Cary, NC — With no Cary Town Council meetings in March or April, it’s time we checked in with Cary’s lead decision-makers to ask what they have to say to the Cary public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harold Weinbrecht is one seriously busy guy. He has a full-time job at SAS, the duties of being our Mayor and also prioritizes his health with about two hours of exercise each day. In speaking about the days before the COVID-19 changes took effect, he said, “I wasn’t home much.” Now, working from home, Weinbrecht has appreciated the extra time he has in his day that he has gained from not being in his car as much.
“One great benefit from the Stay at Home order is that I get to eat dinner and talk with my wife every night. I averaged about three to four nights before,” said Weinbrecht.
A downside to following the Stay at Home order for Weinbrecht has been finding ways to get creative with his exercise as his workouts depended heavily on gyms before their mandatory closure. His new routine involves more time on Cary’s greenways where he is pleased to see that most people are abiding by the rules of social distancing.
“I have created challenges for myself like digging up tree stumps that needed to be removed. And of course, all the yard work I can handle,” said Weinbrecht.
Weinbrecht also provided some personal advice and encouragement for Cary citizens.
“During times of isolation, you must make sure not only to take care of yourself physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I think these are essential to making it through these tough times. I am very routine-oriented, so I have created a “new norm” and a new routine and I try and stick to it,” said Weinbrecht.
Mayor Pro Tem and District B Representative
In a word, this period for Mayor Pro Tem Frantz, has been “terrifying.”
“I can’t sleep at night worrying about the health and well being of my family, friends, my employees and our community. I worry about the economy and the long-term impact this will have on folk’s livelihood,” said Frantz.
This pandemic has affected him personally and professionally, as it has with everyone else. Nonetheless, Frantz says there are a few bright spots in this time, including his family, friends and the restoration of his 1948 Chevrolet Truck.
“I started this project over six years ago but given my family, business and council responsibilities it has taken a lot longer than I had hoped. I’ve gotten more done on this truck over the last few weeks than I have during the last few years so that’s been cool,” said Frantz.
In these last 5 weeks, and even in the last 3 decades he’s lived in Cary, Frantz says the community has never been short of remarkable.
“Cary is one of the greatest communities in America because of our compassionate, educated and involved citizens who strive day in and day out to make Cary a better place,” said Frantz.
Frantz is proud of all citizens but is especially grateful for those working first-hand to combat the virus and those who are providing crucial services.
“God bless our first responders, our doctors and nurses and medical personnel, grocery and delivery employees and everyone on the front lines right now. Not all superheroes wear capes,” said Frantz. “Together we will beat this.
As an extrovert, councilwoman Lori Bush says her energy comes from being around others and that has posed a big challenge for her during this time of staying socially distant.
“The hardest part of the pandemic, for me, is the loss of true connectedness,” said Bush. “I miss my face-to-face meetings, hugs from my mother and seeing my extended family.”
In her time spent outside of her full-time responsibilities with Cisco Systems and the Cary Town Council, Bush says a great outlet for her during quarantine has been spending more time reading and building on new skills. Lately, her creative side has come out through painting furniture and making stylish updates to her home.
In regards to the ways the Cary community has reacted to the pandemic, Bush says she is not surprised at the way everyone has come together.
“We have an amazing community of engaged, caring and connected citizens, who are always looking out for each other. What we have engrained in us now, is a resiliency, to weather this storm, and to ensure that we can withstand future challenges,” said Bush.
“I truly believe that we will get through this the way that Cary does best — by banding together, supporting each other, and being kind.”
Throughout the pandemic, Bush has also showed appreciation for essential workers in the community by helping to coordinate the donation of essential equipment from the Town of Cary to more than a dozen medical and nursing facilities in the area. To these essential workers, Bush said, “We all see you. We appreciate you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Councilmember Ed Yerha has dedicated more than 20 years to leading and serving Cary. He spent 14 years on Town Boards and Commissions before becoming the At-Large Representative on the Council in 2012 and was honored to serve as Mayor Pro Tem in 2015-2017.
During this difficult time, Yerha said,
“I don’t believe that there is a municipality anywhere better prepared to handle this virus than Cary.”
He is appreciative of all citizens who are doing their part to slow the spread by taking the guidance of local and state governments seriously. In addition, he expressed his gratitude for Cary’s health care and food supply workers who are risking their good health to ensure the good health of their neighbors.
“Thanks to our Town staff, both our Emergency Operations Center and those keeping our day-to-day operations running, who are working professionally and passionately around the clock,” said Yerha. “I am blessed and proud to live in Cary.”
District C Representative
Something you may not know about Councilmember Jack Smith is that he is a self-avowed “bucket list travel planner.” While this is usually a wonderful thing, right now it means Smith has spent much of his time canceling a few of his trip planned for this month and next month.
“What’s neat is I discovered I could accomplish this while walking and my daily step average has improved from 10K a day to 14K. Now it’s on to all those small projects I was going to get around to when I had time,” said Smith. A recent focal point of his projects has been yard work and buying the necessary tools from local small businesses.
During this time of unknowns and constant adaptations, Smith says a big point of community pride he has is in the dedication of Town employees and the community’s showing of support for those in Cary that need aid.
His encouragment to the community takes form in an old Irish Proverb —”Dá fhada an lá tagann an tráthnóna.” This translates to, “However long the day, evening will come.”
“Folks, we will see this pass, and together we will journey again. Thanks for all you are doing and stay safe,” said Smith.
District D Representative
Councilmember Ya Liu was sworn into her role on Cary’s Town Council in December 2019 and brought her expertise in law and sociology to the group.
As Cary’s first elected Asian-American councilmember, Liu encourages all citizens to be kind and supportive of all their Asian-American neighbors, and people from all backgrounds. An unfortunate reality of this outbreak is that Chinese and Asian Americans are experiencing increased hate crimes and racism, according to Liu.
“Many of Asian American doctors and nurses are fighting in the frontline to save our lives. Diversity is the very fabric of our community. Xenophobia does not, and should not, live in our town,” said Liu.
As a 12-year resident of Cary and a mother of three, Liu’s primary focus has been in three areas: keeping Cary families safe, providing personal protective equipment to Cary facilities in need and working to support food security.
When talking about the community’s spirits, Liu said,
“Although we are more apart physically to practice social distancing, we are closer than ever as one community.”
Editor’s Note: At the time of publication, CaryCitizen did not have responses from Councilmember Jennifer Robinson. An update will be added to the article once received.