CHAPEL HILL — Council member Sally Greene took the top spot Tuesday night in the Chapel Hill Town Council race.
Greene, who was appointed to former council member Penny Richs seat in January, said she was encouraged during the campaign to hear residents say they want the town to be a lively and inclusive community, although they may not agree on how to get there.
The research attorney served eight years on the council before taking a year off in 2012. She received 3,766 votes.
Im gratified to be returning, she said.
Voters also re-elected incumbent council member Ed Harrison to a fourth term and chose challengers George Cianciolo and Maria Palmer to round out the winners.
Current council members Laurin Easthom and Gene Pease did not seek re-election.
A noisy crowd at Vimalas Curryblossom Cafe on West Franklin Street cheered as the winners stood to say thanks.
Cianciolo received 3,663 votes. The Duke University Medical Center researcher and co-chairman of the towns yearlong Chapel Hill 2020 Plan discussion about growth said he looks forward to putting those plans into motion.
We have a lot of challenges in front of us, but Chapel Hill 2020 was a great plan and a great vision, he said. I think when this is implemented, people are going to be real proud of this.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt also was re-elected to a third term with 4,385 votes, despite a last-minute, write-in campaign for challenger Tom Henkel. The number of write-in votes 500 was roughly five times the number recorded in any of the last 12 years of municipal elections.
The Orange County Board of Elections reported 8,736 ballots cast in the municipal races Tuesday, or roughly 12 percent of the countys registered voters (including the unincorporated areas).
Kleinschmidt said the turnout was disappointing, but not the candidates on this years ballot. They have an extraordinary connection to the community, great hearts, smart minds and articulate voices.
The last several years, I talked about building our future as a community as kind of a never-ending project, a work in progress, he said. Its so great to see so many people working together to do that, to make progress for our community.
Palmer, a minister and educator who received 3,121 votes, said many people who had never voted in a local election before helped her to victory. Some said they only voted for her, she said.
Some people, maybe because of their past experiences, felt that they wouldnt make a difference, but I know the people on council are trying to make a difference, and Im going to help them bridge that gap and make sure they have the trust of all the community, she said.
Harrison, who got 3,462 votes, said there were no doubts at the end.
All these people who have been around a long time said, I think youve got this. I had this energy, and I just kept going, he said.