As expected, Durham City Council incumbents Howard Clement and Mayor Pro-Tem Cora Cole-McFadden will continue to the general election Nov. 3 in bids to retain their respective council seats, according to unofficial primary results posted Tuesday night by the county’s Board of Elections.
But against whom? Clement, who is seeking his 7th term in Ward 2, may not know his competitor until provisional ballots are counted Friday.
Clement secured 60 percent of the votes, so it’s clear he will continue to the Nov. 3 election to seek his 7th term on the Council. But it’s almost too close to call a runner-up.
With all but the provisional ballots counted, newcomer Matt Drew is in the lead for second place in Ward 2, with 725 votes, or 12 percent. Just behind him is Sylvester Williams, with 634 votes. A mere 91 votes separate these two candidates, and there are still about 100 provisional votes that won’t be counted until Friday, said Mike Ashe, director of the Durham County Board of Elections.
Traditionally, the provisional ballots tend to mirror the same pattern as the overall vote, Ashe said, in which case Drew looks like he still will make it past the primaries to face Clement in the election. But we can’t be sure until Friday, and though the numbers will appear complete, they also won’t be official until Monday’s canvas, Ashe said.
The race in Ward 1 is much more clear-cut. Cole-McFadden, who is seeking her third term, earned 69 percent of the votes for Ward 1. She will continue on to the Nov. 3 election again Donald Hughes, a fresh-faced recent college graduate, who earned 17 percent of the votes. John Tarantino finished last in Ward 1, earning 13 percent of the votes.
Hughes seemed nearly giddy with Tuesday's results, which showed he won 17 percent, slightly more than 1,000 votes. He promised more "old-fashioned campaigning" -- lots of knocking on doors and talking to people -- until the face-off Nov. 3.
About 6,000 people voted in Durham's municipal primary, a painfully low turnout of about four percent, Ashe lamented.
“I think we’ve set a new low for ourselves,” Ashe said.
Previous municipal primaries this decade have brought out at least 10 percent of the county’s registered voters. See the county’s handy online records for more details.