Local News

Small Turnout, But Big Decisions By Area Voters Tuesday

Posted October 8, 2003 6:13 a.m. EDT

— Local voting polls were not as busy as expected Tuesday. But local voters made some important decisions, approving Wake County bonds, keeping Charles Meeker as Raleigh's mayor and voting Glen Lang out of the Cary mayor's race.

There was a lot riding on Tuesday's elections, such as who would run local cities and towns, and whether schools and libraries would get more money.

In the race for

Raleigh mayor

, incumbent Meeker will serve another two-year term after defeating Councilman John Odom.



, incumbent Lang is out. Former Chamber of Commerce president Ernest McAlister leads the voting, but Councilwoman Julie Robison called for a runoff in November.

Lang told WRAL he wants to spend more time with his family and focus on the business he started a year ago. He admits he paid a $10 dollar filing fee, but did not campaign much at all.

"In hindsight, maybe, if I'd went out and raised $70,000 or $80,000, I'd probably have a different result," Lang said. "I'm pleased with the way things went. Folks know who I am and they chose not to re-elect me. That's a good thing."

Wake County voters approved a

$450 million school bond referendum

by a wide margin. It will fund construction for 13 new schools, 16 major renovations and 61 repair projects over the next four years.

Perhaps the lack of a major issue kept many voters from the polls. In Wake County, voter turnout was projected at about 20 percent.

Odom said the low turnout was a factor in his defeat.

"We reached a large number of people," Odom said of his campaign. "I just think voter apathy hurt me some."


Durham mayoral primary

sent incumbent Bill Bell against Jonathan Alston in the Nov. election.



, incumbent Mayor Marshall Pitts will face Robert Anderson in next month's election after winning Tuesday's primary.

Pitts, the first African-American mayor in Fayetteville, moved a step closer to keeping his job.

"It is a sign of excitement and relief," Pitts said, "because you work so hard to get to this point."

The turnout was surprisingly light. The candidates for Raleigh mayor both said they had wanted a higher turnout.

Meeker had his family up early for a 7:30 a.m. trip to his Boylan Heights precinct. His re-election campaign outspent Odom 4-1, and he had been hoping for a high voter turnout to push him over the top.

"I think turnout is always important," Meeker said.

Odom brought his family to the Green Road Community Center to cast their votes.

"Voter turnout is always key," Odom said. "The key is making sure your people come out and vote for you."

Those who turned out overwhelmingly supported three bond referendums. In addition to the school bond, voters approved a $35 million bond that will go toward building libraries on the Northeast side of the county and in the Leesville area. Cary and Holly Springs will also get new libraries.

A third bond that was approved Tuesday was a $47 million bond that will improve existing parks, pay for the acquisition of more greenways and new parks.