Joe Herzenberg, a
longtime activist and the first openly gay elected
official in North Carolina, died Sunday. He was 66.
Herzenberg had been ill for several years, his
friend Kathie Young told The [Raleigh]
News & Observer. He died at the
University of North Carolina Memorial Hospital in
Chapel Hill of complications from diabetes.
to Chapel Hill after graduating from Yale in the 1970s.
He unsuccessfully ran for town council in 1979 but was
appointed to a vacancy through 1981. He kept
campaigning until he won in 1987.
Kleinschmidt, a current town council member, told The
News & Observer that when he was a
young gay man eyeing the political arena, he considered
Herzenberg his personal hero. "He's part of the reason
that Chapel Hill became my hometown," he said. "You
look around this community, you just see his
fingerprints on everything that makes this community such a
nice place to live."
the town council in 1993 after neglecting to pay state
taxes, a charge for which he pleaded guilty.
survived by a brother, Bob Herzenberg. He will be cremated,
and his ashes will be buried in New Jersey, Young said.