Candidates for Town Council

Tonight the ten applicants for the vacant seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council will have the opportunity to make their case to the 8 voters they need to convince: the rest of the Council.

Thanks to Jason Baker for compiling this list of PDFs of their applications:

  1. William R. Abb
  2. Amy Chute
  3. J. M. Green, Ph.D.
  4. Loren Hintz 
  5. James Merritt
  6. Gene Pease
  7. Will Raymond
  8. Willard Blaine Rogers
  9. Donald Shaw 
  10. Andre’ J. Wesson

The meeting is just getting started and I'll post the comments as they go. Each candidate gets 10 minutes to make a presentation, then the Council will discuss and ask questions. Mayor Foy says the Council will be voting next Monday, so we have one week to lobby for our favorites.



Says she worked with Council Member Thorpe. "Bill was good at his job because:

  • he cared;
  • he was networked beyond belief; and
  • he believed he was doing good."

Shares an anecdote about working on his campaign, Thorpe had to explain to her why African American voters might need help getting to polls. She's talking about her work to keep her street (Larkspur Way) from being connected when it should have been (in my opinion). Hasn't served on advisory boards or commissions, but thinks she'll get up to speed quickly.  She apparently went over all of Thorpe's agenda packets with him weekly.

She cites her business experience as a qualification for being on the Council. I am almost never swayed by this kind of argument.  She supports expanding the library, says County should pay it's fair share.

(There appears to be more information in the packets than was included in the PDFs. Her resume is being shown on the screen, but all I have is a short letter from her.)

Young (31 year old) African American man. Works at UNC. From Washington DC. Didn't know Bill Thorpe.  Lived in many university communities in IA, FL, VA, NC. Father of a student at Sewell Elementary. Says he would not run for re-election. (How can he know this?)

(Interesting, he lives on Napa Valley Way, which is in Council Member Laurin Esthom's neighborhood- as is Larkspur (above).)

He has been the Chair of the town Transportation Board, president of his neighborhood association, member of Community Leadership Council, more...

Says Thorpe's main issues were: "protecting neighborhoods, promoting affordable housing, creating a less car-dependent community."  Has experience with the 1st and 3rd and would support the 2nd. Experience as a Peace Corp volunteer makes him sympathetic to immigrants issues.

Would like to make government easier to use, where to go in Town Hall, who to contact for different types of problems, be more redsponsive, take action faster. Increase citizen participation, increase Council stipend, shorten meetings, consolidate boards, better recruitment.

Carolina North... (I'm having trouble keeping up, he has a lot of specifics).

Thanks for blogging the Monday Council meeting. FYI several of my comments were intended to be in the form of a question rather than a proposal. For example if the issue was to get a more diverse town council or more diverse participation on town boards, I asked if the current town salary is high enough... I suspect it is not but I don't know what people want. In terms of town boards I know sometimes they lack a quorum. My suggestion is to look at the current boards. Are the meetings too long? Is there too much ( or little) to do? Could any of the boards be consolidated? Could any meet less frequently? Are we actively recruiting from our entire community?

         I also mentioned that I fought against the hazardous waste incinerator proposed in Northamton County. (And didn't have time to say I attended numerous meetings about the siting of the solid waste transfer station and spoke against its placement in the Rogers Road community. )

       I've been a high school science teacher for the past 23 years. Through the schools I've see lots of the needs of our community. While in the  school system I have served on the Minority Student Achievement Local team and am on the Apoyo Latino support team. For a number of summers I travelled to  Central America and brought supplies to sewing coops in Nicaragua. I also volunteered for TecNica. In Chapel Hill I've worked with various community and evironmental groups including CITCA and the Sierra Club. I have been most involved in bike, pedestrian, transit and safety issues. I've served on a variety of boards or task forces and of course have attended numerous meetings related to town issues such as energy, Carolina North, LUMO...

have fun looking us over

Loren Hintz



Lives in Pine Knolls, grew up in Northside, attended (segregated) Lincoln High. Is a descendent of the Nunn/Merrit famiy (some very old names around here).

His top issues:

  • improve race relations between citizens and police, this is beginning to happen;
  • establish coalition between at risk students and college students;
  • update recreational facilities;
  • improve traffic patters to avoide rush hour gridlock;
  • job training programs for vets and homeless;
  • loans for homeimprovements;
  • senior resources;
  • infrastructure, such as road paving, 911 cll boxes, more...;
  • Carolina North.
Will listen to citizens and be guided by constituents.

First got involved with community entrepenourial orgs. Was very involved with his neighborhood (Gimghoul) in fighting the UNC chiller plant. Also served on the Planning board (with me), Horace WIlliams Citizens Committee, Town Budget Advisory Committee. Currently president of the library foundation and the OWASA board.

(Gene is using a nice Powerpoint presentation, I wonder if this will be available to the public.  His letter was also very clear and made a strong case.)

Says this position is complicated, and knows it takes a significant amount of time. Thinks the top 2 issues in the next year: rezoning Horace Williams tract (Carolina North), and the economy. Feels very qualified in both of these areas.

Will's application is online at his blog:
and here is more background:

Will is sharing more about his philosophy, it's also in a Powerpoint. Main challenges of the next 7 years: avoid sharp tax increase, create a legal framework for managing growth at Carolina North. Service in Tech Board, Horace Williams Committee (Will was only on this board for a few months before it was disbanded, so I wish he would stop touting that experience), attended and participated in hundreds of meetings over the last several years. He claims Jack Evans (of Carolina North) is a "good buddy" (wonder if Evans thinks so). This seems very unlikely to me. Advocated fr Lincoln Arts Center, Rogers Road, has advocated for local government transparency. His policy concerns have included red light cameras, downtown zoning, UNC development plan. More stuff... I can't keep up...

Um, he has a list of the town boards he'd to which he'd like to be appointed the liaison indicated a break with reality.

(I will be surprised if the Council even discusses appointing Will. He may appeal to some voters, but not these 8.)


 This is not the only place where you insert your opinions, and I'm not telling you not to express your feelings.  But I want you to know that this entry actually surprised and shocked me.  I never understood Will's reaction to OP before, but now I think I do.

The citizens of Orange County need good news sources.

 -- ge

OP has always been a place for informed opinions. If I didn't tell you what I thought, I wouldn't be giving you the whole picture. As you noted, I "editorialized" about several of the candidates.

I'm interested in your opinion about why you think Will would be good on the Council, and more importantly: how you think he will get at least 5 Council Members to agree with you.

Has served on commitees since 1984 including Housing and Community Deevelopment, Appearance, Planning, Tech Board. Teaches at UNC.

End of presentations. Willard Blain Rogers was not present and they did not call on William Abb or Andre Wesson.

Laurin Easthom: Carolina North will be dominating the Council for the next year, lots of extra meetings, etc. Since the Town has agreed to engage in a developemnt agreement with UNC, do you think this (development agreement) is a good idea?

Hintz: Says yes, but also says he doesn't know enough about it. We have a lot of protection built in to current rules, don't want to lose that.

Chute: Generally excited about CN. Thinks dev agreemnt is a good idea, good that the Town is working with an expert to guide the process. Agrees with previous comments by Mayor Foy about binding rules.

Merritt: We need to have a working relationship with the University. They shoudl grow not at the expens eof the Town.

Shaw: Given the kind of project, there has to be some kinf of agreement. It needs ot be equitable, has ben concerned about this in the past.

Green: Dev agmnt is prudent for both parties. Fairness also needs to be considered.

Raymond: Endorses this process because it sets standards that go beyond existing regulations. Joined HWCC after priciples were drafted and started working with the environmental subcommittee.

Pease: (My phone rang and I missed his response, which was short.)

Do most of these people even what the development agreement is?

Kevin Foy says that Thorpe worked harde to represent the African American community. While he does not think being AA is a requirement to serve, he thinks it's important to represent that constituency. How will applicants do this?

Green: I can't fill his shoes. I work with many in the minority community through my work at the University. Thinks this aspect is important, tals about different ways to reach out.

Pease: It's a question of fairness to everybody, not one minority. Has supported affordable housing, MLK Blvd, ending homelessness, fare free buses.

Shaw: I am interested in a lot of the same issues (as Thorpe), but thinks it's reasonable for the Council to specifically appoint an African American if they choise to.

Raymond: I want to focus on the common concerns we have in this community.  Concerned that a lot of people are getting short shrift and diversity is disappearing. Northside and Rogers Road are threatened. Tomorrow I'm voting for Barack Obama. Was very concerned about the impact of Greenbridge on Northside. Wifi projec, wanted i to serve students in the neighborhood. Affordable housing... waste transfer, has talked with both sides (neighborhoods that don'twant it).

Merritt: I'm a native Chapel Hillian, knows the historic African American community. Lincoln alumni association. Wouldn't only be an advocate for AA's but for all citizens of Chapel Hill.

Chute: This was my biggest hesitation about putting my name in. I think the AA community deserves recognition. I would reach out to the community. I don't have his connections, but learned a lot form him in the last 3 years. Was in a minority at UCLA.

Hintz:  Being a teacher with diverse students gives him a lot of exposure to a wide range of families. But how does our government work if AAs only go to the AA council member? What will we do about this situation? People are more comfortable with folks liek themselves, especially after a history of discrimination. Has had equity trraining as a teacher to better understand white privilege.This Council has dealt with harrassment of staff, has been to forums, I do the best I can as an individual.

Bill Strom asks why Dr. Green says he would only serve the rest of this term and not run for re-election.

Green: I've always been interested in service, not necessarily elected. "I don't know how it would go."  Would be interested in whether Council colleagues wanted him to run.

Matt C asks Dr. Green about his work with students in the community. Do you do this locally?

Green: we work with 7 area high schools including Orange High. Also East and CHH.We work with low-incopme and first-generation students. Provide students need to suceed in high school and in college. TRIO programs, upward bound.

Laurin, did Mr. Shaw also indicate that he woldn't runf or re-election?

Shaw: He is the director of NC Selective Service. Dosn''t think he run again "this soon."

Mayor Foy reminds folks that the Council plans to vote next Monday. Will do so at the end of the meeting so people don't have to sit through it, and the selectee can start at the next meeting. They are not mandated to decide by then, though. He encourages constituents and candidates to lobby and advocate.

The Council formally nominates the 7 candidates they heard from tonight.

Thanks for this post. Yes Ruby it is interesting that Dr. Green and Ms. Chute are from my neck of the woods! I knew Amy had applied when I saw her out in the neighborhood with her kids trick or treating on Halloween (right after the deadline and her submitted letter) and had just received the list of applications. I was surprised, but then again I wasn't because I knew how close she was to Bill. I've never met Dr. Green, but enjoyed the brief presentations that he and others made at our meeting tonight. What a tough choice for this council. I really appreciate everyone applying and agreeing to want to serve. I am interested in what others think of the candidates and their presentations. Yes, it is only a vote for the 8 council members, but I view any spot on the council as a representation of our Town and want to hear what people think. Feel free to obviously post here or you could email me at I'm sure other council members would like feedback, too.



I have observed but do not know Andre. He was chair of the Human Relations Board last year and facilitated a town wide dialog on race in the Spring. He is young, African American, articulate. I am hopeful that he will be the appointment.
It doesn't seem likely since Andre apparently didn't attend and didn't speak last night. See my notes above.

Last night I carefully watched the seven applicants’ presentations and read their materials on the town's website. I believe that Chapel Hill will be best served by the appointment of either J.M. Green or James Merritt (in no particular order). In a totally color-blind world, they are not the candidates with the most experience in town issues, but that is not our reality. As Mayor Foy said, we need a person who can represent the minority community well, and I believe that either of them would do an excellent job.

Several people asked me to apply for the Thorpe seat, and I seriously considered it, enough to write -- but not send -- a letter of application. My letter included two paragraphs, one that should an African-American apply, I would withdraw my application, and the other that I would apply to serve the town for a year, with no intention to run for election again.

Bill Thorpe will be sorely missed by me and the whole town and no one is going to measure up to the high standards that he set for all of us.  In light of that, I think the best we can do is get someone in his Council seat who will represent his values. I was lucky to get to know him.  

I just sent this email to the Town Clerk:

After listening to all the applicants for Bill Thorpe’s vacant Council seat on Monday night, I can see that there are two very strong African American candidates who are willing to serve the Town.  I believe that either of these men would represent Mr. Thorpe’s values and provide needed leadership not only for the African American community, but for all Chapel Hill citizens.  Because of this, I am withdrawing my application for the vacant seat.


Amy Chute


Community Guidelines

By using this site, you agree to our community guidelines. Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will result in moderation or eviction.


Content license

By contributing to OrangePolitics, you agree to license your contributions under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

Creative Commons License

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.