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Foy says he’s not running

By Kirk Ross
Staff Writer

In a decision that should shake up the field of prospective candidates in the fall municipal elections, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy said he won’t seek a fifth term in office.

Foy, first elected in 2001, made the announcement last Thursday.

In a message sent out via email, Foy said he had opted not to seek re-election primarily because he has accomplished many of the things he set out to do when he first signed on to run. He also expressed confidence about the future.

“Anyone who serves in a position like mine understands how difficult it can be to move on, because there are always new challenges to face. But it is time for another person to lead in Chapel Hill. I look forward to our future, and I am confident that Chapel Hill will continue to be a great place to live, work, and go to school,” Foy said in his statement.

Even though the official filing period for the elections doesn’t start for another month, the move set off immediate speculation about who might enter the Chapel Hill mayor’s race.

One answer to that came a few hours after Foy’s announcement, when Chapel Hill Town Council member Mark Kleinschmidt said he wants the job.

In an interview Wednesday, Kleinschmidt, a lawyer who is executive director of the Fair Trial Initiative, said he would have been happy to see Foy serve another term. After Foy passed on that he was not going to seek re-election, Kleinschmidt, who has served on the council since 2001, said he decided to run. Given the economy and its impact on the town budget, he said, he felt it was important for someone with experience to step up.

“We have a couple of years ahead of us, including this one, where there are unprecedented challenges,” Kleinschmidt said.

Shaping the direction the town will take after the economic crisis passes, he said, will be a key role for the next mayor.

Kleinschmidt, whose term on the council expires this year, wasn’t alone in indicating his intentions for the upcoming election. Council member Laurin Easthom announced that she would seek re-election.

Council members Ed Harrison and Jim Merritt must also decide whether to seek another term. Other names that have been mentioned as possible candidates for council seats are Penny Rich and Will Raymond, both of whom ran in prior years.

In Carrboro, the office of mayor and board of aldermen seats held by Jacquie Gist, John Herrera and Randee Haven-O’Donnell will be on the ballot. Gist, a 20-year veteran on the board, said this week she is “a strong maybe” to seek another term.

In Hillsborough, the ballot features seats held by board members Frances Dancy and Michael Gering and Mayor Tom Stevens.

In Pittsboro, the terms of Mayor Randy Voller and town commissioners Pamela Baldwin and Christopher Walker expire this year.

Also on the ballot this fall will be three seats on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education. Those seats are occupied by incumbents Jean Hamilton, Gregory McElveen and Lisa Stuckey.

Filing begins July 6 at 8 a.m. and ends at noon on July 17. The Orange County Board of Elections website will keep track of candidates as they file at co.orange.nc.us/elect/2009CandidateFilings.asp

Editor’s note: Next week, The Citizen will feature a discussion with Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy on his four terms as mayor and what the future may hold for Chapel Hill and the region.

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