Council Member Ed Harrison

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Council Member Ed Harrison58 Newton Drive
Durham, NC 27707-9744
(h) 919-490-1566

Term of Service

2013-2017 (2009-2013, 2005–2009, 2001–2005)


Ed Harrison is the first person elected to Town Council from a section of Durham County that Chapel Hill began annexing in the late 1960s. He was selected by his peers to serve as Mayor Pro tem during his 2009-2103 term.

To take his seat on the Council in 2001 he left an elective post on the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, where he served for 11 years, four as chair. While in that position, he was a founding member of the Durham County Environmental Affairs Board, on which he sat for a decade, including a stint as chair.

Harrison has been a leading citizen liaison between Chapel Hill and Durham elected officials for about the last decade. He ran for office as a proponent of joint land-use planning between Durham and Chapel Hill, and of improved connections for bicyclists and pedestrians within the Town and with our neighbors. He frequently uses his bicycle to get to daytime meetings at Town Hall and for nearby shopping trips.

Harrison has practiced environmental management in North Carolina since his graduation from Duke’s master’s degree program in environmental studies in 1976. He has been employed as a USDA Soil Conservationist, as the director of the Durham City Street Tree Inventory, and as an environmental impact analyst, park naturalist, and coastal wetlands specialist by the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. Since the early 1980s, he has worked mostly as a sole-practice consultant. His work has included educating local officials on hazardous materials, developing inventories and protection plans for land conservancy tracts, planning trail systems, performing wetland delineations, lobbying administrative agencies for grassroots environmental groups, and helping to plan a mixed-use “transit-oriented development.”

As a citizen activist at the state level, Harrison was the first land use issues chairman for any organization (Sierra Club) in 1987, then the first transportation chairman (1989-1991), followed by the first wetlands chairman (1991-2001). He has served on the boards of the Conservation Council of North Carolina and the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club. He also served as a member of the Sierra Club National Wetland Committee for most of the 1990s.

Harrison moved to Chapel Hill in the early 1990s to marry Patricia (Pat) Carstensen, a mathematician, whom he had met through their mutual interest in hiking in the Eno River valley and other natural areas. His hobbies include moviegoing, horticulture, and touring nature preserves and historic sites. 


  • Durham/Chapel Hill/Orange Work Group
  • GoTriangle Board of Trustees
  • Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Board (alternate)
  • Public Transit Committee
  • Stormwater Management Utility Advisory Board
  • Sustainability, Energy, and Environment
  • Triangle J Council of Governments Board of Delegates
  • Triangle J Council of Governments Smart Growth Committee
  • Triangle J Council of Governments Water Resource Committee


The primary mission of the Mayor and Council, as the governing body of the Town is to adopt and provide for the execution of ordinances, rules and regulations as may be necessary or appropriate to protect health, life or property, or to promote the comfort, convenience, security, good order, better government, or the general welfare of the Town and its citizens.

The Mayor and eight Council Members constitute the governing body of the Town. In accordance with the Town’s Charter, the voters elect a Mayor every two years. Council Members are elected to four-year, staggered terms on an at-large basis. Town Council duties include:

  • Amendment of previously adopted policies through changes in the Town Code of Ordinances and the Development Ordinance, and by revision of policies and documents. 
  • Appointment of advisory boards, commissions, task forces and committees. 
  • Appointment of the Town Manager and Town Attorney. 
  • Establishment of agreements with other governments.

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