Campaign flyer from Joe’s first Chapel Hill Town Council race, 1979

About Joe

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Chapel Hill, N.C., United States
Joe Herzenberg was born June 25, 1941, to Morris & Marjorie Herzenberg. His father owned the town pharmacy in Franklin, N.J., where Joe grew up. After he graduated from Yale University in 1964, Joe went to Mississippi to register voters for Freedom Summer. He joined the faculty of historically black Tougaloo College, where he was appointed chair of the history department. Joe arrived in Chapel Hill in 1969 to enroll as a graduate student in history at the University of North Carolina, and, along with his partner Lightning Brown, soon immersed himself in local, state, and national politics. Although Joe’s first campaign for the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1979 was unsuccessful, he was appointed to the Council to fill a vacant seat and served until 1981. In 1987, he was elected to the Council, becoming the former Confederacy's first openly gay elected official. Joe died surrounded by friends on October 28, 2007. He was 66 years old.

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Senate hopeful Dan Blue draws local support

Chapel Hill Herald, Aug. 7, 2002

CHAPEL HILL - U.S. Senate candidate Dan Blue picked up endorsements from 20 current and former elected officials from Orange and Chatham counties during a Tuesday news conference at the Franklin Street post office.

Nine of his new backers joined Blue for the morning event, which took place on a traditional rallying ground for the local political community.

They said Blue is the Democrat best equipped to take on Republican Elizabeth Dole in November, and the one with the strongest credentials for a would-be senator.

"We need a candidate who will represent Main Street, not Wall Street," Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson said. "And Dan's just strong. After 22 years in elected office, he's got a strong track record of working on issues that people in this county care about."

Nelson was the main spokesman for the group and the most senior of the current office-holders who lined up behind the candidacy of the former speaker of the N.C House.

Blue, D-Wake, is running on a crowded primary slate that also includes former White House chief of staff Erskine Bowles, former Durham City Councilwoman Cynthia Brown and N.C. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.


The sitting officials who endorsed Blue on Tuesday also included Carrboro aldermen Joal Broun, Mark Dorosin and Diana McDuffee; Chapel Hill town councilman Mark Kleinschmidt and Bill Strom; Orange County Commissioner Moses Carey Jr.; and Chatham County Commissioner Margaret Pollard.

Blue also got endorsements from former city school board members Sue Baker, Fred Battle, Ed Caldwell, J.R. Manley and Ted Parrish; former Chapel Hill town councilmen Mark Chilton, Joe Herzenberg, R.D. Smith and Joe Straley; former Carrboro aldermen Braxton Foushee and Allen Spalt; and former Hillsborough Mayor Horace Johnson.


Blue "is electable and he stands for things I think a Democratic candidate should stand for," Herzenberg said. "Some of the so-called New Democrats have gone a little too far to being old Republicans. In particular, I'm afraid that Mr. Bowles has gone too far over to the pro-business side."

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