In a precursor to next month’s local election on May 17, candidates for the Cary Town Council are coming together Thursday to talk about what they’re willing to do to solve the area’s affordable housing crisis. 

ONE Wake, a grassroots community group advocating for the creation of a local housing fund in the town, is organizing a rally, followed by a march to an early voting site in Cary.

ONE Wake is asking current and future town council members to commit to putting about $3.5 million per year (the equivalent of a penny from the property tax) into a new fund to develop and preserve affordable housing. A similar fund was created in Chapel Hill and has since led to the creation of nearly 300 new affordable housing units, according to a news release. 

Like other towns in Wake County, Cary is facing a sharp rise in housing prices. Between 2010 and 2020, Cary lost about 3,900 rental units that are affordable to people, including essential workers like educators and grocery store clerks, who earn $40,000 or below, according to the release. ONE Wake members are also worried about rising property taxes and elderly residents getting priced out of historic, lower-income neighborhoods. 

Those elected to the town council this year could determine the future of affordable housing in Cary. 

“On April 28 [the first day of early voting], every candidate will have to make their case to us: how they will represent our affordable housing priorities, not just this year, but for the long haul,” the Rev. Javier Almendarez-Bautista, associate rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and ONE Wake co-chair, said in a news release.

Candidates attending the rally include Mary Inspruker, George McDowell, and Amanda Murphy, all of whom are running in District C, which includes areas around Tryon Road and southeast of U.S. 1. The seat is currently held by incumbent Jack Smith, who was elected in 1989. Also in the race is Renee Miller. 

Also attending the rally are each of the candidates for District A (centered around Davis Drive and High House Road): incumbent Jennifer Robinson and her opponent Chase McGrath. 

At-large candidate Carissa Johnson will also make an appearance. Johnson is running against Ken George and incumbent Ed Yerha. 

The rally is 6 p.m. Thursday at at First UMC Cary in Community Room A. Following discussion, around 6:30 p.m., people will march from the church to the Herbert Young Community Center to cast their votes. 

Where and When to Vote

Early voting runs from April 28 to May 14. During this period, people can register to vote or change the information on their registration in person at any early voting site. 

Wake County sites are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.—7:30 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m.—3 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m.—6 p.m.

Historically, lines are shortest in the first days of early voting, according to a news release from Wake County. The busiest times are around lunch on weekdays and  between 10 and 11 a.m. on Saturdays. 

For details about wait times and early voting sites, visit Voters can also check their registration and download a sample ballot here

There are eight early voting sites in Wake County. The Fuquay-Varina site has changed because of construction delays, according to a news release from Wake County. The new site is the W.O. Council Gym, 106 N. Ennis St., Fuquay-Varina, 27526. 

The other sites are: 

— Cary Senior Center, 120 Maury Odell Pl., Cary, 27513

— Herbert C. Young Community Center, 101 Wilkinson Ave., Cary, 27513

— Wake County Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest, 27587

— Thomas G. Crowder Woodland Center, 5611 Jaguar Park Dr., Raleigh, 27606

— John Chavis Memorial Park Community Center, 505 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd., Raleigh, 27601

— Optimist Park Community Center, 5900 Whittier Dr., Raleigh, 27609

— Wake County Board of Elections Office, 1200 N. New Hope Rd., Raleigh, 27610.

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