Improving the Team: Interview with Town Council Candidate Allen Buansi
The Carolina Political Review interviewed Chapel Hill native Allen Buansi, a candidate for Chapel Hill Town Council, last Tuesday.
Buansi’s platform emphasizes three main planks: make sure Chapel Hill works for everyone, create a future we can live with, and ensure our town’s decision-making process is transparent.
The CPR is beginning a series of interviews that focuses on politics in North Carolina. In this series, we will explore general questions about North Carolina, what makes the state unique, and what perspectives the interviewee can impart. Mr. Buansi is our first interview.
Buansi offered some thoughts on what makes North Carolina politics unique. “We have, by any significant poll, a pretty split electorate.” He also noted that the General Assembly is disproportionately conservative relative to the state as a whole. “I haven’t really come across that in any other state, and at the same time North Carolina is a major player in national politics.”
Buansi had his first taste of politics as a teenager in high school, doing canvassing work for former UNC System President Erskine Bowles. More recently, he served as policy and field director for now-Attorney General Josh Stein’s campaign. “Unlike a lot of people, I do enjoy the process of campaigning,” he said. In his time working on campaigns, Buansi was able to interact with adversely impacted communities and young people.
Buansi encourages students to become active in politics. “It is important that college students, young people, get involved politically.” Buansi encourages students to go beyond simply working for politicians. “I would love for students to get inspired to run themselves, in their own districts.”
Buansi also explained how he thought North Carolina would change in the future. “I’m very optimistic. Our state continues to grow, and we have a lot of great things going for us.” With regard to the General Assembly, Buansi hopes to see a legislature that is more representative of the electorate.
Local housing needs is one of the major points Buansi runs on. “One of my biggest priorities is affordable housing. The one thing that I want to be a part of is making sure that Chapel Hill is an inclusive community, one that works for everyone. That means creating viable housing options, working closely with the Community Home Trust, to support their efforts in providing more affordable housing.”
We also discussed a few recent actions made by the current town council. On removing Silent Sam, Buansi suggested keeping up the conversation. “The first thing I think about is history, and the need to contextualize Silent Sam. My position on Town Council would be to invite more critical discussions about Silent Sam, because we cannot forget that history. But I would not mind seeing it gone. I appreciate the Mayor’s letter, it recognized the limitations that the town has, and I think it would be wholly appropriate for the University to remove it.”
Buansi, an attorney-fellow at the UNC Center for Civil Rights, likened the Town Council to a team. “When I played football in college, my coach would say, ‘Before you start blaming other teammates, what are you doing to improve the team?’ I would add that kind of critical perspective.”
On recent changes to the Center for Civil Rights by the Board of Trustees, Buansi hopes to be deferential to the Center’s leaders. “If I were on Town Council, in terms of what I would do, I would want to listen to what the leadership at the Center wants. I would basically take my cue from them, as to how the Town can support the Center. I’m not the kind of ‘top-down’ kind of leader; I want to listen to folks and what they want to do.”
“For folks that are registered in Chapel Hill, I encourage UNC students to vote. I also encourage you to get in touch with me, at my email address email@example.com. I have an open door, and I want to make sure that students who are a part of this community have a voice and someone they can go to on Town Council. Reach out to me if you have questions or concerns, and if they’re interested in getting involved locally.”
Elections for Town Council are November 7th.