10:47 : We’ll have more to say in the morning, but this is a historic night for progressives in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Congratulations to everyone who worked for and voted for Jess Anderson, Barbara Foushee, Amy Ryan, Catherine Fray, Melissa McCullough, Eliazar Posada, Theodore Nollert, and Jason Merrill. Our towns will be in good hands in the next two years. We also have four terrific new school board members: Rani Dasi, Barbara Fedders, Meredith Ballew, and Vickie Feaster Fornville.
9:45 : The results held! Jess Anderson defeated Adam Searing for mayor.
7:46: If you want to follow along at home, election results are here:
7:42: WCHL’s Tom Jensen said earlier that the people who vote on Election Day tend to be younger than early voters (29 percent of which were over the age of 70), which bodes well for Jess Anderson, Melissa McCullough, Amy Ryan, and Theodore Nollert. Jon Mitchell and Erik Valera are unlikely to pass Elizabeth Sharp and Renuka Soll for fourth place.
7:37: In Carrboro, the Better Together slate is far ahead of April Mills and Stephanie Wade.
In school board, we have a race. Rani Dasi, Barbara Fedders, and Meredith Ballew are likely top 3 finishers. Vicki Fornville is ahead for fourth, but Honor Middough, Mariela Hernandez, and Allison Willis are close behind.
7:33 : Jess leads Adam 57-42
Melissa, Amy, Theodore, are likely top 3.
Renuka and Elizabeth battling for fourth
7:00 : Thirty minutes until the polls close. There’s still time to vote! If you’ve voted, check on your neighbor, text a friend. Every vote counts! Even if you’re at the wrong polling place, you can request a provisional ballot.
Here’s our preview for tonight:
For months, we’ve reported on what we believe will be the most consequential election in Chapel Hill since 2015, and the stakes in Carrboro are just as high. In addition, we have one of the largest school board fields ever, with 11 candidates who have been actively campaigning for election. (Two candidates, Michelle Rissling and incumbent Ashton Powell, have been largely absent from the race.)
When the polls close at 7:30 pm, the candidates will go to their respective huddles—some at campaign parties, others in more quiet circumstances—and await the results. In years past, the early vote is reported first, usually soon after polls close, and then it takes an hour, maybe three if it’s close, to get the final results.
The mayor’s race in Chapel Hill marks the third competitive race for mayor in a decade. (In Chapel Hill and Carrboro, we elect mayors to two-year terms, while council seats have four-year terms and are staggered). In 2015, challenger Pam Hemminger defeated the incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt 54-45, and she held off a challenge from Hongbin Gu in 2021, winning 61-36.
This time Jess Anderson, the leading vote getter in the two times she’s run for town council (2015 and 2019), is hoping to defeat her fellow council member, Adam Searing, who finished fourth place two years ago, winning 17 percent of the vote while his challengers all won 20 percent.
With a more crowded council field this year, it is unlikely the winning candidates will receive more than 20 percent of the vote. One early test will be whether Adam Searing’s slate of candidates all receive the same number of votes, or if it’s clear that one or two of them attracted other votes as well.
In Carrboro, Barbara Foushee is running unopposed, which is a testament to her broad support in Carrboro. When she ran for council in 2021, she won 32 percent of the vote in a five candidate field, which means that almost everyone voted for her. (In Carrboro, voters choose three council candidates).
This time, the council race is again five candidates, but unlike 2021, when three incumbents were on the ballot, only Eliazar Posada is running for re-election. Because April Mills and Stephanie Wade are running as a slate, expect their votes to be bunched closely together. In addition, Posada, Catherine Fray, and Jason Merrill are running as a slate, so their votes should be bunched together as well.
So far, voting has been up 25 percent over 2021, which means we’ll have about 13,000 votes in Chapel Hill, and about 5,000 votes in Carrboro. That means Anderson or Searing will need about 7,000 votes to win their bid for mayor. (Calculating the number of votes needed to win a council seat is more complicated.)
Your blog blogger crew will be out and about tonight, so updates may be sporadic, but please read or listen to WCHL’s coverage of the election, which is excellent.