By Pam Hemminger
Note: The Local Reporter has invited all candidates for local office in the upcoming Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district elections to submit up to two guest columns.
Dear Chapel Hill Community,
Being an effective mayor means having clear goals and building the partnerships you need to achieve them and help the community succeed. This requires working collaboratively and effectively with others – including your colleagues, other elected officials, staff members, local nonprofits and members of the community.
Over the past 32 years, I have served Chapel Hill and Orange County as a leader in a wide variety of capacities, including as chair of the CHCCS School Board, a member of the Orange County Commissioners, chair of the Sierra Club, vice-chair of Triangle Land Conservancy and a member of the Habitat for Humanity and Rainbow Soccer boards.
Through this work, I have established a solid understanding of how our local, regional and state governments, business community and not-for-profit partners can work together effectively. As your mayor, I have leveraged that knowledge and my financial expertise to move our entire community forward — socially, economically and environmentally. I’m pleased to share some of these successes:
- Chapel Hill is in healthy financial shape.
I’ve delivered on one of my top priorities as mayor, bringing more private-sector jobs and commercial space to town. This will help improve affordability for everyone by easing the tax burden on residential property owners.
- We are injecting new energy into downtown.
When I took office downtown was suffering from a ten-year drought in investment. We’re now taking strategic steps to bring in new businesses and new energy. This work is supported by the unprecedented Downtown Together partnership convened with UNC. We are creating an innovation hub, adding more green space and more family-friendly things to do. New year-round visitors and workers will add millions of dollars to our downtown economy and help our small local businesses thrive.
- The town is facing climate change head-on.
For more than 30 years, I have been actively working to protect the environment at the local, regional, state and federal level. I am proud to have begun the process for adopting the town’s first Climate Action Plan and am committed to helping us take bold steps – like creating a community solar farm – to accelerate our progress.
- We’re working on keeping and expanding the green spaces we love. Since taking office, I’ve championed the purchase of the American Legion property for future parkland, started a tree-planting program (more than 400 trees in the first year), and convened a work group to plan for making our stormwater solutions greener and preserving our bottomland forests.
- We have made progress on affordable housing and are focused on getting the middle-income housing we need.
One of my early initiatives was to put an affordable housing plan in place, setting solid goals for progress. As a result, we are on track to create more affordable housing than ever before. Working with UNC, I commissioned a housing study that shows we also need to be creating more “middle housing” – including townhomes, duplexes and condos – so that people who work here can live here and people can stay in our community as they age. We’re now on the path to make these goals a reality.
- Chapel Hill is working to be a more equitable, inclusive and just community for everyone.
One of the reasons I ran for mayor in 2015 was my frustration that the town’s promises to the Rogers Road community had not been fulfilled. Soon after taking office, I made sure we completed the water/sewer project that had been so long deferred. I also convened a Historic Civil Rights Task Force to honor the Chapel Hill Nine and others and tell the full history of our town.
In recognition of my effective leadership on issues like these and the progress we are making, I am honored to have the endorsement of seven organizations, five former mayors, five sitting council members and many other community leaders for my reelection.
Here is what some of them have to say:
- “With her leadership, we’re poised to do great new things in Chapel Hill.”
Howard Lee, Former Chapel Hill Mayor
- “Pam has done an outstanding job in what has been perhaps the most challenging time for our town in recent memory.”
Ken Broun, Former Chapel Hill Mayor
- “Pam Hemminger has facilitated an open and deliberate approach toward inclusiveness.”
Danita Mason-Hogans, Community Leader
- “Her proactive consensus building across political fault lines is essential if the town is serious about achieving its goals.”
Scott Maitland, Downtown Business Owner
- “Pam is the person we need at the helm of the township of Chapel Hill.”
Reverend Robert Campbell, RENA
Of course, the most important endorsements are the ones that come from Chapel Hill residents at the polls. With your vote, we can keep this momentum going! I thank you for your support in the past and look forward to all the great things we will achieve together in the future. – Mayor Pam
Pam Hemminger is mayor of Chapel Hill and a candidate for reelection as mayor.