Indyweek had a good piece by Lena Geller profiling the two candidates running for Carrboro Town Council.
- Eliazar Posada
- Aja Kelleher
First, how they’re similar: They’re both children of immigrants who would bring much-needed diversity to the Town Council. They’ve both lived here for roughly the same amount of time. And they both care about the future of Carrboro.
But their visions for that future are very different. Here are some key differences between the two candidates. (And also some clearing up of misconceptions.) All quotes are from the Indyweek piece.
NextNC: Eliazar Posada | Aja Kelleher did not submit a questionnaire
Sierra Club does not make their questionnaires public. Eliazar Posada submitted a questionnaire; Aja Kelleher did not.
1. Their thoughts on the 203 Project
Kelleher is against the 203 Project. Posada is for it.
Key Kelleher passage: “It’s like, whoa, you’re turning all of downtown into a social agency,” Kelleher says. “Even on a liberal level, we have to have some retail.” Building a library doesn’t increase the town’s revenue, but it does suck up taxpayer money, she says.
Key Posada passage: Posada thinks the passage of the 203 Project is one of Carrboro’s greatest achievements of the past year, describing it as a “huge economic boost to Carrboro.” The project will attract new people to the area, which means more traffic for local businesses; it will also encourage new development that increases the town’s housing stock and retail space, he says.
Our thoughts: One of Carrboro’s more admirable attributes is its support for immigrants and refugees. We note that Kelleher’s slight on Carrboro having too many “social agencies” in town is particularly offensive, given that Posada was until recently running El Centro Hispano.
Onto the content: As we wrote in our earlier post about the library, there’s no anticipated impact on our tax rates. The town’s share of the cost will come from a combination of debt financing and cash from the general fund, as detailed in a presentation on March 3 and repeated in a Town Council meeting in April. There’s also quite a large body of research that shows that libraries do, in fact, bring in additional tax revenue – businesses bring in more foot traffic, and businesses that otherwise wouldn’t have started get off the ground.
2. Their thoughts on transportation
Key Kelleher passage: Kelleher also takes issue with the project’s impact on available parking, and, generally, with the town’s negligence in implementing a parking plan. Last week, when the Carrboro Business Alliance raised the need for more parking at a town council meeting, council members disregarded the alliance’s concerns and changed the subject to bike racks, Kelleher says. “I was like, for God’s sake, we’re not talking about bicycles. We’re talking about parking cars,” Kelleher says, adding that the town’s “anti-car” rhetoric is elitist. “Can we just not talk about bicycles for five minutes?”
Key Posada passage: Posada also prioritizes transit and infrastructure, though he wants to “move away from parking”; he’s most focused on increasing and improving bus routes, bike lanes, and walkways, specifically for communities that currently don’t have easy access to the downtown area.
Our thoughts: As Geoff Green noted earlier, the 2022 Carrboro parking report — recently released in April — notes that there is “ample existing space availability across the downtown,” with about 3,604 overall parking spaces, and maximum occupancy of around 50%.
3. Their thoughts on who lives in our town
Key Kelleher passage: “Look, the town is like 90 percent liberal,” Kelleher says. “But the 10 percent that isn’t liberal just doesn’t say anything, because it’s too divisive.”
Key Posada passage: As an openly gay Latino man who earns significantly less than the median income in Orange County, Posada says he’s intimately familiar with the pressing needs of marginalized communities and wants to ensure that their views are sufficiently represented in local leadership. “When I’m talking about representation, I’m talking about bringing in those voices, those community members who have not had the opportunity to be heard, to have a seat at the table,” Posada says.
Kelleher’s thoughts on who currently serves on town council
Key Kelleher passage: “There’s a lot of Koreans that are merchants here in the States,’ “ Kelleher says. ‘It’s a very entrepreneurial, self-starter-type culture. That’s one thing that makes me different from a lot of councilors on the board, because they all work for universities and public entities.’”
Our thoughts: That’s not true. There’s one person (Susan Romaine) who has founded two non-profits, PORCH and Orange County Living Wage. The others: one is a carpenter, one works as a marketer, one works at a molecular oncology laboratory at RTP, and one is a science educator at a private school in Durham. The mayor works at Duke.
4. Their thoughts on housing
Key Kelleher passage: She thinks the town should use existing buildings or develop complexes downtown instead of constructing high-density housing in single-family subdivisions. The latter approach will aggravate tensions between old and new residents, she says, pointing to one proposal to construct a complex in the Fairoaks neighborhood.
Key Posada passage: He’s not pushing to build massive apartment complexes in the middle of old neighborhoods, he says, “but you know, maybe a house can be turned into a duplex or a triplex without changing the aesthetic of the neighborhood.”
Kelleher’s thoughts on stormwater
Key Kelleher passage: “Carrboro’s ‘terrible track record for stormwater management’ is what initially motivated Kelleher to run for town council. She used to be neighbors with a man named Tim Carless, who spent years begging the town to do something about stormwater flooding issues in his home. The town never did anything, Kelleher says—then, last June, Carless died of esophageal cancer. She felt compelled to step up. ‘He was constantly getting sick from the floods,’ Kelleher says. ‘I theorize if that hadn’t happened to my dear neighbor, his life might have been different. He might be alive right now.’”
Our thoughts: Kelleher serves on the Stormwater Advisory Commission but has a spotty attendance record. She missed three meetings (out of six) between October and March. Here are some facts about stormwater management in Carrboro:
Since the 1980s, the Town’s Land Use Ordinance (LUO) has required stormwater management as part of development projects. Beginning in 2004, the Town’s stormwater management efforts have been regulated under an NPDES (National Pollution Discharge Elimination System) permit. From the town website:
This led to a decision to create a Stormwater Utility in 2017 funded by property owner fees based on the amount of impervious surface on the property. The Utility is necessitated in part by regulations including: the Town’s requirements under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program; the listing of Bolin Creek on the State Impaired Waters list; and the ongoing implementation of the Jordan Lake Rules, but also to better address drainage, flooding, and infrastructure concerns and resilience in consideration of hydrologic (precipitation and runoff) changes associated with climate change.
One section of the permit is for “post-construction” stormwater management, which includes requirements for maintenance and inspection of “Stormwater Control Measures” (SCMs). SCMs are regulated stormwater devices that treat runoff to reduce both water quantity and quality impacts. The Town of Carrboro requires the property owner to take responsibility for maintenance and inspection of stormwater devices [on an annual basis].”
Carrboro is required to meet the standards of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) meaning stormwater must be managed with “best management practices (BMPs), to reduce flooding, runoff and pollution impacts on watersheds.”
5. Their thoughts on serving their community
Kelleher key passage: If Kelleher doesn’t win the upcoming election, she has pledged to never run for public office again. She’s tired of having her signs stolen, being labeled a NIMBY, and receiving hateful comments on Twitter. Recent Twitter attacks have focused on her tangential involvement in an alleged racial assault at Carrboro coffee shop Present Day on Main, where a woman carrying Kelleher’s campaign materials called 911 after the shop’s owners—one of whom is Black and queer—told her to leave the premises (the shop was closed for a private event).
Despite not knowing the woman, Kelleher released a public apology after the incident, calling it “white privileged behavior.”
Posada key passage: “While Carrboro is super welcoming, not everyone is 100 percent OK with changes that take power away from some of these systems of privilege,” Posada says. “It’s reflected in events like what happened at Present Day on Main. We can find better ways of addressing security.”
If he wins this race, Posada plans to run for reelection …. In many ways, his life’s work has been leading up to this opportunity.
“I’ve always been into policy and systematic change, and I’ve learned how to do it from community building,” Posada says. “The next step for me is holding one of these seats of power and advocating from the inside rather than the outside.”