We have gotten several emails and reports that neighborhoods along Pathway and Homestead received flyers over the past two days that contain extremely misleading and incorrect information about candidates and issues in the election. In this post, we fact check these flyers and the group circulating them.

Who is sending the flyer?

One flyer says it’s sent by Better Carrboro. The other flyer, with the exact same copy, says it’s coming from Neighbors for Sustainable Development at FairOaks (sic). These are the same group and run by the same people. Better Carrboro is run by residents also closely affiliated with Friends of Bolin Creek and CHALT. Friends of Bolin Creek and CHALT share a PO Box, and an IP address.

What is Better Carrboro and what candidates have they supported?

Better Carrboro is a group that formed in early 2022 to oppose affordable housing along a town-owned parcel on Pathway Drive. They also oppose the extension of the greenway in Carrboro. They have backed conservative-leaning candidates for Carrboro Town Council who are all new Democrats: in the last election cycle, they advocated for Aja Kelleher, who was previously a Republican. (She lost to Eliazar Posada, who is running for reelection.) In this election cycle, they are advocating heavily for Stephanie Wade and April Mills, both of whom became Democrats in June before filing to run in July.

In 2022, Mills voted in the Republican primary. In 2020, she publicly backed Jo Jorgensen, the Libertarian presidential candidate who wanted to ditch Social Security, opposed mask mandates, and ran on a platform of wanting to dismantle the Department of Education. (Jorgensen received 0.77% of the vote in Orange County in 2020.) Mills changed her Facebook profile picture to support Jorgensen. Wade, too, voted for a Libertarian candidate in the 2012 primary.

In contrast, according to their North Carolina voting records, Posada, Fray, and Merrill have voted Democrat in each primary they’ve voted in.

I’ve heard that name Better Carrboro before.

This is the second Better Carrboro group to form in Carrboro. The first, formed the early 1980s, was created to oppose a series of progressives on Town Council, including Braxton Foushee and Mayor Robert Drakeford.

What’s wrong with this flyer?

The flyer circulating paints an incorrect and incomplete picture of candidates. For starters:

– There are no plans to add parking lots along Bolin Creek entrance ways. This is a complete fabrication. The master plan suggests using existing parking lots at Wilson Park (100 spots) and at the CHCCS high school on weekends. There’s also lots at Community Center Park and Umstead Park. (Like with Chapel Hill’s Booker Creek Greenway and Bolin Creek Greenway, it’s expected that many people will walk or bike to the greenway from their homes.) The 2009 master plan describes some opportunities for trailheads, based on their location, but the document notes that there are no plans, and that many, many factors (including community approval) would need to be aligned for those trailheads to develop. (Since 2009, a conservation easement was created that sits right inside the forest at Tripp Farm Road and prevents a trailhead from being there.)
This is typical of ongoing fear mongering about the greenway. Pick out a small detail from the lengthy concept plan, and act like it’s written in stone. (It’s not. It’s a concept plan, not a final design.) And since the master concept plan was developed, MLK Park opened down the street with parking available. But this kind of nuance goes out the window when flyers are printed to scare people.
– The only role that Council has in connections for new developments is to make sure that landowners are following the rules in the town’s development ordinances. There was no rezoning between Sanderway and Pathway.
– There are no plans to build a 30+ apartment building along Pathway Drive. This is a complete fabrication. Right now, the town is assessing several town-owned parcels to determine whether it is even feasible for housing to be located on them. This is routinely done because it is easier and cheaper for towns to build affordable housing on town-owned land. The town has said, on numerous occasions, that environmental and stormwater assessments will determine a future direction for town-owned land parcels.
– There are no plans to clearcut trees along Bolin Creek or on Pathway Drive. The greenway is located in a sewage easement already cleared of trees. 12 trees total came down in Chapel Hill for a similarly-designed greenway which tens of thousands of people use. The path is essentially impervious and a source of environmental impact and already allows sedimentation and runoff. Doing nothing increases that impact. Paving 10 feet will allow us to plant native plants and shrubs along the creek, to repair the riparian zone.

Anything else?

Fray, Merrill, and Posada bring decades of experience to the table and a vision for Carrboro that centers equity, the environment, affordability, and accessibility. Posada, a renter like 58 percent of Carrboro residents, has championed ensuring that every community in Carrboro can access material in their native languages. Fray co-led the Carrboro Connects Comprehensive Plan, which was built on a foundation of race and equity and climate action. They have a deep understanding of housing, stormwater issues, and planning processes. Merrill brings years of business experience leading Back Alley Bikes, a commitment to ensuring that kids and adults can bike and walk safely to school or work and our downtown areas and years chairing the Town of Chapel Hill transportation and Connectivity board.

– Fray, Merrill, and Posada have received endorsements from current and former elected officials, and every organizational endorsement.

Anderson-Thorpe-Battle Breakfast Club
Daily Tar Heel
IndyWeek (Carrboro, Chapel Hill, School Board all at same link)
Moms Demand Action GunSense Candidates
NextNC Action Fund
NC Chapter of the Sierra Club
Sunrise Durham (Carrboro, Chapel Hill)
Triangle Blog Blog (Carrboro, Chapel Hill, School Board)

– Affordable housing is a critical part of how we might approach the priorities our voters broadly agree on, and Mills and Wade are uniquely disengaged with local stakeholders trying to fill that gap.

Each year, the Affordable Housing Coalition, the consortium of all of the affordable housing organizations in both towns, sends every candidate running for elected office in Chapel Hill and Carrboro a list of questions related to housing.

Mills and Wade did not fill out the questionnaire.

You can see Fray, Merrill, and Posada’s answers here

In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.

Melody Kramer is a Peabody-award winning journalist whose work has appeared on NPR and member stations around the country, as well as in publications ranging from National Geographic to Esquire Magazine....