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.

Thursday, May 16, 1991

Chapel Hill Considers Public Smoking Limits


Charlotte Observer (Associated Press), May 16, 1991

Chapel Hill has joined the growing number of N.C. towns considering smoking restrictions.


At issue is a draft ordinance that would ban smoking in most public areas in Chapel Hill. It would include shopping malls, public rest rooms, common office areas - even lines in banks.

Restaurants would be required to reserve 25 percent of their seats for nonsmoking patrons. And bars would be required to post a window sign explaining their smoking policy.

The measure is expected to win approval of the nine-member Town Council.

"One of the basic concerns of municipal government is the public health and safety," council member Joe Herzenberg said. "And if this isn't the public health and safety, I don't know what is."

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