Chapel Hill News

Commissioner, challenger to run for Orange County board

Matt Hughes
Matt Hughes

Incumbent Commissioner Penny Rich and an at-large challenger have announced their intent to run for a seat in November 2016 for the Orange County Board of Commissioners.

Matt Hughes, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, will join home builder Mark Marcoplos in the race to replace retiring at-large Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier.

Hughes, who has been active in Democratic politics and progressive causes for nearly a decade, is a Hillsborough native and Chapel Hill resident. He graduated from Cedar Ridge High School and UNC, where he works as an administrator, and he has led the local Democratic Party since 2013.

Hughes also is a member of the KidsCope Advisory Council, Orange County Human Relations Commission and the Orange County Board of Adjustment.

“This is an exciting time for Orange County as we are experiencing unprecedented growth, and we need leadership that is committed to managing that growth in a responsible manner,” Hughes said. “As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I appreciate the role of public schools and the duty that we all have to give educators and our students the support they need to do the most important work in society.”

Rich has represented District 1 in southeastern Orange County since 2012. She remains “committed to being a strong voice for affordable and workforce housing, smart economic growth, the environment, social justice, and our schools,” according to a news release.

The former Chapel Hill Town Council member owns a personal chef and catering company and recently became a community relations and engagement manager with the Terra Vita Food and Wine Festival.

She has served as the finance chairwoman for the Orange County Visitors Bureau, co-chairwoman of the Solid Waste Advisory Group, chairwoman of the Intergovernmental Parks Workgroup, rotating chair of the Orange, Durham, Chapel Hill Workgroup, chairwoman of the Communications Task Force/Strategic Plan and on the nominating committee for the Triangle Council of Governments. She has worked on numerous other local and state issues during her first term as commissioner.

Her plans, if re-elected, are to prioritize her work on solid waste and an interlocal agreement with Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough and UNC, the release stated.

Four seats will be on the county commissioners ballot next year. Commissioners Mark Dorosin (District 1) and Renee Price (District 2) have not said whether they will run for re-election.

The candidate filing period opens at noon Dec. 1 and ends at noon Dec. 21. The primary will be held March 15.