CARY — The hugs Jennifer Robinson received from voters outside the polls at Carpenter Elementary early Tuesday morning were a sign of more praise to come for three incumbent Cary Town Council candidates.
Robinson beat out businessman Karl Thor with nearly 60 percent of the vote to continue representing western Cary in District A. Jack Smith, a 24-year representative of southeastern Cary in District C, coasted to a win over Deborah Pugh with 70 percent of the vote. And Ed Yerha won an uncontested race for the at-large seat to which council members appointed him in August 2012.
“The vote is a reflection that people are happy with the town of Cary and trust us to address the problems they see in the town,” Robinson said Tuesday night.
Robinson and Smith pointed to low rancor and low fundraising numbers – the four candidates combined hadn’t eclipsed the $10,000 mark by the end of September – in forecasting their wins. Their challengers also seemed to lack a hot-button issue on which to base their challenges.
Pugh and Thor laid broad anti-establishment platforms and hoped to build support using familiar rhetoric: that council members are encouraging an urban sprawl that conflicts with the town’s character.
For some residents, such as Morton Berkowitz, their message rang true. Tuesday morning, he confronted Robinson about the council’s recent decision to apply for a federal loan on behalf of a hotel developer in downtown Cary.
“When can we vote on another hotel? How about a theater?” Berkowitz said to Robinson as he walked into Carpenter Elementary to vote.
But most Cary voters didn’t share the anti-council sentiment.
Karissa Binkley, for one, cited Cary’s property tax rate – 35 cents per $100 in assessed value, one of the lowest in Wake County – as one of several reasons she’s pleased with Robinson in District A.
“There aren’t vacant shopping centers … and they seem to be doing well handling more growth,” the New Jersey native said. “There’s a reason people are still moving here.”
At Piney Plains Church in Cary, a polling place in District C, Don Holquist had similar views of Smith.
Holquist said he agreed with Pugh’s platform of slowing down development. Nonetheless, he voted for Smith because he couldn’t name a controversial vote the councilman cast affecting his neck of the woods.
“Lots of times, your average voter, like me, votes against something instead of voting for something,” Holquist said. “I guess you could say he hasn’t offended enough people.”
Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht