There are some hotly contested races in those state House districts that are part of Wake County. Theyre important, too, and make no mistake about that. Under new Republican leadership for the past two years, the House became at times a rather unfunny joke, what with that midnight session and a preoccupation with issues such as the marriage amendment.
Below, we offer our editorial endorsements in several contested races in the hopes that the candidates might bring calmer, more reasoned debate to the House while taking an enlightened view of how best to move North Carolina forward.
Partisan-tinged redistricting has realigned boundaries and shuffled the political deck in the GOPs favor, in some cases leading to open seats. And in three Wake districts, 33, 34 and 39, the incumbents will return to office with no opposition. They are, respectively, Democratic Reps. Rosa Gill, Deborah Ross and Darren Jackson. All have been worthy in their service.
Lori Millberg, a Democrat from Wendell, is facing Republican Chris Malone, a businessman who lives in Wake Forest and is a current first-term member of the Wake County school board. Millberg, a former school board member, is a business person with a law degree. She has strong credentials as an advocate of public education.
Doubtless Malone, of Wake Forest, would say the same of himself, but his actions as a majority and then minority member of the Wake school board show him to be a hard-liner.
Now Malone wants to move up the political ladder. But Millberg has a better grasp of what it takes to advance the public interest, not only in education but on a range of issues. We support her candidacy.
Lisa Baker of Cary, who has been a small business owner and is a veteran community activist, is a Democrat challenging veteran incumbent Republican Nelson Dollar, first elected to this district seat in 2004.
Dollar, a media consultant also of Cary, is diligent and well-informed, but hes been a reliable ally of the often misguided Republican leaders of the state House, focused on helping to loosen regulation and bowing to big business. The N&O offers an endorsement to Baker as someone who is a good grass-roots candidate who deserves a shot.
Paul Skip Stam, an Apex Republican and majority leader of the state House, has been endorsed by this editorial page several times because he was a valued watchdog of the Democrats who long ruled Jones Street. Stam raised important questions about secrecy, for example. Alas, once the GOP gained a majority, Stam couldnt resist pursuing an agenda of over-the-top social conservatism, including the sadly successful marriage amendment.
As a minority member, he was valuable. As a majority leader, hes helping to set a course of distracting issues that is unhealthy.
His Democratic opponent, Jason Wunsch of Fuquay-Varina, is a young lawyer who is pulling uphill in a campaign against a veteran. He is a credible candidate. But in this race, we make no choice.
Yvonne Lewis Holley of Raleigh is a retired employee of the state Department of Administration and a progressive Democrat who could be counted upon to support public education and is an experienced leader in the community.
Her only opponent is independent Shane Murphy, also of Raleigh. Hes a public school teacher with progressive ideas on education and tax fairness, and his campaign has been a credible, grass-roots one.
Either of these candidates would serve well. Holleys experience gives her an edge.
This race features Democrat William Watt Jones of Wake Forest as the main opponent for incumbent Republican Rep. Marilyn Avila of Raleigh, an established incumbent. Libertarian Ronald Reale rounds out the field.
Jones has been a small-town police chief and has some progressive ideas on investment in education and basically, looking at the positive things a lawmaker should be advocating to meet the states challenges.
Avila, an events coordinator for a nonprofit organization, is a veteran legislator, and a reliable ally of the conservative House leadership. Her focus is indeed a government that does less. So there is a sharp choice here. Ours is Jones.
Businessman James Messina of Cary has the Democratic nomination and hes challenging pharmacist (and attorney) Thomas Murry of Morrisville, an incumbent Republican. Plain-spoken Messina would be a sound and reasoned voice in the House, to be sure.
But Murry has strong ties in his community, and he seems responsive to constituents. Despite some views that differ from ours, incumbency and indications of open-mindedness give him the edge.
This race pits Republican Jim Fulghum, a Raleigh doctor, against Democrat Keith Karlsson, also of Raleigh, whos experienced in the software industry and also now a lawyer. Both have long been active in politics.
Fulghum is a down-the-line conservative, favoring lower taxes, less regulation, downsizing of government and so forth.
We support Karlsson as having more positive ideas about the good things government can do for people, and thats a view needed on Jones Street.