Chapel Hill News

Five more candidates join election field

Ed Harrison, Chapel Hill Town Council member, July 2013
Ed Harrison, Chapel Hill Town Council member, July 2013 Submitted

Five more residents have filed to run in this year’s municipal and school board elections.

Incumbent Chapel Hill Town Council member Ed Harrison and newcomers Paul Neebe and George Cianciolo joined three candidates who had already filed for four open seats on the council. If Harrison is re-elected, this will be his fourth term. Fellow member Sally Greene, who was appointed to the council to replace Penny Rich earlier this year, also is running, as are newcomers Gary Kahn and Maria Palmer.

Council members Laurin Easthom and Gene Pease rejected another run, which means at least two new faces next year. Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt filed his re-election bid July 5.

In Carrboro, incumbent Alderman Sammy Slade will join two other Board of Aldermen members, Jacquelyn Gist and Randee Haven-O’Donnell, on this year’s ballot. Alderwoman Lydia Lavelle has filed to run for outgoing Mayor Mark Chilton’s seat. No challengers have filed yet.

If Lavelle is elected, her seat on the Board of Aldermen could be filled by appointment or a special election.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents also will choose three members for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. Board Chairwoman Michelle Brownstein and board member James Barrett have filed their intent to seek re-election. Board member Gregory McElveen has not indicated whether he will seek another term.

Hillsborough voters will choose a new mayor and two Town Board of Commissioners members. Commissioner Michael Gering announced earlier this year he would not seek re-election; Commissioner Frances Dancy has not made her decision public yet. Newcomer Jenn Weaver filed to run July 5.

The filing period for the 2013 election continues through noon Friday at the Orange County Board of Elections in Hillsborough.

These candidates filed last week:

Chapel Hill

Town Council



George Cianciolo

Age: 64

Address: 7704 Amesbury Drive, Chapel Hill

Previous political experience: No elected offices

Relevant community service: 2013 Governor’s Medallion Award, Key Volunteer Award and Governor’s Service Award winner for work with 2020 Comprehensive Plan; chair, Sustainable Community Visioning Task Force; co-chair, Chapel Hill 2020; president, Chapel Hill Public Library Foundation; chair, Transportation Advisory Board; chair, Planning Board; chair, Community Design Commission; Special Transit Advisory Commission

Why I’m running: “I feel the Chapel Hill 2020 process was a great process. It got a lot of public input and gave us a great vision of what people wanted to see in Chapel Hill for the next decade. What it didn’t do – what it’s doing now – is implement that vision, which involves prioritizing and figuring out how to pay for things. I want to see Chapel Hill 2020 successfully implemented.”



Ed Harrison

Age: 62

Address: 58 Newton Drive, Durham (in Chapel Hill limits since 1986)

Occupation: Conservation biologist and environmental educator

Previous political experience: Town Council, 2001-present; former member (elected) and chairman, Durham Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

Relevant community service: Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Transportation Advisory Board; Vice-Chair Triangle Transit Board of Trustees; Secretary-Treasurer Triangle J Council of Governments; Public Transit Committee; Council Committees on Economic Development and on Sustainability, Energy & Environment; Council liaison to Stormwater Management Utility Advisory Board; New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee, NC Active Transportation Alliance board.

Why I’m running: “To continue working hard with my constituents on a number of items: transportation facilities that help us get around Chapel Hill and beyond without a car; implementing the 2020 Plan to create sustainable economic development and more affordable housing; protecting open space and watersheds; and helping our downtown prosper even more. I particularly enjoy helping my fellow residents with neighborhood-level concerns and cooperating with other local governments on shared solutions to regional problems.”



Paul Neebe

Age: 51

Address: 1002 Highland Woods Road, Chapel Hill

Occupation: musician (trumpet), University of Virginia professor and real estate broker with Neebe Real Estate

Previous political experience: None

Relevant community service: member, Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee

Why I’m running: “My broad goal for Chapel Hill would be to continue to improve the quality of living here. I agree with the 2020 Plan of implementing a bike-able, walk-able green community. Chapel Hill currently has a bronze bike friendly designation. I think we should have a goal of the platinum designation. ... Chapel Hill should be a place where all can live and not just the wealthy. The tax base needs to be increased in the commercial sector to reduce the burden on individual property owners. This should help to keep Chapel Hill more affordable for not only property owners but also renters as well. I will encourage cooperation between the town and the university. I also advocate more communication between the Council and the advisory boards and also between the various advisory boards themselves.” (Neebe was unavailable for comment this week. This was taken from his January letter to the Town Council when he applied for former member Penny Rich’s open seat)


Board of Aldermen



Sammy Slade

Age: 38

Address: 100 Crest St., Apt. E, Carrboro

Occupation: climate change community organizer, outreach coordinator with the nonprofit group NC WARN

Previous political experience: Board of Aldermen, 2009-present

Relevant community service: Creating community through Carrboro Greenspace, the Carrboro Community Garden Coalition and through work with NC WARN

Why I’m running: “A deep belief that governance needs to happen at the scale closest to where the policies and actions will have their effects. Landfill issues, environmental justice, mitigating climate change, affordable housing, a locally owned economy, transportation, police, food all need to happen in ways that are human in scale and which allow for local accountability and autonomy.”

CHCCS Board of Education



Michelle (Shell) Brownstein

Age: 47

Address: 105 Glenhaven Drive, Chapel Hill

Occupation: Physician, UNC Hospitals; mother of four children in the district

Previous political experience: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, 2009-present; board vice chairwoman, 2012-13; board chairwoman, 2013

Why I’m running: “This election cycle finds the welfare of our district at a critical yet exciting juncture as Superintendent (Thomas) Forcella unfolds his creative long-range plan, opens new elementary schools, addresses a comprehensive facilities assessment and fosters community partnerships – just as our financial reserves from the 2010 federal Education Jobs Fund allocation are coming to an end and our state support of public schools is uncertain. Given this reality, effective board leadership is imperative. If re-elected, I will continue to use my growing experience and collaborative skills to work towards successful implementation of initiatives that help realize my steadfast goal that all children deserve the opportunity to realize their potential. I remain a committed advocate for the success of every child.”