Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Five candidates file for Wake County commissioner’s race

February 15, 2014 

The race for seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners got started Friday when three incumbents and two hopefuls filed as candidates.

Four Republican candidates came to the county Board of Elections office together. Sitting members Phil Matthews, Joe Bryan and Paul Coble were met there by Rich Gianni, a newcomer who filed for the seat being vacated by Tony Gurley. Gianni is the chief financial officer of Ziptronix Inc., a local semiconductor company.

Republicans currently hold a 4-3 majority on the board, and all four of their seats are open in November. Since he was last elected, the boundaries of Gurley’s district have changed and he no longer lives inside it.

Raleigh attorney Matt Calabria also filed to run for Gurley’s seat. Calabria is a registered Democrat.

The filing period is open through Feb. 28.

Crowder opposes hotel plan

Drawings and building materials for a new downtown Raleigh hotel drew some strong criticism on Tuesday from City Councilman and architect Thomas Crowder.

Crowder cast the sole dissenting vote against selling city property next to the Raleigh Convention Center to Summit Hospitality Group for the proposed 11-story, 150-room Residence Inn. He said the developers need to commit to higher building standards for the prominent Salisbury Street location, near the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Architecture is part of the arts,” Crowder said. “This is not the private sector doing something on their own property. This is a city property that we bought because we want to shape what happens.”

But after a lengthy debate about construction details – such as how much synthetic stucco should be used – Councilman Eugene Weeks was skeptical.

“You’re saying that one building would take away from Raleigh being the city of arts?” Weeks asked Crowder. “I’m trying to figure out if the city is trying to run away a business or bring a business here.”

After the 3-1 committee approval Tuesday, the $1.73 million sale contract goes to the full city council next week.

Sheriff challenged

Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews has a challenger for his job: Ricky Buchanan, retired commander in the sheriff's department, filed last week to run against his former boss.

Buchanan and Andrews were among 23 candidates filing in 16 local races during a weather-abbreviated first week of filing for 2014 elections. County offices, including the Board of Elections, were closed Thursday and Friday.

The most crowded field so far is for the District 1 School Board seat, where incumbent Omega Curtis Parker faces two political newcomers in Mike Lee and Thomas M. Poole.

Former Durham educator Matt M. Sears and attorney Lisa Gordon Stella filed for school board in District 2, the seat currently held by retiring member Nancy Cox.

Assistant District Attorney Roger Echols and attorney Brian Aus are running for district attorney. Leon Stanback, the current interim DA, has announced he will not seek election.

In District Court judicial races, Henry Pruett is challenging incumbent Doretta L. Walker.

N.C. Appeals Court Judge Mark Davis is running to retain his seat. He faces a challenge from Johnston County District Court Judge Paul Holcombe.

Political events

• Matt Calabria, Sig Hutchinson and Jessica Holmes, all Democratic candidates for Wake County commissioner, will speak to the Wake County Senior Democrats on Wednesday, Feb. 19, at the Crabtree Marriott. The luncheon begins at 11 a.m. followed by the program at 11:30 a.m. Guests are welcome.

• Lt. Gov. Dan Forest will speak to the Wake County Republican Women’s Club on Feb. 20 at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St., in Raleigh. Social begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the lunch/program at 11:45 a.m. Lunch is $19 at the door. Pay by mail, P.O. Box 30454, Raleigh 27622, or online at Make reservations by emailing by Monday.

• Emily Lynn Mallasch, outreach and enrollment administrator at Wake Health Services, and Adam Linker, policy analyst for the Health Access Coalition, will speak about the Affordable Care Act at the Democratic Women of Wake County meeting on Feb. 27 at the NCSU University Club. RSVP to Cindy Sizkez at or 919-319-8375. Buffet line opens at 11:30; luncheon cost $20. Program 12 to 1 p.m. No charge to attend program.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, Martha Quillin, Tammy Grubb and Jim Wise.

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