State News

Turnout light for local elections

Posted October 6, 2009 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2009 7:59 p.m. EDT


— Turnout was light Tuesday as voters in 26 North Carolina counties cast ballots to elect local leaders or winnow down fields of candidates for mayor and city council.

About 90 primary and general election races were held, stretching from Atlantic Beach in the east to Asheville in the west.

In Wake County, elections were held for Raleigh mayor and City Council, Cary Town Council and the county Board of Education. Elections in all other Wake County towns won't be held until Nov. 3.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker is seeking a fifth term as mayor of North Carolina's capital city against three other candidates. Political newcomers Mark Enloe, Larry Hudson and Gregg Kunz are trying to unseat Meeker and change course in Raleigh. Six seats on the City Council are also contested.

Four seats also are up on the Wake County school board, following a passionate campaign between supporters and opponents of the district's student assignment policies.

Elections officials said turnout would likely be between 10 and 20 percent of registered voters.

"Most of the calls from our precincts, the officials are saying (turnout is) moderately slow (or) it's slow," said Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County Board of Elections. "We're just hopeful that, as the day goes on (and) people are coming home from work, they're going to stop on their way home."

Greg Tart, who voted at Stough Elementary School, said local elections are important in people's everyday lives.

"This is what really affects my household and my kids," Tart said. "It's more important to me. That's the stuff where we've got to make sure we put our voice in.

"When you want to make your voice heard, one vote counts," he said.

Wake County races are general elections, not primaries. The candidate receiving a majority of the votes cast wins. A majority is defined as half, plus at least one of the votes cast.

If no candidate takes a majority of the votes cast for a particular seat, the candidate winning the most votes is declared the winner unless the candidate receiving the second-highest number of votes requests a runoff. Any runoff election would be held on Nov. 3, and the winner of the runoff wins the seat.

Races in Cumberland and Durham Counties are primaries, narrowing the field of candidates for the general election on Nov. 3.

Fayetteville mayor Tony Chavonne has four challengers: Ronnie Peele, Charles Ragan, Eronomy Smith and Bob White. There are also primaries in Fayetteville City Council Districts 2, 4 and 6.