Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Wake GOP to nominate replacement for Tony Gurley

March 14, 2014 

The Wake County Republican Party is expected next week to nominate a replacement for former County Commissioner Tony Gurley, who resigned to take a position in Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.

Seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners are partisan contests with candidates winning in the general election after winning their party’s primary. Since Gurley is a Republican, state law says the leadership of the Wake GOP gets to recommend who should finish his term, which expires in December.

The GOP could try to give a head start to Rich Gianni, who has filed to run for Gurley’s seat. Gianni will run this fall against Democrat Jessica Holmes.

Though the Republican party will pick a nominee, it’s still up to remaining commissioners to approve the choice. Gurley’s resignation leaves the board with a 3-3 tie. If the commissioners reject the GOP nomination or deadlock on the vote, it could result in a special Republican primary.

Wake school board race generated fewer donations

Campaign spending was way down for last fall’s Wake County school board elections compared to the heated races in 2011.

The eight school board candidates raised a combined $126,117. In 2011, the candidates raised more than $470,000 in a race where control of the state’s largest school system was at stake.

All the winning candidates – the three Democrats and Republican Bill Fletcher – raised significantly more money than their GOP-backed opponents.

In District 1, incumbent board member Tom Benton led the field with $25,119. Don McIntyre collected $8,623.

In District 2, new board member Monika Johnson-Hostler raised $20,791. Matt Scruggs raised $8,645.

In District 7, new board member Zora Felton raised $20,746. Incumbent board member Deborah Prickett raised $8,022.

In District 9, incumbent board member Bill Fletcher raised $22,572 Nancy Caggia raised $11,599.

Overall, the biggest donor, just as in 2011, was Raleigh businesswoman Ann Campbell. She gave a total of $10,000 to the four winning candidates. In 2011, Campbell gave $22,000 to the five winning Democratic-backed candidates.

Chapel Hill council wants penny tax hike for housing

More than half of Chapel Hill residents are renters, and many spend 50 percent or more of their annual income on rent and utilities, according to town officials.

The Town Council adopted a multi-year strategy this week for more affordable rental housing. A penny on the property tax rate, or roughly $729,000 a year, could help pay for the plan, officials said. Durham adopted a similar strategy in 2012.

Chapel Hill council member George Cianciolo told Town Manager Roger Stancil to put that penny in next year’s budget. Council member Lee Storrow said he also would like to see a three- to five-year investment plan.

“When I came on the council and really realized the limited amount of funds the town was spending on affordable housing, it did make me feel uncomfortable,” Storrow said.

“We are fortunate to receive a good number of financial resources from the federal government, and I wouldn’t want to deny the important work that our town planning department staff does,” he continued. “But actually getting dollars and cents into the hands of providers and using those resources to benefit actual homes is how we really build a program that’s sustainable and effective in the long term.”

Political events

• The Durham People’s Alliance Political Action Committee will hold a candidate mixer 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave. All candidates running in Durham County, totalling more than 100 including local and statewide offices, have been invited. For information, see A self-described “progressive” organization, People’s Alliance is one of the three major political groups in Durham, along with the business-oriented Friends of Durham and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.

• The Wake Senior Democrats will meet Wednesday, March 19, at the Crabtree Marriott. The program features some new legislative candidates, including Gale Adcock, Kim Hachette, Brian Mountcastle and Sarah Crawford. The meeting starts at 11 a.m. with lunch, followed by the program at 11:30 a.m.

• Hugh Stevens, counsel emeritus of the N.C. Press Association and immediate past president of the N.C. Open Government Coalition, will discuss “Just how open IS government in North Carolina” at the March Timely Topics luncheon of the League of Women Voters of Wake County. The meeting will be at the NCSU University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh on Friday, March 28, at noon. The public is welcome, but lunch reservations at $16 per person must be made by March 24 at

• Democratic candidates running in the May 6 primary will appear at the Democratic Women of Wake County dinner on Thursday, March 27, at NCSU University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. The program will feature U.S. Senate candidates Kay Hagan, William Curtis and Earnest Reeves Jr.; 2nd Congressional District candidates Clay Aiken, Toni Morris and Keith Crisco; 13th Congressional District candidates Virginia Conlon, Brenda Cleary and Ron Sanyal. The buffet line opens at 5:30 p.m. followed by the program at 6 p.m. Dinner is $20, but the program is free. To RSVP, contact Cindy Sinkez at 919-319-8375 or

Compiled by T. Keung Hui, Tammy Grubb and Jim Wise.

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