Wake County Schools

Transit sales tax gets the vote; some mayors ousted

Posted November 9, 2011 8:32 a.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2011 11:44 a.m. EST

— Voters in two counties approved sales tax hikes to support transit and education initiatives, while incumbents and challengers battled for mayoral seats across the region Tuesday.

Voters in the Bull City made their voices heard in the race for Durham mayor.

Incumbent Bill Bell was elected to his sixth term, easily beating Rev. Sylvester Williams with 18,581 votes, or 82 percent. Williams received 3,990 votes.

Bell said Tuesday night that he's not focused on how many times he's been re-elected but on the opportunity to serve.

"I enjoy the work that I do. It's really been an honor and a privilege for me to be able to serve," he said. "I tell people over and over again that I'm in Durham by choice and not by chance."

Bell supported two referendums for local sales taxes on the ballot.

A countywide measure for a half-cent sales tax increase to be used for transit needs, including commuter rail to Wake County and light rail to Orange County, passed by 60 percent with 98 percent of precincts reporting.

In the city of Durham, 57 percent of voters supported a quarter-cent sales and use tax for education. In Orange County, voters approved a similar tax that's expected to raise about $2.5 million for the county.

In Fayetteville, Mayor Tony Chavonne was elected to a fourth term, defeating challenger Nat Robertson. Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt also won his re-election bid against challengers Tim Sookram and Kevin Wolff.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly, Fuquay-Varina Mayor John Byrne, Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen, Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams and Rolesville Mayor C. Frank Eagles were re-elected.

In Wendell, however, Mayor Harold Broadwell was defeated by challenger Timothy Hinnant. Hope Mills Mayor Eddie Dees lost to Jackie Warner, and Spring Lake's longtime Mayor Ehthel Clark lost to Chris Rey.