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Gianni’s appointment as Wake commissioner seems assured

From Staff ReportsMarch 21, 2014 

It looks like Rich Gianni will be able to run for the Wake County Board of Commissioners this fall as an incumbent.

The Wake County Republican Party recommended this week that Gianni fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of GOP Commissioner Tony Gurley. Democratic Commissioner James West said he’ll vote for Gianni despite the lobbying he said he’s received from some fellow Democrats to stall the appointment.

Gianni already had filed to run for Gurley’s seat in the fall election. Gurley no longer lives in the 3rd District since it was redrawn, making him ineligible to seek re-election. Gianni will run this fall against Democrat Jessica Holmes.

Gurley’s resignation left the board split 3-3 between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats could try to block Gianni’s appointment, forcing the Wake GOP to nominate a different person. If that second person was not approved, it would lead to a special Republican primary election.

But West said he didn’t want to play politics with the appointment, noting how the board accepted the nominations from the Democratic Party when the last two vacancies occurred. West initially joined the board in 2010 to fill a vacancy.

Phil Matthews, chairman of the Board of Commissioners, said the vote on Gianni could take place April 7.

Raleigh mayor proposes musician loading zones

Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane is back from her trip to Austin’s South by Southwest Festival, and she’s brought back an idea that could make her city more hip.

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, McFarlane said she wants Raleigh to consider special on-street loading zones for musicians unloading their gear at downtown concert venues.

“It would really help with downtown,” she said, noting that the owners of Tir Na Nog Irish pub have had loading issues for years. “Bands are trying to unload, and they only need 30 minutes to get inside the venue.”

McFarlane pointed to Austin, Texas, and Seattle as music-friendly cities that have the special loading zones. In Seattle, though, the “musician loading priority” signs are mostly symbolic – the city has no way to determine whether the vehicle in the loading zone belongs to a musician.

“Does that mean we’re going to have a Raleigh City Limits television program?” Councilman John Odom joked. “That would be good.”

Chatham picks a new commissioner

Chatham County commissioners have appointed a planning board member to fill the District 1 seat left vacant by Sally Kost’s resignation.

Jim Elza will serve as a commissioner until the November election, when voters will pick someone to complete the remaining two years of Kost’s four-year term.

Elza, who is retired, worked as a planning director in Guilford County and in Polk County, Iowa, before moving to Chatham County. He had served on the Chatham County planning board since 2009 but had to resign to accept the appointment to the Board of Commissioners.

Kost resigned in January to move to Colorado. She and Elza are both Democrats.

Orange candidate bucking same-sex marriage ban

Former Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton is generating a lot of attention this year for the normally unnoticed Orange County Register of Deeds race with his refusal to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

“I believe it’s clear at this point from the various decisions that have happened in the federal courts that the so-called Amendment One to the North Carolina Constitution is unconstitutional under the federal Constitution,” he said.

Chilton is one of two candidates challenging incumbent Register of Deeds Deborah Brooks in Orange County’s May 6 primary. The other challenger is Sara Stephens, a former employee in the Orange Register of Deeds office.

Opposing the ban would be a top priority, he said. His opponents said they would enforce all state and federal laws.

Brooks says her office treats everyone the same, as far as the law allows, and right now it doesn’t allow same-sex marriage.

“If they change that statute, then we would have to go along with that,” she said.

Political events

• Democratic candidates running in the May 6 primary will appear at the Democratic Women of Wake County dinner Thursday at NCSU University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. Confirmed attending are 2nd Congressional District candidate Toni Morris; 13th District congressional candidates Virginia Conlon, Brenda Cleary and Ron Sanyal, and judicial candidates Ronnie Ansley and Paul Ridgeway. 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

• Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, U.S. Rep. George Holding, U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers and Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory will speak at the Wake County Republican convention on March 31, at the Kerr Scott Building on the N.C. State Fairgrounds. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; convention begins at 7 p.m. For more information, go to

Compiled by T. Keung Hui, Colin Campbell, Richard Stradling and Tammy Grubb.

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to Send items by noon Thursday.

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