Early voting is underway for the Cary Town Council, and three seats are up for grabs. In October 2019, only about 15 percent of registered voters in Cary’s 41 precincts cast ballots in their local election—which influences important issues like affordable housing, social justice, and policing (not to mention the environment). To help get those numbers up, here’s our guide to this year’s candidates.
EARLY VOTING: September 21-October 7
- 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays, 1-6 p.m. Sundays
- Wake County voters: Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave, Cary
- Chatham County voters: New Hope Baptist Church, 581 New Hope Church Rd., Apex
MUNICIPAL ELECTION DAY: October 10
Visit your county board of elections website for information about where and when to vote.
A driver’s license or other acceptable photo ID is required to vote this election cycle. Voters can receive a free Voter ID through the Wake County Board of Elections
Incumbent Mayor Harold Weinbrecht Jr. is running unopposed this year following an overwhelming win in 2019 (when he was re-elected with nearly 84 percent of the vote). Weinbrecht, who has been Cary’s mayor for the last 16 years, also ran unopposed in 2015.
Under Weinbrecht’s leadership, Cary’s town council is unlikely to undergo significant political shifts. For the past four years, the town council has had a record of balanced growth, working to protect and expand green spaces while adding affordable housing. The town council has also taken steps to promote multimodal transportation, building more sidewalks and bike lanes.
On housing, the council has a decent record, partnering last year with a developer on the 126-unit Laurel Street project on town-owned land. But it is struggling to keep up with rapid growth, like many areas in Wake County. In 2021, the town council approved a new housing plan that builds on its 2017 vision of “retaining Cary’s established, attractive residential character while facilitating the development of walkable urban nodes with higher densities and mixed uses.”
Goals of the plan include support for transit-oriented development, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) such as backyard cottages, and assistance for repairs to aging homes and rental units. The plan also supports incentives for developers to build affordable housing and the construction of affordable housing on publicly owned land. As seniors choose to stay in Cary to “age in place,” the town council also added funding to its Healthy Homes program, which gives homeowners money to make needed repairs.
In the past few years, the town has improved its record on social justice. Cary has historically scored less than 20 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which rates cities on how inclusive their laws, policies, and services are for their LGBTQ+ residents. In the town’s most recent 2022 rating, however, its score went up to 50, thanks to several changes by the town council.
Here are the candidates running for the three seats on the council—one at-large, one in District B, and one in District D.
Lori Bush (incumbent), a long-time Cary resident, has expressed concern about the town’s growth and its impact on neighborhoods. First elected in 2011, Bush is running for her fourth term, having also served as mayor pro tem.
In the last four years, Bush supported initiatives to partner with Habitat for Humanity for new-home construction, create food waste and compost drop-off programs, and incorporate solar power into town infrastructure. She also brought Wake County’s LGBTQ+ nondiscrimination ordinance forward for approval and created a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force.
If re-elected, Bush’s priorities include affordable housing and climate change, and further supporting pedestrians and cyclists, according to her responses to a Wake County Democratic Party (WCPD) questionnaire. On housing, Bush says the town needs to amend rules to allow more ADUs, high-density rentals, and transit-oriented development. Bush also says the town should continue to find and buy land for town-sponsored affordable housing.
Bush has been endorsed by the Wake County Democratic Party, Equality NC, the Sierra Club, and Moms Demand Action.
Mary Insprucker, who ran for town council last year against current District C representative Jack Smith, is taking another swing at public office. Her 2022 INDY questionnaire is here. Insprucker, a 17-year resident of Cary, describes herself as a “moderate whose platform includes … eliminating polarizing and divisive politics,” according to her website.
On a WCDP question about supporting LGBTQ+ residents and ensuring their safety, Insprucker did not directly address issues of equality, but instead pledged to support the town’s police force and work with them to guarantee “focused deterrence and protective policing.” A “robust police force” is also listed among her top priorities on her website.
A former town consultant, Insprucker says she shares residents’ concerns about “over-development” and affordable housing, per her answers to the WCDP questionnaire. If elected, she intends to execute a plan she previously developed to get “corporate philanthropic support” for affordable housing, she says. On the environment, Insprucker says she supports multimodal transportation and “green” development, particularly managing stormwater.
Matthew Gronke, another nearly life-long resident of Cary, is a stay-at-home dad who also works with nonprofit Triangle Off-Road Cyclists to build and maintain local mountain biking trails. Gronke argues the current town government is “inactive and unresponsive to the needs of the community” and, if elected, intends to be more open to projects that directly benefit the community, according to his website.
Gronke, who says Cary has not lived up to its “bicycle-friendly” messaging, says one of his priorities is the creation of more bike lanes downtown.
Don Frantz (incumbent, Mayor Pro Tem), has been a resident of Cary since 1992, where he started his own business, Frantz Automotive downtown.
First elected in 2007, Frantz has served 16 years on the town council and “has a keen interest in being the voice of ‘old Cary,’” per his official online biography. He currently represents District B, which includes downtown Cary, WakeMed Soccer Park, and extends north to Lake Crabtree.
Frantz takes a practical approach to housing, writing on his blog that the city needs to increase supply to meet ongoing demand. He supports Cary’s 2021 housing plan, including building affordable housing on city-owned land; improving transit through investments in bus service and bicycles; and allowing denser housing in the form of duplexes, triplexes, townhomes and apartments.
Michelle Craig, a teacher at Wake County Public Schools, bought her first home in Cary 10 years ago. As a PTA member, Craig has taken the lead on issues of education advocacy and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Equality is one of her top priorities, according to her website. In answers to a WCDP questionnaire, Craig says she wants to look at historic preservation through an equity lens and strengthen support and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community.
On affordable housing, Craig says she wants to create more opportunities for seniors, recent graduates, and teachers and other essential workers. She supports zoning changes to allow for accessory dwelling units and denser development, according to her answers to the WCDP questionnaire. Craig also wants to “further explore” mixed-income housing, she says.
Another priority for Craig is the environment. If elected, she’s pledged to increase the tree canopy, expand public transportation, and support sidewalks, greenways, and bike lanes, as well as green construction provisions. Craig has been endorsed by the Wake County Democratic Party and Equality NC.
Ryan Eades (incumbent) was appointed to the town council last year to replace former council member Ya Liu after she was elected to the state House. He will face his first election this year. Eades is a relatively recent transplant to Cary, having moved from Virginia to North Carolina in 2010. He represents District D, which includes the western outskirts of Cary (near the Chatham County line) and a section of NC-540.
Prior to his appointment, Eades served on the town’s Planning and Zoning Board from 2014 to 2020. In 2017, he worked on the town’s Imagine Cary Community Plan, a comprehensive plan for future development. On housing, Eades supports mixed-use development with commercial and office space, according to his website. He also advocates preserving Cary’s historic structures and encouraging economic growth through investment in local sports venues.
Eades’s priorities also include increasing access to greenways, sidewalks and public transit. He’s a proponent of expanding the town’s tree canopy, using environmentally friendly stormwater management techniques in new developments, and preserving open space. Eades has been endorsed by Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht and District C council member Jack Smith.
Sarika Bansal was another finalist for the District D seat after Liu’s departure. If elected, Bansal would be the first Indian American woman to serve on the town council. The Asian and Indian population in Cary has grown in recent years, with Asian residents representing about 20 percent of Cary’s population in 2022, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Bansal moved to Cary in 2015, eventually starting her own small business. She lists public safety among her priorities, pledging to fill vacancies in the police department and invest in a diverse police force and de-escalation training. Bansal adds that she is committed to police transparency, accountability, and community dialogue.
If elected, Bansal also plans to get construction moving on community centers in West Cary, help clean up the town’s drinking water, and expand bicycle infrastructure and public transit. Bansal says she supports efforts by the current town council to create more affordable housing, prioritizing the needs of senior citizens. She also wants to invest in local businesses and work with the Wake County school board to reduce school overcrowding.
Rachel Jordan moved to Cary in 2016 with her husband and daughter, volunteering with the Democratic Party and PTA. In a WCDP questionnaire, she argues that the current town council has “consistently underestimated what actions are needed to ensure housing equity and environmental sustainability.”
If elected, Jordan says she plans to push developers to build more affordable apartments than the 5 percent per development currently being requested by council. Jordan also wants to change the town’s formulas for determining eligibility for housing assistance to reflect Cary’s higher median income and housing costs. On the environment, Jordan plans to expand environmental building guidelines and implement stronger carbon reduction strategies.
Jordan strongly supports the LGBTQ+ community, saying the town should make extra efforts to protect “groups … at risk of persecution” and public libraries that have been attacked for carrying inclusive books. Jordan has been endorsed by the Wake County Democratic Party.
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