1. WHO WILL CONTROL THE WAKE SCHOOL BOARD?
A Ron Margiotta victory would ensure a 5-4 Republican majority on the Wake County school board.
His is one of five seats up for election today. Republicans hope also to win other seats to increase the majority, which has been fractured by Republican Debra Goldman's occasional votes with the minority.
Democrats will need to win all five seats on the ballot, including toppling Margiotta in District 8, to regain the majority. Margiotta faces Democratic challenger Susan Evans in the Republican-leaning district covering Apex, Holly Springs and part of southern Cary that he's represented since 2003.
A Republican-led board likely would accelerate the move to neighborhood schools. A Democrat-led board likely would result in more attempts to modify the student assignment plan to promote diverse school enrollments.
2. WHO IS RALEIGH'S NEXT LEADER?
Raleigh voters could elect a new mayor for the first time in a decade.
The contest is between Councilwoman Nancy McFarlane, real estate executive Billie Redmond and physician Randall Williams.
Redmond and Williams tout outsider credentials as first-time candidates. They want to reduce city spending and keep taxes low. McFarlane points to her experience as a two-term councilwoman. She says Raleigh has invested wisely in parks, roads and public amenities.
If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a runoff Nov. 8.
3. WILL RALEIGH VOTERS APPROVE $56 MILLION IN BONDS?
Raleigh is asking voters to approve $56 million in transportation and affordable housing bonds. Previous bond requests have enjoyed widespread support, but the anti-spending mood that prevailed in last year's midterms could re-emerge today.
Approval of the proposals would increase property taxes by $17.11 a year for a residential property valued at $188,139, the median assessment on Raleigh homes.
The package includes $4.75 million to pave more than seven miles of city-initiated sidewalk projects, $3 million for sidewalks requested by residents, and $4 million for sidewalk repairs.
4. WILL ONE PARTY RULE THE CARY COUNCIL?
Incumbent Mayor Harold Weinbrecht, a Democrat who increased development fees, invested in downtown Cary and oversaw surpluses and waves of new jobs, faces challenger Michelle Muir, a Republican who said she would be a more active town ambassador while fostering economic development and fiscal restraint.
While that may appear to be the prizefight, the council contests are just as compelling. The council, which is split between the political parties because of a vacant seat, could see a Democratic or Republican majority after the election.
Regardless of political stripe, candidates aren't promising big changes upon victory. Incumbents have campaigned happily on the town's healthy finances and uncontroversial growth rate, while all but one of the newcomers have focused on personal strengths and leadership styles over calls for major policy reform.