Triangle Politics

8 people seek open seat on Wake County school board

FROM STAFF REPORTSJanuary 4, 2013 

Wib Gulley

TRIANGLE TRANSIT

Eight people are seeking the open seat on the Wake County school board, but school administrators said Friday that they were unable to provide all of their names.

Six last-minute applications came in Friday afternoon before the 5 p.m. filing deadline for the District 1 seat that represents Wake Forest, Rolesville, Wendell, Zebulon and part of Knightdale. Administrators said they were unable to contact the person who received those applications to say who they are.

Administrators said they expect to be able to release the information by Monday.

Previously, retired Wake principal Tom Benton and former upstate New York school board member Wendy Ford had applied for the position that became open when Chris Malone resigned to take his seat in the state House. Benton and Ford said they’d advocate for the needs of eastern Wake, which has relatively low SAT scores and high rates of poverty compared to the rest of the county.

All five mayors in the district signed a joint letter urging the board to appoint Benton. He was the principal of Zebulon High School and later Durant Road Middle School in Raleigh until he retired in 2005. The school board will discuss Tuesday how to proceed with filling the vacancy.

Transit advocate to retire

Wib Gulley says he’ll retire this summer after nine years as the in-house lawyer for Triangle Transit and 24 years as one of the region’s chief advocates for public transportation. “It’s really great to look back and reflect how far this has come in terms of creating a vital organization that serves an important service in the region,” Gulley, who turns 65 in July, said Friday.

As Durham mayor from 1985 to 1989, Gulley helped launch the three-county transit agency and became its first board chairman in 1989. He was Triangle Transit’s primary legislative champion during six terms in the state Senate, where he chaired a subcommittee that oversees transportation spending.

In 2004, Gulley was embarrassed when the Triangle Transit board refused in a split vote to hire him as its general counsel. Some board members said his Senate duties would divert too much of his attention. But he got the job two months later after he resigned his legislative seat.

He left the Senate, he said then, partly because his work as a lawmaker kept him from earning enough money as a lawyer with a small private practice in Durham. He started out at Triangle Transit with a salary of $112,700. Now he is paid $170,343.

Gulley has played a lead role as Triangle Transit worked with local governments to develop plans for beefed-up bus service and new rail transit lines. In April, Durham and Orange counties’ residents will start paying a half-cent sales tax to help pay for the transit expansion, which was approved by voters in the two counties. Wake County commissioners have not agreed to let voters consider the transit tax.

Group vies for resolution

The Raleigh City Council will vote Jan. 15 on a resolution urging the federal government to cut military spending.

The group Return Our War Dollars brought nearly 100 people to Wednesday’s council meeting in support of the resolution. Roger Manus, a spokesman for the group, said $1.75 billion in tax revenues should be spent on domestic projects rather than military efforts.

“What if that money had stayed home?” he told the council. “How would Raleigh be different if our schools had more teachers?

“We spend almost as much for military purposes as the rest of the world combined. Our military spending is at its highest level since World War II in inflation-adjusted dollars.”

Manus said similar resolutions were passed by city and county leaders in Durham. He said support from city councils will help his group attract Congress’ attention.

About 1,000 Wake County residents have signed a petition supporting Return Our War Dollars’ goal, Manus said. Councilman John Odom pushed for a vote on the resolution, though he stopped short of voicing support. “I may vote for it, I may vote against it,” he said.

Compiled by T. Keung Hui, Paul A. Specht, Bruce Siceloff and Colin Campbell

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