Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

TriPol: Democrats outpace Republicans in fundraising for Wake commissioners races

Staff writersMay 2, 2014 

Democrats running for seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners have raised more than twice as much campaign money as their Republican rivals since the election season began.

Campaign finance reports filed this week indicate the four Democratic candidates have raised a total of $166,945, compared to $70,722 by the five Republicans.

Republicans have held a majority on the seven-member board since 2010, and Democrats are hoping to regain power in the fall election. All four seats on the board currently held by Republicans will be on the ballot.

Board Chairman Phil Matthews, a Republican, has raised $17,807 so far, while his Democratic challenger, Matt Calabria, has raised $47,026.

Incumbent Joe Bryan has raised $22,145 so far. His challenger, Democrat Sig Hutchinson, has raised $48,260. Joe Bryan also faces an opponent in Tuesday’s primary; that candidate, Republican Fred Puryear, has raised $1,004 so far.

Republican Rich Gianni, who just joined the board, has raised $9,941. Democrat Jessica Holmes, who hopes to unseat him, has raised $28,548.

Longtime Commissioner Paul Coble has raised $22,825. John Burns, who would like to take his seat, has raised $43,111.

Durham GOP backs Jimmy Doster for school board seat

Durham school board elections are nonpartisan, but Jimmy Doster, a registered Republican, is getting strong support from the Durham County GOP.

Doster’s campaign had prominent display in the party’s April and May newsletters and was the subject of a special update that county chairman Ted Hicks sent out this week to the GOP email list.

“A Durham Republican tends to be a bit demoralized as our entire county is currently run by the left ... and, some would say: by the far-left,” Hicks wrote. “Jimmy’s race is important for the simple fact that he can win.”

Doster is one of five candidates for the District 2 School Board seat. This year, under school board election rules, whoever gets the most votes in Tuesday’s election wins – no runoffs, as in the past.

According to their latest finance reports, Doster’s campaign has received almost $20,000 in donations, more than twice as much as his closest rival, Sendolo Diaminah, who received $9,500.

“Once Jimmy wins this seat, the average Durham Republican will get a huge morale boost for the simple fact that we got a Republican elected to a position within the county,” Hicks wrote.

Wake school board: Spending request was not political

Wake County school board members say it’s not political that they want county commissioners to boost funding enough that all school employees would get a 3.5 percent pay raise.

School leaders are asking the Wake County Board of Commissioners for a $39.3 million funding increase, most of which would go toward pay raises. During this week’s meeting of the school board’s government relations committee, board members talked about how to persuade commissioners to come up with the money.

But some commissioners have publicly criticized the size of the funding request, with board Chairman Phil Matthews saying that “we felt like we had gotten thrown under the bus.” School board member Keith Sutton, chair of the government relations committee, said that’s a misreading of the board’s intentions.

“With all the things that are swirling around – teacher salaries, teacher pay, tenure and everything else – I could easily see this as being misconstrued by some as a political animal,” Sutton said. “I don’t see it as being that.”

Orange boards told bond issue would make up for mistakes

The school board and Board of Commissioners in Orange County got a lesson in local history at this week’s joint meeting.

The county is considering a voter-approved bond issue in the next few years to pay roughly $330 million to renovate and build new schools in the county and in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district.

School board Vice Chairman Steven Halkiotis said some buildings have been a problem for decades. Orange High School, for instance, was built in 1963 with three stories but no elevator, forcing teachers to carry students with disabilities “like sacks of potatoes” during fire drills, he said.

An elevator was installed after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools threatened to pull the district’s accreditation, he said, but other issues have lingered. To its credit, the school board is making up for more than 50 years of neglect, Halkiotis said, before thanking commissioners for their help.

“For without you, we are lost, we are sunk,” he said. “Our children will not have a chance because of the moronic behavior in the legislature and the bunch of people over there who are acting like idiots.”

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

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