Stohlman defeats Morrisville's incumbent mayor Holcombe

aramos@newsobserver.comNovember 5, 2013 

Crystal Blackwell, a Morrisville resident, carries her sleeping daughter Carlyn Blackwell, 3, as she votes at the Good Hope Baptist Church precinct on November 5, 2013 in Cary.

JILL KNIGHT — jhknight@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

  • Results Mayor

    (i)Jackie Holcombe →  36.14%

    Narendra Singh →  24.23%

    Mark Stohlman →  39.55%

    (5 of 5 precincts reporting)

— Mark Stohlman beat incumbent Jackie Holcombe in the mayoral race Tuesday.

Stohlman’s victory opens up a vacancy on the Morrisville Town Council. Stohlman beat both Holcombe and political newcomer Narendra Singh in the three-way race.

“I think people wanted leaders to be focused on local issues particularly transportation and keeping taxes low,” Stohlman said. “(Holcombe) had other issues she was promoting and it was taking away her focus on Morrisville.”

Holcombe was gracious in defeat.

“I'm thrilled to have been mayor for the last four years,” she said late Tuesday. “I have no regrets at all. I wish the new council the best.”

Holcombe has drawn the ire of both the National Rifle Association and Grassroots NC for asking Gander Mountain to stop selling semi-automatic rifles at its local store and for joining the Mayors Against Illegal Guns lobbying group.

Holcombe has aggressively sought to retain her seat despite the controversy, taking out a front-page ad on the News & Observer on election day, raising about $12,500 for her campaign and frequently updating her social media accounts.

The rate for a political candidate would be $2,450 for a front page ad in The News & Observer, said Jim McClure, The N&O's vice president of display advertising. That amount would include 75,000 online ad impressions, too.

Stohlman raised about $12,000, and Singh raised about $16,000, according to the most recent Wake County Board of Elections campaign reports.

But perhaps the biggest wedge issue in the election has been Northwest Park. Stohlman pushed for getting the long-awaited five-acre park on the front burner. The park has been vacant since 2005, and about 700 people signed a petition asking the council to begin work on it.

Holcombe said the town had large projects like the 25-acre RTP Park still pending, and it was too soon to commit to funding the full build-out of Northwest Park.

Stohlman promised residents in the Breckenridge area he would get construction at Northwest Park started in 12 months.

As Stohlman and Holcombe aired out their grievances and opposing views, Singh tried unsuccessfully to brand himself as a consensus builder and peacemaker.

Holcombe was not the only incumbent to lose Tuesday. Vicki Scroggins-Johnson won the District 4 seat over incumbent Margaret Broadwell and challenger Rao Bondalapati.

TJ Cawley, a member of the town’s public safety advisory board, beat Vinnie Goel for the District 2 seat. Incumbent Steve Diehl did not seek re-election.

Councilman Steve Rao was the only incumbent slated to return to office. He beat challenger Pete Martin for the at-large seat.

Ramos: 919-460-2609; Twitter: @AlianaCaryNews

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