by Lisa Sorg
The incumbents for Durham City Council and mayor swept the challengers in four races that barely raised the pulse of voters. The closest race, which was still decided by a 71-26 margin was in Ward II, where longtime Councilman Howard Clement faced Libertarian Matt Drew. Clement received 7,258 votes to Drew's 2,729.
According to unofficial results from the Durham County Board of Elections,with all but the provisional ballots counted, Mayor Bill Bell will return for a fifth term after defeating Steven Williams 8,233 votes to 2,345 votes.
Cora Cole-McFadden, who was first elected to Council in 2001, will continue to represent Ward I, beating upstart Donald Hughes 7,941 votes to 2,449 votes. And in Ward III, Mike Woodard has claimed his third second term by rolling over Allan Polak 8,704 to 1,307.
Voter turnout has been dismal, even for city elections. The 2007 race was enlivened by a colorful contest between Bell and an aggressive challenger, Republican Councilman Thomas Stith, and by the meals tax referendum, which voters soundly defeated. In that general election, 25 percent of registered voters turned out; the 2007 primary drew 10.6 percent of registered voters.
This year, little more than 4 percent of registered voters in Durham showed up at the polls for the primary. The turnout for the general election has not yet been announced on the Durham Board of Elections Web site.