Town Council Meets to Discuss Seat Vacancy and Hear from Applicants

This past Monday, April 27, The Chapel Hill Town Council met to discuss potentially filling its vacant seat and to hear from six residents who applied for the position.

While applicant Paul Neebe could not make it, Kevin Hicks, Adam Jones, Michael Parker, Amy Ryan and Gary Shaw each spoke to the board for about 5 minutes to explain why they should be appointed.

The first to speak was Kevin Hicks, who was previously on the town’s Justice in Action Committee, and served on the Community Policing Advisory Committee. He currently serves on a small handful of boards in the Triangle area that focus on youth, bicycling and greenways. He spent the bulk of his presentation keeping an eye towards growth, children, and education. Additionally, he wanted to see more programming directed at children during their after school time and more inclusive efforts to close the achievement gap.

The next to speak was Adam Jones, who attended UNC, has served on the Orange County Economic Development Commission, and is on the Gimghoul Neighborhood Board of Directors. He toted himself as an investor and business-friendly applicant who is familiar with the area. He primarily used his background in the business community and past service to the town as his main selling points.

After Jones spoke, applicant Michael Parker began his speech refuting the Thomas Wolfe quote, “You can’t go home again.” Parker, who once attended graduate school at UNC, used his extensive service to the Chapel Hill community and his experiences building consensus on the Central West Steering Committee to explain why he was best for the vacancy. Parker currently serves as the Planning Commission’s Transportation and Connectivity Champion. He has served on multiple town committees and has previously served as chair of Chapel Hill’s Transportation Board for two years.

Amy Ryan, who ran for the Town Council in 2013, was the next to come forward. Ryan serves as the Vice Chair and Community Design Champion on the Town’s Planning Commission. She has served on three town advisory committees and five town-planning committees and task forces. She toted her 13 years of town service and experience with team membership, team building, proper planning skills, and experience mediating conflict as the reasons why she was best for the job.

The last to speak was Gary Shaw, who has a business background and is a former UNC-Chapel Hill faculty member at the Kenan-Flagler School of Business. He mostly used his business background in consulting to highlight his skills in “planning, formulating, and strategy.” While he acknowledged having less public service experience than other applicants, he noted that he has “no special agendas,” and that he would “keep an open mind.”

“It’s not just service, but how people experience it,” he said.

After each of the applicants spoke, Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt opened the floor up for questions directed at the applicants.

During this time, there was some brief discussion about whether or not the council should appoint a member to the seat or allow voters to decide on the vacancy in November.

“We are very close to the end of the fiscal year and we are well into the development agreement process with East West Partners, so to bring somebody on at this point right now seems like it may not be the right decision,” said council member, Jim Ward.

Councilwoman, Donna Bell, who was appointed by the board in 2009, had a difference of opinion.

“Being appointed adds another perspective and also gives a space to have vulnerabilities that you wouldn’t otherwise,” she said.

 “When I was appointed, I became committed to the idea that if I was given the opportunity to serve, then it would then become my responsibility to also run.”

Later, when councilwoman Maria Palmer asked which applicants would be willing to run in November, everyone unanimously raised his or her hand.

While opinions seem to be split on whether the seat should be appointed or voted on, the council agreed that even if a councilmember is against appointing, that if the majority of the council member chooses to appoint someone, the opposing councilmember(s) would still be allowed to be a part of the process.

Now that the board has unanimously nominated all of the applicants, the Town Council may vote for someone to fill the vacancy starting on Monday. If nobody is appointed, the opportunity to vote again will be presented at every meeting until the November elections.






I hope they appoint someone. Donna Bell and Sally Greene were both appointed to fill vacancies. Jim Ward applied to fill one but Flicka Batement was appointed and won an election. Jim Merrit was appointed and lost an election. Maria Palmer also applied for a vacancy.  It seems appropriate to fill the spot until the fall election.


please see my latest blog will we or will we not at new content' Gary Kahn

For those curious, the Council did not fill the appointment last night, though several council members did express support for filling the seat. Despite this, no motion was made and seconded to vote on whether or not to appoint someone. This means that the item will return for possible action at next Monday's meeting.

My understanding this will be an item on the agenda until the November election. If there was no motion then the odds are that at least 4 people do not want to appoint someone to the council and have potenial competition in 2016 or 2018. We deserve the vacancy to be filled.


Loren, in response to your comments, I Didnt see you apply for the vacancy, I rest my case, Gary Kahn


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