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Local Candidates Urge Citizens To Vote Today

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Elections will be held today that will shape the futures of Wake, Durham and Cumberland counties. Some of the races are primaries. In other races, the winner of the seat will be decided outright. Although the stakes are high, voter turnout is expected to be low.

The Raleigh mayor's race and other local elections have been overshadowed by the events of Sept. 11. As a result, experts say turnout could be even lower than usual for city races.

"I'm hopeful that people will be reminded that what the terrorists couldn't destroy on Sept. 11 is our core democratic values, which is the most important thing about us," said John Gilbert of the Wake County Election Board.

And Raleigh mayoral candidates Paul Coble and Charles Meeker agree on that point -- Americans should exercise their right to vote today. Both cast their vote Tuesday morning.

Are you looking at economic development or urban sprawl? How Raleigh voters answer that question may decide who they elect as mayor. Incumbent Paul Coble says he hopes voters will look at his record of cutting taxes, reducing crime and creating jobs.

"I'm running on my record and the fact that we've had strong leadership in Raleigh and we'll continue to do that, given the opportunity," he says.

Challenger Charles Meeker hopes to unseat Coble by promising to reign in development, protecting water and trees.

"People want a mayor who will be active in solving Raleigh's problems. They have a renewed interest and want things done," Meeker says.

Meeker is supported by residents who helped derail Neal Coker's proposed project at Wade and Oberlin Road. He is doing his best to get those supporters to the polls.

"I think it's even more important this year. All the campaigns are doing it. We've done a lot of that," Meeker says.

Political newcomer Joel Cornette is also on the ballot.

Since Thursday, the Coble campaign has called 90,000 supporters. Campaign workers say their supporters' opinions will not matter if they do not express them at the polls.

"We ask them to do exactly that. Remember that Tuesday is an Election Day, and it's important because it's going to decide who leads the city for the next two years," he says.

If history holds, a small percentage of voters will decide who that leader will be. Voter turnout was just 17 percent in the 1999 mayor's race.

Raleigh voters will also elect a new city council on Tuesday. All seven seats are on the ballot: two At-Large seats and seats in districts A, B, D and E.

Other elections today:

  • Cary will hold a primary for an At-Large council seat and seats in districts A and C.
  • The Wake County School Board could look different after the winners are determined in districts 2, 7 and 9.
  • Durham holds a mayoral primary that will decide who faces off in the general election in November. Mayor Nick Tennyson is up against four challengers Bill Bell, Brenda Burnette, Stephen Hopkins and Ralph McKinney.
  • There are also several city council seats in Durham with no incumbents running in Ward 1 and for three At-Large seats.
  • Fayetteville will begin the process of electing a new mayor following the death of J.L. Dawkins, who spent 14 years running the city. The primary features seven candidates, including the former mayor's son Johnny and the man appointed to finish out Dawkins' term, Milo McBryde. Mayor pro tem Marshall Pitts is also on the ballot, along with plumber Ronnie Peel, postal worker Edna Pickett, professional boxer Shawn Townsend and nuclear security officer Leonard Hicks.
  • Fayetteville also has city council seats open in districts 1 through 9.
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