Orange County, North Carolina has a long history of supporting openly gay candidates for elected office. Chapel Hill elected the first openly gay elected official in North Carolina in 1987 when Joe Herzenberg was elected to the Town Council (Herzenberg had been appointed to fill an un-expired term in 1979, but was not elected until almost a decade later). Since then, multiple openly gay candidates have been elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Board of Aldermen, and Orange County Board of Commissioners. Our community currently has three openly gay elected officials, and if everything goes as expected, we’ll have a fourth on March 19th.
The fourth, Damon Seils, has been involved in town government in Carrboro for years. He’s served as Chair of the town’s Planning Board and has been a member of the Greenways Commission. He has also been chair of the Orange County Human Relations Commission. He’s been actively involved in important social justice issues in the community, and frequently contributes to Orange County’s progressive blog OrangePolitics. Damon is currently running in a special election for an open seat on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. I wrote earlier that he is likely to win if “all goes as expected” not because he is overconfident, but because he is the only candidate in the race. While there is still the potential for a write-in campaign, I hope we’ll be cheering Damon on as the newest member of the Board of Aldermen this spring.
In a town like Carrboro, Damon does not face much opposition because of his sexual orientation. At the same time, after our state’s vote on Amendment One last year, it is imperative that more gay and lesbian citizens play leadership roles in public life. When minority populations become more public, it helps change hearts and minds, and based on the Amendment One vote last year, we have a lot of hearts and minds to change.
For politically minded folks, the spring of odd-numbered years doesn’t feel like a natural time to be campaigning. If you are looking to scratch your political itch and help support a true progressive champion, help Damon Seils out. The most important way to support the campaign is to get out the vote. Early voting begins in Orange County today and you can sign on his website to help finish canvassing. Also, let your friends who live in Carrboro know to vote, either early or on March 19th (Election Day). North Carolina currently only has eight openly gay elected officials, this spring, let’s make it nine. Support Damon Seils for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.