Local News

Sales Pitch For Wake Schools Bond Begins Tuesday

Posted August 28, 2006

— As the first full week of school begins in Wake County, a new campaign begins Tuesday to sell to taxpayers a nearly $1 billion school-construction bond package.

The kickoff is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. at Raleigh's Exploris museum.

The citizen volunteer group Friends of Wake County will try to convince voters to approve in November a $970 million bond package that would help build and renovate public schools as one way to help ease overcrowding in the Wake County Public School System.

The group is calling on political consultants to help sell the bond.

"Anytime you bring a very diverse group together, anytime you try to arrive at a common message -- if you would -- which points are you going to emphasize?" said Friends Co-Chairman Dr. Bill Atkinson "It's important to get folks who do that professionally to help you decide what the message is going to look like."

Friends of Wake County has hired both a Republican and Democratic campaign consultant to push a bipartisan message. Members say it will bring credibility to the campaign.

"There is so much rumor, so much innuendo out there, we want to clarify that message to deliver a clear-cut, straight-cut message to voters," said Democratic consultant Brad Crone.

The school bond has already turned into a big campaign in terms of contributions. Already, nearly $500,000 has been donated by local businesses, including WRAL's parent company, Capitol Broadcasting Co., to get the bond passed.

Opponents such as Americans for Prosperity, however, have said they believe they can defeat the bond without all the financial backing just like they believe the Wake County school system can reach its goals for a lot less money.

The coalition, which supports a smaller bond, said it does not plan on hiring a campaign consultant.

"People understand what (bond opponents) are proposing is wasteful spending," said Francis De Luca, state director of Americans for Prosperity. "They have to convince people this is needed. Intellectual people understand this is too much."

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