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Bush, Smith in Cary

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Although the recession has tempered Cary's growth rate, the town is the third-fastest-growing municipality in the nation, with a 7 percent population increase from 2007-2008, according to a July U.S. Census report. Home to 129,545 people, Cary faces traffic, transit, environment and infrastructure issues—and an influx of strangers. Focus groups polled as part of the biennial citizens' satisfaction survey were concerned about the impact of Cary's "transient" population. C'mon Cary, how many of you were actually born there?

DISTRICT A includes much of Cary's growing west side, including a portion that because of annexation bleeds into Chatham County.

We endorse former planning and zoning board member LORI BUSH, who works as a solution development manager at Cisco Systems. A Democrat, she opposes forced annexation, which, as she points out on her questionnaire, benefits people who cannot—and if Cary stops such practices, will never be able to—vote for her. Nonetheless, her position should please Cary's property-rights advocates. Annexation is sometimes necessary, but forcing people to be annexed is dicey public policy.

Bush also takes a principled stand in opposing the proposed New Hill sewer plant that Western Wake Partners—the towns of Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Morrisville—are trying to foist upon a minority neighborhood in unincorporated Wake County. "Cary has made a mistake and should correct that mistake," Bush writes on her questionnaire.

Her concern for water quality in Jordan Lake also won us over, as she noted, "We cannot allow rampant development in the Jordan Lake watershed." (Lori, if you don't win in Cary, please move to Durham and run for county commissioner.)

And regarding the town's sign ordinance, Bush notes that town government exempts itself from its own sign ordinance but applies it to private businesses.

During her tenure on the p & z board, Bush earned a reputation for being fair and open-minded, and for demonstrating a willingness to consider citizens' divergent viewpoints. On her questionnaire, Bush lists one of her top priorities as "listening and being responsive to constituents," and her time as the chairwoman of the Cary Citizens Advisory Committee also underscores her populist bent.

Bush received the endorsement of citizens' group DavisandHighhouse.org, including $1,000 from member Karl Thor.

Unfortunately, Bush's main opponent, three-term incumbent Republican Jennifer Robinson, has a reputation for dismissing constituents' concerns. Residents are still stinging over her vote for the large mixed-use project at Davis Drive and High House Road. She frequently comes down on the side of her real estate supporters. And she's taken flak from some residents for her no vote on a $5,000 grant for nonprofit Cary Area Emergency Medical Services.

In 2001, we endorsed Robinson—but not now. However, she has some high-profile supporters, including fellow Republican Town Councilman Don Frantz, who contributed $500 to her campaign and über-right-wing House Minority Leader Paul Stam of Apex ($150).

Also running is Cynthia Sinkez, who, while weak on town issues, is passionate and knowledgeable about education. We suggest she run for Wake County Board of Education in the future.

The fourth candidate, Terry "Doc" Thorne, who describes himself as semiretired and a Blue Dog Democrat. He previously ran for Town Council in District B and has been active in his community, including being a youth sports coach and Boy Scout leader.

In southeast Cary's DISTRICT C, we cautiously endorse Republican and 20-year incumbent JACK SMITH.

We endorsed Smith, a moderate Republican and retired corporate executive, in the last two elections, and while we disagree with him on some issues, such as the siting of the New Hill sewer plant, on balance, he serves his constituency well. He received the endorsement of the Capital Area Sierra Club, likely because of his position on protecting environmentally sensitive areas such as the Jordan Lake watershed and expanding Cary's reclaimed water system.

His vote for the Davis and High House project cost him the DHH citizen group's support, and while we disagree with Smith's vote on DHH, unlike Robinson, he's generally not beholden to development interests. For example, he supported a Schools Adequate Public Facilities ordinance, whose purpose was to ensure that new residential developments would be approved only if Wake County Public Schools could accommodate the additional students. The ordinance was rescinded, unfortunately, and Smith says in his questionnaire that if re-elected, he plans to push for its reinstatement.

Smith's opponent, civic activist and stay-at-home mom Catherine Evangelista, has taken him to task for his 2007 vote to extend the town's health care coverage that it provides to town employees to Council members, current or former, who have served at least two terms. (Dependents also are eligible for coverage.) However, the Council member's coverage expires he or she is eligible for Medicare. Smith is eligible for the federally funded plan, so he doesn't qualify for the town's coverage.

We applaud Evangelista's civic involvement. Her leadership skills have been tested, yet remain unproven.

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