It's closer than most political observers imagined: Just 64 votes separated Pittsboro Mayor Randy Voller from his under-the-radar challenger, Republican Bill Crawford, giving Voller the win, but hardly a commanding one, especially for a well-known incumbent. With both town precincts reporting, Voller tallied 392 votes to Crawford's 328, according to the Chatham County Board of Elections.
And in the Town Commissioner's race, Pamela Baldwin won one of two seats with 461 votes. However, the second-place finish was decided by just eight votes, giving Michael Fiocco a 345-337 edge over Andrew Allden, who could ask for a recount or a runoff.
The incumbents for Durham City Council and mayor swept the challengers in four races that barely raised the pulse of voters. The closest race, which was still decided by a 71-26 margin was in Ward II, where longtime Councilman Howard Clement faced Libertarian Matt Drew. Clement received 7,258 votes to Drew's 2,729.
According to unofficial results from the Durham County Board of Elections,with all but the provisional ballots counted, Mayor Bill Bell will return for a fifth term after defeating Steven Williams 8,233 votes to 2,345 votes.
Cora Cole-McFadden, who was first elected to Council in 2001, will continue to represent Ward I, beating upstart Donald Hughes 7,941 votes to 2,449 votes. And in Ward III, Mike Woodard has claimed his third second term by rolling over Allan Polak 8,704 to 1,307.
Voter turnout has been dismal, even for city elections. The 2007 race was enlivened by a colorful contest between Bell and an aggressive challenger, Republican Councilman Thomas Stith, and by the meals tax referendum, which voters soundly defeated. In that general election, 25 percent of registered voters turned out; the 2007 primary drew 10.6 percent of registered voters.
This year, little more than 4 percent of registered voters in Durham showed up at the polls for the primary. The turnout for the general election has not yet been announced on the Durham Board of Elections Web site.
Absentee votes are the only ballots that have been counted in the Pittsboro mayoral and town commissioner races, but incumbent Mayor Randy Voller has a 60-39 lead with the town's two precincts yet to have reported, according to the Chatham County Board of Elections.
In a three-way race for two seats on the Pittsboro Town Commission, incumbent Pamela Baldwin has 43 percent of the vote, floowed by Andrew Allden with 31 percent and Michael Fiocco with 23. 5 percent.
Republican incumbent Jennifer Robinson has defeated Democratic challenger Lori Bush by 269 votes in the runoff election for Cary Town Council District A. The margin of victory is 53 percent to 46 percent, or 2,170 votes to 1,901, according to unofficial results from the Wake County Board of Elections.
In the primary, Robinson won by 244 votes, but did not receive 50 percent of the vote, which gave Bush the right to call for a runoff. Some political observers speculated that Republicans might stay home since the Wake County school board race was decided in October; that could have boosted Bush's chances of winning.
With 25 of the 58 precincts reporting, incumbents Bill Bell, Cora Cole-McFadden, Howard Clement and Mike Woodard hold commanding leads. Mayor Bell is ahead of Steven Williams 75 percent to 24 percent. In Ward I Cole-McFadden leads 75-24 over Donald Hughes; Howard Clement has the tightest race in Ward II, but maintains a 69-29 margin over Libertarian Matt Drew; and Mike Woodard has the largest gap, 86-12, over Allan Polak.
Orange County Board of Elections Chairwoman Tracy Reams says it's "very slow out there" on Election Day.
She's seeing some polling stations with as few as 23 or 45 voters, and her team is reporting few lines across the county.
Residents have until 7:30 p.m. to cast a ballot. Reams says she expects the first precinct totals to be released by 7:50 p.m. with full results to come by 9 p.m. at the latest. They will be posted to the BOE's Web site.
Reams added that she still has not received a written withdrawal notice from Chapel Hill mayoral hopeful Kevin Wolff and that he "is still a valid candidate."
Former Chapel Hill Councilman Cam Hill, who lost his seat by 63 votes to Matt Czajkowski in 2007, is taking credit today for controversial anti-Czajkowski mailers sent out days before the election.
On Monday, the Orange County Democratic and Republican parties issued a joint press release denouncing the material, which was sent by "CHC PAC." Today, Hill told WCHL 1360 that he is the sole member of the group, which stands for Chapel Hill Caucus.
Both Czajkowski and challenger Mark Kleinschmidt have said they are disappointed in the tone of the fliers, which questioned Czajkowski's concern for the environment and employees among other things.
Hill has until Wednesday to officially register as a political action committee, according to state election law.
After two years, Carrboro Free Press, also known as the Freep, has ceased publication, at least temporarily, according to business manager Erin Redfern. It will not be printed this week.
This was posted on CFP's Web site today:
In the past month, the CFP has had serious business decisions arise in regards to our financial stability. We are taking a hiatus while we formulate a smarter business plan moving forward.
This is not goodbye by any means, but a much needed pause to consider our next best step.
Thank you for reading, and supporting the Freep.
We'll keep in touch and let you know when we go back to press.
The CFP debuted in October 2007 and was run as a co-op. According to its Web site, the CFP "has gone from an eight-page, 1,000 copy s produced “underground” at a dining room table to a 16-20 page, 2,500 copy community fixture produced by a dozen or so regular contributors."
Earlier this summer, CFP reported its circulation had increased by 150 percent, and original content had increased by more than 100 percent. Last March, CFP introduced The Distillery, a monthly arts and literature supplement.
However, the CFP couldn't compete with the higher-profile free weekly, the Carrboro Citizen. It also has operated in the red, but received a $50,000 loan from the Town of Carrboro's Revolving Business Loan earlier this year.
Disclosure: Indy freelancer Rebekah L. Cowell worked at CFP. Former Indy Managing Editor Kirk Ross is the editor of the Carrboro Citizen.
The latest update from Durham's planning Director Steve Medlin: His staff is still evaluating a protest petition filed last month by the Haw River Assembly and Southern Environmental Law Center, and is looking specifically at signatures.
It appears, he said, that one property owner signed the petition for himself, but also on behalf of the two other co-owners. One person can't sign for all three, Medlin said, so his staff is trying to verify the validity of the signatures.
Even before the demise of the Durham Co-op grocery earlier this year (the space on West Chapel Hill Street slated to become an acupuncture clinic) there were rumblings about a new market to either supplement or replace it.
Durham Central Market announced today it receive a $25,000 Sprout Fund loan from Food Co-op 500. The loan program, financed by National Cooperative Bank (NCB), is designed to provide capital during the middle and late stages of co-op development. According to a press release, over the last three years, only seven co-ops nationwide have been awarded a Sprout Loan. The award was based on a review of the market's business plan and pro forma financial statements. Read the rest of the release below the fold.