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The launch of fall election season

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Election season is upon us—no, sadly, not the one in which we vote out the bums on Jones Street, but races for city councils and commissions, mayors and school boards.

Either by design or by happenstance, quirks in North Carolina election law make voting in odd-numbered years cumbersome. It's important to know who's running and when you need to show up to the polls.

First, where do you live?

Pittsboro, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough, congratulations. You have the simplest of situations—one election and you're done. Early voting runs Oct. 17–Nov. 2; election day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Durham city residents, you're so special, you can vote twice: in the primary for mayor and one city council slot, then in the general election for mayor and three city council slots. (Although council candidates have to live in the wards they represent, they run citywide.)

Primary: Early voting for the mayor and City Council Ward 2: Sept. 19–Oct. 5.

Primary election day: Oct. 8.

General election: Early voting for mayor and Wards 1, 2 and 3: Oct. 17–Nov. 2.

General election day: Nov. 5.

Live outside the city limits? Move along. There's nothing to see here.

Wake County, you'll need a flow chart.

Morrisville, Apex, Holly Springs, Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Wake Forest, Rolesville, Wendell and Zebulon: Your city elections are simple. Early voting runs Oct. 17–Nov. 2; election day is Nov. 5.

Raleigh and Cary residents, you vote in a general election and in runoffs if those contests are necessary.

Early voting for general: Sept. 19–Oct. 5.

General election day: Oct. 8.

Runoffs, if necessary: Early voting: Oct. 17–Nov. 2.

Runoff election day: Nov. 5.

And finally, Wake County residents who live in school board districts 1, 2, 7 and 9 can vote in that election. The schedule is the same as that in Raleigh and Cary city races. (See above.)

Now, what are the key races? Here are some highlights:

PITTSBORO

Mayor Randy Voller is not seeking re-election; he has his hands full running the state Democratic Party. So it's the Battle of the Bills for the town's top spot: Bill Crawford, who ran in 2009, versus Bill Terry, a former town manager.

Speaking of Bills, in Durham Bill Bell is running for his 443rd term as mayor. OK, it's only his sixth. He faces business consultant Michael Valentine and pastor and perennial candidate Sylvester Williams in the primary.

DURHAM

Longtime City Councilor Howard Clement, who has been ill, is not running for re-election in Ward 2. That opens the door for several candidates: retired educator and historian Eddie Davis, who, in 1993, became the first practicing teacher to hold a full voting position on the state board of education; bail bondsman Omar Beasley, who ran for county commissioner last year; funeral home owner Franklin Hanes; and financial adviser Don Mattioli.

RALEIGH

Incumbent Nancy McFarlane faces Venita Peyton and Robert Weltzin for mayor. In the City Council at-large and district races, six incumbents will try to defend their turf, while several contenders try to unseat them.

Given the turmoil on the Wake County school board, these races could be heated and unsavory: Tom Benton and Don McIntrye in District 1 (northeast); Matt Scruggs and Monika Johnson-Hostler in District 2 (south); Zora Felton and incumbent Deborah Prickett in District 7 (northwest); and Nancy Caggia and Bill Fletcher in District 9 (Cary).

CHAPEL HILL, CARRBORO AND HILLSBOROUGH

Since the mayoral races are uncontested, the tension lies in the council/commission. Ten people are running for four seats in the Chapel Hill Town Council race; five candidates are vying for three spots on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen. Three people are running for two seats on the Hillsborough commission.

Two incumbents, James Barrett and Michelle Brownstein, and two newcomers, Andrew Davidson and Ignacio Tzoumas, are running for Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Let the fur fly."

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