MORRISVILLE — No matter what happens after the Tuesday election, the Morrisville Town Council will get a new member.
District 2 incumbent Steve Diehl is not running for re-election.
TJ Cawley, a retired businessman and stay-at-home father, and civil engineer Vinod “Vinnie” Goel are vying for the seat.
While neither has served in elected office, both have been active in Morrisville citizen advisory boards. Cawley serves on the town’s stormwater committee and public safety advisory board. Goel is on the town’s planning commission.
A total of four seats are on the Tuesday ballot: the mayor, District 2, District 4 and an at-large seat. Incumbent Margaret Broadwell wants to keep her District 4 seat, along with at-large Councilman Steve Rao.
Morrisville residents can vote for all the races, regardless of where they live.
The results of the election could mean a shift for the Town Council, whose members have often disagreed over the past two years about council procedures, ethical violations and ideology.
Some candidates say they have seen the divisiveness of the council, watching from the back of council chambers.
If elected, Cawley said he wants to focus on what’s best for the town.
“Once people understand motivations and goals, the solutions will be obvious,” said Cawley, who lost his bid for an at-large council seat in 2009. “We have to start the sentence with, ‘This decision is best for Morrisville because.’”
Goel, his opponent, says he is a team player.
“I can work with both sides of the aisle,” Goel said. “I have worked with most of the members on the council before.”
Pete Martin, who is challenging Rao, said he’s not happy with the way the council has conducted itself the past couple of years. He previously served 12 years on the council before losing his at-large seat in 2011.
Martin said council members should not air their grievances through the media.
“I never went to the press with anything negative about the town,” he said. “I love Morrisville too much.”
Rao agreed there is divisiveness on the council, but the board does agree unanimously on some things, he said, including the hiring of Town Manager Martha Wheelock.
“There are so many good things going on,” Rao said. “In the future, we’re going to have so many good things going on, I don’t see how we won’t be able to agree.”
Rao said he wants a chance to continue his work on entrepreneurship initiatives, such as the business start-up program he helped develop with the Chamber of Commerce.
Meanwhile, Martin said, he wants to focus on growth.
“Honestly, I want to get back on the council to make certain Morrisville keeps its small-town feel,” Martin said. “I want to make sure it stays a small-town residential community, not all industrial. I want balanced, sustainable growth.”
Three-way race in District 4
Broadwell faces a three-way race in District 4, with Vicki Scroggins-Johnson and Rao Bondalapati.
Broadwell, first elected in 1984, has served a total of 14 years on the Morrisville Town Council, both as mayor and a councilwoman.
She too acknowledged some turmoil on the council.
“If I’m re-elected, I will maintain stability and sense of calmness,” Broadwell said. “I think the makeup of (the) council depends on who is elected on this election cycle.”
Broadwell, Rao and Councilwoman Liz Johnson are often the swing votes on controversial issues.
“I’ve always been an independent thinker,” Broadwell said.
Scroggins-Johnson is president of the Savannah Homeowners Association and is a member of the town’s public safety advisory board.
She said her professional experience as a project manager could help the town, especially with the council’s personality conflicts.
“On the council, my vision is that we have seven advocates for Morrisville, not seven adversaries,” she said. “Right now it’s not as smooth as it could be.”
Bondalapati, meanwhile, is well-known in the community and serves as a coach for the Triangle Cricket League.
By helping to expand the youth program from about 11 children to more than 100, Bondalapati said, he’s shown he knows how to work with the community and lead.
“I have hands-on experience in the field,” he said. “I’m more about proactiveness than reactiveness.”
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