CARRBORO — Saying shes not afraid to speak her mind or take a minority position, Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle announced Thursday shes running for mayor.
Lavelle, who is serving her second term on the Board of Aldermen, is the first candidate trying to succeed Mayor Mark Chilton, who decided not to seek a fifth term.
Lavelle, 52, is an assistant professor at the N.C. Central University School of Law and up for tenure, but said she has spoken with her dean and is confident she can do both jobs.
She said her commitment to transportation planning, growing the towns tax base and working on a wide variety of community groups make her qualified for the towns top post.
Lavelle chaired the Metropolitan Planning Organization when Orange County voters passed a half-cent sales tax to pay for bus improvements and a future light-rail line to Durham.
I have a real interest in not only transit but especially biking and walking, she said.
Noting Carrboros first hotel, now nearing completion on East Main Street, Lavelle said she is also committed to finding ways to boost the towns economy without sacrificing its personality.
We need to figure out a way to identify revenue streams so our taxes dont keep going up and up and up, she said.
Lavelle became a town resident with the controversial annexation of areas north of town in 2006. She said she is sensitive to those who dont want to see downtowns density and commerce spread into neighborhoods.
She would like to see more events like this weekends Open Streets festival, when part of downtown will close to automobile traffic.
These are ways to have people come here and buy things and then leave, she said.
Lavelle said she has not been afraid to take a minority position on the Board of Aldermen. She cited her vote against the towns solicitation rules, since repealed, that limited hours that day laborers could wait along Jones Ferry Road for jobs. She also voted for the Orange Water and Sewer Authoritys plan to seek access to Jordan Lake water during a drought, a move some critics worried could undo water-conservation efforts.
Lavelle said she has been thinking of running since Chilton decided not to run.
Im sure shed do a fine job, the mayor said Thursday afternoon. But he wont be endorsing anyone in the race.
People have listened to what Ive had to say for too long already, he said.
Lavelles partner Alicia Stemper videotaped the alderwomans announcement beneath the giant elm on the Town Hall lawn Thursday. The couple live in the Fox Meadow neighborhood with their two children, 17 and 14.
In 2011, the pair held an emotional news conference to sign the towns domestic partner registry, a largely symbolic gesture they took because marriage is not a legal option. Stempers 75-year-old father attended.
Carrboro has already had a gay mayor. Mike Nelson was elected five times.
I dont think its an issue at all, Lavelle said. She noted how a recent news story reported she would be Carrboros first female mayor since Ellie Kinnaird, now a state senator, instead of the first gay or lesbian mayor since Nelson.
That kind of made me laugh, she said.