Local Politics

Polls Close; Durham Precincts See Good Turnout for Mayor's Race

Posted November 6, 2007

— Mayoral candidates, town commissioner races and land transfer taxes are on the ballot Tuesday as voters head to the polls.

In Durham, Mayor Bill Bell and challenger City Councilman Thomas Stith have been engaged in a heated campaign, with Stith repeatedly hammering at Durham image as a crime-ridden city.

  • After the polls close at 7:30 p.m., you can catch the latest election results on WRAL.com. Plus, watch an elections special on WRAL NewsChannel, starting at 9 p.m.

Durham County elections officials are expecting a turnout of about 40,000 residents, or 28 percent of registered voters. That's about double the turnout in the 2005 mayoral election.

The mayor's race could lead to more people voting this year than in any previous local election, said Board of Elections Director Mike Ashe. He attributes the high turnout this year to the "slugfest" between Bell and Stith.

Stith called Bell soft on crime and said Durham needed to move in a new direction. Stith also criticized Bell's involvement in the Duke University lacrosse sexual assault investigation, saying his meetings with police early in the case could increase the city's liability in a pending federal lawsuit.

Bell, who is seeking an unprecedented fourth term as mayor, has fired back at Stith, saying the councilman has been using scare tactics over crime and the Duke case for political gain.

Other communities will also choose a mayor Tuesday. In Chapel Hill, incumbent Kevin Foy faces Kevin Wolff. Wolff challenged Foy in the last election. In Pittsboro, Randolph Voller faces Christopher Bradshaw and Max Cotton. Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton squares off against Chuck Morton and Brian Voyce.

Voters will also head to the polls to tackle tax issues. Six counties – Chatham, Moore, Hoke, Lee, Harnett and Johnston – will see a land transfer tax on the ballot. Voters will have to decide whether to impose a land transfer tax equal to 0.4 percent of the sale price or $400 for every $100,000 whenever property changes hands.

Meanwhile, Cumberland, Robeson and Sampson counties were among 11 counties holding a referendum on whether to adopt a 0.25-cent local sales tax.

Harnett and Johnston counties were among five counties offering voters a choice between the land-transfer and local sales tax. But the counties were allowed to impose only one.

Several other communities in the Triangle are voting for town commissioners, council members and alderman. In those races, it could all come down to the issue of growth. Many towns are seeing rapid growth.

Voters are split between candidates who want to keep it steady and those who want to slow it down.

Since it is not a presidential election year, historically, voter turnout is low, which has some officials concerned that major decisions about growth and taxes made Tuesday could be made by a small group of people. The Oct. 6 municipal elections only drew about 11 percent of Wake County registered voters to the polls.


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  • dcatz Nov 6, 2007

    The only thing democrats are good at is taking money from people who work and giving it to people who don't work and don't deserve it. The government has no right to coerce anyone into giving charity and if the democrats want to continue a system of welfare, they should pay for it out of their own pockets.

  • RWC Nov 6, 2007

    Vote for Dem's, higher taxes, more spending, give my income to entitlement!

  • Abbys Mama Nov 6, 2007

    BTW, if you live in Raleigh you don't vote today.

  • Broker - Back from Lurking Nov 6, 2007

    I know Stith has no proven record, but this is one way I'd disagree with the adage "better the devil you know than the devil you don't"... People in my city have repeatedly voted for folks simply on party-line issues. It is as hair-brained to vote straight ticket Dem as it is Rep. But that's exactly how we got Nifong and Bell - folks voting party politics rather than candidate merit. Forget, just a moment, local political party affiliation. If Nifong were Republican and did the same nonsense, he'd be as much a schmuck as he is as a Dem. Ditto Bell.

  • arentyouclever Nov 6, 2007

    In mentioning the great parts of Durham don't forget Duke Park, Watts-Hillandale and Northgate Park! Yay Durham - we love it here!!

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Nov 6, 2007

    Vote for the Republican Party, the Party that gave us Iraq? Yeah, right, I think I will pass.

  • motorfinga Nov 6, 2007

    Want failure? Vote republican!

  • LoveMyLife Nov 6, 2007

    "I know folks who can't get out of Durham fast enough. Those who want to stay all live on the outskirts of Durham in Bahama and close to Chapel Hill and Chatham County"

    I'm sure you do, but there are a great many Durham residents who agree completely with "Raleigh_Durham." I am one of them. We have been here over 20 years and have seen this city change... some good, some bad. Our current administation is atrocious, but the people of this community by and large are decent, hard-working, wonderful neighbors. Do we have issues? Yep. But it is definitely NOT a cesspool.

  • Space Mountain Nov 6, 2007

    Funny, I know folks who can't get out of Durham fast enough. Those who want to stay all live on the outskirts of Durham in Bahama and close to Chapel Hill and Chatham County. They are just as close to things in the next county over as they are in Durham, and prefer to actually go to the other counties to do things.

  • Durham-Raleigh Nov 6, 2007

    THB, I would completely disagree with you. Places like Trinity Park, Duke Park and Old West Durham fell into disrepair in the 1960s when middle-class white and black residents alike left the urban core. Old West Durham had gang problems until the early 1990s, in fact. Now these are three of the nicest places to live anywhere in the Triangle.

    Ditto areas southwest and south of downtown... southern Durham... most of northern Durham. Downtown has lots of new residents and over a billion dollars of renewal.

    And unlike most cities, the people who live here genuinely love the place and are passionate about improving it.

    Durham's turned the corner years ago and is improving. Most residents here like living here, by a wide margin. Oddly, though, our Wake County neighbors don't. Which to me is just because one kind of person chooses Wake, and another chooses Durham. Not that there's anything wrong with that.