It’s Official: I’m Running for Mayor

Headshot of Damon Seils with logo reading Damon Seils for Mayor of Carrboro
Photo credit: Trevor Holman Photography

Friends and neighbors,

This morning I announced on WCHL that I am running for mayor of Carrboro. Our current mayor, Lydia Lavelle, said last week she will not seek re-election this year.

During eight years on the Town Council, I have built productive relationships with community members and leaders like you both in Carrboro and across the region. These relationships will be a strong foundation for stepping into a new leadership role for the people of Carrboro. I hope you’ll join me.

The next two years will bring defining moments for Carrboro. We will hire a new town manager, implement the Carrboro Connects comprehensive plan, and take lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure we are providing services to meet community needs and allocating our resources equitably. As I said during my re-election campaign two years ago, I will continue to press for better local and regional transit, better infrastructure to support a growing and diverse community, and decision making that holds racial equity and social justice in the foreground.

We need sustained community engagement, experienced leadership, and vision to translate these priorities into reality—and I’m ready to lead those efforts as mayor.

I hope you’ll consider making a contribution to support my campaign. Your early contribution will help me with initial expenses and give me the resources I need to share my message with more people in the community. See damonseils.org/donate for more information.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions about the campaign or ideas about the future of our amazing town.

With pride and enthusiasm for Carrboro,

Damon

Spring 2021 Office Hours

Spring is here! It’s a great time for us to get outside and for me to resume my community office hours. Join me and an occasional special guest to talk about all things Carrboro. We will continue to follow the public health guidance by meeting outdoors. I’m looking forward to these opportunities to talk with you in person.

  • Sunday, May 2, 1:00-3:00 pm — 📍 Martin Luther King Jr Park — Special guest: Chapel Hill Council Member Tai Huynh
  • Wednesday, May 12, 12:00-1:30 pm — 📍 Gray Squirrel Coffee Company
  • Saturday, June 19, 12:30-2:30 pm — 📍 Honeysuckle Cafe — Special guest: George Barrett, executive director, Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History

Preview of summer office hours:

  • Saturday, July 17, 11:00 am-1:00 pm — 📍 Present Day on Main — Special guest: Carrboro Council Member Barbara Foushee

These dates and times may change. Check this page for updates, or follow along on Twitter or Facebook. And feel free to contact me anytime.

Updated June 23, 2021.

A Resolution Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

I was glad to partner with Council Member Barbara Foushee on this resolution, which the Town Council approved unanimously this week. We had the privilege of working on the resolution with Dr. Freddie Parker, a historian at North Carolina Central University.

WHEREAS, the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”; and 

WHEREAS, the amendment was ratified on February 3, 1870, the last of the three Reconstruction Amendments that were adopted after the Civil War to abolish slavery, extend due process and the equal protection of the laws, and affirm the right to vote; and 

WHEREAS, Black North Carolinians who owned property had been allowed to vote under the state’s 1776 constitution, but were stripped of the right to vote by the 1835 constitution; and 

WHEREAS, Black people sought the franchise immediately after slavery ended, continuing an ongoing struggle that began during the Colonial period; and 

WHEREAS, the Fifteenth Amendment was a radical achievement for its time, and after it hundreds of thousands of formerly enslaved people began to vote, an estimated 2000 Black men were elected to local and state office during Reconstruction, and Black men were elected to serve in the US House of Representatives for the first time on October 19, 1870; and 

WHEREAS, the amendment also represented a political compromise, a watered-down version of proposals that would have ended poll taxes, literacy tests, and other restrictions that were used across the South to prevent Black people from voting for another hundred years; and 

WHEREAS, the fight to protect voting rights, expand voter access, and ensure fair elections is not over, as seen in recent attempts by the North Carolina General Assembly to suppress voting rights, such as voter ID measures, sham investigations of voter fraud, racially motivated gerrymandering, and other efforts designed to prevent Black people from voting; and 

WHEREAS, the year 2020 is the 150th anniversary of the ratification and adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment and is also an election year of momentous importance; and 

WHEREAS, voting in every election and learning and sharing the history of the struggle for voting rights are important tools in effecting change at the federal, state, and local levels; 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Town Council of the Town of Carrboro, North Carolina, encourages all residents to vote and to support and engage in efforts to protect voting rights and ensure fair elections, such as the local and statewide work of Democracy NC, You Can Vote, and Activate! IFC.

This the 23rd day of June, 2020.

A Resolution on Advancing Next Steps in Racial Equity in Law Enforcement and Public Safety in Carrboro

WHEREAS, Black Lives Matter; and 

WHEREAS, on June 9, 2020, the Town Council requested that Council Members Haven-O’Donnell, Seils, and Slade draft a resolution addressing next steps in advancing racial equity in law enforcement and public safety; and 

WHEREAS, appreciating the diligence of the manager and the department heads in preparing a budget that aims to avoid increases in expenditures in anticipation of an economic downturn, the Town Council also asked that the manager provide more information about the recommended budget for fiscal year 2021, including details about the proposed 6.6 percent increase in the Police Department budget and options for lessening proposed increases; and 

WHEREAS, in May 2015, the Orange County Bias Free Policing Coalition (“Coalition”) submitted a report, “Policing Reform Recommendations,” to the Carrboro Town Council, the Chapel Hill Town Council, and the Orange County Board of Commissioners; and 

WHEREAS, the Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Walter Horton, provides a high level of service to and receives high marks from Carrboro residents, and has taken important steps toward achieving the Coalition’s goals for bias-free policing, including confirming the existence of or newly adopting the following policies and practices: written policies explicitly prohibiting racial profiling; periodic reviews of data on law enforcement officers’ motor vehicle stops, searches, and arrests; requirement to obtain written consent for consensual searches; use of dashboard-mounted and body-worn cameras; designation of marijuana-related enforcement as a low priority; deemphasis of regulatory and equipment-related motor vehicle stops; reports of enforcement data disaggregated by race and ethnicity; and racial equity training for officers; and 

WHEREAS, in October 2015, the Campaign for Racial Equity in Our Schools submitted a report, “Excellence With Equity: The Schools Our Children Deserve,” to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education; and 

WHEREAS, in October 2018, the Town Council authorized the Town to become a “core member” of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), a commitment to advance racial equity across all functions and levels of municipal government; and 

WHEREAS, on June 9, 2020, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 145, establishing the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice, which will “develop and help implement solutions that will eliminate disparate outcomes in the criminal justice system for communities of color”; and 

WHEREAS, “Carrboro citizens are vocal in their concern for each other”; and “the town should continue to look for unmet needs,” “continue to support human service needs that are above and beyond those met by the County,” “consider the impact of its ordinances and policies on the well-being of its most vulnerable citizens,” “continue to provide a high level of police, public works and fire service,” and “continue its efforts towards community building by encouraging the use of facilitation and conflict resolution” (Carrboro Vision 2020); 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: 

SECTION 1. GOALS; REPORTS REQUESTED

  1. The Town Council hereby establishes the following policy goals relating to racial equity and public safety: 
  • zero racial and ethnic disparities in motor vehicle stops; 
  • zero racial and ethnic disparities in searches resulting from motor vehicle stops; 
  • zero racial and ethnic disparities in citations and arrests resulting from motor vehicle stops; 
  • zero racial and ethnic disparities in uses of force; and 
  • zero arrests for low-level marijuana-related offenses.
  1. Consistent with recommendations and responses from the Coalition, the Town Council asks the manager to resume in summer 2020 providing quarterly “race and policing reports,” including but not limited to overall stop rates, demographic information, residency tracking, reasons for stops, equipment and regulatory violations, number of searches, types of searches (e.g., consensual, probable cause), number of requests denied for written consent for searches, citations, arrests, uses of force, and complaints, to the extent publicly disclosable by law.
  1. The Town Council asks the manager to provide a report describing calls for service from the Police Department and the Fire-Rescue Department.
  1. In the interest of promoting transparency, the Town Council asks the manager to make available on the Town’s website the reports listed above, the Coalition’s responses to those reports, and the Town’s responses to the Coalition.
  1. The Town Council asks the manager to share the policy goals and reports listed above, and information about the work of the Town’s GARE team, with the Town’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force, which is currently being formed.

SECTION 2. USE OF FORCE

  1. The Town Council recognizes that the number of use-of-force incidents in the Police Department is low and that officers’ decisions about use of force must be guided by concern for the safety of themselves and others and must be tactically and legally sound.
  1. The Town Council is grateful to the police chief for responding to residents’ and council members’ inquiries about use-of-force policies by confirming that the following departmental policies are in effect: 
  • require officers to de-escalate situations when possible; 
  • require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents to a supervisor; 
  • establish a force continuum that restricts the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations; and 
  • require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force.
  1. The Town Council hereby establishes that it is Town policy that the use of chokeholds and strangleholds—broadly defined to include all maneuvers that involve choking, holding the neck, or cutting off blood flow in the neck—is prohibited as a policing tactic.
  1. The Town Council hereby establishes that it is Town policy that officers must provide a verbal warning, when practicable, before using deadly force. The Town Council affirms that officers’ decisions must remain safe and tactically sound.
  1. The Town Council hereby establishes that it is Town policy that the use of deadly force against individuals (including individuals in moving vehicles or on foot) is limited to situations where it is necessary for self-defense or defense of others against an imminent deadly threat or threat of serious bodily injury. Chapter 5 of the Police Department’s Policy and Procedure Manual (revised February 1, 2020) is consistent with this policy.
  1. The Town Council hereby establishes that it is Town policy that the use of specialized impact munitions (as defined in Chapter 5, Section II.H) or chemical agents on crowds or persons exercising their First Amendment rights is prohibited.
  2. The Town Council hereby establishes that it is Town policy that the hiring of anyone who has previously been either (1) disciplined in a law enforcement role for use of excessive force or (2) accused multiple times of use of excessive force through citizen complaints or personnel reports, regardless of whether the department disciplined the individual, is prohibited.

SECTION 3. SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS

The Town Council asks the manager to request information from the superintendent of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools about the status of the following recommendations from the “Excellence With Equity” report submitted to the Board of Education in October 2015: 

  • “Complete the revisions discussed by the School Board and adopt immediately the Memorandum of Understanding between the District and local police departments regarding the role of School Resource Officers (SROs) that has been under development and consideration for the last 18 months” (page 73).
  • “Develop a plan to replace SROs with school-based programs that have been shown to increase safety and security” (page 73).

SECTION 4. BUDGET

  1. The Town Council asks the manager to postpone filling the currently vacant position(s) in the Police Department, pending further discussion about budgetary and public safety needs.
  1. The Town Council asks the manager to allocate $7500 in fiscal year 2020-2021 for a contribution to the Town of Chapel Hill’s Criminal Justice Debt Program to expand program eligibility to Carrboro residents.

SECTION 5. INTENT TO ESTABLISH A PUBLIC SAFETY TASK FORCE

  1. The Town Council intends to establish a task force on public safety, in the interest of developing new approaches to public safety beyond policing and of investing in what scholar and community organizer Patrisse Cullors has called an “economy of care.”
  1. The task force will consider a range of issues related to public safety, including but not limited to law enforcement practices; the possibility of police social worker positions; alternatives to assigning responsibilities for human service needs to the Town’s public safety departments; and coordination with the County and other jurisdictional partners to increase investments in programs and services that keep communities healthy and safe through budget reallocations and additional funding.
  1. The Town Council recognizes that investments in public safety and in programs and services that keep communities healthy and safe must advance racial equity, be grounded in community demands, and be informed by authentic engagement with grassroots and community organizations.
  1. The Town Council asks the manager to schedule a work session, after the summer recess, to enable the Town Council to develop a charge for the task force, consider a timeline for its work, and identify resources to enable it to be successful.

This the 18th day of June, 2020.

Office Hours 2020

Monthly office hours for the first half of 2020 are here! Join me (and sometimes a special guest) to chat about local issues, ongoing projects, and important new initiatives coming to Carrboro this year. We can also talk politics as we face down this important election year for the region, the state, and the country.

  • Sunday, January 12, 2:00-4:00 pm – Gray Squirrel Coffee Company
  • Sunday, February 9, 12:00-3:00 pm – Craftboro Brewing Depot – Special guest: Orange County Commissioner Mark Dorosin
  • Sunday, March 22, 3:00-4:00 pm – Online Office Hours (Zoom)
  • Sunday, March 29, 2:30-4:00 pm – Online Office Hours (Zoom)
  • Sunday, April 5, 2:00-3:30 pm – Online Office Hours (Zoom)

These dates and times may change. Check this page for updates, or follow along on Twitter or Facebook. And feel free to contact me anytime. Happy new year!

Updated May 6, 2020.

Thank You, and a Look Ahead

On November 5, Carrboro voters offered me the privilege of serving a second term on the Board of Aldermen. I am beyond grateful. Thank you.

There is important work ahead for Carrboro in the next few years. I’m looking forward to engaging in this work with all of you and with my colleagues, including Alderperson-elect Susan Romaine, who will join the board on December 3.

Meanwhile, Tuesday’s election didn’t slow things down. Just this week, Mayor Lavelle and I attended a meeting of the Orange County Board of Commissioners to discuss Carrboro’s perspective on the proposed widening of NC 54 west of town. I also gave a presentation to the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee on upcoming transportation projects in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. Today, I attended the Orange County Democratic Party’s annual legislative lunch to rally around a push for statewide change in the critical 2020 election.

There is no shortage of ways to get involved in the issues you care about, both here in Carrboro and around the state. Let’s talk. I continue to hold monthly community office hours to discuss your thoughts about local issues. Drop by my next office hours on Sunday, November 17, between 2:00 and 4:00 pm 12:30 and 2:30 pm at Johnny’s on West Main Street.

For occasional updates (no more than monthly) about Carrboro issues, subscribe to my email list. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Most Important Endorsement

I’m grateful that my re-election campaign has earned the endorsements of so many organizations and community leaders representing a diversity of experiences, interests, and expertise in Carrboro. The most important endorsement is yours. In asking for your vote, I remain committed to engaging the entire community in our important work to meet today’s needs and to plan for our future.

Many thanks to: