Local Politics

Chapel Hill mayor upset; Durham, Fayetteville mayors re-elected

Posted November 3, 2015

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— Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt lost Tuesday in his bid for a fourth term in office, while Durham Mayor Bill Bell easily won re-election for his eighth term and Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson won a second term.

Former Orange County Commissioner Pam Hemminger defeated Kleinschmidt 54 percent to 45 percent, according to unofficial results.

Hemminger, who was on the Board of Commissioners from 2008 to 2012 and previously served four years on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, campaigned on making Chapel Hill more inclusive and fiscally responsible.

"This has been an incredible, incredible experience," Hemminger said. "I have really enjoyed listening to all the voices in the community and hearing people's thoughts. They showed up (at the polls) and decided to go in this direction, which is good."

Kleinschmidt, who has led Chapel Hill since 2009, said his defeat wouldn't mark the end of his political career.

In Durham, Bell won what he has said will be his last term as mayor, defeating Time Warner Cable employee James Lyons 87 percent to 13 percent.

Fayetteville's mayoral race featured a rematch of the 2013 contest, and Robertson once again defeated former City Councilwoman Val Applewhite, this time by 52 percent to 48 percent.

Robertson outspent Applewhite in the race by an 8-1 margin, asking voters to give him a chance to continue the work he and the City Council started two years ago.

"We’ve done some great things over the past two years with this City Council. I believe that the residents recognized that and want to see these great things continue to happen," he said. "We’ve built the first pool since 1948 here in the city of Fayetteville. We’ve passed the first unanimous budget in nine years this past year. We’re working together well, and I believe that the residents appreciate that."

Applewhite conceded that she didn't get enough of her supporters to the polls to make her grassroots campaign a success. She said she remains committed to improving the outlook for Fayetteville's youth and said she hasn't yet decided on any future campaigns.

"My passion remains the youth of our community, and we just simply have to do better," she said. "Far too many of our young people are struggling, losing their lives on our streets, and whether or not I'm mayor, those are still issues that that I will continue to fight for. They're just that important to me."

Runoffs decide Raleigh, Cary races

In Raleigh, businessman Dickie Thompson defeated public information officer Eddie Woodhouse in a runoff for the District A seat on the City Council, which covers much of north Raleigh.

In the runoff for the District D seat on Cary Town Council, which represents southwest Cary, Ken George, the owner of an information technology consulting firm, easily downed project manager Maria Cervania.

Voters back bonds

In addition to electing a new mayor, Chapel Hill voters approved five bond issues totaling just over $40 million. Projects include downtown streetscaping, building recreational facilities, expanding greenways and trails, providing more solid water services and making improvements in stormwater collection.

Town officials said they believe Chapel Hill can repay the bonds without a tax increase, but the stormwater bond may require an increase in fees.

In Fuquay-Varina, voters approved $26 million in transportation, water and sewer bonds. Officials said the transportation bond could lead to a tax increase of up to about $140 a year on a $200,000 home.

Apex voters passed a $15 million bond referendum for streets and sidewalks that officials said won't require a tax increase.

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