Local Politics

UNC student holds 24-vote edge in race for Chapel Hill council seat

Posted November 6, 2019 6:04 p.m. EST

— A 22-year-old university student is on the verge of an election upset in Chapel Hill.

Tai Huynh, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill holds an unofficial 24-vote edge on incumbent Nancy Oates in the race for a seat on the town council.

Provisional ballots and absentee ballots have yet to be counted in the race, and those tallies won't be certified until Nov. 15.

Meanwhile, Huynh is pretty confident his lead will hold.

"I think a lot of people have congratulated us, and it feels like a victory, but we’re not in the clear just yet," he said.

Oates was surprised to find herself trailing the student.

"I’m an incumbent," she said. "And I had tremendous support."

Rachel Raper, director of elections for Orange County, expects a couple of hundred votes remain to be counted. 

If Huynh wins, he'll be just the third UNC student to win a seat on the town council.

Gerry Cohen was first, in 1973, and he thinks students should have a voice.

"Students are about a third of the town’s population or more, when you count off-campus residents," he pointed out.

Huynh, a Morehead Scholar at UNC, currently serves on the Chapel Hill Housing Board and runs a software business he founded.

The certified election results will be released on Nov. 15. If Huynh and Oates are separated by 1% or less of the vote, the candidate who is behind can call for a recount.

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