School board candidate denies 'tea party extremist' claims
Posted September 23, 2011
Updated September 27, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — A candidate running for the District 3 seat on the Wake County Board of Education says that postings she made last year on a social networking site have been taken out of context on a website that's challenging her ability to effectively serve on the board.
"I don't appreciate the personal attacks, and what I want people to know about me is that I am strong in my stance," Heather Losurdo, a registered Republican, said Friday. "My stance in this case is making education the best that we can in Wake County."
The website, paid for by a nonpartisan group called Progress North Carolina Action, surfaced this week, accusing Losurdo of hate speech, anti-public school views and calling her a "tea party extremist whose radical right viewpoints make her unstable to hold office."
The site contains posts captured from Facebook that appear to have been made last year by Losurdo and her husband.
One compares President Barack Obama to a skunk and is "liked" by Losurdo, who also commented, "LMAO."
It also claims Losurdo posted a "racist video full of Mexican stereotypes" that compares Mexican workers to the cartoon mouse "Speedy Gonzales."
"We urge you to review this evidence and decide for yourself if Losurdo possesses the qualities that would make her a good school board member," the website says.
Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress North Carolina Action, said his group was concerned by the pattern of information indicated by Lusordo's actions.
"It's information people should take and consider about how this person would govern a large, diverse school district," Brenner said.
Losurdo says she is disappointed with the website and its negative rhetoric and that her posts weren't racially charged.
"There are a lot of issues that we need to talk about, and postings on Facebook, I don't believe, are one of them," she said. "I am sorry if anyone is offended by that. There was no offense made by any means. It was light-hearted humor, and that's all it was," she said.
Comments on illegal immigration, she said, were aimed at policy, not people.
"To paint it in any other way, to say I have any feelings against any race, is ridiculous," she said.
People will try to dismiss each instance if looked at in isolation, Brenner said. But if you look at the pattern of things Lusordo says and promotes, it paints a picture of someone who is divisive and extreme, he said.
Losurdo is running against three other candidates in District 3: incumbent Kevin L. Hill, a Democrat, Eric Wayne Squires, a Republican, and Jennifer Mansfield, who is unaffiliated.
Squires could not be reached for comment Friday. Mansfield and Hill both said they think the race is getting too partisan.
"It is a whole lot more politicized than when I ran in 2007," Hill said. "I wouldn't have known the party affiliations then unless I guessed. It really wasn't an issue then."
Posting the comments, however, makes it fair game, he said.
"What else do people have to drive their opinions about your character and opinions?" he said.
The school board is supposed to be nonpartisan, but both the Republican and Democratic parties of Wake County have been active participants in this year's races, which are on the Oct. 11 ballot.
Others are also making the race political, referencing the highly contentious debate last year about how the Wake school system assigns students and its move away from a longstanding policy of busing students to help keep schools diverse.
The state Board of Elections is investigating an anonymous campaign flier targeting five of the 14 school board candidates who were endorsed by the Wake County Democratic Party.
The flier, which first surfaced at a school board meeting this month, says the candidates, which include Hill, are "liberal allies" of the NAACP – a vocal critic of the district's assignment policy – and urges voters "to keep these five radicals away from our children."