David Adams, Renuka Soll, Elizabeth Sharp and Breckany Eckhardt are planning to run for council alongside council member Adam Searing, who is running for mayor.
Over the weekend, we learned that Adam Searing will be running for Mayor alongside four like-minded candidates for Chapel Hill Town Council. Three of the four are running for office for the first time, while the fourth finished seventh in a seven-person race for council four years ago.
While we anticipate that they will be making their announcements official in the coming weeks (candidate filing begins on July 7), we wanted to let you know a bit about the four candidates seeking to join Searing in voting no against housing choices, affordable housing on town-owned land, and, possibly, lots of other things as well.
A longtime member of the anti-development group Chapel Hill Alliance for a Liveable Town (CHALT), David Adams has been active in local politics for years. Last year, he organized a GoFundMe that raised $3,566 in an effort to prevent the town from building 9 acres of housing and a 36-acre park at the American Legion site. If you don’t want people to live here, David is your friend. He’s spoken out against many, many developments, from Meadowmont to Blue Hill.
In the past month, Adams has submitted two petitions to the town council. In late May, he petitioned the council to reconsider its plans to build housing and a park on the Legion site. In early June, he submitted a petition, which was started by Sherry Stockton, to council calling on them to reconsider and delay its plan to allow for more housing choices in our community. Several of the demands in the petition, dated February 10, were addressed by the council, but Adams made no acknowledgement of this.
Among other things, the Stockton petition denied the role systematic and structural racism has played in shaping our housing policies. Adams was the third person to sign the petition. Ironically, a year earlier, Adams sent a letter to the council calling for more “missing middle” housing. Like many CHALTers, Adams is for housing in theory, but not in practice.
Adams registered to vote in Chapel Hill in 1984, and has voted in every municipal election since then.
Renuka Soll ran for council in 2019, where she was endorsed by CHALT, and finished just behind Tai Huynh, Nancy Oates, and Sue Hunter for a seventh-place finish. While she’s been a public advocate on gun safety, she aligns with Adam Searing on policy issues that affect the town. She also sits on the Parks, Greenways and Recreation Commission.
Like Adams, she signed Stockton’s petition, the 551st person to do so. She recently attended a meeting with the Chapel Hill Parks and Rec Department alongside leaders in Friends of Bolin Creek where they asked Chapel Hill to slow down the process of extending their greenway network. In 2019, Soll petitioned the Historic District Commission to stop UNC from going forward with its plan to revamp a few buildings on campus, and Adams was the first person to sign. Since registering to vote here in 2003, Soll has voted in municipal elections in 2005, 2009, 2011, 2017, 2019, and 2021.
The co-owner of Bluebird and Hawthorne & Wood, Elizabeth Sharp has largely been out of the public eye. To our knowledge, she has not spoken at any town council meetings, and has not served on our town boards or commissions. (Usually, but not always, town council members have some experience in local government before running for office).
We do know that Sharp is strongly against the housing choices text amendment. While she didn’t speak at the May 24 town council meeting where the text amendment was discussed, she posted a photo of her hugging council member Tai Huynh and other supporters of the text amendment. In her caption she compared supporters of duplexes to Trump supporters, saying “I would never have thought hugging people on my side of the aisle would be even harder than hugging people at a Trump rally, but tonight was ROUGH.”
Sharp’s website features several issues she wants to focus on, including “Encourage Good Design” and “Bikes, For Real.” The word ‘housing’ does not appear on her website.
In the section entitled “Bikes, For Real,” Sharp features a picture of a biker –the pictured biker is not in Chapel Hill, however, but Minneapolis. The picture appears to be taken from the Minneapolis Vision Zero Plan.
Sharp voted in the 2017 municipal election, soon after she registered, but did not vote in 2019 or 2021, which means that she did not vote for any of the current members of the town council.
Like Sharp, Eckhardt has not been involved in town affairs. When she spoke at a town council meeting last September, she said that it was first time speaking at a council meeting, and expressed her unhappiness with development at Blue Hill, which is close to where she lives. She said many of her neighbors were thinking of leaving town, and she was considering doing the same. She donated money to Adams’s GoFundMe to fight the town’s plan to build affordable housing on the Legion Park site.
She also spoke at the January 25 town council meeting, this time to speak out against the town’s proposal to add more missing middle housing. She voted in the 2021 municipal elections, but not in 2019 or 2017, when she registered in NC.