Truitt bows out of Wake School Board race

Staff WriterOctober 19, 2009 

— Wake County school board candidate Cathy Truitt announced today that she’s conceding the District 2 runoff election to John Tedesco, a decision that virtually ensures a new majority in favor of neighborhood schools.

Tedesco, who nearly got a majority of the votes earlier this month in District 2, is all but certain now of winning the seat that represents Garner, Fuquay-Varina and Willow Spring.

Tedesco will join three board members who were elected outright this month and current board member Ron Margiotta to form a majority that opposes several current policies, including mandatory year-round schools and forced bused for socioeconomic diversity.

Although Truitt, a retired educator, says she’s also against forced busing and supports community schools, she had pushed for expansion of magnet schools and a more gradual change. She had argued that she could be a swing vote against resegregation .

Truitt warned today that the new board majority quickly would move to make changes that would lead to resegregating schools unless the community mobilizes to stop them.

"I don't think people want the school system to be blown up," Truitt said. "If people get involved now, they can have an impact."

Tedesco, a vice president with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle, strongly denied that his election would lead to resegregation of the school system.

"No one is going to resegregate the schools," Tedesco said. "We are going to work with our community to build a vision that gets us to community schools."

Truitt’s campaign expects to submit a written letter to the Wake County Board of Elections stating her intention to withdraw from the race.

Wake County Board of Elections Director Cherie Poucher said it’s too late to remove Truitt’s name from the Nov. 3 ballot. But she says that receipt of Truitt’s concession letter would mean any votes she receives will not count.

If Truitt were to win, the seat would be declared vacant and it would be filled by the school board. That scenario would be unlikely because Tedesco fell 43 votes shy of a majority to avoid a runoff.

The day after the Oct. 6 election, Truitt had filed a request for a runoff. But Truitt, who had received less than half of Tedesco’s vote total, determined that it would be too hard to overcome Tedesco’s lead.

"We fought the good fight, the right fight," Truitt said. "If I thought I could win this fight, I'd stay until the end."

With the new board majority all but guaranteed, the focus will turn even more away from the election campaign to how to carry out the changes promised to voters.

Among the issues facing the new board is how quickly to change to neighborhood schools, how soon to end mandatory year-round schools and what to do with the popular magnet school program.

The new board is facing concerns from supporters of the diversity policy that abandoning it will lead to resegregation of schools and a decline in academic performance. But critics of the diversity policy have pointed to the low test scores and graduation rates for low-income students to argue that a change is needed.

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

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