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Voters Head to the Polls Tuesday to Elect City, County Leaders

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RALEIGH — Voter turnout has been steady across the area as people head to the polls Tuesday to elect city and county leaders.

Despite all the signs, election day caught many people, like Chris Carver, by surprise. "I stumbled into this. I found out yesterday the elections are being held today," Carver said. "I'm scurrying to catch up."

For many, catching up means finding candidates who feel the same way they do about the issues.

Traffic is one of the major concerns facing voters as they head to the polls in Raleigh to choose theirnext mayor.

"I live in north Raleigh and I think Falls of Neuse is a disaster," said one voter. "I can't understand why a city this big doesn't have mass transit," said another.

Rapid growth and taxes are also on voters' minds.

For the first time in six years, there is no incumbent on the ballot.

The mayor's racecould be decided Tuesday if one candidate gets 50 percent of the vote. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, there will be a November runoff.

Four city council seatsare also being filled in Raleigh.

The Wake County School Boardwill probably look different after Tuesday's election.

Twenty candidates are campaigning forfive open seats. There have not been more open seats on the nine-member panel since 1981.

The change follows a new mandate sent last spring when the current board's $650 millionbond referendum was defeatedat the polls.

Educators, parents, and students are concerned about overcrowded classrooms, lengthy commutes, redistricting and how to finance renovations and new schools in the county. Not all believe raising taxes is the solution.

"We all went out to the polls and voted down that bond issue, and then they turned around and said, 'Well, we don't care what you say. We're going to pass the issue anyway,' and that really bothered me" said Doris Tote.

"I personally voted for the bond issue because I think our children are in real need of space," said Debra Welch.

DurhamandFayettevilleresidents will vote in primaries to narrow the candidates for mayor and the city council.

Goldsborois also holding a mayoral primary.

AndDunn,Henderson,Rocky Mount, andRoxbororesidents are headed to the polls to elect public officials.

Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

Voters may see some younger citizens casting their ballots, as part of theKids Votingprogram.

Kids Voting is an effort to get more Americans interested in the political process.

As part of the process, students get to visit official polling sites with their parents and make their own choices.

The ballots are counted so the kids can learn the results.