Wake County Schools

Wake school board races go 'On the Record'

Posted October 21, 2011 5:11 p.m. EDT
Updated November 4, 2011 10:42 a.m. EDT

— Wake County's school board races are the topic of this weekend's "On the Record," WRAL-TV's weekly half-hour current events discussion airing Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Bob Phillips, director of Common Cause North Carolina, and Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University, join host Laura Leslie and WRAL News education reporter Mike Charbonneau for a look at the five school board races, which overshadowed Raleigh's mayoral race in the Oct. 11 election, and what's expected to be a hot runoff bid for the District 3 seat.

That seat's a critical win for the Republican-backed board majority if it wants to keep power.

Four Democratic-backed candidates swept last week's races, including one candidate who ousted school board Chairman Ron Margiotta from his District 8 seat.

Margiotta led the Republican bloc that made up the board majority responsible for a number of changes, including a controversial move away from the district's decade-old practice of busing students as a way to balance each school's socio-economic makeup.

In the District 3 race, which will be settled Nov. 8, Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill won the four-person race with 49.69 percent of the votes but was 51 votes shy of securing an outright victory.

Republican challenger Heather Losurdo received 39.88 percent of the votes.

Taylor said the school board races – not the Raleigh mayoral race – drove the turnout for the off-year election.

They generally don't draw the type of attention or the high-dollar funding either. Fourteen school board candidates raised nearly $400,000 – Losurdo and Hill alone raising a combined $75,000.

"I don't think we've ever seen anything at the local election level like this," Phillips said.

Voter turnout for the runoff could also be unprecedented.

"It will be interesting to see what the turnout is going to be like compared (with) what it was like a couple weeks ago. Sometimes, the runoffs lose interest," Taylor said. "It could well be that we might see a runoff that has more interest than the initial contest."