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.

Friday, November 8, 1996

Comebacks by Lee, Price hearten towns, UNC-CH

The News & Observer, Raleigh, Nov. 8, 1996

Tuesday's election wasn't just a comeback for veteran Democrats David Price and Howard Lee: It was also a big day for Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Price reclaimed his congressional seat from Raleigh Republican Fred Heineman, while Lee will again represent state Senate District 16, along with former Carrboro Mayor Eleanor Kinnaird. They will replace Moore County residents Teena Little and Fred Hobbs.

Price and Lee were among the town's most popular and influential politicians when they were chopped down in the 1994 Republican sweep.

Their loss left many here feeling as if they had a case of political
laryngitis, what with Little, Hobbs and Heineman all hailing from elsewhere.

And that "R" word beside Little's and Heineman's names didn't play well in an enclave that's generally considered the state's most liberal. Now, residents of the two towns and members of the university community feel like they've regained
their elected voices.


Former Chapel Hill Town Council member Joe Herzenberg said it can't hurt to have former Chapel Hill and Carrboro mayors in the state Senate, and a Chapel Hill-based professor in Congress.

Still, the liberal activist wasn't ready to declare total victory. "To the extent that one or a small number of officials can make a difference, then the new team would seem to be better for the two towns and the university," he said.

"I think we're somewhat better off, but I'd be hesitant to say there's been a major revolution and suddenly we're much, much better off. There is a bigger picture, which is that both the legislature and Congress are still controlled by Republicans and moderate Democrats."