Chapel Hill uses a council-manager form of government. The community elects a mayor and eight council members. Mayors serve two-year terms, and council members serve staggered four-year terms. Mayor Pam Hemminger, a former board of education member, was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2017. She defeated incumbent Mark Kleinschmidt, who in 2009 had been elected the first openly gay mayor of Chapel Hill, succeeding outgoing four-term Mayor Kevin Foy.
The town adopted its flag in 1990. According to flag designer Spring Davis, the blue represents the town and the University of North Carolina (whose colors are Carolina blue and white); the green represents “environmental awareness”; and the “townscape” in the inverted chevron represents “a sense of home, friends, and community.”
The current version of the town’s seal, adopted in 1989, is in the process of being replaced with a similar but simpler version. All versions of the seal, dating back to the 1930s, depict Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and protector of cities.