PITTSBORO — The first and second candidates to file in Chatham on Monday for the 2022 election were two Democrats running for commissioner seats: former Siler City mayor candidate Rev. Albert Reddick in Dist. 4. and restaurant owner Lewis Hendricks in Dist. 3.
The Chatham County Board of Commissioners is made up of five members, each representing one district but elected at-large. Two of the three seats — in Dist. 3 and Dist. 4 — will not contain any incumbents in the race, given that Dist. 3 Commissioner Diana Hales will not run for reelection and Dist. 4 commissioner Jim Crawford intends to resign from the board due to health reasons at the board’s Dec. 20 meeting.
Democratic candidate Katie Kenlan also filed for the Dist. 4 seat and was the sixth and last person to file on Monday; Democratic candidate Travis Patterson filed for the seat on Tuesday.
Hendricks, a Democrat who’s lived in Chatham for 20 years, decided to file for a seat on the five-member board after learning that Hales, a Democrat elected to the board in 2014, won’t seek reelection. He announced his campaign last Friday.
“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.”
The board is comprised entirely of Democratic commissioners; Commissioner Franklin Gomez Flores narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Andy Wilkie to represent Dist. 5 in November 2020. In addition to the Dist. 3 and 4 seats, the Dist. 5 seats is also up for reelection this year. Gomez Flores was the fifth person to file on Monday.
Commissioner Jim Crawford will announce his resignation from the board at the Dec. 20 meeting for health reasons, he confirmed to the News + Record, meaning the Dist. 4 seat will be filled by an appointed replacement prior to the election.
Learning of Crawford’s resignation inspired Reddick 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.
The other commissioner candidates who filed, Kenlan and Patterson, also filed for Dist. 4.
Under state law the board will appoint a new commissioner to fill out the remaining year of Crawford’s term, and the person must live in the 4th District to fill out the term. To be elected to the spot in 2022, the person must live in the district and have filed during the candidacy period.
Hendricks, running for Dist. 3, 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, who taught as 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 to just add each other before 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.”
This story has been updated to reflect that a commissioner replacement must live in the district they'd represent.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here