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Best politician in Wake County

Roy Cooper

Finalists: Literally no one, David Cox, Jason Wunsch, Sarah Crawford, Erin Pare

Best local Facebook page

Chapel Hill/Carrboro Foodies

Finalists: Livable Raleigh, RALtoday, Beltline to Broadway

Best local Instagram account


Finalists: @nceatandplay, @raltoday, @riverthethreeleggeddog

Best place to take visitors from out of town

Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Finalists: NC Museum of Art, MagikCraft Bull City Magic, Cedar Creek Gallery

Best reason to leave the Triangle

Over development that damages the environment and increases traffic and pollution

Finalists: Gentrification, Traffic, The Painted Farmer

Best local politician in need of a reality check


This year, Republicans—yes, all of them—were voted the most deserving of a slap in the face, a douse of ice water, or a lengthy chastising from an exasperated shrink. We doubt any of that will work, of course, but it’s fun to think about. What’s not fun to think about is Republicans still running Jones Street, filing bills on everything from criminalizing protests to curtailing gender-affirming medical practices. And that’s just in Raleigh. We still have the usual antics of Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, plus a bunch of congressmen, in Washington. Curious that Democratic governor and finalist Roy Cooper—a man who won two-thirds of the vote in the Triangle just eight months ago—somehow landed oh so close to earning his own slap in the face. —GW

Finalists: Thom Tillis, Mary-Ann Baldwin, Roy Cooper

Best local-interest/website blog

Bites of Bull City

Yes, we technically also run a “local-interest website,” but sometimes you got to recognize. And the people recognize you, Bites of Bull City, a previous winner of this category. Founded by Durham foodie/writer Amber Watson seven years ago, Bites covers the ins and outs of the Durham restaurant-verse.The city’s burgeoning food scene was part of the reason why Watson and her husband relocated to the Bull City from the Northeast in the first place, and that passion for southern cuisine has morphed into what’s become a go-to website for tracking everything from the latest on restaurant grand openings to breezy menu reviews that discerning foodies have come to appreciate. And did we mention all those food pics? Try not to salivate. —GW

Finalists: Livable Raleigh, Today in the Quay, RALtoday

Biggest waste of public money

Saving & protecting confederate monuments

Finalists: Tax breaks for corporations, Tax Increment Grant for Kane’s Downtown South Project, The Police

Best place to people watch

NC State Fair

Finalists: Weaver Street Market Carrboro, Durham Central Park, Streets of Southpoint

Best use of public money

Affordable housing

Finalists: Public schools, Public parks, Libraries

Best local Twitter feed

Discover Durham @durhamnc 

Finalists: @RALtoday, @RadioFreeRaleee

Best local radio station


When I was nine years old, I spotted Eric Hodge, host of Morning Edition, at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. I was starstruck to the point of tears; WUNC was such an integral part of my childhood that I ranked Hodge’s celebrity alongside that of Justin Bieber or Oprah. As I’ve grown older, WUNC has remained the soundtrack to my day-to-day life, but I’ve come to view Hodge and his colleagues more as friends than famous people. They keep me company while keeping me informed, sharing community-relevant stories that I likely wouldn’t have clicked on or come across on a different medium. News sources are becoming increasingly detached from their consumers, so if you brush shoulders with your favorite radio host while buying tomatoes, take it as a good sign. —LG

Finalists: WKNC 88.1 FM, Radio Free Raleigh, That Station 95.7

Best place to hike

Eno River State Park

If you’re like me, you enjoy hiking, but don’t like to sweat. That’s one of the reasons why I love Eno River State Park. The park’s clearly marked trails are accessible to almost everyone, even those of us who can’t handle much more than a brisk walk. But best of all are the destinations these trails lead to. Just under two miles of round-trip hiking will get you to and from Sennet’s Hole, one of the Triangle’s most scenic places to swim. Littered with giant, mossy rocks, excellent for lounging and sunbathing, Sennet’s Hole will surely cool you off after your hike. Just make sure to bring sunscreen, a towel, and maybe some shoes you can wear in the water. Stepping on a million little rocks will bruise your feet! Who knew? —EH

Finalists: Umstead Park, Occoneechee State Park, Brumley Nature Preserve

Best-kept secret

Cedar Creek Gallery

Finalists: MagikCraft Bull City Magic, Redbud Writing Project, Kandy Apples by K

Best reason to love the Triangle

Diverse and multicultural

Finalists: Arts and culture, Nature access, People wear masks to save others

Best place to run

American Tobacco Trail

It’s 7 p.m. in the summer on the American Tobacco Trail. The sun is flitting through the trees, bathing the path in a golden light, the leaves are glowing bright green, and as you pass through the heart of the Triangle, it all gets just a bit more beautiful. The American Tobacco Trail extends uninterrupted from Durham more than 22 miles south, through Chatham County, to its end in Wake County. The road is long, flat, and full of space to both enjoy a solitary run, or a chill walk with your friends– the kind of place we all needed this past year. You’ll get your share of wildlife and luscious greenery, as well as a taste of the Triangle’s bustling and lively cityscape. —RS

Finalists: Neuse River Trail, Al Buehler Trail, Duke Wall East Campus

Best politician in Orange / Chatham County

David Price

Finalists: Graig Meyer, Damon Seils, Lydia Lavelle

Best local activist group

Livable Raleigh

At first glance, Livable Raleigh’s army of social justice warriors appears to be a bunch of families walking down a neighborhood street, kids on bikes, and parents pushing strollers. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find steely-eyed activism, with a splash of politics. The website is part local news banter, part neighborhood watchdog, and part primer for a Raleigh newbie learning the ropes of a new city. Co-founded by former city council member Stef Mendell, the group picks its battles—most recently with city officials for postponing local elections, citing census delays. The group called it a “slow-moving coup.” They’re family-friendly all right—just don’t spit on their sidewalk. —GW

Finalists: Food Not Bombs, Emancipate NC, Southerners on New Ground (SONG)

Best politician in Durham County

Steve Schewel

Finalists: Nida Allam, Pierce Freelon, Jillian Johnson

Best local do-gooder

Muffin (Andrea Hudson of NC Community Bail Fund)

Finalists: Wanda Hunter, Maggie Kane, Jamie Tripp

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