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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Durham voters keep Hill, approve $20 million for street resurfacing

Posted by on Tue, Nov 2, 2010 at 11:03 PM

Durham Sheriff Worth Hill
  • Durham Sheriff Worth Hill

See unofficial results at the Durham Board of Elections website.

With 62 of 63 precincts counted Tuesday night, Durham voters approved a $20 million bond referendum to resurface ailing city streets, and also re-elected incumbent Sheriff Worth Hill to his fifth term.

With 60 of 62 precincts counted, more than 56 percent of voters supported street resurfacing bonds, which will bump property taxes to repair 150 miles of the city's worst streets. City officials have said the projects approved for this bond will be completed by 2012, a much quicker turnaround time than residents have seen with previous bond-funded work.

In the night's other notable result, Durham Sheriff Worth Hill scooped up almost 80 percent of the votes in Tuesday's election, defeating Republican contender Roy Taylor. The election was the first contested race for the incumbent sheriff in years, and demonstrated vast public support despite incidents of embezzlement and other gaffes under Hill's watch, to which his opponent had fired criticisms. Hill could not immediately be reached for comment on his victory Tuesday night.

The race between Taylor and Hill was bitter, with supporters of both candidates levying accusations of corruption at the other through battles on websites such as Facebook and YouTube. The tension spiked last Friday when three of Taylor's campaign workers accused Capt. Rickey Padgett of verbally harassing them outside the Durham Board of Elections Office. Those charges are still being investigated. Padgett is one of Hill's command staff and also secretary of the N.C. Sheriff Police Alliance, which endorsed Hill in the race.

Padgett is among one of many supporters who have publicly criticized Taylor for not living in Durham a consecutive year as required by state election law. Taylor said that based on the state constitution, he need only to have lived in Durham for 30 days. Had Taylor prevailed, the Durham Board of Elections would have held a hearing on Taylor's eligibility to serve on Nov. 11. But with Taylor coming up short, the hearing, which was prompted by an official protest filed by Hill supporter and former sheriff Roland Leary, will be canceled.

Results from the rest of the Durham ballot bore few other surprises. Durham's all-Democratic delegation in the General Assembly held onto its seats with large margins. Representatives H.M. "Mickey" Michaux and Paul Luebke won large leads over their Republican challengers. Representatives Larry Hall and W.A. "Winkie" Wilkins ran unopposed. Durham Senator Floyd McKissick also celebrated a handy victory over Republican challenger John Tarantino, and incumbent Bob Atwater also defeated Republican Roger Gerber for the state senate seat representing Durham, Lee and Chatham counties.

Among the Durham Republicans who challenged established state lawmakers in partisan races, political newcomer Jason Chambers fared the best, earning almost 36 percent of votes against Luebke.

Elaine Bushfan, Jim Hardin and Michael O'Foghludha won superior court judgeships for District 14B. District 14 will also get two new district court judges in Pat Evans and Doretta Walker, who handily beat former assistant district attorney Freda Black with more than 56 percent of votes.

Incumbents Ray Eurquhart and Robert Rosenthal held onto their positions as Soil & Water supervisors.

More than 47 percent of registered voters turned out for the elections, as compared to 39 percent in the last mid-term congressional elections in 2006.

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