Meet Chatham’s new commissioner candidates in Dist. 3 and 4 — so far

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PITTSBORO — Five Democratic candidates filed for Chatham’s commissioner seats in the 2022 elections — four of them new candidates in wide-open seats — before the North Carolina Supreme Court halted filing and delayed the primary election until May.

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners is made up of five members, each representing one district but elected at-large. Two of the three 2022 races — in Dist. 3 and Dist. 4 — won’t include incumbents, given that Dist. 3 Commissioner Diana Hales is not seeking reelection and Dist. 4 commissioner Jim Crawford has resigned from the board because of health reasons, effective Dec. 31. The other seat up for reelection, Dist. 5, is held by Commissioner Franklin Gomez Flores, who already filed for the seat.

The board is comprised entirely of Democratic commissioners. Gomez Flores narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Andy Wilkie to represent Dist. 5 in November 2020. He was elected to a two-year term in 2020, becoming the county’s first Latino commissioner, and will seek his first four-year term in 2022.

Filing for the 2022 elections began at noon Dec. 6. A court order that morning temporarily blocked filing for U.S. House, N.C. Senate and N.C. House races, but by that evening, that order was reversed. Two days later, filing for all candidates — not just for primaries using the disputed maps — was halted due to gerrymandering lawsuits that could lead to redrawn districts that would change the breakdown of state races.

The News + Record spoke with the candidates who’ve filed for Dist. 3 and 4 seats about their campaigns and hopes for running to join the county’s board. Here’s an overview:

Dist. 3 seat

Lewis Hendricks: a local restaurant owner who’s lived in Chatham for 20 years, Hendricks was the second candidate to file for office at the Chatham County Board of Elections office during the brief filing period.

He said he decided to file for a seat on the board after learning that Hales, a Democrat elected to the board in 2014, won’t seek reelection. He announced his campaign the Friday before filing began.

“So that was the opportunity. But then I guess the question is the why, right?” Hendricks told the News + Record prior to announcing his campaign. “It’s in two veins: My number one passion or priority is public education, so that and then the other one is Chatham County and the growth that is happening within the county.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of how Chatham should grow,” he said. “So I just think we need to be thoughtful in regard to how that happens.”

Hendricks owns Old East Tavern, a restaurant in Chapel Hill, and served in the military for 10 years as an Army officer in the Iraq War. His wife, Megan Hendricks, is an oncology nurse at UNC Hospitals and they live with their four children in northern Chatham. He credits his mother, a public educator for 30 years, as a primary factor in seeking office due to the impact he saw her have on students.

“I want to join a board that’s not just contentious and at each other but that gets together and tries to solve problems,” he told the News + Record. “And I found that. Just talking to other people in regard to the other people that are on the board, it seems like it is a board that is willing to get together and talk through things and solve problems together.”

Dist. 4 seat

Because of Crawford’s resignation, the Dist. 4 seat will be filled by an appointed replacement prior to the election.

Under state law the board will appoint a new commissioner to fill out the remaining year of Crawford’s term; the person must live in the 4th District to be appointed. The board will hear more regarding candidates suggested by the Democratic party at its Jan. 18 meeting, and must fill the seat by March 2.

Albert Reddick: the first person to file for the Dist. 3 seat and the first to file in Chatham, Reddick said learning of Crawford’s resignation is what inspired him to run for the office.

“We all know that there is plenty in life that can seem unfair, unjust, and even tragic,” he wrote in an email release to the board of commissioners and copied to the News + Record. “It is the situation in which Chatham County now finds itself with the stepping down of our Commissioner Dr. Jim Crawford. We pray for him. We continue to support him. And we will do what I am sure he would want us all to do for him ... continue our service to our beloved Chatham County.

“It is this sense of duty and service that compels me now to write and ask for your consideration to fill the Board of Commissioners vacancy in Chatham County.”

Reddick is a Siler City resident and community faith leader who has unsuccessfully sought office on Siler City’s town board.

He said he is currently talking to county commissioners, employees and residents to consider his platform — including what impact the new $1.29 billion Greensboro-Randolph Toyota plant announced earlier this month will have on Chatham. He’s a “staunch supporter and advocate of senior adults and youths,” and has taught at the college and seminary levels.

Reddick is a site manager at Windsor Arms Partnership Property Management and associate minister at First Missionary Baptist Church in Siler City.

“I am grateful to the county and former commissioners, especially to Jim, for all that they have done,” Reddick said.

Katie Kenlan: the sixth and last person to file on the first day of the period, Kenlan, 36, has lived in Chatham her entire life, in Hadley Township — and attended Pittsboro Elementary, Horton Middle and Northwood High schools.

She’s worked as a teacher in early child education and is fluent in Spanish. Kenlan is a small business owner operating an outdoor environmental education program, where she runs educational camps and after-school programming.

She volunteered with the Haw River Assembly and served as Democratic Party vice-chairperson in Hadley Township.

If elected, Kenlan hopes to make sure development in Chatham is done thoughtfully and that the county’s natural resources are protected.

“Now more than ever,” Kenlan said, “we need to build a community of friends and neighbors who value our differences, and work together to build a future for young people. … We need leaders who take into account what makes a truly resilient community and who will evaluate long-term issues of equity and justice.”

Travis Patterson: the lifelong Chatham resident, 39, filed for the seat on the second day of the filing period.

Patterson is the owner and CEO of Self-Enhancing Education and Development Service, a Siler City based agency he started in 2019 which helps “families and individuals navigate a smooth transition to self-sufficiency and healthy living.”

Patterson is also the visitation supervisor for the county’s court-related programs, where he works part time to provide visitation supervision for families affected by family vioelce. He works full-time as the program manager for Communities In Schools’ community service and restitution services, where he provides coordination of community service and restitution projects for youth involved with CIS’s Juvelnile Justice.

“I decided to run for office because I want the best opportunities for Chatham County and I want to use my skills to help bring those here,” Patterson said. “I care about my community and its residents, and as a member and professional working to serve Chatham, I would bring a perspective unique to the Chatham Board of Commissioners. I feel that I am a resource to the community, and that my voice would be representative of those that I have been serving throughout my career.”

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.

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