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Voters elect Bell to 3rd term as mayor

After a campaign season largely defined by finger-pointing and criminal allegations, the results of Tuesday's municipal election are in.

Mayor Bill Bell was elected to a third consecutive term, and two City Council members kept their seats.

Durham voters also approved eight bonds totaling $110 million that will be put toward infrastructural concerns across the city.

Facing competitor Jonathan Alston for the second time, Bell performed as well as suggested from the Oct. 11 primary, when he won 88.2 percent of the vote.

With 98.25 precincts reporting Tuesday, Bell received 85 percent of all votes; Alston garnered only 14 percent.

Following his victory, Bell said he was not dwelling on the importance of having won a record third term. Instead, he is focusing on living up to the voters' expectations in the future.

"We need to move on and execute," he said.

Alston expressed disappointment in the results. "I don't know what it's going to take to wake these people up in the city," he said.

The only upset came in the battle for Ward 3's City Council spot. With about 72 percent of the vote, challenger Mike Woodard, a Duke administrator in financial services, was handed a win over incumbent John Best, Jr. Woodard's win was presaged by his commanding victory margin in the Oct. 11 primary.

After his defeat, Best expressed regret that his campaign was not more "issue-orientated."

Nonetheless, he wished his replacement good luck. "I told him to enjoy it while he can," Best said with a laugh.

Woodard could not be reached for comment.

Ward 2's race was the closest in the city. Howard Clement was elected to his seventh city council term, beating Regina Stanley-King by a margin of about 20 percent.

In Ward 1, incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden defeated Victoria Peterson-a local community activist-in a 76 percent to 23 percent spread.

The bonds were voted on individually, and all eight were passed. Approval ranged from a high of 81 percent for public safety bonds to a low of 62 percent for parking bonds.

Opposition to the bonds over the past several months centered around fear that the bond money would be mismanaged.

Ultimately, however, the promise of repairs to public facilities and cultural landmarks won over voters.

Election Day marked an end to a campaign season that was tumultuous even in Durham's normally colorful political arena.

The busy field of mayoral candidates at one time included Vincent Brown, who dropped out of the race after he was revealed to have an extensive criminal record, and Jackie Wagstaff, who did not qualify for Tuesday's ballot after a loss in the primary.

Wagstaff promoted a "hip-hop agenda," and Alston frequently accused Bell's administration of widespread corruption.

Turnout Tuesday was light, with only 18 percent of registered voters casting ballots.