The only Chatham-specific candidate primary in this year’s election pits an incumbent commissioner against a political newcomer.
Former board chairman and current Commissioner Mike Dasher is seeking to retain his seat for another four-year term this year representing the county’s District 2, but he first faces a challenge in the form of Katelin Hancock for the Democratic nomination.
District 2 covers the southeastern portion of Chatham County, including the town of Pittsboro, the Moncure area and the majority of Jordan Lake. It is also the most populous of the districts with 12,864 residents.
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. Under his chairmanship, the board also approved a property tax rate increase — a change approved unanimously by the four Democratic and one Republican commission members.
Dasher told the News + Record that he felt in his three years on the board — he was first elected in 2016 — the county has seen forward movement.
“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 said. “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.”
He 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. “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.”
As to his opponent, Dasher said it was “difficult” to respond to her positions, since he has not “had the opportunity to hear from the other candidate publicly and have seen only a couple written statements.”
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 — have not generated any response.
What is public about her is 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 says she is 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 is 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. “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.”
In the Chatham County Line story, Hancock said in response to a questionnaire she would meet with citizens at town halls and “face-to-face with community leaders” as part of “diminish(ing) the political divide in our county.”
“News coverage of violence and arrests on Main Street in Pittsboro is not attractive for new residents or businesses looking to invest in our emerging megasites,” Hancock said, according to the article. “As a moderate, I will separate myself from partisanship and seek compromise between extremes to further our common goals.”
Early voting in this race has already begun, and the official primary day is March 3.
Reporter Zachary Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ZachHornerCNR.
Click on the candidate questionnaires below to learn more about the candidates.