Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Holly Springs endorses 540 “Orange Route”

October 4, 2013 

NCDOT will analyze 17 different routes on the map of 540 possibilities as it works to pick a route by fall of 2015.


Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears has gotten so many complaints about one of the proposed 540 extension routes that he’s starting to feel like Ronnie Williams, his counterpart in Garner.

Williams has railed against the Red Route, a possible 540 extension across southern Wake County that would bulldoze houses, parks, churches and businesses in Garner. Sears says Holly Springs residents are worried about the Purple Route, which would cut through the 600-home Sunset Oaks neighborhood.

With that in mind, the Town Council voted unanimously this week to endorse the Orange Route, a 540 extension option that may endanger more wetlands but preserves more homes and businesses.

“I don’t see where the Orange Route has much of an impact at all in Holly Springs,” Sears said. “I’ve heard no complaints about the Orange Route. None. Zero. Zip.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation identified the Orange Route as a preferred option through southern Wake in the mid-1990s. The Purple Route and Red Route were among several alternative routes developed in recent years as the state, in order to comply with federal regulations, searched for alternatives that would have less environmental impact.

A billion here, a billion there …

Wake County officials are disputing figures used by the Wake County Taxpayers Association to argue that passage of the $810 million school construction bond issue Tuesday would increase debt too much.

The association says the total county debt obligation is $3.5 billion, including principal and future interest. The group says the school bonds would add an additional $1.1 billion in bonds and interest that “pushes total county debt to over $4.6 billion.”

But Nicole Kreiser, Wake’s debt and capital director, says that as of Oct. 1, the county’s outstanding principal and interest on its debt is $2.78 billion, not $3.5 billion. Kreiser says passage of the school bonds would increase outstanding principal and interest on county debt to a maximum of $3.11 billion as of June 30, 2017.

Deputy County Manager Johnna Rogers said people often don’t take into account that the county regularly refinances older bonds.

Preservation questions

Preservation Durham has stepped into electoral politics with a Preservation Voters survey of candidates in this fall’s city elections.

The group sent five questions pertaining to historic preservation to each of the 10 candidates running for mayor or one of three City Council ward seats. The responses are posted at

All three mayoral candidates completed and returned the surveys, as did Eddie Davis and Del Mattioli, Ward 2 candidates, and Pam Karriker, a Ward 3 candidate.

Cora Cole-McFadden, a Ward 1 incumbent who is running unopposed, was among those who did not respond.

Kudos for Kinnaird

An Orange County Board of Commissioners resolution this week nearly brought former N.C. Sen. Ellie Kinnaird to tears.

The board recognized Kinnaird with a proclamation for her 26-plus years of service in the Senate, as Carrboro’s mayor and on local boards and commissions. She has been an advocate for the underprivileged, social justice, jobs and education, and an end to the death penalty, the proclamation read.

“Ellie Kinnaird has gone about her public duties with an unflagging spirit, a willingness to attend diverse community events that reflect and support the values of Orange County, and a devotion to principle regardless of obstacles or opposition,” the proclamation said.

Residents at the meeting, most of whom came to speak about the county’s revised animal control rules, gave Kinnaird a standing ovation.

Holding a fist to her mouth and choking back emotion, Kinnaird said she was honored. She never expected to be in government at all, she said, except as an advocate, and will miss working with Orange County’s local leaders.

“As you know, Orange County’s unique, and so when you speak for Orange County, you speak in a very different voice,” she said. “But our values are the ones that we know are so much a part of the leadership of this state.”

Political trail

• Greg Brannon, a Cary physician and candidate for the U.S. Senate, will speak to the Triangle Republican Women at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Bleu Olive Bistro in Loehmann’s Plaza, 1821 Hillandale Road in Durham. Contact Marilyn Flanary,

Compiled by staff writers Paul A. Specht, T. Keung Hui, Jim Wise and Tammy Grubb.

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