PITTSBORO — Restaurant owner Lewis Hendricks will seek the 3rd District Seat currently held by Chatham County Commissioner Diana Hales in 2022, he announced Friday.
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.
“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 Chatham County Board of Commissioners is made up of five members, each representing one district. All commissioners are elected at-large, not just by the district they represent.
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 seat, the Dist. 4 and Dist. 5 seats are also up for reelection this year.
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. With Crawford's resignation, the board could look quite different following next November, given that two of the three seats will not contain any incumbents in the race.
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, 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.”
Filing for the March 2022 primary in Chatham starts at noon Monday and ends at noon on Friday, Dec. 17. Hendricks plans to file for the office on Monday, he told the News + Record, and does not yet know of anyone else planning to run for the office.
Candidates for the following offices are eligible to file during this period for Chatham County:
This is a developing story and will be updates as new candidates file or announce campaigns.
Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @HannerMcClellan.
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