Local Politics

Weinbrecht's Balanced Growth Approach a Hit with Cary Voters

Posted October 10, 2007

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— One day after becoming Cary’s mayor-elect, Harold Weinbrecht said he overcame “a lot of money and a lot of power and a lot of negative campaigning” to win.

Weinbrecht, a former Cary town councilman, beat out incumbent Mayor Ernie McAlister by 16 percentage points Tuesday night.

Noting that he was out-spent 6-to-1, Weinbrecht thanked his supporters and attributed the win to grassroots efforts.

“It was pretty incredible,” he said. “It shows the people of Cary are concerned about the issues and willing to get out there and vote and willing to get out and get their neighbors to vote.”

Growth was one of the major issues surrounding Cary’s mayoral election Tuesday, and Weinbrecht said residents couldn’t stop talking about it. Census results show Cary is Wake County's fastest growing town.

Cary political watchers said there's a process to growth that’s repeated in the town: A development comes up, neighbors oppose it, the town approves it anyway and the controversy eventually fades.

But opponents of one specific project didn't disappear. They went straight to the polls.

Weinbrecht said he promises to embrace what he calls a balanced approach to growth.

“They were mostly concerned that big projects were being approved that harmed their neighborhoods, and they didn’t really have a voice in the matter,” Weinbrecht said.

One of those projects was at the northeast corner of High House and Davis Drive. It called for offices, shops and condos. Opponents said the area was already too congested.

The council narrowly approved the plan, with support from McAlister. Neighbors took their revenge at the polls. In four precincts near High House and Davis Drive Weinbrecht saw overwhelming support of 70 percent or more.

Don Hyatt runs CaryPolitics.org, which tracks town council issues. He said residents weren’t just upset about growth but also how their input was ignored.

“They’re trying to tell the council, ‘Can you hear us now?’” Hyatt laughed. “The people in the neighborhood of High House and Davis Drive were extremely energized.”

McAlister's campaign attacked Weinbrecht on spending issues. The mayor acknowledged those points took a backseat to growth.

“If you have folks where that’s the only thing important to then, then nothing else is going to matter,” McAlister said.

What matters to some now is whether Weinbrecht will keep his campaign promise on growth.

“If it’s going to create a problem with existing neighborhoods, then I’ll have a difficult time approving the project,” he said.

Some have compared Weinbrecht to former Cary Mayor Glen Lang, who made strides in slowing the town’s growth. While some like Lang’s stance on growth, others accused him of having an abrasive style.

“We do have a lot of philosophical beliefs that are similar, but the personalities and the way we approach issues are totally different,” Weinbrecht said. “And the way we approach people may be different.”

As he prepares to take over Cary’s top seat, Weinbrecht said his first order of business will be to assess where the town is and where it needs to go.

“I believe we need to work on providing adequate infrastructure, and that may mean changing ordinances and putting things in place that will protect certain neighborhoods and certain things from overwhelming neighborhoods,” he said.

In other Cary election news, Erv Portman was named the winner in the Cary Town Council At-Large race after he drew 69 percent of the vote. Gale Adcock was elected to Cary’s District D seat with 54 percent of the vote.

The District B race offered the state the first chance to experiment with an "instant runoff."

Incumbent Nels Roseland lagged behind challengers Don Frantz and Vickie Maxwell, who had 39 percent and 34 percent of the vote, respectively.

In the coming days, election officials will review the ballots cast for Roseland, because he was third, to see which of the other candidates were the second choice of his voters. The votes will then be assigned to either Frantz or Maxwell, and a winner will be declared.

57 Comments

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  • Uncle Ruckus Oct 11, 7:18 p.m.

    Just remember a majority of the developers are not even from this area or state. The are corporations with only one thing on their mind ---- money, money, and more money. Think of them like locust, once they are done with the land, they will move on without a thought were they were yesterday.

  • Uncle Ruckus Oct 11, 7:15 p.m.

    Wbowellman - Because you live in the apartments, Aldi company believes you need a mini-Sam's Club in your area because you can't afford the annual dues at Sam's. They assume that you will use your WIC card or your food stamps. Bulk food in plain boxes, just what every neighborhood needs. And how many trees were on that parcel before they tore them all down?

  • Hardrock757 Oct 11, 2:09 p.m.

    (Part 2)

    Let me ask you current residents who oppose development this:
    If you feel you have a right to say what happens to a developer’s piece of land then why in the world should not the developer have a say over what happens to your homes? I mean what if a developer said, “you know residents of neighborhood x I think a shopping center would be better here than homes? So, leave your homes, and no you will not be compensated for it and give me the land your home is on.” Now many of you find that to be despicable, but think about something – you are the same people who wanted to say what a developer should or should not do with their land, yet do not compensate them anything when you downzone their land and strip it of millions of dollars in value.

    There is something to think about!

  • Hardrock757 Oct 11, 2:08 p.m.

    I am not sure what is worse, people's need to stop an industry that employs tens of thousands of people in the triangle or people's need to destroy property rights.

    People who think they have the right to say what someone else does on their land is dead wrong. These people need to stop and think! If they want a say in what is done with the land need to approach the developer and try to buy a percentage of the development. As far as theses absurd arguments that current residents should have a say because of the infrastructure improvements, need to stop and think about the fact that developers are the ones who pay for these improvements NOT CURRENT RESIDENTS. Developers pay for this in impact fees (that are already too high) and developers pay for ALL the infrastructure within the development.
    (Part 1)

  • Navillus Oct 11, 1:25 p.m.

    wboswellmann - if it wasn't needed the people wouldn't shop there. Why can't Rite Aid have competition? Why can't Harris Teeter have competition therefore you will get better grocery stores that will compete for your business. This lower prices but gives you a better place to shop. If others didn't see this as a good they wouldn't shop there, the need would go away and developers would build something else.

  • Navillus Oct 11, 1:20 p.m.

    B Real - I lie? I don't really see myself as whining when everyone else is saying "we don't have enough roads, we don't have enough schools, I want to development to stop -- i am anti-growth, people are making money and i am not" that is whining to me. Yeah, my candidate lost okay lets see what harold can do, but I still remain on my stance for people to stop complaining and whining about others doing what they want with their own land!

  • Navillus Oct 11, 1:17 p.m.

    Rotting_Stump- the more our population increases the more houses that people need. The more the government keeps saying that tax payers have to pay for it, health care, welfare, Medicare, Medicaid, subsidizing housing, etc the more people you need to put into this kitty. Or we can become like Russia and Germany and have a negative growth. If you want to see non-development then by the land yourself then do whatever you want with it.

  • Navillus Oct 11, 1:14 p.m.

    Uncle- Too bad i am not connected with any of these groups. But if you are advocating the free markets then aren't developers providing a service that is dictated by a free market. I totally agree that we should have gated communities esp since those roads the developer paid for. What type of infrastructure are you relying on others to pay for? The developers have to give many many fees to the city/town/county and the go through approval with DOT- go talk to someone who works in the planning department and see how convoluted the process is. And if you really were for a free market then stop having the roads provided for by the government all together have private roads, there is no reason for my money to go to a road that I don't use make roads private, then you will have competition and people will say my road only cost $1.00 to use while someone else will say $0.75. People need to stop seeing making money as a negative and instead try to do the same for themselves.

  • Sansa Stormfire Oct 11, 1:11 p.m.

    As someone who moved to Cary from Charlotte over 2 years ago, I can say that I don't like some of the things I have seen in the last couple of years. For instance, I live in an apt community near the intersection of Harrison and Maynard. Within a 5 mile radius there are 5 Grocery stores and still the tore down all the trees beside the Walgreens to build another grocery store. Someone please explain that to me? To me, it was a case of sure, let's give developers the opportunity to build something that isn't even needed. I hope stuff like this can be slowed down.

  • Starlyte Oct 11, 12:52 p.m.

    Um, is he serious about "negative campaining"??
    I saw MANY signs put up by his campain follwers, more than likely himself...saying "Dump McAl".."McAlister Lied, A Good Tree Died"...etc. I still find it hard to believe he was NOT GOOD ENOUGH for the council, but yet people want him to run the city as mayor? It does not matter, whether my 7 year old daughter is mayor, growth is going to continue, good old Harold actually was for alot of this growth in Cary when he was on the board. He just had alot of ticked off old ninnies from Preston and over by Davis Drive/High House, all for him since McAlister approved some projects there recently.
    Whats funny is, where the hell would these people live, since most are not even from this area, if the growth had not been approved? It is actually a good thing the growth was implemented to help all the new comers to the area, aka the ones who were not for McAlister, or where would they be?

    Hmmmmmmmmmm!

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