Voters in this region will make few local decisions in the March 15 primary, but the votes they cast will determine who stays alive in their bid to fill new seats on the Wake Board of Commissioners.
The primary will shave a field of four candidates running for one of two newly-created seats on the Wake County Board of Commissioners down to two. The fate of both of those new seats, however, is currently in the hands of a federal judge.
The General Assembly in 2013 redrew election maps for the Wake County school board, changing the boundaries for districts, the way members are elected and the timing of the elections. In April of last year, state lawmakers altered the election maps so that the district lines for the board of commissioners matches those used for the school board.
In the same move, The General Assembly expanded the board of commissioners from seven seats to nine, creating two new “super” districts that together cover the entire county. District A is urban and District B is rural, encompassing nearly every Raleigh suburb as it snakes around Wake’s border.
In the primary election for county commissioner, residents are expected to choose between Democratic candidates Lindy Brown and Vicki Johnson and Republican candidates John Adcock and Phil Matthews for District B. The district consists of the central cores of the towns of Wendell and Zebulon and areas surrounding the heart of Knightdale.
The primary winners will be added to the ballot voters will see during the Nov. 8 general election, assuming the pending legal dispute doesn’t change matters by that time.
When the new district maps were applied to the Wake board of commissioners, it prompted a lawsuit by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and others who say the maps are unfair – that the new districts dilute the influence of urban and black voters by packing them into one district.
The plaintiffs are also challenging the school board redistricting. A federal judge is still reviewing the case with no deadline set for a ruling, while five Wake commissioner districts, including the new A and B districts, are up for election.
The new District A includes downtown Knightdale and areas along Knightdale Boulevard to the west of Marks Creek Road, continuing into the central Raleigh area it mostly covers. It also includes a J-shaped corridor outlined by Edgemont and Lizard Lick roads, and to the southwest toward Smithfield Road.
The race for Wake County commissioner District A, with Democrat Caroline Sullivan and Republican Craig Ralph running, will be decided in the November general election.
Several other races pertinent to the eastern Wake region will also be decided in November.
Incumbent Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Republican, will face a challenge by Gil Johnson, a Democrat, for N.C. Senate District 18. That district covers all of Franklin County and a large portion of eastern Wake County, including nearly all of Wendell and Zebulon and areas surrounding the heart of Knightdale.
And incumbent Rep. Chris Malone, a Republican, faces a challenge by Terrence Everitt for N.C. House District 35, which covers parts of all three local towns and to the north to Wake Forest.
Incumbent Rep. Darren Jackson, a Democrat representing the N.C. House District 39 that spans mostly from the central to southern portions of Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon, is running unopposed to retain his seat in the Nov. 8 election.
Filing for Wake school board seats, which will also be decided in November, begins June 13 and ends July 1.
Staff writers Paul A. Specht and Keung Hui contributed to this report.