Frantz looks like winner

53-vote lead can't be changed by 52 votes yet to be counted

Staff WriterOctober 13, 2007 

Some double-checking of votes Friday in Cary's razor-thin District B Town Council election showed that Don Frantz is likely the winner after all.

The Wake County Board of Elections' unofficial count Thursday gave Frantz a slim 28-vote lead over Vickie Maxwell in Tuesday's election. Because dozens of provisional ballots had yet to be verified, a Maxwell victory could not be ruled out.

But Elections Director Cherie Poucher said Friday that an audit of the votes found mistakes: Several votes for Frantz had been missed, and a group of 24 one-stop ballots had been counted twice for Maxwell.

The new tally is 1,392 for Frantz and 1,339 for Maxwell, giving Frantz a 53-vote lead.

Across Cary, 52 provisional votes have yet to be tallied. Not all of them are expected to involve District B because there were three other council races.

Even if they were all valid, all affected District B and all went to Maxwell, she'd still lose, assuming the count doesn't change.

The results won't be official, however, until the elections board certifies them Tuesday.

But Frantz, 36, who owns an automotive store downtown, finally looks like a sure winner.

"I'm very relieved it's over," Frantz said Friday. "My next move is to contact my fellow councilors and get ready to get to work. We need to find out what we agree on, and do it."

Maxwell, 50, a homemaker and community activist, took the news in stride Friday as she plucked her campaign signs off roadsides. Maxwell said she'll wait for the official results Tuesday.

"I owe it to my supporters," she said. "It's been an emotional roller coaster the last few days. With all the confusion, I think I'll wait and see what happens between now and Tuesday."

The election was North Carolina's first "instant runoff," in which voters mark second and third choices on their ballots.

In this case, two-thirds of the supporters of incumbent Nels Roseland, who came in third, picked either Maxwell or Frantz as their second choice. Adding those second-place votes to the first-round votes for Frantz and Maxwell decided the race.

"All new things take time, and this method of preference voting is off to a good start -- including providing another example that your vote really can make a difference," said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonprofit group that supports instant runoffs.

matthew.eisley@newsobserver.com or (919) 829-4538

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