Wake County School Board voters elect Democratic majority, approve $810 million construction bond
By Lauren Dixon
Wake County, North Carolina: A series of close races culminated in a near-complete Democratic majority on the Wake County Board of Education, with voters choosing Democrats 3-1 on October 8. Of the nine-member board, which is officially nonpartisan, four district seats were up for election on the largest school district in North Carolina. Despite the nonpartisan status of the board, Wake County school board candidates tend to publicly identify with political parties, which has resulted in partisan fighting in past elections and board meetings. The outcome expanded the Democratic hold to seven, with an unaffiliated former Democrat and a Republican now remaining on the board. Among the races was Zora Felton versus Deborah Prickett in District 7, where Felton unseated the incumbent with 57.6% of the vote. Incumbents Bill Fletcher in District 9 and Tom Benton in District 1 triumphed over their opponents Don McIntyre and Nancy Caggia, respectively, while Monika Johnson-Hostler defeated fellow challenger Matt Scruggs in District 2. The election is a reversal from 2011, when Republicans made significant electoral gains. Fletcher is now the only Republican remaining on the board. Despite the tight races, the eight candidates raised just $110,218 for their campaigns, which was far less than the $318,105 raised in 2011.
The controversial $810 million school construction bond was also on Tuesday's ballot, and with all 200 precincts reporting, it was easily approved by about 58% of voters. The bond measure will fund the majority of a $939.9 million construction project that aims to build 11 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. It will also finance major renovations to six schools, minor upgrades to others and purchase land for future schools. The bond had been a source of contention between the candidates, with opponents arguing funds were being irresponsibly allocated and that existing facilities were sufficient to accommodate enrollment growth. This bond measure will increase the county's property tax rate by five cents, or an additional $75 for the owner of a $150,000 home.
- Keung Hui, News Observer, "Saying new Wake County school board makeup will reduce partisanship and politics," October 9, 2013
- Andrew Kenney, News Observer, "Democrats expand majority on Wake County Board of Education," October 8, 2013
- WRAL.com, "Wake voters approve $810M school construction bond," October 8, 2013