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Wake school bond supporters outspent opponents 33 to 1

From staff reportsJanuary 24, 2014 

Backers of the $810 million Wake County school construction bond issue outspent opponents 33-to-1 to help win passage of the measure in October.

Finance reports show that the Friends of Wake County, the group formed to promote the bonds, spent $308,254 during last year’s campaign. In contrast, the Wake County Taxpayers Association spent only $9,252 in its effort to defeat the bonds.

The fundraising edge allowed the Friends of Wake to mount a coordinated media campaign of television, radio and newspaper ads and campaign mailers. In the end, the bond issue was approved with 57.7 percent of the vote.

Some of the region’s largest organizations donated to Friends of Wake, led by the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce at $83,000. Duke Energy, Red Hat and WakeMed all gave $25,000. Lord Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline each gave $15,000. BB&T contributed $10.000.

The taxpayers association didn’t report any donors since the group said the money it spent on radio ads, campaign signs and palm cards came from existing group funds.

Friends of Wake spent $5.42 for every yes vote. The taxpayers association spent 22 cents for every no vote.

Kost leaving Chatham board

Chatham County Commissioner Sally Kost announced this week that she is resigning from the board because she and her husband are moving to Colorado.

In a statement, Kost said it was “heartbreaking” to leave, especially as the county’s leaders must prepare for Chatham Park, a proposed 7,100-acre development that would bring up to 60,000 new residents and scores of businesses to Pittsboro in coming decades.

“If approved, Chatham Park could change the landscape of our community forever,” Kost said. “The county board needs to do a better job of working with the community, the Town of Pittsboro, and the Board of Education to ensure that Chatham is prepared for this development.”

Kost has just completed the first year of her second four-year term. She served as vice chairwoman in 2009 and chairwoman in 2010.

The Democratic Party will nominate a replacement that commissioners can appoint to serve in Kost’s seat through the November election. The winner would serve a two-year term.

Durham to consider election costs

Having been informed that the 2013 municipal elections cost $321,661, the Durham City Council is looking for alternative – and less expensive – election formats.

On Thursday, council members agreed with Councilman Eddie Davis’s suggestion of collecting a “pool of concepts” to put out for public comment.

Mayor Pro Tem Cora Cole-McFadden asked City Manager Thomas Bonfield to put alternatives on a future work session agenda, after city attorneys have time to “search the world over for other models.”

The 2013 primary, involving races for mayor and one council seat, drew 6.1 percent of eligible voters; the general election, for mayor and three council seats, drew 10.6 percent, including voters in the Chapel Hill area of Durham County.

The Durham County Board of Elections asked the city to consider changes to save money in 2009, but after hearing from the public the council decided to leave things as they were.

Stagner hounding Maiorano

Former Raleigh City Councilman Randy Stagner continues to use Twitter to criticize the actions of his successor, Wayne Maiorano.

On Tuesday, Maiorano didn’t recuse himself when the council signed off on a series of grant recommendations, including $35,000 to The Green Chair Project. Maiorano’s wife, Annemarie, serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit, which distributes donated furniture to needy families.

Maiorano voted for the grant and said City Attorney Tom McCormick determined there was no conflict of interest, though he noted his wife’s involvement with the nonprofit. “In the spirit of full disclosure and transparency … I wanted to make sure that was reflected in the record,” he said.

But Stagner – who has taken to social media to blast Maiorano’s record of recusals – didn’t agree. “Green Chair is an excellent charity, but councilors must take the higher ethical road on all votes,” Stagner tweeted. “‘Legal’ doesn’t mean ‘right.’ 

Wake’s Cooke didn’t get Dallas job

Former Wake County Manager David Cooke was passed over this week for the city manager’s job in Dallas.

The Dallas City Council unanimously picked A.C. Gonzalez, who was the interim manager and a 15-year city hall veteran. Cooke had been one of three finalists.

Cooke, 53, retired in November after a 30-year career in municipal government that began with the city of Charlotte. He came to Wake in 1996 as deputy county manager, then was appointed to the top job in 2000.

Wake County commissioners continue their work to replace Cooke. Chairman Phil Matthews said Friday that the company helping conduct the search has thinned the list of 58 applicants to 10 or 11, each of whom will interview individually with the board during the first week of February.

The board hopes to hire the new manager by March.

Compiled by T. Keung Hui, Colin Campbell, Jim Wise, Martha Quillin and Richard Stradling.

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