Two Cary Town Council incumbents were unseated in Tuesday’s election, with newcomers Michelle Craig and Sarika Bansal poised to take office next year. In the at-large race, incumbent Lori Bush held on to her seat, fending off two challengers and winning a solid 70 percent of the vote.
Bush, who will now serve a fourth term, supports the town council’s current approach to affordable housing, including zoning for high-density development, incentivizing transit-oriented development, and purchasing land for town-sponsored affordable housing.
“I am grateful to be re-elected as an At-Large Councilmember for the Town I love so dearly, grateful to everyone that exercised their right to vote, who believed in our collective vision, and who entrusted me with the responsibility to represent the entire Cary community,” Bush wrote in a social media post.
“Cary is a town of diverse backgrounds, ideas, and experiences, and it’s this very diversity that makes our town unique and strong,” Bush added. “I thank you, my fellow residents, for the trust you’ve placed in me to serve your interests, irrespective of our differences.”
In the uncontested mayoral race, incumbent Harold Weinbrecht Jr. was elected for a sixth term, continuing his service of 20 years. About 5 percent of the vote went to “write-in” miscellaneous candidates.
Michelle Craig, a substitute teacher for Wake County Public Schools, won the election in District B with a solid 61 percent of the vote, ousting 16-year council member Don Frantz.
“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” Craig wrote in a social media post. “I am grateful to the voters who chose to invest in me and our community. We saw a vision of making Cary more affordable, equitable, and sustainable, and with the help of many volunteers, we worked to share that vision throughout Cary, District B. The voters agreed that this is our path moving forward.”
District B, which includes parts of downtown Cary, has been a focus of development in the last few years. Earlier this month, the INDY spoke to families who may be displaced from a mobile home park after the property was put up for sale.
On affordable housing, Craig supports some of the town council’s current strategies, saying she wants to create more housing for seniors, essential workers, and first-time home buyers. She supports zoning changes to allow for denser development, as well as the mixed-income housing mode the town council used in a new affordable housing development at 921 SE Maynard Road.
Craig is also a strong supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, which have come under attack in recent years by the Republican-led state legislature. In answers to a questionnaire from the Wake County Democratic Party, Craig wrote that the town council should strengthen its advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community by sponsoring Pride events and working with groups like Pride of Cary.
Frantz congratulated Craig on her victory in his own social media post, writing that “while the election did not turn out as we had hoped, I congratulate Ms. Craig on her victory and wish her the best in her new role.” Frantz added that he is proud of his work on the town council, especially his efforts to revitalize downtown.
“Thank you so much to my wife and family,” Frantz wrote. “I look forward to spending more time with them – especially our eight grandkids! Thank you also to my friends and supporters for your faith and trust in me over the years. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
UPDATE: Runner-up Rachel Jordan has called for a runoff election following her loss to Sarika Bansal on October 10. While Sarika Bansal topped the ballot with 48.67 percent of the vote, she fell just short of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff. If approved by the Board of Elections, the runoff will be held November 7.
“I am very excited to move forward and give all voters the opportunity to make their choice between the two candidates remaining,” Jordan wrote in a statement released October 13. “This election will decide the direction of our town.”
“I have heard the call from voters to help with their biggest concerns,” Jordan added. “The patterns and speed of growth, the protection of our environment on a town level, and keeping the character of Cary as a safe, affordable, and nurturing place to grow up, raise a family, and transition through life phases.”
Jordan netted about 28 percent of the vote, edging out incumbent Ryan Eades (23 percent).
If Bansal wins the runoff, she would be the first Indian American woman to serve on the town council. Among her priorities are filling vacancies in the town’s police department, encouraging development in West Cary, and expanding affordable housing and public transit.
Jordan takes a stronger stance on affordable housing, saying the town council should push developers to include more units in new developments. Jordan has also said she wants to change the town’s formulas for determining eligibility for housing assistance to reflect Cary’s higher median income and housing costs.
Correction: The sub-headline originally misidentified Sarika Bansal’s and Rachel Jordan’s race as being in District C; they are in District D and it has been corrected.
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