Karen Stegman - Candidate Statement


The Chapel Hill I know is progressive, welcoming, and proud of its history as a state leader in environmental protection, civil rights, and social justice. I decided to run to help chart a course for Chapel Hill that is forward-thinking while staying true to those roots. I have been engaged professionally and personally in strong leadership roles on the local level through the Town Public Housing Advisory Board, the Orange County Family Resource Centers, the Ephesus Elementary School Improvement Team, the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program, and PORCH. I have participated in advocacy and volunteer efforts on issues of importance on the local, state, and national levels such as voter registration and election protection, racial and ethnic equity, LGBTQ issues, Moral Mondays, and the Women’s March. I am also a member of the local branch of the NAACP.


I love Chapel Hill. I grew up in Chapel Hill and have spent most of my adult life here. One thing I know is that it is a dynamic and ever-changing place. The steady influx of new people with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and ideas keeps our town vibrant and exciting.

We talk about wanting to retain Chapel Hill’s character, usually by referring to our being the home of the nation’s first public university, our proud heritage of locally owned businesses, and the sense of beauty and charm our community is famous for. Those are important characteristics of our town. I would also like our conversation to include a community discussion about how we retain the values for which Chapel Hill has historically been known: values of inclusivity and equity, progressive leadership and vision, a deep commitment to public education, an abiding concern for the environment, and an embrace of the arts and the creative artists, musicians, and writers who live here. Our shared passion and courage of conviction around these and other issues are a critical part of Chapel Hill’s character, and contribute to making it a unique, desirable place to live and work. Chapel Hill has been generated and sustained over time by the deep engagement of the citizens of our community in social and civic activism. This truth is another defining characteristic of our community, which I embrace. I am especially interested in the role that local government can play in listening to and leading conversations and implementing policies that reflect those values, even as our town grows and changes.

The very things that characterize our town and make it an attractive place for those of us to live also attract others who want to join our community. It is not uncommon to hear the concern voiced that our growth may destroy the things we love about Chapel Hill.  We also hear that with so much of the land area of Chapel Hill being occupied by our beloved University of North Carolina and a relatively small business base, homeowners are bearing a high tax burden for the support of desirable services provided by the town. This reality is making it increasingly challenging for middle and low-income people to live in Chapel Hill. These are vexing issues that must be addressed head-on by the Town Council.

I have the time, experience, energy, skills, and interest to contribute to building a sustainable community that balances economic vitality, social equity, and environmental protection. As we work together towards this vision of Chapel Hill, I want to ensure that equity is a key pillar so that Chapel Hill supports positive outcomes for all. An elected official’s job is to make decisions for the future. I will approach that responsibility with a deep commitment to an open and transparent process and careful, reasoned consideration of issues and diverse viewpoints.


There are many positive things happening in Chapel Hill, but as noted, there are also some important issues that will require thoughtful approaches and new, creative tools over the coming years. The following are high priority for my campaign:

  • Progressive, comprehensive land use and transportation planning – emphasize smart growth, preservation of existing neighborhoods, and bike and pedestrian connectivity. Continue to participate in regional transportation planning and incentivize alternatives to driving.
  • Access to housing – prioritize implementation of a comprehensive affordable housing strategy, including incorporating a multi-pronged approach that increases access to ownership and rentals. Also, explore new and creative approaches to retain and expand our supply of housing for all income ranges as the community grows.
  • Economic development – continue to enhance downtown as a vibrant cultural arts destination, support the creation of other culturally-engaging destinations in our town, and pursue policies that help entrepreneurs and locally owned businesses to thrive, expand and diversify our tax base.
  • Public education – work collaboratively with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board to help retain our commitment to supporting strong public schools that are successful for all students. 
  • Environmental protection – preserve open spaces and ensure that new development includes sufficient stream buffers and does not exacerbate flooding and erosion. Reaffirm Chapel Hill’s commitment to uphold the Paris agreement goals by finding creative solutions to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Equity in policing – support the Chapel Hill Police Department’s community-oriented and bias-free policing efforts and champion the town’s resolution to reduce disparities in policing and end profiling.
  • Innovative community engagement – apply creative approaches that encourage broad participation and representation of diverse voices, including our young people. Use the arts as one of the tools for community development and empowerment.
  • Health and social services – increase access to services for youth and adults, including those who are experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, mental illness, and substance use disorders.
  • Strong and collaborative relations with UNC – strengthen our partnership with the University to identify and act on opportunities for economic development, promotion of cultural arts, and innovation. Welcome student voices in dialogues on issues of importance to our community.




I attended the meet the candidate yesterday and too my knowledge Karen Stegman may acually have the same interest in politics as former Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt and former Councilman Lee Starrow. Let s hope she proves me wrong, Gary Kahn


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