Cary Town Council: What Is It and Why Should You Care?


Town of Cary Official Photograph

Cary Town Council Members

D. Khan, S. Manku, and M. Mizelle

Although most of the students at Green Level live in Cary, few of us seem to be aware of the local election going on. We see the signs on the streets, but don’t care enough to learn about the candidates. We read the words, “Town Council,” but we don’t know what they mean. Why is that? Is it because we’re too young to vote? That doesn’t stop most of us from following the presidential election. Is it because this election is on a much smaller scale? Possibly–but that doesn’t make sense. Since local elections are close to home, they will affect us specifically. Parents and school faculty want students to be involved in their towns, so it would be useful to know who is running it. 

The Cary Town Council is the most local form of government. It consists of six elected representatives and the mayor. The size of a Town Council is based on how many people live in the town. In our case, four of these representatives are based on district, and two are general, at-large councilmen. The Council works to improve our towns in any way possible, focusing on nearly 200 different policies and goals, including some on economic growth, roads and infrastructure, and the youth in our area. They set the property tax and user fees, provide the rules and regulations, and perform ceremonial duties. Town Council focuses on the specific town whereas other governments focus on larger areas. Our Town Council is very important because they focus on the goals and visions for Cary. 

Early voting for Town Council starts September 18, and the official election is on October 8th. Although we, as students, are too young to vote, we can encourage our family and teachers to do their civic duties. Find your district here.

Many people who are running are already on the council, but a few are new to politics. As of this year, four of the seven spots are open for elections: Mayor, At-Large Representatives, and Districts B & D.   These include:

Dero-Asha Davis-Weeks for Mayor, who is building a campaign based on inspiring all citizens of Cary.

Beth Friedrich for D, who wants to focus on developing our town with better roads and infrastructure.

Ya Liu for D, who has set a goal of making Cary a better place for citizens of all ages.

Read more about the other candidates here!

We reached out to a few of the candidates running for office who don’t yet have experience on the council so that you can get a sense of some of their views:


Beth Friedrich

Beth Friedrich is running for The D District Representative. She’s lived in NC for 10 years now and currently works as an attorney. She happily agreed to be interviewed for The Gator’s Eye.  

GE: First question, what inspired you to run for this position?

BF: The birth of my daughter. I’ve worked on a number of campaigns over the years and always thought that I’d run for local office some time later in life–likely after I’d retired, perhaps in my 60s or 70s. My daughter is almost two years old, but when I was eight months pregnant with her my father had a stroke back in our hometown of Albany, GA. I was too pregnant to travel down to him and my mom, and that was a very stressful time for my family. Thankfully, my aunt was able to travel down from DC to my parents house and bring them to our home here in Cary. As a matter of fact, the day that my husband and I came home from the hospital with our infant daughter was the same day my parents moved in with us for the first three months of our daughter’s life.

 My father’s rehabilitation meant that a series of nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists visited our home throughout my maternity leave. One morning as the nurse helped my father outside to practice walking with her assistance, I realized that the sidewalks that my father was learning how to walk again on would be the same sidewalks that my daughter would learn how to walk on, how to bike on. My whole life was now in the Town of Cary.

 That was the moment that I decided that I would run for Town Council.

GE: Cary is a growing area, yet there are many people here who don’t know or care about this election. Most don’t even know what the council is. Do you have anything to comment on that?

BF: Yes, a couple of things I’d like to say to that. First, let me tell you that an old friend and classmate of mine is also running for Raleigh City Council this year. We sat down a few months ago to speak about our respective races–he entered his race a few months before I started my campaign–and he gave me this advice.

He said no one cares about your campaign and, if anyone does show any interest, it won’t be until September. He told me not to expect any press coverage and that it was totally up to me to raise awareness about my campaign.

Well, I’d say he was somewhat right! I’ve done a number of candidate surveys and interviews at this point, none of which have made it to print to date. This may very well be the only article about my campaign that gets published–and it’s in a high school newspaper.

Municipal voters in a local election are smaller in number than what you would see in either a presidential or a midterm election, but these voters are paying attention. They are looking at the condition of local roads, they are watching how the Town Council spends taxpayer money and the rate of taxation in the Town. They are paying attention to our parks, greenways and infrastructure. I know this because I took my friend’s advice and started going door-to-door shortly after filing for office this July to raise awareness about my campaign. Most doors that I knock on, people aren’t home or don’t get up to open their doors (I know they are home-  I hear their tv and see their car in the driveway, so I leave them a door-hanger and move to the next home). But some will come out and talk, and still others will invite me into their homes to discuss local issues. And I can tell you–they care. I’ve knocked on over 2000 doors this election and spoken to 1500 people,and I’ve had a number of very meaningful conversations with people while they are taking out their garbage, doing weekend yard work, or walking their dogs. They care, and they vote.

GE: Do you have any positions relating to education?

Education policy is set by the Wake County Board of Education (WCBOE) and the North Carolina General Assembly, and each of those institutions have elected officials of their own. What the Cary Town Council can do is provide the Wake County Public School System with information about where students will be in terms of future growth in our student population so that WCPSS can plan future schools. Cary continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than we have experienced in past years. We need to make sure that new schools are being constructed ahead of their need.

Cary also provides funding for all its school resource officers in high schools and middle schools. Currently, all 192 public schools in Wake County are undergoing an assessment of their safety features. At the end of the assessment, the WCBOE will get a private screening of what specific issues were found. In addition to our funding of those resource officers, the Town needs to know what deficiencies were found during the assessment of our schools an immediately prioritize addressing those deficiencies. We should not wait for the State or the county to appropriate the necessary funds. Our children’s safety is our top priority.

Finally, we need to advocate for our parents and our taxpayers here in the Town of Cary. If there are areas of concern, we need to work closely and openly with the WCBOE to find a solution.

GE: What are some of the key changes you want to see in Cary, and how would they affect the citizens of the town?

I’d like to see us rezone some of our older commercial real estate and office space, including some of the vacant restaurants and tired strip malls around town, and redevelop that for residential purposes. That would create several effects for our citizens. First, we would be removing quite a bit of impervious surface by getting rid of all those parking lots and putting in green space and trees, creating a softening effect in those areas that residents would not have seen in years. Second, if we are able to see some of those redeveloped spaces become workforce housing (homes that are affordable to our firefighters, police officers, teachers and others who provide vital services to the town) we will see a decrease in traffic throughout the area. This will be because once folks are able to live in the areas that they serve, there is a decrease in traffic congestion as fewer people have to commute into Cary from other areas on our main thoroughfares.

GE: You work with the CAPP, correct? What is that and how does the work there relate to the children and teens here?

I volunteer with SAFEchild NC, one of the two main sponsors of the Wake County Child Abuse Prevention Plan (Wake CAPP). They CAPP is comprised of several community leaders, parents and representatives from youth-serving organizations working together on a comprehensive plan to strengthen families and communities to protect children from abuse and neglect. I am able to donate my time through volunteer hours allotted to me annually through my employer, the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 

 The Cary Police Department and Town of Cary Parks and Recreation Department have been essential local partners in the development of the CAPP. Children and teens that participate in workshops, camps,and other activities organized by the Town of Cary Parks and Recreation Department should know that their staff have been trained in the Protective Factors Framework that comprises the backbone of Wake CAPP’s work, and that staff are trained to recognize the warning signs of abuse and neglect and work with local authorities to comprehensively address those issues.

Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to a high school student, what would it be?

I would say stop waiting for someone to give you permission to go after your dreams and just go for it. People will look for reasons to tell you ‘no’ based on their own fears, weaknesses and limitations. “No” often has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the other person saying it.

 In terms of what you kids have to deal with today, especially social media, there is so much pressure to conform. Don’t let others tease you or bully you out of doing what you love. Get off Instagram, shut down your Twitter account, and get rid of social media if its not adding anything positive into your life. Surround yourself with people who support you and if someone can’t, or won’t, love you as you are then minimize their access to you. Be positive, be strong, and remember that you are going to be just fine.

Thank you to Mrs. Freidrich for agreeing to an interview and giving such thorough answers! You can read more about her and her policies at the link above.


Dero-Asha Davis-Weeks

Ms. Davis-Weeks hopes to earn a spot on Cary Town Council as mayor. Compared to the other running candidates, she is the most hidden as she isn’t as active when it comes to campaigning. She makes it clear that she doesn’t care as much about being elected as being heard. On her website, she suggests several ways that she would like to make all of Cary better by bringing out the people who have been put down over time and made to feel as though their opinions and ideas are not of any importance. In reading through her blog, we got a sense that she is hoping to engage younger citizens in her campaign, especially at the end when she states “I want to inspire the next generation of young people to mobilize their community.” 


Ya Liu

Dr. Liu has a Ph.D. in sociology from North Carolina State University. She came to the United States in 2003 to pursue graduate studies. Now she works as a professor at Duke Law school. Dr. Liu is running for District D and, if elected, hopes to “Build our town into a green, vibrant, and inclusive place for residents of all ages and backgrounds to work, live and play.” She has three children and highly values education. One of her main issues is to improve the quality of living for all residents. One way she intends to do this is to make better after-school programs for young children. We took a look at her website and found an emphasis on creating a better environment in Cary–specifically by making it more age-inclusive and creating safer roads. She is eager to serve her community and wants to “Motivate more women and minority members to run for public office and inspire more young parents to be engaged in the political process.”