Orange County candidates for office in Chapel Hill and Carrboro pledged to improve conditions for day laborers, expand affordable rental offerings and work with the county to mitigate the effects of the Rogers Road landfill and an alternative for the county’s garbage during the fall meeting of Justice United, a nonpartisan community advocacy group last week.
Candidates for the Chapel Hill Town Council and mayor, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education participated in the event. Candidates for Chapel Hill and Carrboro's governing boards responded to questions individually when asked about their commitment to resolving county issues like when to close the Rogers Road landfill and how to create more lower-income housing.
All Chapel Hill Town Council candidates except current Mayor Pro Tem Jim Ward said they would support closing the Rogers Road landfill in 2013.
Ward said he doesn’t want to commit to closing the landfill until a long-term solution for the county’s waste is found.
“I do feel the moral obligations to the Rogers Road community,” he said. “I cannot in clear conscious say that in 2013 I’ll feel so much better about putting this trash in somebody else’s back yard.”
“Are we so fed up with what we have right now that we’re willing to put that trash in somebody else’s yard? I’m not there,” Ward said.
The election is not going to determine his answer on this issue, he said.
Other candidates said the county needs to find a better location for the trash instead of trucking it to Durham, but said they’d still support closing the landfill in 2013.
“This community has born the burden of trash for much too long … inevitably trash is going to be taken somewhere,” said Carrboro Alderman Sammy Slade. “I’m not a believer in out of sight out of mind. I think we need to find a solution, ideally, locally.”
County commissioners agreed this fall to pay to hook up homes in the landfill area that were not connected to county water lines, and are working on other mitigation efforts in the community. Most commissioners have said they support closing the landfill in 2013, including Chairwoman Bernadette Pelissier and Commissioner Valerie Foushee, who was at the meeting Monday.
Candidates for Town Council present at the meeting and support closing the landfill include Jason Baker, Lee Storrow, Laney Dale, Carl Schuler, Augustus Cho, Matt Czajkowski and Donna Bell.
Mayoral candidates Tim Sookram and Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt also supported 2013 closure.
Carrboro Board of Aldermen candidates who supported the landfill include Braxton Foushee, Michelle Johnson, Dan Coleman, Sammy Slade and Lydia Lavelle.
More than 131 delegates from area organizations attended last week’s meeting. The group is also working on providing more affordable rentals and making sure that lower income tenants are treated fairly by landlords.
The group is also working to improve relations between the day laborers who gather on Jones Ferry Road in Carrboro and Carrboro police and want to put a port-a-potty on the site.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board candidates Mia Burrows, Jamezetta Bedford, Kris Castellano and James Barrett and Mike Kelley were also present at the meeting and supported continuing conversations with the landfill, day laborer, and affordable housing issues.
**This post was updated on October 30, 2011**