HOLLY SPRINGS — Residents gave the Holly Springs Town Council a vote of confidence on Election Day.
Incumbent Mayor Dick Sears garnered 67 percent of the vote to defeat challenger Vinnie DeBenedetto, a former councilman.
Council incumbents Jimmy Cobb and Linda Hunt Williams also kept their seats. Hank Dickson, a former councilman who campaigned with the incumbents, beat out seven other candidates for the third open seat on the five-member council.
The North Main Athletic Complex emerged as a big issue in the race. Some challengers criticized the council's decision to spend $5.5 million on a baseball stadium; others said they liked the project but claimed that town leaders didn’t communicate well enough with nearby property owners.
Cobb, Williams and Dickson said the complex would attract tourism by hosting a collegiate summer league baseball team, concerts and other community events. They also said the town is generally in favor of more parks and recreation projects.
“The people who voted like the direction we’re heading in,” Cobb said Tuesday night. “Most people agree that we’ve been pretty open (about plans for the complex).”
Meanwhile, DeBenedetto had criticized the town’s financial health in his bid for mayor. Sears has claimed the town has a healthy amount of debt.
Two years ago, Holly Springs voters approved a bond package worth up to $20 million for parks and recreation projects.
On Tuesday, some voters said they didn’t see town debt as a major issue.
“We’re growing in a smart, responsible way. I don’t see where Mayor Sears or the council have done anything wrong,” said Bonnie Kazee.
Brad Stocum, who has lived in Holly Springs for nine years, said he believed Sears always had clear, reasonable answers to questions about town leaders’ decision-making.
“We’re growing, but keeping the family atmosphere,” Stocum said. “So I believe Mr. Sears when he says we can repay our debts.”
Sears credited his win to the sometimes-hostile tone the mayoral race had taken.
“People have learned that negative campaigning to this extent doesn’t work in Holly Springs,” Sears said. “I used facts versus innuendo, and I think people appreciated that.”
Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht