Carrboro Board of Aldermen: Incumbents coast; Lavelle next mayor

November 8, 2013 

  • Results Top three finishers will fill Board of Aldermen seats. Board of Aldermen

    Jacquelyn Gist (i) →  28.54%

    Randee Haven-O’Donnell (i) →  26.66%

    Sammy Slade (i) →  25.92%

    Kurt Stolka →  11.07%

    Al Vickers →  6.99%

    Mayor

    Lydia Lavelle→  96.16%

    (8 of 8 precincts reporting)

— The three incumbents on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen easily won re-election Tuesday.

Jacquelyn Gist, 58, won her seventh term on the board with 1,657 votes.

She was followed by Randee Haven-O’Donnell, 62, who was first elected to the board in 2005. She received 1,548 votes.

Sammy Slade, 39, was elected to serve his second term with 1,505 votes.

Challengers Kurt Stolka, 32, and Al Vickers, 68, received 643 votes 406 votes respectively.

There were 47 write-in votes among 5,806 votes cast.

Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle, who ran unopposed, was elected mayor of Carrboro after the current mayor, Mark Chilton, decided not to run again. She received 1,830 votes out of the 1,903 votes cast. Seventy-three people wrote other names on the ballot for mayor.

In the board elections, Gist said she was gratified to be re-elected because five good candidates ran for the three open seats.

“I was surprised how the other two did, the nonincumbents,” she said. “I was surprised that they didn’t come closer. Kurt ran a really good campaign.”

Gist said she’s excited about the membership of the board and the new mayor.

“Lydia is going to be a great mayor,” Gist said. “She is an even and fair person. Mark has been mentoring her for the last couple of months.”

Lavelle lives in the northern part of Carrboro and is the first mayor from that part of town, Gist said.

“It’s really nice to have a mayor from one of the northern neighborhoods,” she said. “That’s important so that people feel the whole town is … equally represented.”

The election showed the incumbents were on the right track, Slade said.

“We had some strong candidates, and I’m glad that we have been tested as incumbents from having been challenged by two people, and we did pretty well in relation to them,” he said.

“People recognized the good work that we’re doing,” Slade added.

Haven-O’Donnell believes the election showed that the voters like the direction the board is taking.

“I feel like with the incumbents getting in is a commentary that folks are feeling confident about their local government and having a sense of trust, and they feel like they have a responsive set of alderfolks,” she said.

When she was campaigning and going door to door, many voters who live outside of the 2-mile perimeter of the central business district told her they’re excited about the plans for downtown Carrboro and the possibility of having a library there.

“One of the things about this election through the process of campaigning, (I learned) we really need to knit together downtown Carrboro with folks beyond the 2-mile perimeter,” she said.

“They really want to be involved, and we really want them to feel like they’re involved, too, so that’s what we’re going to do,” she said.

Vickers said he was not surprised by the election results but thought it was a valuable learning experience.

With the election of Lavelle to be mayor of Carrboro, that means her seat on the board will be vacant. The aldermen are trying to decide how they will fill that seat, whether by election or by appointment.

Since there is a countywide primary in May, Carrboro could hold an election for the seat at the same time and not incur an additional expense, Gist said.

Carrboro has gone back and forth on whether to appoint someone to fill a vacant seat or hold an election. Previously, people have complained when the board appointed someone to fill a vacant seat, so the aldermen decided to hold elections for vacated seats.

But that turned out to be a costly decision recently when Aldermen Dan Coleman resigned to move to Australia. The special election for a new alderman cost the town about $11,000.

Since then the aldermen have been trying to decide whether to change the law and go back to the appointment process or to stick with elections.

Gist said she thinks the seat could be filled by election since it could be held as the same time as the primary and wouldn’t cost the town any extra money.

Slade said he wants to think about whether an election would be the best way to fill the vacancy. If the primary ballot features an exciting Republican race and brings out a large number of Republicans to vote in one of the partisan contests, that could change the outcome of the race Carrboro’s nonpartisan vacant seat, he said.

Vickers said he has not made up his mind whether he would want to try to obtain that seat.

Stolka could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Velliquette: bavelliquette@gmail.com

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