Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Morrisville has early mayoral candidate for 2013

October 5, 2012 

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John Odom For Raleigh city council. Staff/Scott Sharpe

SCOTT SHARPE (TSS) — scott sharpe

It will be more than a year before Morrisville voters elect a new mayor, but Councilman Mark Stohlman has already thrown his hat in the ring.

Stohlman has formed a campaign finance committee to seek the post currently held by incumbent Jackie Holcombe. The two have faced off repeatedly in the past year over issues such as a tax increase and the town manager’s pay raise.

But Holcombe, who has been mayor since 2009, hasn’t decided yet whether she will run for re-election. She says she’s focused on getting voters in November to approve two bond measures totaling $20 million for parks and roads projects.

Family discussions over a possible re-election bid likely won’t begin until next spring, Holcombe said.

Candidates can begin filing to run for Morrisville Town Council and mayoral races July 5, according to the Wake County Board of Elections.

Odom takes the first plunge

Leave it to John Odom to make the biggest splash on the Raleigh City Council.

Odom took a ceremonial first trip down the three-story waterslide at the city’s new Buffaloe Road Aquatic Center, proving that a 65-year-old can perform a stylish tumble.

While other dignitaries wore business attire to Monday’s dedication ceremony, Odom donned a pair of tropical swim trunks (and, yes, a T-shirt).

Odom showed classic form on his journey down the slide, said Councilman Russ Stephenson, who witnessed the feat.

“They had a lifeguard posted right there with rescue equipment,” Stephenson added.

The $8 million pool complex in northeast Raleigh includes a vortex, lazy river, lap lanes, tot-size play features, volleyball net, basketball hoops and concessions. The early crowds have been impressive, and Odom’s feat will surely add to the center’s notoriety.

Orange population projection

The future of Orange County depicted in regional transit plans has raised a few eyebrows.

The plans called for expanded bus service in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and parts of Orange County, as well as a light-rail train system linking UNC Hospitals to east-central Durham, and more highway lanes.

The transit system improvements would be part of a larger, regional transportation network covering the Triangle. Orange County residents vote Nov. 6 on a half-cent sales tax to fund transit.

But, regional and state projections for how many people will be living in Orange County by 2035 have caught some local leaders off guard. According to the plans, the county’s 135,755 residents could grow to roughly 200,000.

County Commissioners Chairwoman Bernadette Pelissier said she doesn’t see those numbers as realistic, and some of her fellow commissioners agreed.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs suggested that it may be logical for the county to have its own projections for “social and natural growth.” Predicting the future is an art, not a science, he said.

“It’s been the policy of Orange County for 30 years to constrain growth, not to open its arms wide and say, ‘Go wherever you want,’ ” Jacobs said. “As a consequence, I think, Orange County still has a more distinctive sense of place than most of the fast-growing areas of North Carolina.”

Political Trails

• Former state senator and former U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham will speak to the Wake Democratic Men’s Club on Monday at the Clarion hotel in downtown Raleigh. RSVP to awdellinger@yahoo.com. Doors open at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m.

• State Rep. Carolyn Justice of Pender County will speak to the Republican Women of Cary and Southwestern Wake on Thursday at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary. Social begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the luncheon/program at noon. The cost is $15 for the buffet. RSVP to Lisa at 919-303-8870. For information: www.rwcsw.org.

Compiled by Aliana Ramos, Matt Garfield and Tammy Grubb.

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