Clarification: A previous version of this story indicated David Delaney served on the boards of the NAACP and Chatham Chamber of Commerce. While he is a member of both organizations, he does not hold a leadership role at this time. The story has been updated to reflect this information.
With longtime commissioner Diana Hales vacating her seat on the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, the District 3 race will feature Democrat David Delaney, the vice president and assistant general counsel for cybersecurity and privacy for Truist Bank, and Republican Tom Glendinning, a former U.S. Marine who lost to Valerie Foushee in the 2020 race for state senate.
Hales was elected to the office in 2014 and in her eight years of service has advocated for increased focus on agricultural preservation, public-private partnerships and taking action on issues such as climate change and education.
Despite her long service in Chatham, she did not file for reelection. Her Dist. 3 seat occupies the central portion of the county, which includes Manns Chapel, a small part of Pittsboro, Hickory Mountain and a portion of Goldston.
David Delaney is a Chapel Hill resident who said he’s seeking election to “protect and preserve our environment, promote smart development that serves residents and our local economy, and advance equity across our county, from health and education to broadband access, technology education and economic opportunity.”
Delaney, who like Hales is a Democrat, is seeking his first term in an elected office. He said his goals as commissioner would be ensuring strategic development as the county grows through a focus on planning.
Glendinning, a Republican, has previously said he’s focusing his policies on securing the private sector and lowering taxes. He’s said he wants to lower debt and focus on local businesses rather than large-scale corporations to build the economy.
All candidates were sent two questionnaires by the News + Record — the first asked about general goals and qualifications for office; the second asked office-specific questions for each role. Glendinning did not submit the second questionnaire by the deadline provided to all candidates.
Before his commissioners’ bid, Delaney worked for Truist Bank. He says working at Truist helped him develop community partnerships and gain experience in cybersecurity, law enforcement, emergency preparedness and response, strategic planning, and leadership development. He has also volunteered with several community organizations including the local NAACP chapter #5377 — where he previously served as chair of the criminal justice committee, and the Chatham Chamber of Commerce. He also co-founded Innovate Chatham, which aims to help serve the county’s digital equity and inclusion needs.
Glendinning has served on several legislative taskforces and boards including water quality, recycling and planning. He also serves on the Chatham County Board of Adjustment and is in his sixth term on the board. He previously served on local boards for more than 30 years. He also touts that he was on boards that helped craft the 1984 Water Quality Act and the 1993 Recycling Act.
Delaney’s top goal is ensuring incoming developers abide by social and environmental standards. He also hopes to allocate new funding toward equity-based programming to close achievement gaps, especially as it pertains to broadband access and education.
He said the socioeconomic divides in the county also create different challenges. For example, he said broadband access is a big issue for the western, more rural part of the county. Meanwhile, in the north and eastern portions of the county he believes, “large residential developments have substandard wastewater systems and overcrowded roads.”
Glendinning said his legislative goals include lowering taxes and “[protecting] property and personal rights for all, including seniors, according to the constitution.” He also wants to create “safer schools” by giving more authority to parents and citizens in the educational sector.
He has also previously said topics surrounding language of laws and ensuring low taxes are key issues facing the county. He said the biggest issue facing Chatham is “making sure that law enforcement officers, officers of the courts, and state and local officials have the necessary ability to use judgment and common sense in applying judgment & justice.” He has also frequently sited discrimination against seniors and farmers in the tax structure as a focal point of his platform.
With the announcement of Wolfspeed, VinFast and other major economic development projects, one of the biggest areas of focus for Chatham’s commissioners will be sustainably addressing growth.
Delaney said he welcomes the growth, so long as the environment is kept in mind in the process. He also said these new large employers have the potential, if not executed properly, to draw attention away from local businesses. Therefore, Delaney said as commissioner he would “work toward more regional and state-level collaboration so we can plan effectively with neighboring cities, counties and utilities. We must also enable small-business growth and innovative ways to preserve and use Chatham’s rural landscapes.”
He said commissioners have the opportunity to ensure small business innovation works hand-in-hand with industrial development by making investments in public infrastructure, collaborations with neighboring communities and sound zoning decisions.
Other issues are also expected to come with growth including increased strain on stormwater and wastewater infrastructure, population booms and need for increased affordable housing. Delaney said growth and managing its challenges are both possible and necessary. He said he believes current Chatham residents want growth because they want the innovation that comes along with it. He said the issues that do emerge can be solved through effective planning guidelines such as maintaining a sound Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) to enable new land uses.
Glendinning has previously said there needs to be a way to bring jobs close to Chatham to ensure people stay in the county and grow the local economy. He also believes the best way to manage growth is by “[empowering’ and [equipping] our Planning Department Board with all that they need to make sound recommendations.”
Glendinning has been critical of the ways Chatham’s board has gone about growth. He said the county has given incoming corporations too large of a tax break.