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Mayor pushes Southeast Raleigh reinvestment; Durham race a photo finish

November 30, 2012 

The closing of a Kroger store in Southeast Raleigh highlights the need for city-supported reinvestment in the area, Mayor Nancy McFarlane said this week.

McFarlane made the Kroger reference during a discussion about a proposed housing complex seeking approval from the city. A pair of developers want to turn the vacant, city-owned Stone’s Warehouse complex on Davie Street into affordable live-work spaces geared toward artists.

McFarlane said the city needs to consider seizing the opportunity. She cited Kroger’s decision to close its store on Martin Luther King Boulevard as evidence that the housing market in the area needs to improve.

Otherwise, it will be hard to attract business and commerce.

“Until we take that step and make sure that happens, we’re going to continue to lose resources,” McFarlane said. “And it just becomes a downward spiral.”

Councilman Thomas Crowder said he, too, would like to spur reinvestment at the Stone’s Warehouse site. He favors an open competition to allow developers to submit proposals. The live-work idea came from out-of-town firms who specialize in affordable housing.

“I understand the urgency, and I understand this property has sat around for a long time,” Crowder said. “(But) I like the opportunity for people who live in Raleigh to do business, too.”

Durham race a photo finish

It was a photo finish in Durham County’s race for five county commissioner seats, and the final count shows that Wendy Jacobs took first in the six-candidate field.

Jacobs, a former planning commissioner in her first campaign for elective office, received 94,290 votes, or 18.87 percent, just ahead of incumbent Brenda Howerton’s 94,206, or 18.86 percent.

Unofficial returns in the Nov. 6 general election had showed Howerton in first place by a hair. The remaining order of finish: incumbents Michael Page and Ellen Reckhow third and fourth, Durham NAACP head Fred Foster fifth, and bail bondsman Omar Beasley sixth.

The top five will be sworn into office at Monday morning’s commissioners work session.

Sutton next board chair?

Keith Sutton is expected to be chosen the new chairman of the Wake County school board Tuesday.

Sutton, the current vice chairman, said that Kevin Hill has told him he won’t seek another term as board chairman. While Sutton won’t say he’s running for chairman, it’s pretty clear if you read between the lines.

“If the board selects me to be chair, I will be ready and willing to accept the responsibility,” said Sutton of Southeast Raleigh, who has been on the board since 2009.

It would be surprising if Sutton’s fellow Democratic members pushed him aside next week.

It’s likely that the vice chair will be one of three new Democratic members elected last year: Susan Evans, Christine Kushner or Jim Martin.

Wake Board of Commissioners

It’s also time for the Wake County Board of Commissioners to elect leaders for the new year, and former chairman Joe Bryan is seeking a third term wielding the gavel.

Republican board member Bryan isn’t willing to predict a victory for himself at Monday’s board meeting, but he has asked for support from colleagues from both parties.

Smart money has it that he’ll emerge as chairman, with vice chairman and fellow Republican Phil Matthews likely to repeat. The GOP has a four-member edge on the seven-member panel.

Bryan said Friday that if he’s elected chairman, his priority will be reestablishing a partnership with the Wake County school board. He wants to get a bond issue for school construction not only on the ballot, but also approved by voters.

“As far as other goals, they are not going be as high a priority for me,” said Bryan, of Knightdale, who served as chair in 2005 and 2008.

Asked to elaborate, he said that means putting a proposed sales tax increase for mass transit on the ballot is lower on his list than supporting a school bond issue.

Compiled by Matt Garfield, Jim Wise, T. Keung Hui and Thomas Goldsmith

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