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, July 23, 2009

Missing Joe

Carrboro Citizen, July 23, 2009

There are a lot of reasons people miss former Chapel Hill Town Council member and greenways champion Joe Herzenberg around election time.

For poll organizers and precinct captains, a big reason is that he could always be counted on to lend a hand. For journalists, he was a kind of institutional memory of local elections.

Joe could have quickly answered one of the big trivia questions floating around about the four-way race for Chapel Hill mayor. So we’ll put this one to our readers: When was the last time four people ran for mayor of Chapel Hill?

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