Tom Gale

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Tom Gale
Tom Gale.jpg
Bellville Town Commission
Former officeholder
In office
2004 - 2005
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
ProfessionReal estate agent
Campaign website
Tom Gale campaign logo
Ballotpedia's school board candidate survey
Tom Gale was a Bellville Town Commissioner from 2004 to 2005. He was a Democratic candidate for an at-large seat on the New Hanover County Board of Education in North Carolina. He ran as the Elect Red4Ed slate with fellow Democratic candidates Emma Saunders and Chris Meek against four Republican candidates in the general election on November 4, 2014. Gale and his fellow Democratic candidates were all defeated in the general election.

He was previously a 2012 Democratic candidate for District 20 of the North Carolina House of Representatives.


Gale earned a B.A. in communication studies from UNC-Wilmington. He has been a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage since 2005. Gale previously served as a town commissioner in Bellville from 2004 to 2005. He and his wife have one child.[1][2]



See also: New Hanover County Schools elections (2014)


Campaign logo for the Gale, Meek and Saunders "Elect Red4Ed Campaign"

Tom Gale and fellow Democratic candidates Emma Saunders and Chris Meek sought election to the board as a slate in the general election on November 4, 2014. They faced Republican candidates Janice Cavenaugh, Don Hayes, Ed Higgins and Bruce Shell.


New Hanover County Schools, At-Large General Election, 4-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJanice Cavenaugh Incumbent 16.1% 34,666
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBruce Shell 15.4% 33,275
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngDon Hayes Incumbent 14.6% 31,540
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngEd Higgins Incumbent 14.2% 30,700
     Democratic Emma Saunders 13.9% 30,101
     Democratic Tom Gale 13% 28,159
     Democratic Chris Meek 12.7% 27,524
Total Votes 215,965
Source: North Carolina Board of Elections, "2014 General Election Results," accessed December 30, 2014


Gale had not reported any contributions or expenditures to the North Carolina State Board of Elections as of October 23, 2014.[3]


Gale was endorsed by the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors.[4]


See also: North Carolina House of Representatives elections, 2012

Gale ran in the 2012 election for North Carolina House of Representatives District 20. He ran unopposed in the Democratic primary on May 8, 2012. Gale was defeated by Rick Catlin in the general election which took place on November 6, 2012.[5][6]

North Carolina House of Representatives, District 20, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngRick Catlin 64.1% 25,282
     Democratic Tom Gale 35.9% 14,179
Total Votes 39,461

Campaign themes


Gale provided the following statement on his campaign website:


It all starts with our students. Every decision I make on the Board of Education will be made with one theme- "How will this benefit our children?"


There are many components that contribute to the success of a student, but arguably the most important factor is the teacher. As you've seen in the news this year, teachers are leaving North Carolina in droves. Teaching has never been a high paying career. People choose this profession because they enjoy making a difference in the lives of our young people. During the down economy, our teachers went without pay increases and dealt with other cutbacks, but they expected to get their pay back on track when the economy recovered. Instead, as the economy bounced back, our legislators removed the three quarter of a cent sales tax that helped to pay our teachers. They also gutted other revenue streams, creating a budget shortfall, creating even more cutbacks in our schools. In 2014, the legislature used voodoo math to tout a 7% pay increase that, for many teachers, only amounts to a .5% increase. It was a small step in the right direction, but much more needs to be done in order to hire and retain the best teachers.

As a concerned citizen, I've spoken to our state legislators repeatedly, asking them to make education a priority and explaining how their decisions have adversely affected our schools. As a school board member, I will be in even closer communications with our legislators, lobbying for our schools and giving them the data needed to make informed decisions.

The Board of Education isn't in charge of teacher pay, but they do set policies that affect teachers. Our board can do a better job of fostering a more positive, rewarding environment for our teachers and administrators. I pledge to regularly visit our schools, talk to our administrators, teachers, children, and parents. In order to be effective, the board of education needs to see first hand what's working and what's not. Currently, that's not happening.


Parents are the other top reason for a child's success. Teachers can present the lesson, but it's up to the parents to put an emphasis on student achievement, including making sure the student is doing their homework, getting a good nights rest, eating healthy meals, getting to school on time, dressed appropriately, with the necessary tools (pen, paper, etc.). The school board can set policies to improve parental involvement and awareness in what's being taught in class.

PTAs are integral to school success. The Board of Education should take a more active role in our PTAs. Simply being present, the board members will make themselves more available to feedback from parents and teachers, but by being present, board members would show that PTAs are a priority. Leadership starts at the top.


Communities in Schools is a program that encourages our area businesses to volunteer their time in our schools. It's effective, but, as a school board member, I hope to spearhead more engagement among our community. It will benefit our children and teachers to have extra volunteers in the classrooms, helping give one on one attention to students that our teachers are currently unable to provide due to increasing class sizes. If corporations allow their employees to take time out of work to volunteer, it's good press for the employer and provides personal fulfillment to the employee, which may increase employee job satisfaction and performance. Lastly, educated children may wind up being the future workforce for the employer.

Businesses looking to relocate to New Hanover County care about the quality of our schools. In addition to the schools providing the future workforce, the corporation will be able to hire and retain the best workforce now if our schools are places the employees want to send their children.


We have some schools that are great and some schools that struggle. We need to do a better job exporting what makes our best schools successful to our other schools. My goal is to bring all of our schools up to the level of our highest performing schools

We have unsafe buildings that need to be secured. We have old buildings that aren't energy efficient and lack the tools for our children to compete effectively in the 21st century global economy. A nice, clean school will create pride among the students, teachers, administrators and parents and foster a better learning environment with fewer distractions like mold, broken equipment, etc. The Board of Education needs to highlight the needs of our schools to the taxpayers of New Hanover County so they clearly understand the financial needs of our schools.


We all benefit from great schools. It's important that those that don't have children in our public schools recognize that the quality of our schools affect them. Great schools mean more employers. Great schools lead to fewer jails and less money being paid for social welfare programs. All of this means lower taxes. So not only is supporting our schools the socially responsible thing to do, but it's also the fiscally responsible thing to do.[7]

—Tom Gale's campaign website, (2014)[8]

What was at stake?

Issues in the election

AP U.S. History course

In August 19, 2014, the New Hanover County Board of Education passed a resolution requesting that the State Superintendent, June Atkinson, and the North Carolina State Board of Education ask the College Board delay the implementation of its new Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. history course. It also called for the North Carolina Legislature to investigate the changes made to the curriculum of the course citing concerns that the updated course would fail to meet state standards for U.S. history education.[9]

Board members opposed the new AP curriculum saying that it failed to meet the requirements of a state law regarding history education. North Carolina requires high school students to take a semester of American history focused on "founding principles." This requirement was established by Session Law 273 in 2011. The law requires the course to include at least the following:

a. The Creator-endowed inalienable rights of the people.
b. Structure of government, separation of powers with checks and balances.
c. Frequent and free elections in a representative government.
d. Rule of law.
e. Equal justice under the law.
f. Private property rights.
g. Federalism.
h. Due process.
i. Individual rights as set forth in the Bill of Rights.
j. Individual responsibility.[10][7]

—North Carolina Session Law 2011-273, (2011)

Don Hayes (R) stated that the new course had a "bizarre focus" on America's foundation. He state, "I just think it's not a fair view of American history, the history of this country, and other board member share that same sentiment." He went on, saying, "I think that unfortunately you have in this country people who are not proud of the history of this country. They want to turn things around, and to me it’s very concerning. That's why we as a board have taken the steps we're taking."[11]

Lindalyn Kakadelis, director of education outreach for the John Locke Foundation, was outspoken on the issue in the district. He criticized the College Board's power to affect course curriculum saying, "Do we want an outside force we can’t control? Is that the direction the state wants to go?"[11] The John Locke Foundation is a member of the State Policy Network.[12]

The board followed up the resolution by sending letters to the parents of students who had enrolled in the course to inform them of their concerns and allowed those students the option to transfer to another course. As of October 4, 2014, only eight students had dropped the course. The district does not keep records of why students drop courses, so it is unclear if any of the decisions were influenced by the letter.[11][13]

Candidate Chris Meek (D) provided the following statement criticizing the board discussion of the issue on his campaign website:

At a recent board meeting, the US History AP course was debated. Locally taught Advanced Placement (AP) courses are elective courses. Most students who take AP courses are usually advanced learners who can discern fact from opinion. How do we encourage active participation in our society if we do not give our students the trust to make value judgments in the safety of a classroom where their mistakes will not adversely effect their future. Remember, while the course may culminate in an optional test, the course itself is weighted and students who choose to opt out of the test, as my daughter had done in other AP courses, they will still get the earned grade which counts towards their GPA.

The most disturbing part of the debate was the lack of trust in the teachers, the experts in the subject, to present a balanced curriculum to the students. Even with suggestions of prerequisites or local additions to the curriculum, the current board questioned the integrity of the teachers who teach the course. Current policy requires teachers to give both sides to a controversial topic, it does not restrict them from teaching them. Teachers should be given some latitude in choosing appropriate material and when issues arise deal with them on an individual basis rather than condemn the whole as incapable of appropriately practicing their profession.

A historian once said “History is a dirty subject. We don’t always like what we have to teach, but to teach it accurately, we have to include the ugly with the glory as well.” I interpreted this as we have to present all sides of a story to get an accurate portrayal of what really happened in our past. When we take academic freedom out of the classroom, when we direct a curriculum be taught in a specific manner, we are doing exactly what NHCS Board Policy 7180 Directive 3 intends to avoid. We are indoctrinating and not educating.

Teaching critical thinking skills in a historical context directly contradicts the idea of indoctrination in the classroom. We need this to continue to be free democratic society. This is what the US History AP Course should do if taught by the experts who understand the material and how to present it.[7]

Chris Meek's campaign website, (2014)[14]

April 17 candidate forum

All five candidates in the Republican primary participated in an April 17, 2014, forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Lower Cape Fear. The candidates reached consensus on several issues including the need to reverse a 2013 state budget provision that eliminated starting pay increases of 10 percent for new teachers with master's degrees. Jim Brumit supported repeal of the provision but stated that the pay increase should be smaller. There was also unanimous support for allowing greater school choice for parents but opposition to publicly funded vouchers for students at charters and private schools in New Hanover County was also voiced. Don Hayes expressed concerns about the lack of accountability for charter schools as well as the negative effects of preferential treatment for charters.[15]

About the district

See also: New Hanover County Schools, North Carolina
New Hanover County Schools is located in New Hanover County, North Carolina
New Hanover County Schools is located in Wilmington, the county seat of New Hanover County, North Carolina. According to the United States Census Bureau, New Hanover County is home to 213,267 residents.[16] New Hanover County Schools is the 12th-largest school district in North Carolina, serving 25,131 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[17]


New Hanover County outperformed the rest of North Carolina in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 36.6 percent of New Hanover County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 26.8 percent for North Carolina as a whole. The median household income in New Hanover County was $50,420 compared to $46,450 for the state of North Carolina. The poverty rate in New Hanover County was 16.0 percent compared to 16.8 percent for the entire state.[16]

Racial Demographics, 2012[16]
Race New Hanover County (%) North Carolina (%)
White 81.4 71.9
Black or African American 14.6 22.0
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.6 1.5
Asian 1.4 2.5
Two or More Races 1.9 2.0
Hispanic or Latino 5.4 8.7

Presidential votes, 2000-2012[18]
Year Democratic vote (%) Republican vote (%)
2012 46.9 51.5
2008 48.8 50.2
2004 43.7 55.8
2000 44.0 55.0

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.[19][20]

Recent news

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See also

External links

Suggest a link


  1. Vote Tom Gale, "About Me," accessed April 29, 2014
  2. LinkedIn, "Tom Gale," accessed April 29, 2014
  3. North Carolina State Board of Elections, "NC Campaign Report Search By Entity," accessed October 23, 2014
  4. Bruce Shell for New Hanover County School Board, "Endorsements," accessed October 23, 2014
  5. North Carolina State Board of Elections, "2012 Primary Election Results," accessed June 12, 2014
  6. North Carolina State Board of Elections, "2012 General Election Results," accessed June 12, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  8. Vote Tom Gale: New Hanover County Board of Education, "The Issues," accessed October 23, 2014
  9. New Hanover County Schools, "Resolution Requesting the NC State Board of Education Demand a Delay, and Rewrite, of the Advanced Placement U.S. History Curriculum Framework," accessed October 23, 2014
  10. General Assembly of North Carolina, "Session 2011: Session Law 2011-273, House Bill 588," June 23, 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Elephant Strong, "New Hanover County School board raises concerns over liberal revisionist AP History course," August 26, 2014
  12. State Policy Network, "Directory: North Carolina," accessed October 23, 2014
  13. School Board's letter regarding AP History makes little impact," October 4, 2014
  14. Elect Chris Meek: New Hanover County Board of Education, "What is Advanced Placement and Why We Teach It," August 20, 2014
  15. Lumina News, "Candidates weigh in on county issues," April 23, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 United States Census Bureau, "New Hanover County, North Carolina," accessed April 29, 2014
  17. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed April 29, 2014
  18. North Carolina State Board of Elections, "Election Results," accessed April 29, 2014
  19. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  20. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.