APEX — For the first time in 12 years, women will serve on the town’s governing board.
Denise Wilkie and Nicole Dozier won seats on the Apex Town Council during Tuesday’s election. Incumbent Gene Schulze kept his spot on the board, which had three open seats.
The Town Council has been made up of all white men for more than a decade. Meanwhile, the town’s population is about 50 percent female and 7.8 percent African-American.
Tuesday’s election also brings a shift to the council’s Republican stronghold.
Wilkie, a schoolteacher, is registered as an independent. Dozier is a Democrat.
They will join Councilman Bill Jensen, a Democrat, to create a non-Republican council majority.
Half of the six candidates running for seats in the nonpartisan race were Republicans. Incumbent Terry Rowe lost a bid to keep his seat.
“All of the people I spoke to during my campaign told me they were tired of the party politics,” Wilkie said. “I’m known as an independent thinker. Even (on Tuesday) people were coming up to me after the results saying, ‘I hope you will continue to be independent.’”
Wilkie, who teaches government studies at Apex High School, said she believes not being a career politician helped her. She was the top vote-getter on Election Day.
“I’m going to listen to and try to represent the people of Apex and not align myself with one side or another,” Wilkie said.
Dozier, a health advocate for the NC Justice Center, has served as the legislative chair for her neighborhood association and served for eight years on school improvement councils.
Friends from her neighborhood and school inspired her to run.
“I also said the council should be a little bit more diverse,” said Dozier, who is African-American. “I thought, ‘Someday.’ I didn’t think that someone should be me.”
Dozier will be the first African-American to serve since Clarice Atwater’s term ended in 1993.
Dozier said the election was less about race and more about a need for diversity.
“Maybe people were inspired by the ideas I had,” she said. “What I tried to do was get out and talk to people. ... I’m really honored that the citizens of Apex are trusting me with this role. I’m overwhelmed, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Over the next few months, Dozier said, she wants to focus on learning about the town’s operations and listening to residents.
Important issues are creating a senior center, more activities for teens, balancing growth and economic development, Dozier said.
Schulze, meanwhile, said he wants to concentrate on keeping Apex in good financial health.
“If we can do that, I think everything else will fall (in place),” Schulze said. “Keeping up with parks and recreation, roads, emergency services.”
Schulze said his voting record and experience – he’s going into his fourth term – helped get him re-elected.
Dozier and Wilkie might represent change on the council, but Schulze said they all have a common goal: public service.
“I have no reason to believe they don’t have the best interest of Apex at heart,” Schulze said. “I’m looking forward to the future. I’m very optimistic.”
Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews