Local Politics

Democrats sweep 3 Wake commissioner seats; 9 school board members elected

Posted November 8, 2016
Updated November 9, 2016

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— Democrats swept the three Wake County commissioner seats on the ballot Tuesday.

Meanwhile, county voters also elected all nine members of the school board.

Board of Commissioners Chairman James West ran unopposed in District 5. In District 4, which had two former commissioners running, Democrat Erv Portman won with 55 percent of the vote over Kenn Gardner's 45 percent.

In a statement posted on his website Tuesday before the results were announced, Portman thanked his opponent "for running a professional campaign."

Portman, 57, has said that he thinks more emphasis needs to be placed on keeping up with enrollment growth in the Wake County Public School System since the county is responsible for building and maintaining school district facilities.

In District 6, political newcomer Greg Ford won with 56 percent of the vote to longtime Raleigh City Councilman John Odom's 44 percent.

Ford, 43, a former teacher and principal, said he will bring a new perspective to the board. In a statement on his Facebook page Tuesday evening, Ford said he was "grateful and humbled."

"Many thanks to my husband, Anthony, our family and SO many friends who've supported us in this race from the start!" he wrote. "I'd also like to thank my opponent, John Odom, for his record of service to the citizens of Raleigh. I am excited to be a part of keeping Wake County moving forward in the years to come!"

Ford has said that Wake County needs "to invest in our infrastructure and people. That includes not only our educators, but our health and human services folks, our first responders."

Like Portman, Ford said the county needs to do better at keeping pace with school growth.

Voters choose all nine school board members

School board members Jim Martin, Christine Kushner and Zora Felton and former board member Roxie Cash ran unopposed in districts 5, 6, 7 and 3, respectively.

In District 1, school board Chairman Tom Benton was locked in a tight race with Donald Agee, who had 35 percent of the vote to Benton's 34 percent. Mary Beth Ainsworth and Sheila Ellis trailed at 17 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

In District 2, board member Monika Johnson-Hostler won with 47 percent of the vote. She was followed by Pete Hochstaetter with 37 percent and Mark Ivey with 16 percent.

In District 4, board member Keith Sutton won with 73 percent of the vote to Heather Elliott's 26 percent.

In the race for the open District 8 seat, Lindsay Mahaffey won with 42 percent of the vote. She was trailed by Gil Pagan at 30 percent and Gary Lewis at 27 percent.

In District 9, board member Bill Fletcher won 69 percent to Michael Tanbusch's 30 percent.

With 157,000 students and a $1 billion annual budget, the Wake County Public School System is the largest school district in the state and growing daily. The new board will have to deal with the ongoing growth challenge, including renovating old schools, adding new schools and managing technology in the classroom.

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  • Letha Book Nov 9, 2016
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    were those the ones that didn't have a challenger?