Chapel Hill News

9 competing for 4 Orange County commissioner seats in 2016

Andy Cagle
Andy Cagle

Candidates filled the ballots for county commissioner, school board and multiple state and federal races at the close of the 2016 filing period Monday.

Nine residents have filed to seek a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Four seats are available, including the at-large seat that Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier will leave in December 2016.

Residents living in District 1, which covers Chapel Hill, Carrboro and southern Orange County, are eligible to vote in the at-large and District 1 primaries. District 2 residents, who live in the county’s northern half, vote in the at-large and District 2 primary races.

All of the commissioners candidates are running as Democrats, which means the winners of the March 15 primary will run unopposed in the Nov. 1 general election. The candidates are:

At-large (one seat)

▪ Andy Cagle: The 48-year-old businessman owns Cagle’s Corner Grading, Hauling and Septic System and is a former automotive technician and service center assistant manager. He also manages public relations and plays guitar with the bluegrass/gospel group, The Cagle Family. Cagle ran an unsucessful campaign for Orange County sheriff in 2014.

▪ Matt Hughes: The Orange County Democratic Party chairman – since 2013 – has been active in politics and progressive causes for nearly a decade. Hughes, 25, is a Hillsborough native and Chapel Hill resident. He graduated from Cedar Ridge High School and UNC, where he works as an administrator. He also is a member of the KidsCope Advisory Council, Orange County Human Relations Commission and the Orange County Board of Adjustment.

▪ Mark Marcoplos: The owner of Marcoplos Construction specializes in green-building and solar technologies and is mounting his third campaign for a commissioners seat. Marcoplos, 62, ran unsuccessfully as an independent candidate in 1992 and as a Democrat in 2014. He is a member of the Orange County Housing Authority and previously served as a member of the Economic Development Commission, Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors and the county Planning Board.

District 1 (two seats)

▪ Mark Dorosin (incumbent): Dorosin, 50, is the managing attorney at the UNC Center for Civil Rights, focusing on litigation and advocacy in issues of race, housing, economics, education and social justice. He also has taught political and civil rights at UNC’s Law School and at Duke University. He previously served on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, was president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro ACLU and with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro chapter of the NAACP. He was elected to the county commissioners in 2012.

▪ Penny Rich (incumbent): Rich, 56, has been a commissioner since 2012 and previously served on the Chapel Hill Town Council. Rich is the owner of a personal chef and catering company and a community relations and engagement manager with the Terra Vita Food and Wine Festival. She has served, among other roles, as the finance chairwoman for the Orange County Visitors Bureau, co-chairwoman of the Solid Waste Advisory Group and as chairwoman of the Intergovernmental Parks Workgroup.

▪ Jamezetta Bedford: Bedford, 57, is a certified public accountant with Coleman, Huntoon and Brown. She served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board, from her election in 2003 until she retired this year. She served the school board for three years as chairwoman, and also has been a substitute teacher and co-chair of School Governance Committees at Ephesus Elementary School, Phillips Middle School, and East Chapel Hill High School. She is a non-voting member of Orange County’s Communities in Schools board.

▪ Gary Kahn: The Southern Village resident, 59, is mounting his second campaign for a commissioners seat. Kahn also ran unsuccessfully for Chapel Hill Town Council in 2013, the commissioners in 2014 and for Chapel Hill mayor this year. Kahn, a native of Bayside, Queens, in New York, works as a retail merchandiser. He is the past president of the Vineyard Square Homeowners Association and a member of the Board of Directors of the Copperline Square Homeowners Association.

District 2 (one seat)

▪ Renee Price (incumbent): Price, 62, was elected to the commissioners in 2012 and is the co-founder and project director of Free Spirit Freedom Institute and Gallery in Hillsborough. She also has worked, among other roles, as an independent consultant on social justice, cultural, environmental, and agricultural and rural initiatives. Her community service includes the Orange County Commission for the Environment, Hillsborough Arts Council, Orange Unified Transportation Board, Orange County Historic Preservation Commission, Orange County Planning Board and the Orange County Human Rights Commission.

▪ Bonnie Hauser: The retired partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers is a community and social activist who has helped lead several rural campaigns, including the fight against new airport and landfill sites and the effort to improve bicycle safety on rural roads. Hauser, 62, ran unsuccessfully for commissioner in 2014. She is the former president of the rural grassroots group Orange County Voice and has served on multiple community groups and programs, including Justice United, Maple View Ag Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle, N.C. Center for Holocaust Education Project, Project Engage, and the Orange County Schools.

School board

Voters will choose three new Orange County Schools board members, and one member to serve the remaining two years of an unexpired term.

The unexpired term was created in November when former board Chairwoman Debbie Piscitelli resigned. She was appointed to fill the seat in April after board member Rosa Williams died in office.

The candidates for the open seats are:

▪ Stephen Halkiotis (incumbent): Halkiotis, 72, retired in 2004 after 31 years as a teacher and administrator in the Orange County Schools. He has served as an Orange County commissioner – from 1986 to 2006 – and was elected to the school board in 2008. Halkiotis lives in Hillsborough.

▪ Tony McKnight (incumbent): McKnight, 49, lives in Hillsborough and was elected to the school board in 2008. He is an apprenticeship and training consultant for the N.C. Department of Labor and an 11-year U.S. Army veteran.

▪ Matthew Roberts: Mebane resident Matthew Roberts, 57, and his wife are foster parents who run FenRidge Farm in Efland. Roberts is a former divisional operational manager for Burlington Industries and a Galax, Va., native. He is also active in the Efland community alliance and the Northern Orange NAACP.

The candidates for Williams’ unexpired term are:

▪ John D. Hamilton: The Hillsborough resident is a professor emeritus of medicine in the infectious diseases division at Duke University. Duke officials initially hired Hamilton, 77, to be the chief of the Durham Veterans Affairs Infectious Diseases Section. He was promoted to chief of the adult Duke Infectious Diseases and International Health Division in 1994. He retired from Duke in 2012.

▪ Michael H. Hood: Hood, 65, lives in the Durham city limits and is a retired computer professional who served for four years in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. Hood ran unsuccessfully for the county school board in 2014 and served previously as co-chairman of the science committee at Hillsborough Elementary School.

District Court

District Court judges Lunsford Long, Jay Bryan and Beverly Scarlett, who serve Orange and Chatham counties, are seeking re-election to another term on the bench. Attorney Sherri Murrell is challenging Long for his position.

Two other candidates, Clerk of Superior Court Sam Cooper and attorney Samantha Cabe, are seeking the seat now held by Judge Charles Anderson. Anderson has not filed for another term.

U.S. Congress

Incumbent Congressman David Price, a 14-term Democrat, will face Republican challenger Sue Googe in November for the 4th District seat. Googe is a Chinese native and real estate entrepreneur from Cary.

General Assembly

Local legislators also have filed for re-election, including Democratic state Sen. Valerie Foushee and state Rep. Graig Meyer. Both will face Republican challengers in the March 15 primary.

Hillsborough Republican Mary Lopez Carter is challenging Foushee in the Senate District 23 race. Meyer’s challenger for the District 50 seat is Hillsborough Republican Rod Chaney.

Democratic Rep. Verla Insko, District 56, is running unopposed.

Tammy Grubb: 919-829-8926, @TammyGrubb