Local Politics

Bell Wins; Transfer Tax Loses

Posted November 6, 2007
Updated November 7, 2007

— Durham Mayor Bill Bell held off a brutal challenge from City Councilman Thomas Stith to win an unprecedented fourth term Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, voters soundly rejected tax issues placed on the ballot in several area counties to raise money for growth-related needs.

Stith hammered at Durham's image as a crime-ridden city, calling Bell soft on crime and saying Durham needed to move in a new direction. Bell fired back at Stith, saying the councilman used scare tactics over crime for political gain.

The often-heated campaign generated a healthy voter turnout. Nearly 40,000 people in Durham cast ballots, and the 25 percent voter turnout doubled the results of the last mayoral election in the city.

Bell wound up with 58 percent of the vote to Stith's 42 percent, according to unofficial totals.

"I hope it sends a message to future candidates that choose to campaign in Durham and use that type of (negative) tactic. It's not going to work in Durham," Bell said.

Across the county line, Chapel Hill Mayor Kevin Foy coasted to an easy victory over challenger Kevin Wolff, capturing 72 percent of the vote, according to unofficial totals.

Meanwhile, voters didn't appreciate the state legislators giving them the opportunity to tax themselves to pay for growth-related needs.

Lawmakers approved allowing counties to ask for either a land transfer tax equal to 0.4 percent of the sale price whenever property changes hands or a 0.25-cent local sales tax, with the proceeds paying for infrastructure like more classroom space, improved roads or new water and sewer lines.

In the closest votes, Cumberland County and Robeson County defeated a local sales tax by 52-48 and 58-42 percent margins, respectively, according to unofficial totals.

Meanwhile, the transfer tax was defeated 93-7 percent in Harnett County, 85-15 percent in Hoke County, 84-16 percent in Johnston County, 77-23 percent in Moore County and 70-30 percent in Chatham County, according to unofficial results.

"I think this sends a very strong message that the public feels this isn't a fair means of taxation," said Tim Kent, executive vice president of the North Carolina Association of Realtors, which unsuccessfully lobbied against the transfer tax in the General Assembly.

Johnston and Harnett voters also defeated sales tax proposals by four-to-one margins.

Sampson County was the only area county to approve a tax Tuesday, with more than 77 percent of voters passing a local sales tax.


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  • casp3r Nov 7, 2007

    wveagleson= NO NO NO, If you live in Durham stay there. We don't want your problems were we live lol.

  • iwannabfishn Nov 7, 2007

    I have lived in Durham all my life. The problem with Durham is that we are being over run with crime. Our elected officials and the majority of people in the town want a hand out not a hand up, and there are enough voters who turn out to make sure that trend keeps going. Raising taxes and providing more social programs is not working. Durham is a glaring example! If you don't want to be taxed out of the city you live in, you had better get your lazy tail to poll and VOTE!

  • 68_polara Nov 7, 2007


    exceeded the 100 character limit.

  • 68_polara Nov 7, 2007

    "Say what you want about Durham, we are at least real with ourselves and the problems in the community that those of us who live here love so much. Those who disparage Durham's neighborhoods don't really know this community all that well."

    I live in Durham and I know it well. We continue to ignore the fact that only conservative leadership along with actually cooperating with law enforcement instead of seeing them as the enemy can turn Durham around. We won't get anywhere with out the courage to kick the drug dealers, gang members, and all the other thugs out. We continue to reelect the same liberal Judges again and again. If someone commits a violent crime we need to lock them away for a long time it's expensive but is actually cheaper than having them continue to commit the same crimes over and over again only to be tried again and again. Ignoring the crime problem, or denying it even exists, reelecting the same officials over and over again is ensuring that Durham will only get wor

  • issymayake Nov 7, 2007

    The main posters I notice on this board speaking about the crime and corruption in Durham are NON-Durmites. . . so I'm not viewing the same thing you are, buddy.

  • now Nov 7, 2007

    YANKEEnNC, yankees don't get bashed up North. Hint...hint...hint....

  • BUCKEYEnNC Nov 7, 2007

    Impact fees can and do work. They do what they are supposed to do and that's to fund the expansion of the infastructure needed as a result of increase development. The problem is, builders don't want to be on the hook for the Impact fee up-front. They'd rather pay it upon transfer and have reduced by speading the transfer tax over all homes and developments.

    Yes growth does increase the tax base, but we've seen how our gov't is incapable of managing this growth. We need to have the IMPACT specifically earmarked for infastructure (schools, roads, water, etc).

    Stop the Yankee bashing people. It's 2007, the war is over. We are all Yankees now!!!

  • weasleyes Nov 7, 2007

    jgriffith is correct. The only way we will get term limits (and better government) is to vote ALL incumbents out! Take back our country! Politics was never intended to be a career by the Founding Fathers!

  • now Nov 7, 2007

    Becasue wveagleson we have to hear people in Durham whine, cry, protest and blame everbody except themselves for their own actions. They put Nifong back in and now bell. you don't want anything better apparently. We will mind our own business if we don't have to heard about the crimes and culture of coruption in Durham.

    Ironically, 2 people were killed in Durham on elevtion day. Go figure.

  • Tonedout Nov 7, 2007

    Why do people who do not live in Durham seem to know what the problems in Durham are and how to fix them. If Durham is so bad why even waste your time posting. We don't care what you think and do not care if you never come to Durham.