Local News

Elections Could Reshape Wake's School Board

Posted October 3, 1999

— Elections are supposed to be about issues, and the one issue that has the voters' attention in Wake County is schools.

There are 20 candidates running for five open seats on theWake County School Board. Each voter will cast only one vote for a school board member based on where the voter lives. Districts that are growing the most seemed to attract the most candidates.

Wake Countyvoters are pretty clear about what they want for their children.

"We definitely need more schools, and I'm willing to pay more for it but not willing to pay out the nose for it," said Apex resident Michael Bennett.

They want more schools to lessen lengthy commutes.

"She has to go over to Lacy, and we stay over on Martin Luther King. I think they should leave the kids on their side," said Raleigh resident Joyce Edwards.

They want closer schools and more schools but not necessarily more taxes. The current school board proposed a$650 million bondlast spring.

Voters defeated that measure two to one setting up a school board race with a wide field and opposing philosophies.

Several candidates' campaigns are running on their opposition to the bond and the tax increase which followed. Others insist that the needs remain, and the district is falling behind in quality.

"What do we do about schools? How do we spend it? What do we do about teachers? What do we do about curricula? To me, that's a critical item," said Dr. Abraham Holtzman, political science professor.

That is one item that may drive more people to the polls.

The issues of overcrowding and neighborhood schools are keenly debated in the high-growth areas of northeast Raleigh, District 3, and in the ever-growing District 8 in southwestern Wake County.

It is no surprise that these two districts drew the most candidates. District 8, with a field of six candidates, has the only incumbent in the school board election.

"He should have the advantage because, generally, incumbents have a better chance of getting elected," said Holtzman.

However, the candidates who get their names and their positions before the most people will probably become victors Tuesday night.

Each district has at least one conservative and liberal candidate. That leaves the school board open for a shift from moderate to a more conservative approach especially with respect to the building program and how to pay for it.

Aside from the Wake School Board, plenty of other seats are up for grabs Tuesday.

InRaleigh, the mayoral and city council elections are for keeps. However, if a candidate does not garner 50 percent of the vote, there will be a November runoff.

DurhamandFayettevilleresidents will vote for mayor and city council members in a primary. Goldsboro is also holding a mayoral primary.

Rocky Mount, Dunn, Roxboro and Henderson residents will also vote Tuesday.

Polls everywhere open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.

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