Here's all you need to know about the Wake County Board of Commissioners Election
Here's what you need to know about the upcoming Wake County Board of Commissioners Election.Posted — Updated
In the Wake County Board of Commissioners elections, seven seats are up in the Nov. 3 election. Districts 2, 4 and 5 all only have one person running for the office; they are Matt Calabria (D), Susan P. Evans (D) and James West (D), respectively. The other four have more than one challenger - they are contested races.
In District 1, the eastern part of Wake County where the towns of Zebulon and Wendell are, Sig Hutchinson is campaigning for re-election against candidate Greg Jones.
Democrat Hutchinson has served on the Wake County Board of Commissioners since 2014. According to Indy Week, he is the president of Sig Hutchinson Communications, focused on sales consulting and professional speaking. His website states he has lived in Raleigh for more than 35 years.
Republican Jones’ website states that he is an industrial contractor. It also states that he was born and raised on a farm in District 1 and graduated from Wake Technical Community College with honors.
Hutchinson wrote in an email to WRAL that his priority is to address the social determinants of health, working towards a healthy, thriving community. In an email to WRAL, Jones said his priorities were ensuring strong support for public safety, getting rid of wasteful spending and reducing the county debt and interest payments in order to lower county property taxes.
In his answers, Hutchinson focused on the work the board is currently executing to support Wake County residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some specific examples he gave included the 1-cent tax, the Wake Forward business loan program and a new department of housing to help provide affordable housing to Wake County residents.
“Keep the county fully open for business and reopen our schools,” Jones wrote about the best way to support Wake County during the pandemic. “The county should not apply its ‘heavy hand’ on our free market capitalistic system.” He also wrote that if schools and businesses were reopened, the negative economic impact on the county would be much less.
District 3 includes the southwestern region of Wake County, covering the towns of Cary and Apex, and Maria Cervania and Steve Hale are running to fill the seat currently held by Jessica Holmes, who is running for North Carolina Commissioner of Labor.
Democrat Cervania stated she is currently a self-employed consultant in an Indy Week questionaire. According to her website, she grew up and graduated from college in California, later pursuing her Master of Public Health in Chicago.
According to his website, Republican Hale retired from the Wake County Sheriff’s Office as a Detective Lieutenant in the Homicide/Major Crimes Department. His website states that he has been a resident of the county for 65 years and was educated in Wake County schools.
In an email to WRAL, Cervania stated that her top three priorities were COVID-19, the economy and the quality of life in Wake County
Cervania’s ideas about how to support the county during the COVID-19 pandemic emphasize a balance between safety and the economy. She believes that collaboration is important to growth for Wake County affordable housing, economic, transportation and community health plans. Discussing public funding allocations, Cervania named specific policy changes she supports.
“Status quo is not acceptable,” Cervania wrote. “Issues must be addressed before law enforcement needs to get involved. The priority is to find existing implementation in our government, plus [to] explore ways to work and train with community organizations in providing positive solutions.” She mentioned supporting improved access to mental health and substance abuse treatment in her answer.
Hale cited moderate property tax increases, reducing the outstanding debt balance and public safety as his priorities in an email to WRAL. He also mentioned training opportunities in his answer on public safety funding. “I do not advocate for defunding law enforcement,” he wrote. “Funding and training opportunities for law enforcement needs to be increased.”
Hale cited land banks and low interest loans as potential solutions he was researching to expand housing and improve the quality of life for Wake County residents. “This is going to require a joint partnership of both government and the private sector,” Hale said. “Business can not invest in anything that does not provide a positive cash flow at some point.”
From District 6, the northern part of Wake County including Wake Forest, Shinica Thomas and Karen Weathers are campaigning for current Chair Greg Ford’s seat. Ford withdrew from the race in July, citing his family’s future relocation to California in support of his husband’s work.
Democrat Thomas is the Director of Advocacy and Educational Partnership for Girl Scouts – North Carolina Coastal Pines. According to her website, she has resided in Wake County for the past 20 years, graduated from high school in Fayetteville, and has previously worked for the North Carolina Community College System.
Republican Weathers’ website states that she is a small business owner, providing STEAM Education Programs to Wake County students. It also states that she was born in Rocky Mount, graduated from East Carolina University, and now lives in Wake Forest.
Thomas wrote in an email to WRAL that her top priorities are education, economic development, and human services, focusing specifically on housing and food insecurities. For hers, Weathers chose debt, education and public safety.
“I commit to supporting small businesses and helping them recover,” Thomas wrote about how best to support Wake County residents during the pandemic. “They are the backbone of our economy and will put workers back to work.” She also supports the continuation of free COVID-19 testing in the county, targeted distribution of PPE and masks, and putting more Cares Act funds into small business loan program Wake Forward.
Working with the private sector is a key priority for Weathers, cited in half of her answers. She stated working with the private sector would be important to re-opening the county’s small businesses. When answering a question about affordable housing expansion and increasing the quality of life for Wake County residents, Weathers also wrote, “The commission needs to work with the private sector to refurbish vacant buildings due to COVID for affordable housing.”
Representing the western part of Wake County, incumbent Vickie Adamson faces Faruk Okcetin in the race for the District 7 seat on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Democrat Adamson is the current Vice Chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. In an Indy Week Candidate Questionnaire, Adamson stated that her full-time occupation was her work as a commissioner. According to her website, she has lived in Raleigh since 1983, has a bachelor’s degree from East Carolina University and has previously worked as a business analyst.
Republican challenger Okcetin has founded several businesses based in North Carolina and is a co-chair of the North Carolina Blockchain Initiative. His website states he is a first-generation Turkish-American who graduated from high school in Raleigh, later attending the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and graduating with a degree in business administration.
In answer to questions from WRAL, Adamson said that her top three priorities include providing better funding for Wake County Public Schools, expanding human services and housing for the most vulnerable members of the Wake County community and a strong public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The most cost effective way to improve public safety is to mitigate the issues that cause citizens to enter the judicial system,” Adamson wrote. “Keeping citizens out of the detention center and reducing law enforcement calls for service will result in lower law enforcement costs.” She also wrote she was committed to growing already existing programs to help solve these problems.
Okcetin did not respond to WRAL’s questions. On his website, he details a three-step plan for how he would serve the citizens of Wake County: PEP. The acronym stands for preserving the quality of life in Wake County as well as efficiently governing, increasing the amount of prosperity the county has in the process. RALtoday cites the plan as his priorities in office, and his website does not mention any other concrete views on issues facing the Wake community.
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