There are three contested races for Cary Town Council this year.
Typically, municipal elections are held in odd-numbered years, and the mayor and all eight council members serve four years.
This year, the mayor, one at-large seat, District B and District D, are on the ballot, while the remaining at-large seat, District A and District C, will be elected in 2025.
For the at-large seat, incumbent Lori Bush faces challengers Mary Inspruker and Matthew Gronke.
District B incumbent Don Frantz faces Michelle Craig. District D incumbent Ryan Eades faces Sarika Bansal and Rachel Jordan.
Mayor Harold Weinbrecht is running unopposed.
Early voting runs through Oct. 7. Election Day is set for Oct. 10.
To find polling places and full details on early voting, visit the Board of Elections at wake.gov or 919-404-4040.
Name: Michelle Craig
Residence: 502 Lochness Lane, Cary
Occupation and Employer: Substitute teacher, Wake County Public Schools
Education: Ph.D. Family and Child Sciences, Florida State University M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction, University of North Carolina at Greensboro B.S. Chemistry and Biochemistry, Campbell University
Political or civic experience: I have dedicated my life to public service. My service as a public school educator began more than 20 years ago. I have served in NC Public Schools (mostly in WCPSS) as a classroom teacher, special education instructional assistant, and currently as a substitute teacher. In addition, I have served our community for eight years as a PTA parent, serving in various roles at Briarcliff Elementary and East Cary Middle as VP, advocacy chair, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion chair. In addition, I have advocated for issues of equity at the county, state, and federal levels. Finally, I have worked for years to help progressive candidates get elected.
Campaign website: MichelleCraigforCary.com
Why you are running to serve Cary. Why should voters trust you with this position?
I am running for Cary Town Council District B to help make Cary more affordable, equitable and sustainable. I am running because I do not believe our Council as it currently sits has the will to make changes necessary to be inclusive of and support the needs of all of our residents. Cary is still often seen as an upper middle class community, and our town make up is much more socioeconomically diverse. As a teacher who lives and works in District B, I know that few teachers live and work in Cary. That is the same for other essential workers like police officers, firefighters, and healthcare professionals. We should take care of the people who are taking care of Cary. They should be able to afford to live where they work. Our children should be able to afford to live here when they become adults, and seniors should be able to afford to age in place.
What is Cary doing right to manage the town’s growth? If elected, what changes would you propose?
The town of Cary has done well to plan thoughtfully and consolidate those plans into the Cary 2040 Community Plan. This has included growing and retaining current businesses and attracting new prospects and ensuring the growth and economic vitality of downtown. The downtown revitalization has been welcomed by many, and we look forward to seeing businesses continue to flourish. Some people believe we have seen too much change too quickly, and would like balance and to make sure resident needs are considered more also. Concerns of increased traffic and lack of parking have risen especially with the prospect of a Town Hall campus redevelopment. We will need to continue to get resident and business input and consider changes that can be supported by infrastructure and that will be sustainable (see explanation below).
Many people who have lived here say they can no longer afford rent or struggle to own a home. What must Cary do for established and new residents to live here comfortably?
We must make affordable housing a higher priority. Yes, we have a housing plan, but we need to move faster toward the goals, as we are in a housing crisis. Affordability challenges in Cary are driven by two issues: 1) supply is not keeping up with demand. Fewer houses are for sale and for rent and the prices of what are available have increased; and 2) zoning restrictions (About two-thirds of Cary’s housing is single-family detached.).
Thoughtfully consider zoning impact on housing diversity, including townhomes, duplexes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), etc.
Increase our cooperative work with our public, private, and nonprofit partners for better housing affordability for renters and buyers.
Further expand the Healthy Homes program to stabilize current affordable housing, help seniors age in place, and improve accessibility.
Some residents have expressed concern about the rapid growth of Cary amid new changes like the potential redevelopment of the Town Hall campus, more nightlife, and other projects. How can Cary grow, especially downtown, without losing its community character?
We need to find balance. We need to listen to and attempt to meet the needs of residents while continuing to consider our businesses. As I have been knocking doors, I am hearing many concerns about redevelopment of Town Hall campus. These concerns include the need to make development environmentally friendly and maintain the beauty of the Town Hall campus. In consideration of redevelopment, we need to increase tree canopy and mitigate the heat island effects of density and development. Residents are concerned about increased traffic and lack of parking. With any redevelopment of Town Hall, affordable housing needs to be a part of the discussion. We need to thoughtfully plan development with transit in mind and continue expanding access to sidewalks and bike lanes.
What must Cary do to become more inclusive of marginalized residents, including African Americans, people of color, immigrants, poor or working class, and the LGBTQ+ community?
We need fair policies and practices for all, including diversity and inclusion.
We have to bring everyone to the table (all partners in the community, Wake County commissioners, other municipal leaders, and residents) to learn from experience and make a better plan moving forward.towards equity.
Listen to more voices by working on better two-way communication to inform and engage more residents for participation, feedback, and input.
Implement Human Relations, Inclusion, and Diversity (HRID) Task Force recommendations.
Encourage collaboration between the HRID Task Force and the DEI office with other commissions, boards, and future projects.
How can Cary continue to expand and protect its parks, greenways, and environment?
Cary is a beautiful community, and we need to continue to invest in our parks and greenways. We also need a commitment from Council to put sustainability into practice.
Increase tree canopy and mitigate the heat island effects of density and development.
Commit resources to expand sidewalks, greenways, and separated bike lanes, and as data is collected, increase public transportation stops and frequency according to the greatest need.
Support and incentivize environmentally sound and energy efficient building practices including solar and green stormwater infrastructure.
What three issues would you focus on in office that others might not? Why are they important for Cary?
The issues that I will prioritize are making Cary more affordable, equitable, and sustainable. As I’m knocking doors and talking to residents, these are the areas that many believe need to be focused on in Cary. However, unlike most of our current members of Town Council, I will put an increased focus on equitable practices to ensure that we are hearing a variety of voices in our diverse town and are being fair in our decision making processes.
What specific life experiences or skills have prepared you for town governance?
I have built my life around service and advocacy. As a public school teacher in District B, I have embraced the diversity of our community having taught children whose families came from more than 12 countries and speak at least 12 different languages. What I’ve found is that diversity is part of what makes Cary great, and we are all more alike than different. With diversity in race and ethnicity, language, culture, socioeconomic status, and family make up, it makes sense that the needs of individuals and families are also diverse. We must prioritize meeting ALL of those needs.
In addition to teaching, for the last eight years, I have served in various roles in the PTAs of Briarcliff Elementary and East Cary Middle where my children are attending. These roles have included being advocacy and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) chairs. My advocacy work has taken me to the NC General Assembly, to Wake County Commission meetings, and to Wake Board of Education meetings. The more I advocate, the more I see the need to invest in local policy. As I’ve thought about what educators and students and their families need, I’ve realized that those same needs are shared by the broader community needs. Now, I focus my attention on the Town of Cary and how we can make it an even better place for ALL to live, work, and play.
Please make note of any endorsements you’ve received that you consider to be important.
Wake County Democratic Party
If you have any other goals or issues that you’d like to address, please do so here.
I am the candidate that is taking time to knock on thousands of doors and listen to the needs in the community. I will continue listening as I step into the role to represent District B on Cary Town Council. Please reach out to me with questions via my website MichelleCraigforCary.com
I humbly ask for your vote during early voting (Sep. 21-Oct. 7) or on Election Day, Oct. 10. I look forward to serving you!