional when speaking,” Ward said. “You can’t see some of the things I’m doing, but you’ll at least know whether they worked or not.”
He said he was honored to serve Chapel Hill and said he was proud to enact policies that fought for social justice. He noted the renaming of Airport Road to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard as one of the things he was proud of.
Kleinschmidt was elected to the council in 2001 and has served as mayor since 2009.
“Maybe I’m just a little too sensitive,” he said. “But then it made me think about how unfortunate it would be to actually stare at life coldly and unemotionally. So I’m proud I’m a sensitive guy and the time I had today and the last 14 years to spend with this extraordinary staff is very important to me and something I’ll carry forever.”
After their addresses were over and the new members were sworn in, Hemminger and the rest of the council honored Kleinschmidt, Storrow and Ward for their service.
Donna Bell was named mayor pro tempore.