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Wake voters approve millions in bonds, Democratic commissioners

November 7, 2018

Wake County voters approved three bond issues Tuesday that allow the county to issue hundreds of millions of dollars for education and the environment.

On the ballot was whether to allow the county to issue $349 million in bonds to expand Wake Technical Community College.

With all Wake County precincts reporting, 65 percent of voters approved the bonds, with 35 percent opposed, according to unofficial returns. The vote means the annual tax bill of a $200,000 home will increase by $23.

Wake Tech has a growing enrollment – it serves 74,000 students a year – and its leaders said current facilities need more seats and better technology in classrooms.

A new advanced industries building would cost $89.6 million, and a new health sciences building and parking deck would cost $82.3 million. A simulation and tactical response center would cost $45.7 million, and a parking deck on the Research Triangle Park campus would cost $55.3 million. Other projects include an automotive and collision repair building and college-wide repairs.

“Your support is deeply appreciated,” Bill Aiken, interim president of Wake Tech, said in a statement Wednesday thanking voters for approving the bonds. “This is your community college, and your support for the bond shows all of us that you understand the value of the education and training that Wake Tech delivers.”

Voters also approved a $548 million general obligation bond to help school construction keep up with student population growth, with 67 percent of voters approving it.

The money will help build five elementary schools, a middle school in Fuquay-Varina, a high school in southwest Wake County and and renovate 11 others.

The bonds will add about $46 to the annual tax bill of a $200,000 home.

Unofficial returns showed 68 percent of voters approved allowing the county to issue $120 million in bonds for more parks and greenways.

The projected plan is for $47 million to go toward buying land to preserve as open space and to expand greenways, $39 million will go toward renovations at existing parks, and $34 million will go toward developing new parks and nature preserves.

The annual tax bill of a $200,000 home will increase by an additional $7.

All seven Democratic candidates for the Wake County Board of Commissioners also won, keeping the party’s monopoly on the board.

In the race for District 1 commissioner, incumbent Sig Hutchinson, a Democrat, had 61 percent of votes. Challenger Greg Jones, a Republican, had 36 percent.

Hutchinson joined the Board of Commissioners in 2014. He has supported county bond initiatives for open space preservation, transportation and affordable housing. He is a sales consultant and professional speaker.

Jones has worked as an industrial contractor and is a farmer. His goal was to identify wasteful spending in the county.

Tim Jowers, a Libertarian candidate for District 1, died in a car crash in September, but his name remained on the ballot, and he received 3 percent of reported votes.

In District 2, Democratic incumbent Matt Calabria received 64 percent of votes, while Republican Frann Sarpolus received 36 percent.

Calabria said he has worked to increase teacher salaries and invest in public education, including early childhood educational opportunities. He is a lawyer.

Having worked as a financial director and a community advocate, Sarpolus hoped to improve affordable housing and the availability of healthy foods.

Democrat Susan Evans, who defeated District 4 incumbent Erv Portman in May’s primary, got 62 percent of votes reported. Republican Kim Coley got 38 percent.

Evans won a seat on the county’s Board of Education in 2011 and served through 2016. She is a certified public accountant. On the school board, she said she worked to improve student stability in schools.

Coley, a small-businesswoman, hoped to make teachers’ salaries competitive and support a per-pupil school funding method.

Incumbent Greg Ford, a Democrat, had 61 percent of votes first reported, and Republican David Blackwelder had 39 percent. Both of their platforms focused on education.

Ford, who has been a teacher and a principal, hoped to better fund public schools and make schools attractive to relocating businesses.

Blackwelder planned to monitor schools’ fiscal responsibility and to advocate for more community programs throughout the county. He is a police officer.

Democrat Vickie Adamson, who defeated District 7 incumbent John Burns in May, had 63 percent of votes first reported. Republican Alex Moore had 37 percent.

Adamson argued that Burns didn’t support public schools, and she aimed to give schools more resources like counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses. She is a business analyst.

Moore is a real estate agent and aimed to attract businesses to the county with economic opportunities.

Jessica Holmes, of District 3, and James West, of District 5, faced no opponents this election.

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