Filing period begins for Wake school board race
Posted July 25, 2011 7:17 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2011 1:39 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Eight people are officially in the running for the Wake County Board of Education election race this fall.
The two-week filing period began Monday with incumbents Kevin Hill, Keith Sutton and school board Chairman Ron Margiotta and five others filing their notice of candidacy with the Wake County Board of Elections.
Hill is seeking re-election for north Raleigh's District 3 seat while Sutton, appointed to his current term, is seeking election for east Raleigh's District 4. Margiotta is seeking re-election for southern Wake County's District 8.
Also filing Monday were Jim Martin and Cynthia Matson for south central Raleigh's District 5 seat; Christine Kushner and George Morgan for central Raleigh's District 6 seat; and Susan Evans for District 8.
Five school board seats are up this fall, which could potentially shift the balance of power on the Republican-controlled school board.
Although school board seats are not supposed to be partisan, Wake County's political parties will be heavily involved in the race.
"It's a good school board, and we want to make sure we have enough votes that there is never any question," said Susan Bryant, chairwoman of the Wake County Republican Party.
Wake Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul said that there has been a lot of instability over the past two years. The Republican majority took control in 2009 with four new board members in Margiotta's camp.
The new majority voted out the school system's decade-old policy of busing students to help achieve socio-economic diversity.
That paved the way for a new student assignment policy that keeps students closer to home and sparked protests, arrests and a change in school system superintendent.
Republicans at least need to hold Margiotta's seat to keep majority control.
"We're just starting to see the results of a lot of these changes, so it's a very important election," Bryant said.
Four seats held by Democrats are up, with only two incumbents – Hill and Sutton – running again. Democrats would have to hold all of those seats and take the chairman's seat to take control.
"We see this as an opportunity to bring things back to the center in Wake County, engaging families again in the discussion," Paul said.
"I think we are going to see increased participation this year, I think we'll see a lot more money spent," said Yvonne Brannon, chairwoman of Great Schools in Wake Coalition, which has been highly critical of the current board majority.
Brannon says her group will not endorse any one candidate, but it is co-hosting a series of public forums in September to hear from them all.
"We all have an investment in our school system," she said. "It is the crown jewel for our economic development in Wake County."
Filing also began Monday for elected positions in Angier, Cary, Morrisville and Raleigh.
The filing period ends at noon on Aug. 12.