Local Politics

NAACP pushes for Wake school board runoff

Posted October 23, 2009 9:24 a.m. EDT
Updated October 23, 2009 10:14 a.m. EDT

— A former Wake County Board of Education candidate might not want a runoff election next month, but the NAACP certainly does.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plans to rally next week to encourage District 2 voters who favor existing student assignment policies in the school district to vote on Nov. 3.

Cathy Truitt, who finished second in the five-person race on Oct. 6, initially called for a runoff between her and front-runner John Tedesco. On Monday, Truitt conceded the race, saying she didn't think she could win, and two days later, she asked the Wake County Board of Elections to cancel the runoff, which would cost local taxpayers more than $30,000.

The NAACP issued a statement Thursday saying that state law requires a runoff when one is requested, and members urged elections officials to proceed with the Nov. 3 election.

The Board of Elections plans to meet Friday to discuss the issue.

Tedesco is one of four candidates backed by community groups like WakeCARES and the Wake Schools Community Alliance because the candidates said they were willing to change the district's student assignment policies away from one that promotes socioeconomic diversity to favor neighborhood schools.

The other three candidates – Chris Malone in District 1, Deborah Prickett in District 7 and Debra Goldman in District 9 – won their races in the Oct. 6 election. Together with current board member Ron Margiotta, the four new school board members would create a majority on the nine-member board who favor of scrapping the district's diversity policies.

The NAACP contends the Republican Party has pushed the slate of candidates to undo desegregation efforts and uses phrases like "neighborhood schools" and "forced busing" to make the effort more palatable to a majority of residents.

"We must not allow the political chicanery of any group for its own political reason to upset or overturn the rights of the voters and the integrity of the system," the group said in a statement calling for the Nov. 3 runoff in District 2.

If the runoff proceeds as scheduled and Truitt were to win, the seat would remain vacant, and the school board would appoint someone to fill it.