CHATHAM VOTES 2020

Dasher edges out Hancock in Democratic commissioner primary for District 2

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 3/3/20

After facing some tight margins in early results, an incumbent Chatham County Commissioner escaped his party’s primary.

Gaining 54 percent of the vote, Democrat Mike Dasher won the right to face Republican Jimmy Pharr in the November general election to represent District 2 on the Chatham County Board of Commissioners by defeating challenger Katelin Hancock.

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CHATHAM VOTES 2020

Dasher edges out Hancock in Democratic commissioner primary for District 2

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Posted

After facing some tight margins in early results, an incumbent Chatham County Commissioner escaped his party’s primary.

Gaining 54 percent of the vote, Democrat Mike Dasher won the right to face Republican Jimmy Pharr in the November general election to represent District 2 on the Chatham County Board of Commissioners by defeating challenger Katelin Hancock.

After the results were tallied, Dasher said he was grateful for the support of Democratic and unaffiliated voters.

“My common sense approach to governing and my commitment to doing what’s best for the county clearly resonates with a lot of folks who want to see Chatham move forward,” he told the News + Record. “And together, we’ll continue to.”

The vote saw more than 14,300 people participate in a primary that picked the Democratic nominee to represent the southeastern part of Chatham County in November’s election. District 2, which includes the Town of Pittsboro, the Moncure area and the majority of Jordan Lake, is the most populous of the county’s five commissioner districts with 12,864 people, 2,290 of which identify as African-American or Hispanic/Latinx. All county voters decide the candidates and representatives for all five districts in Chatham.

Dasher-Pharr is not the only competition for Chatham County Commissioner later this year; current Chair Karen Howard, a Democrat, will square off with Republican Jay Stobbs to represent District, which covers northeast Chatham.

Originally from Ohio but now a Pittsboro resident, Dasher spent 2019 as the chairman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners. Perhaps most notably, he was the public face of the board’s decision to remove the Confederate monument in front of the Chatham County Historic Courthouse in Pittsboro. In a News + Record questionnaire published last month, Dasher said he wanted to “continue the important work we’re doing to move Chatham County forward.”

“My three years as a commissioner have allowed me to build solid relationships with my colleagues and other elected officials, with community leaders, and with residents across the county,” he told the News + Record in February. “I know the processes and procedures for getting things done. I’ve proven that I’m willing and able to do the work required to bring about real progress.”

In the run-up to Tuesday’s vote, Dasher defined his goals for his next term — if he wins the primary and defeats Republican Jimmy Pharr, who faces no primary opposition, in November — as continuing to work off established foundations, like the Chatham County Comprehensive Plan and common values among board members like “good, safe schools,” “quality affordable housing” and “a responsive and effective county government.”

“I believe government generally — and local government especially — allows us the ability to do things together that we can’t do individually,” Dasher said then. “When we pool our resources (through taxes), we can pay teachers and build schools, we can provide emergency and human services, we can protect our natural resources and determine appropriate land uses. I think Chatham County does an excellent job of doing those things and more in an efficient, effective and transparent way.”

Hancock, a Chatham County native who now lives in Apex, is an Assistant Banquet Manager at the J.B. Duke Hotel in Durham. 

Multiple attempts by the News + Record to reach Hancock — from both her campaign phone and work phone, multiple email addresses and Facebook messages to her campaign’s page — during the campaign cycle generated no response.

What was public about her prior to Tuesday’s vote was limited and relatively unspecific. Hancock’s Facebook page — “Katelin Hancock for Chatham County Board of Commissioners” — includes the slogan “For Chatham, From Chatham.” The biography section said she was a Chatham County native who has a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from East Carolina University. N.C. State Board of Elections records indicate that she currently lives in Apex and voted in the 2012 and 2016 Democratic primaries.

Public knowledge of her platform was more or less limited to a January 30 post on the Chatham Chatlist forum and a short Q&A in the Chatham County Line monthly newspaper. On the Chatlist post, Hancock boasts of not being a “career politician” and having “no ties to private special interests.”

“I want to see progress in Chatham but I don’t want lifelong citizens left behind,” the post stated then. “I want to see modern options for goods and services in our city centers. I want to implement changes that will attract businesses with emphasis on the environment and support the community’s needs.”

Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at zhorner@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.

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