An Open Letter to Orange County Residents:

Like many, since Election Day we have reflected on what our country’s presidential election will mean for our communities.

Many of the core community values under which our elected boards operate could be affected by the result of this presidential election. We value and embrace our immigrant residents. We advocate for non-discrimination and equality for our LGBT residents. We acknowledge the reality of climate change and believe we need to take steps to protect the future of our planet. We support efforts to provide health care to all citizens. We believe guns need to be regulated in a commonsense fashion to protect the safety of our community. We believe no one should feel unsafe in our community because of their gender, religion, ethnicity, or cultural heritage. We stand against bullying, harassment, and assault for any reason. And because we care about these very important issues that have been so prominent in the recent election campaign, we understandably have concern as to how they might impact us on the local level under the new presidential administration.

As your elected leaders, we have heard from several residents who want reassurance from our local governing bodies that we will hold true to our values. We assure you that we and our colleagues will.

We have also heard that some residents have been the victims of racial, religious and homophobic slurs since the election. Perhaps this is an outgrowth from the recent inflammatory campaign season, but let us be clear: this type of harassment has no place in our county or our towns, and will not be tolerated. Any residents that are the victims of this type of behavior should call 911 immediately and report these incidents to our law enforcement agencies.

As we move forward with this transition, we need to listen to each other and pay special attention to our values of inclusiveness and respect. This is the way democracy works in our country, and we believe this ultimately makes us a stronger nation. In the meanwhile, we all need to work hard and keep advocating for our very important community values.

This is a joint letter from Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens, and Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair Earl McKee.

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