Triangle Politics: A weekly look at the local political scene

Triangle Politics: Wake GOP endorses newcomer in Raleigh, snubs Holly Springs mayor

From staff reportsJuly 26, 2013 

The Wake County Republican Party is already making its endorsements for the fall municipal elections, and the GOP is snubbing Raleigh mayoral candidate Venita Peyton in favor of a political newcomer.

Chiropractor and military police officer Robert Weltzin has the party’s backing against incumbent Nancy McFarlane, an independent. Weltzin moved to Raleigh three years ago and is making his first run for elected office.

Peyton, a real-estate broker and community activist, was originally a Democrat. But she crossed party lines in a 1999 mayoral runoff to help Republican Paul Coble beat his Democratic opponent. She’s now a registered Republican but says she’s not using party labels in this campaign.

Meanwhile, Weltzin kicked off his campaign with a disclosure: He was convicted of drunk driving in 2010. “To this day I still do not remember the details of this incident on how or why I was driving,” he said in a news release announcing his candidacy. “Beyond being upfront and honest about this, all I can ask is that the citizens of Raleigh take into consideration what I can bring to the position and how much time I can devote to the city.”

Wake GOP snubs Sears

The Wake Republican Party delivered a surprise to Dick Sears, longtime mayor of Holly Springs, when it endorsed his challenger, former councilman Vinnie DeBenedetto, in the technically non-partisan race.

To Sears’ recollection, it’s the first time in four campaigns that he hasn’t won the endorsement of his local party. He complained that the county group hadn’t properly considered his 12-year record.

Sears, who says he is considering leaving the party, said he isn’t sure the party’s choice will hurt him.

“With the way things are going with the Republican Party in Raleigh, it might even help me not to be endorsed,” Sears said. “If you look at what’s been going on with the legislature … there’s been an awful lot of dissension, an awful lot of trials and tribulations, an awful lot of bills that many of the mayors, including me, have protested against.”He also noted that he was unable to submit a written statement to the party during the selection process because he was given only a day’s notice. But the missing statement had no effect on the selection committee’s choice, according to Donna Williams, chair of the county Republican party.

“Honestly, it was more of a courtesy to ask him for his words,” Williams said. “We know him, and he’s served his community a long time.”

‘Remembering Trayvon’

Carrboro Alderwoman Michelle Johnson said she felt like she couldn’t breathe when she heard the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.

So last weekend, Johnson organized a gathering in Carrboro Town Hall called “Remembering Trayvon Martin.” About 55 people attended.

In an interview, Johnson said she felt a responsibility as a black elected leader to do something.

“Trayvon Martin’s case is so public,” she said. “But teens of color are getting killed all the time.” And even when they are not physically hurt, children of color suffer in other ways such as the achievement gap that limits their opportunities.

The history of black people in this country is rooted in slavery and laws and public policy that have treated dark-skinned people as less, Johnson said.

To those who say slavery ended a long time ago, she said: “It’s not that long. I think that (statement) is a way of distancing. When I hear that, I think that’s a way of negating that legacy. If we think in 2013 we’re so far removed from that, we’re not.”

Political Trails

• Becki Gray, vice president for outreach at the John Locke Foundation, will speak to the Republican Women of Cary and Southwestern Wake on Thursday at Prestonwood Country Club in Cary.

Check-in and social time is 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch at noon. Lunch is $15. RSVP to Kathy Dusto at 919-244-6764.

• Durham Democratic Women are holding a public meeting on “Voting Rights and Voting Wrongs: The Battle We Must Win,” on Sunday, Aug. 4, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Durham County Library, 300 N. Roxboro St.

Civil rights historian and Duke Divinity School professor Timothy Tyson speaks on the history of voting-rights suppression of voting rights in North Carolina. Contact: durhamdemwomen@gmail.com or see bit.ly/1c3ZiI9.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send email to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, Andrew Kenney and Mark Schultz.

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