Triangle Politics

Triangle Politics: Raleigh councilwoman backs former opponent for commission seat

colin.campbell@newsobserver.comOctober 25, 2013 

Mary-Ann Baldwin

STEVE BECKER | 312.286.5533

Raleigh City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin is backing her election opponent for a seat on the city’s appointed Human Relations Commission.

Jason Spriggs ran unsuccessfully for an at-large seat against Baldwin and Russ Stephenson earlier this month. Spriggs is a registered Republican; Baldwin and Stephenson are Democrats.

“I did get to know him during the campaign,” Baldwin said. “He was very sincere about his interest in human rights and human relations. … He talks about having been homeless. He put himself through Wake Tech. That’s a different set of eyes and ears, and I have a lot of respect for him.”

Spriggs isn’t the only former council candidate seeking the commission seat. District B candidate Brian Fitzsimmons, who ran unsuccessfully against incumbent John Odom, has been nominated by District E Councilman Bonner Gaylord.

The Human Relations Commission advises the city on human rights and human services issues, and recommends grant recipients. It will soon review a proposal from Fitzsimmons to update the city’s nondiscrimination policy.

The city council could vote on the appointment as early as Nov. 5.

Marriage recording concerns

Wake County Register of Deeds Laura Riddick wants gay and lesbian couples to protect their personal information if they record out-of-state marriages with their home counties.

Riddick became concerned after reading an article in The News & Observer this week about a Durham lesbian couple who got married in New York and placed a record of it with the Durham County Register of Deeds. The Campaign for Southern Equality is organizing same-sex couples across the state to record out-of-state marriages locally in a push for marriage quality.

Most information filed with the Register of Deeds, primarily property transactions, is public and posted online, Riddick said. Marriage licenses, however, can contain personal information such as Social Security numbers and a mother’s maiden name, which can lead to identity theft. They are considered vital records and are not posted online, though people can come to the office and buy copies.

Riddick recommends couples who want to record an out-of-state marriage file a stripped-down notice of the union, as the Durham couple did. If a couple wants to file the actual license or a certified copy of the license, she recommends they remove all personal information from it.

“You can record anything in the Register of Deeds office providing it’s properly notarized,” Riddick said. “I just don’t want anyone to unwittingly file a document and not know all this information is out there.”

Aaron Sarver, a spokesman for the Campaign for Southern Equality, says the organization shares the concern about identity theft and gives couples a notice to file that does not include personal information.

The Listening Tour

Wake County Commissioners will begin a series of public meetings, known as The Listening Tour, to share information and hear community feedback about county Human Services programs.

The first stop will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the Tarboro Road Community Center, 121 N. Tarboro Road, Raleigh.

“We know that many of our citizens are experiencing challenges in their lives and there are many changes occurring at the federal, state and local levels,” said Joe Bryan, Board of Commissioners chairman. “There have been changes in food stamps, Medicaid and energy assistance.”

Comments are welcome also on other issues facing Wake County residents. The Listening Tour is expected to continue monthly. A stop is planned for mid-November.

Forum video available

Video recordings of the forum Oct. 15 for candidates in Durham’s municipal election are available for viewing on the city government website,, and on YouTube,

Mayor Bill Bell and his challenger, minister and investment adviser Sylvester Williams; Ward 2 City Council candidates Omar Beasley and Eddie Davis; and Ward 3 candidates Pam Karriker and Don Moffitt participated in the forum. Ward 1 incumbent Cora Cole-McFadden is unopposed for re-election and did not take part.

The 95-minute question-and-answer forum was held in the City Council chambers and sponsored by the InterNeighborhood Council and the League of Women Voters.

Political events

• Candidates for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education will respond to questions at a forum from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at Extraordinary Ventures, 200 S. Elliott Road, Chapel Hill. The forum is sponsored by the district PTA Council, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Branch of the NAACP, and the school system’s Special Needs Advisory Council. The public may submit questions for the candidates online through Tuesday at

Compiled by Colin Campbell, Mark Schultz and Jim Wise.

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