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Two Challenge Meeker For Raleigh Mayor

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Around Raleigh, there are a few signs to let you know the mayor's race is on the ballot Tuesday. With no radio and television ads for mayoral candidates this season, the race is considered low-key.

"It's been a fairly quiet year," said Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker, who is seeking re-election.

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Speaking at a luncheon on Friday, Meeker talked more about the

city's bond referendums

than he did his campaign.

In his two terms as mayor, he has stirred up some controversy by pushing to end backyard trash collection and predatory towing.

He may step into another hot issue if re-elected. Meeker has proposed doubling development fees to help pay for roads.

"We aren't having development fees pay for themselves. Our fees are about one quarter of what Apex and Cary charge," Meeker said. "We could raise them a great deal and still be very competitive with Cary and Apex."

Meeker added that he wants to make the permit and inspection process easier for developers. He also wants to do more to ensure water quality.

Meeker's challengers oppose some of the projects the current mayor supports.

"Behind us is a boondoggle," mayoral candidate J.H. Ross said.

Ross, a retired police lieutenant, said the new downtown convention center is a waste of money. He said he worries about blocking access for emergency personnel with planned roundabouts on Hillsborough Street.

He also said the proposed rail system makes no sense for Raleigh.

"I have enough faith in technology and the 'American Way' that we are going to get from point A to point B," Ross said.

Steven Hilton, another mayoral candidate, said he wants to stop spending money on downtown projects and lower the tax rate in Raleigh. The software developer said it was time to get back to the basics.

"They should just pay the police, keep the city safe and clean, and stop doing everything else," Hilton said.

In the city council races, incumbents in four seats are running unopposed, while several people are seeking the District A seat and two at-large seats.

The race for the District A seat is seen as the most heated race as incumbent Tommy Craven is being challenged by Paul Anderson, a pastor.

There are two at-large seats available.

Incumbent Joyce Kekas faces competition from Ed Carson, an entrepreneur; John Odom, a former mayoral candidate and city council member; and Russ Stephenson, an architect.