Hagwood comes up short in uphill battle

kjahner@newsobserver.comNovember 8, 2013 

— Jeanette Hagwood faced two multi-term incumbents in her bid for a seat on the Garner Town Council. She didn’t oppose the council on any fundamental or controversial issues; she just figured she could do a good job as an elected leader.

Despite an uphill battle, Hagwood won 29 percent of the vote on Tuesday, when voters cast ballots to select two council seats. She finished with 972 votes – not enough to win a seat on the council, but just 185 behind Kathy Behringer and 238 behind Gra Singleton.

“I knew I was the underdog and it is very hard to beat an incumbent,” said Hagwood, who works for Hospice of Wake County. “But I’m a hard worker, and I never give up.”

The efforts of the business woman who used to co-own and manage Garner Carpet didn’t go unnoticed.

Leading up to Election Day, some Garner voters said they wished they could vote for all three candidates. Current town leaders, including her opponents, said they respected Hagwood and that she would be qualified for the job.

“She ran a good campaign,” Mayor Ronnie Williams said. “She ran against one obstacle that stands out more than any other, and that’s incumbency. ... I don’t know what she could have done differently.”

Some people also said Hagwood has displayed strength and resilience, especially after her husband’s suicide in early 2011.

Hagwood said she kept the tragedy as far from the campaign as she could, not wanting sympathy votes. But she acknowledged that residents who knew her and knew of her may have been affected.

“It’s part of who I am. It’s a traumatic part of my life. It refined me; I hope it didn’t define me,” Hagwood said.

Hagwood praised the team of volunteers who helped her. She said she had no regrets and was proud to be a part of the process.

“Campaigns are time-consuming, expensive, and they’re hard work. I was so thrilled to have that honor,” Hagwood said. “I’m very proud that Garner keeps it positive. It doesn’t mean I don’t speak up when I see things I don’t agree with.”

She didn’t say whether she’d run again in two years when three spots on the council open up. She said she’d continue her work on the town’s Board of Adjustment and as a town-appointed board member for Garner Volunteer Fire-Rescue.

“I support and wish the winners nothing but the best, nothing but success,” Hagwood said. “We do have the same goals.”

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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