GARNER — For the third straight election, Garner residents voted to stand pat, albeit with a voice that was less than emphatic.
Despite a strong push by challenger Jeanette Hagwood, five-term incumbent Gra Singleton and two-term incumbent Kathy Behringer managed to keep their seats on the Garner Town Council after Tuesdays election. Neither the town council nor mayors seat has seen a change since 2007.
It was a good competitive race, a clean race, lead vote-getter Gra Singleton said. Thats what youd expect; thats a well-qualified candidate.
Hagwood, who works for Wake County Hospice and serves on the board of directors for Garner Volunteer Fire and Rescue, won 29 percent of the vote.
Singleton and Behringer will stay on to help spend the $35.7 million that voters approved in a March bond referendum. Projects include new town hall and police facilities, a downtown recreation center and street and sidewalk upgrades.
Hagwood and Behringer are Republicans while Singleton is a Democrat, though the at-large race is nonpartisan.
Its a compliment to us, as well as a mandate for us to continue what weve been doing and move our projects forward, Behringer said. Were excited to not lose any momentum.
Both candidates lamented the low voter turnout. A total of 3,349 votes were cast, meaning as few as 1,675 voters may have turned out. (Each voter could pick two; initial results didnt include a ballot count.)
Turnout fell short of the 2011 election, when voters re-elected incumbents for mayor, mayor pro tem and two council seats. That year, more than 2,600 ballots were cast.
Behringer said she thought some voters may have stayed home because they were content with the direction of the town.
The vote was not particuarly lopsided in any of the precincts with a substantial number of Garner resdidents. Singleton created most of his advantage in north and central Garner.
Though a persistant presence in all precincts, Hagwood was not the lead vote-getter in any. Hagwood could not be immediately reached for comment.
Voters continued to echo sentiments heard in the run-up to the election, with several expressing positive views of all three candidates.
If I could have voted for three people, I would have done that, Geneva E. Howell said at the Aversboro Elementary School site.
Across the street at the Heather Hills Clubhouse voting location, Rod Wilkins said essentially the same.
Its too bad we cant have all three of these, Wilson said, praising incumbents in Garner and separating them from the ones in Raleigh and Washington. The state and national level government could take some lessons from Garner.
Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland