Losurdo, Hill refute outside claims, attacks
Posted November 4, 2011
Updated November 7, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — The two candidates still competing for a crucial seat on the Wake County Board of Education came out Friday against what they are calling false claims being spread about them in a runoff race in an election that's traditionally been quiet and nonpartisan.
A lot is at stake regarding the outcome of Tuesday's election, including the balance of the board's power for at least the next two years.
Democratic-backed candidates won four other seats that were up for grabs in the Oct. 11 election. Incumbent Kevin Hill, also a Democrat, finished first in the four-person race in District 3, but he was 51 votes shy of securing an outright victory.
If Hill wins, it could mean another four years before Republicans have a chance to regain control of the majority. Supporters of Republican challenger Heather Losurdo have vowed to do whatever is necessary to keep that from happening.
Campaigning since the election has been intense, and the emotions of supporters on both sides have been loud, with those outside the campaigns throwing allegations at each candidate.
"I think it's politics," Hill said during a taping for WRAL-TV's "On the Record," which airs Saturday at 7:30 p.m "I think there (have) been some exaggerations and misstatements made.
Losurdo has been a constant target by the outside liberal group Progress North Carolina Action, which has painted the former Air Force member and mother of two as "the Queen of Extreme" pushing tea party politics.
The latest claims by the group is that Losurdo "padded" her résumé by saying she was an account manager for First Union National Bank who oversaw a portfolio of more than $2 billion in small business loans.
The chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party also doubts Losurdo's claim.
"A personal bankruptcy, no formal higher education experience? It is very unlikely," Mack Paul said.
Losurdo defended her résumé Friday at a taping for WRAL's "On the Record."
"I do say (the claims are) false, and I think there are those out there, including myself, who are offended by the accusation that 'somebody like me’ could not have that type of job," she said."It find it degrading, to be honest."
Her former boss at the bank, Donald Senior, said by phone Friday that the line on her résumé is 100 percent accurate.
"He has completely confirmed my employment, title and duties during the time I worked for him at First Union," Losurdo said at a news conference Friday evening. "I believe an apology from certain people would be to the honorable thing to do.
"For me, I consider the matter closed. Far too much time in this campaign has been spent on the question of my remote past and far too little on the real issues that divide me and my opponent in this race."
Hill had no comment Friday evening, saying only that he has run a clean campaign and that when he has been able to do so publicly, he has asked the third parties attacking Losurdo to back down.
"I have publicly, countless times on camera and on the radio asked the third parties to back away," he said earlier Friday during the "On the Record" taping.
A lifelong educator, Hill has also been accused of wanting to undo the board's work on a controversial assignment plan that replaces a longstanding busing policy for one that places students at schools closer to where they live.
He voted against the plan last month, he said, because it didn't guarantee seating in high-performing schools for students wanting to switch from traditionally low-performing schools.
"I caution people not to confuse the vote against the plan (with) me not being in favor of the plan," Hill said, when asked if he would move to overturn it.
"I'm on the record that I will not. In fact, I'm on the record stating that this is the plan that we will move forward with," Hill said. "I know the team that has put it together. I trust their integrity. The superintendent has worked very hard on this plan."
Political observers say the student assignment plan and the school board race drove turnout in the October election.
According to the Wake County Board of Elections, voter turnout – generally low in off-year elections – was 21.16 percent this year – more than double the turnout in 2009.
"It will be interesting to see how many people come out. If we have roughly the same number of people, it's Hill's to lose," North Carolina State University political science professor Andrew Taylor said of the Nov. 8 runoff.
"He's only 50 votes shy of the simple majority first time around, but it could well be that we might see a runoff that has more interest than the initial contest," Taylor added.