Sally Greene to apply for open Council seat

Ruby Sinreich's picture

All of us in the local political chattering class have been talking about who will be the successor to Penny Rich, since Penny will be resigning from the Chapel Hill Town Council soon to take her new seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners. A lot of qualified names have been tossed out, including Maria Palmer and George Cianciolo.

But there is a new candidate in the mix that I believe will eclipse the competition. I heard from a friend that former Town Council member Sally Greene was interested in the seat. I was so excited to hear this that I called her this weekend and she confirmed that she really is interested in returning to the big curved table at Town Hall.

I think this is great news. Sally was a fantastic contributor to the Council as a hard worker, a researcher and historian, a smart legal mind, and a champion of the environment, civil liberties, and social justice. In addition, Penny's departure will leave only 2 other women on the Council, and I am one who would really like the Council to look more like the community. (Next let's get more young people, people of color, and working class representatives.) In talking to her, Sally let me know that she would like to announce her interest in her own words, so I hope she will add her own comments here on this post.

I was very excited about the potential of Maria Palmer, and I strongly hope that she will continue her leadership trajectory by working on advisory boards and running for Council later.

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7 Comments

Thank you, Ruby.

 Thanks, Ruby. Yes, the rumors are true.In choosing Penny’s successor, the Council, as always, will have a lot of things to balance. I respect the difficulty of the decision they have to make, including this one. I’m offering my name as a possible choice. It would be a great privilege, and I would work as hard and as well as I could to serve my community again.Penny’s departure would leave big shoes to fill at any time—think of her excellent work with OWASA, as just one example—but now is a particularly critical time.I’ve watched the Chapel Hill 2020 process with great interest. Congratulations to the Town, and many thanks to George and Rosemary, for making the process so inclusive, inclusive of people and inclusive of good ideas. The town it describes is the town I love and am committed to. As the plan itself says, though, it “is not an end point, but the beginning.” The process of working on the focus areas will involve a finer-grained analysis, an a lot more work.I believe that the value that I could bring, in Penny’s absence (while she does great work for us at the county level), would be my historical understanding of topics and processes, combined with a willingness to do my homework and an ability to think about new solutions for persistent problems. For example, I would build upon my work on affordable housing to begin to think about creative approaches for the problem of affordable rental units—a difficult topic, not easily amenable to an ordinance change, but perhaps amenable to different kinds of approaches.Among other things, I’m excited to see the expanded library taking its beautiful shape. I believe I could be helpful with continued negotiations with the county on issues of fiscal equity and interoperability. I would also welcome the opportunity to re-engage with the county through the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness (work that Penny now does, and I know she will continue to do as a commissioner).Thanks for the vote of confidence, Ruby. Chapel Hill is lucky to have so many citizens committed to its vitality (including you!). I’d be honored to be able to share in this work again with the Council, and with this great community.And warm congratulations to Penny, with thanks for her strong service to Chapel Hill, and best wishes as she moves on to serve all of Orange County. 

Good luck Sally!

It should be intesesting to see how this all shakes out, I certainly wish you and all the canddiates who apply the best of luck, we need more people willing to serve.  If I may, what caused you to change your mind? After all your last council meeting was less than a year ago and you wrote and spoke elloquently at the time about your decision not to run for re-election. In that same vein, should you be chosen for Penny's seat, will you seek the full term in 2013? 

Further thoughts

Thanks for the question, Evan. A number of things came together for me in making this decision. First, Penny's departure was unanticipated in 2011. She and I share a lot of the same values and interests, and one thought is that I could step back in in those roles (e.g., the homelessness work) that had fallen to her when I left. Then another factor has been my work life. For the first six years of my Council service, the other employment I held was part-time. In February 2011 I took on a full-time position as an administrator at UNC. Now I know that this is not a new topic: how much time should the Council work take up? In theory, it should be manageable by someone with a full-time job. And for some, it seems to be. But for me, it changed my style in a way that didn't work very well. Long Monday nights and early Tuesday mornings did not mix well, and at the same time, I was unable to be available for weekday meetings on town business. I felt I wasn't able to give it as much attention as I had become used to.At the end of this month, I'll be leaving my full-time position at UNC for a part-time teaching position in the UNC English Department. That dramatically changes the time equation, not that teaching isn't demanding, but the hours are at least more flexible. A third factor comes, a little ironically, from within the academy. Under Chancellor Thorp's leadership, UNC has renewed its commitment to public engagement. The Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, located in Northside, for example, comes out of engagement work by UNC students and faculty. But as an administrator, my opportunities for direct engagement were limited. I've come to a new understanding of how important such work is.   

George C's picture

My support to Sally

When it became obvious that Penny's position would be open several people asked me if I was going to put my name in - and I said yes.  I always believed that the best person for the position would be someone who was experienced, who would work hard for the entire community, - and ideally, who was a woman.  Yes, I believe that gender balance, while not an absolute requirement, is a desirable goal for our Council and any governing body.I believe that I satisfy the first two requirements very well and, in the absence of someone who satisfied all three, I believe I would be a fitting replacement for Penny.  Unfortunately, I'm not prepared to try to satisfy the third requirement.  When Sally gratiously met with  me to tell me that she was thinking of putting her name in I told her that I supported her when she was on Council and I would support her in applying for this vacancy. I believe that she is an excellent fit for this position and hope Council thinks so as well.  I will not be putting my name in at this time but perhaps there will be an opportunity down the road for me to serve the community.

Jason Baker's picture

Sally has my full support

I was thrilled to learn this news. Sally was an exemplary council member, and I was saddened that she chose not to run for re-election in the last cycle.While some council members have indicated in the past a desire to support the fifth place finisher in the most recent election as an appointee when a vacancy arises, I don't plan to offer them the opportunity to do so. I believe the vacancy which Penny will leave is best filled by a woman. And what better way to do so, than by appointing someone who has overwhelmingly demonstrated the support of the people of Chapel Hill in two consecutive elections.In lieu of relying upon my own memory of Sally's accomplishments on as a council member, which would surely sell her short, I quote below the resolution which the CHTC passed upon her departure. Let's take Sally up on her offer for continued service and return her to fill the remaining year of Penny's unexpired term.

WHEREAS, Sally Greene served the Town of Chapel Hill as Town Council Member from December 8, 2003 to December 5, 2011; and
WHEREAS, Sally has taken a special interest in issues of neighborhood preservation, historic preservation, and public art, as well as the issues of creating
permanent affordable housing and ending homelessness; and
WHEREAS, Sally has co-chaired a citizen committee that led to the recent adoption of an inclusionary zoning ordinance for Chapel Hill, which strengthens and
regularizes the requirements for affordable housing; and
WHEREAS, Sally was the first chair of the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness and remains on its executive committee; and
WHEREAS, As a member of the Town Council committee on open space preservation, she worked to create the Morgan Creek Preserve, a 92-acre natural area along Morgan Creek placed under permanent conservation easement with the North Carolina Botanical Garden Foundation; and
WHEREAS, She served on the mayor's committee on campaign public financing, which led to special legislation under which the Council created the state's first municipal election public financing program; and
WHEREAS She also served on the Council negotiating committee that conducted preliminary negotiations for the 140 West Franklin project now under construction; and
WHEREAS, She served on the building committee that selected the architect for the proposed expansion of the Chapel Hill Public Library; and
WHEREAS, Further, she introduced a proposal that led to the granting of a permanent conservation easement to Preservation North Carolina for the 1960s-era public library building designed by Don Stewart; and
WHEREAS, Sally was instrumental in establishing and implementing the Town’s affordable housing policy and as a result 330 affordable housing units have been constructed and over $1.5 million in revenue has been generated to keep housing affordable; and
WHEREAS, Sally participated in the approval of numerous major Town building projects and bond projects, including Southern Community Park, The Homestead Aquatic Center, The Town Operation Center, and the project to transform Lot 5 into 140 West; and
WHEREAS, Sally worked to ensure that major new private development projects reviewed and approved by the Town met the community’s standards and incorporated its values in their design and construction through protection of open spaces, provision of affordable housing, and installation of appropriate public infrastructure improvements; and
WHEREAS, Sally’s leadership in promoting the arts and encouraging an increased investment in public art has created a new and innovative model for art administration in the Town and has led to many public art projects throughout the community; and
WHEREAS, Sally successfully worked with the University of North Carolina on the proposed Carolina North Development in order to address the concerns and interests of citizens, the Town, and the University, these efforts culminating in a final development agreement passed in June 2009; and
WHEREAS, Sally served the community and Council through her active participation on the following committees and work groups, lending her creative energy and thoughtful leadership:

Chapel Hill Public Arts CommissionPublic Art Contextual Plan Advisory CommitteePublic Art Review Committee for Homestead Park Aquatic ParkCouncil Committee on Affordable HousingCouncil Committee on Conservation Easements in Open SpacesCouncil Committee on Facilities NamingCouncil Committee to Consider Development Options for Parking Lots 2 and 5Historic District CommissionHousing and Community Development Advisory BoardIFC Comprehensive Service Center Work GroupInclusionary Zoning Task ForceLibrary Building CommitteeMartin Luther King Jr. Blvd Naming Ceremony Planning CommitteeMayor's Committee on Strategic PlanningMayor’s Committee on Campaign Public FinancingNegotiation Team for Lot 5 and Wallace Parking Deck with RAMNorthside Conservation District Advisory CommitteePublic Housing Program Development Advisory BoardPlanning BoardSustainable Community Visioning Task Force
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Mayor and Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that we hereby honor and thank Sally Greene for her outstanding service to the people of Chapel Hill and her willingness to serve the community as an elected leader; and we further resolve that Chapel Hill is a better place because of Sally. This the 5th day of December, 2011.
ldhintz's picture

Town Council Applicants

After much thought I have decided to apply for the Town Council position. As of today 6 people including myself have submitted their names. Sally Greene is not on the list yet. I understand that our statements are being scanned and given to Town Council for their packets.  I look forward to hearing what everyone will say at the Jan. 14 meeting.Loren Hintz

Appointment application

Below is the statement that I will be signing and submitting to Town Hall later this morning. (Apologies for the odd formatting; don't know how to fix it.) [Formatting fixed.--Eds.]Council Member Rich’s resignation comes at a critical time. The Chapel Hill 2020 Comprehensive Plan—created through an unprecedented process involving some 3,000 people—has been adopted. That the plan well reflects the town’s aspirations and values is broadly agreed. It forms the basis for more detailed land use decisions, and toward that end, much work remains.Moreover, Chapel Hill 2020 aspires to be a new type of plan, an “adaptive” model, addressing goals not traditionally encompassed by urban planning. Green energy and the environment, economic development and job creation, tourism and the arts, and socioeconomic diversity are some of the concepts implicated in this holistic model. As you on the Council grapple with encompassing these broad goals, your choices will be limited by highly constrained resources. Your upcoming budget discussions, for example, will force you to make hard decisions.The appointment is for just under a year, until the voters speak in November. As you weigh what’s important, I ask you to consider the value of bringing on someone with a demonstrated ability to understand complex issues and make well-reasoned decisions; someone with a proven record of working collaboratively to accomplish community goals; someone who has won the confidence of the voters in the past.While helping to advance the work of Chapel Hill 2020, here are three timely issues on which I believe I could be helpful:1. Affordable rental. Given recession-era realities of the housing market, the time is ripe for focused discussions on (a) regularizing a formula for payments-in-lieu for rental developments under the Town’s affordable housing policy in rezonings; and (b) identifying non-regulatory strategies for supporting rental and all affordable housing. I am ready to work with community housing advocates to take on these issues.2. Public library. To see the expanded library take shape is exciting. I would work to ensure that operations are funded at the highest practicable level given fiscal constraints. Further, having served on the committee that negotiated the Interlocal Agreement for Library Services between the Town and the County, I believe I could contribute productively to the next round of conversations, projected for March 2013, on potential areas of interoperability.3. Homelessness. In 2007, the four County jurisdictions launched a 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. Five years on, federal funding priorities are changing. The plan needs to incorporate revised policy goals. Meanwhile the IFC’s shift from emergency shelter to a transitional men’s program leaves a critical void. I would be eager to facilitate conversations on updating the Homelessness Partnership’s plan and to work with the County, the IFC, and others toward finding a new solution for emergency shelter.Chapel Hill is a special place. I learned years ago that it didn’t get that way by accident. The town we cherish today evolved from thoughtful actions by generations of caring citizens. It was my privilege to serve on the Council before, and it would be my pledge to work as hard as possible again for the good of all.Sally Greene