Chapel Hill Town Council Should Respect Decision of Voters


Guest Column by C. Dianne Martin

The Chapel Hill Town Council announced that Rachel Schaevitz, a town council member, and her family are moving away from Chapel Hill in February. This will leave her position on the council vacant.

According to current procedures, the mayor and the seated members of the council will appoint someone to fulfill the remainder of Schaevitz’s term, which runs through 2021. They are expected to select a replacement from a group of applicants for the position.

In November, the council race was extremely tight – and Chapel Hill voters have already decided who the new council member should be.

The vote-count difference between the fourth, fifth and sixth candidates was:

  • Tai Huynh 3,946 (13.23%)
  • Nancy Oates 3,922 (13.15%)
  • Sue Hunter 3,909 (13.10%)

Huyhn won the final seat on the town council.

Given the razor-thin difference, the appropriate appointment to fill the vacancy should be either the fifth- or sixth-place candidate, in that order, depending on whether Oates or Hunter are still interested in serving.

Both candidates went through the public-vetting process and the rigors of an election. They went door-to-door to meet residents, appeared at public forums to present their views and received endorsements from important individuals and community groups in Chapel Hill.

If the mayor and the town council ignore the voters in selecting a new member, it would demonstrate a lack transparency and a disdain for public input.

Chapel Hill voters should speak up now by writing to the mayor and the council members to strongly urge them to respect the voting-public’s decision when filling the vacancy.

Here are their email addresses:

Pam Hemminger, mayor:
Michael Parker, mayor pro tem:
Jessica Anderson:
Allen Buansi:
Hongbin Gu:
Tai Huynh:
Amy Ryan:
Karen Stegman:

Dianne Martin is an adjunct faculty member at UNC-Chapel Hill

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5 Comments on "Chapel Hill Town Council Should Respect Decision of Voters"

  1. Nancy S. Preston | February 4, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Reply

    I agree that the Council should fill the vacant position on the board from those who ran in the the recent election selecting the first person in the list – I;e; fifth, sixth, etc. – that is still interested in serving.

  2. A wise and sensible course of action. And these days anything that reminds us of the importance of democratic values is pretty important.

  3. Where there was the recount-eligible and recount-invoked razor thin margin, I completely agree.

  4. Linda k Textoris | February 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm | Reply

    I think the council should place the
    ‘next in line” candidate to fill the vacated position. The people have spoken.

  5. I very strongly agree that the vacancy should be filled based on the results of the last election which was recounted.

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