Nine candidates filed Monday to run for seats on the Wake County school board, including five current and two former members who want to lead North Carolina’s largest school system.
All nine school board seats are on the Nov. 8 ballot using new election maps drawn by Republican state lawmakers in 2013 that will knock at least four incumbents out of office. But the registered Democrats and Republicans who took part in the first day of campaign filing are all in general support of the direction of the school system.
Vice Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler and board members Bill Fletcher, Christine Kushner, Jim Martin and Keith Sutton filed for re-election. Former board members Roxie Cash and Beverley Clark filed for open seats created by the new state maps.
Gary Lewis and Don Mial, neither of whom have held elected office before, also filed to run in open or newly created districts.
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Both Cash, a Republican who served from 1991 to 1999, and Clark, a Democrat who served from 1999 to 2009, were in office when members from both parties agreed overall on contentious issues such as busing students to promote diversity.
“I like to talk to citizens on both ends of the spectrum,” Cash said Monday. “Generally, I just listen to the constituents from the whole community. I’m just concerned with what their needs are in the school.”
The school board is non-partisan, but it became more overtly partisan in 2009 when a conservative Republican majority was elected. Democrats regained the majority in 2011 in a hotly contested election.
The board now consists of seven registered Democrats, a former Democrat who is now registered as unaffiliated and one Republican. On Monday, candidates from both political parties took group photos as they waited to file their paperwork at the Wake County Board of Elections.
“A pleasure to file with Democrats and Republicans who all value non-partisan collaboration,” Martin tweeted Monday. “This way, students win!”
Johnson-Hostler is running in District 1, which includes parts of seven municipalities stretching from northwest Raleigh to eastern Wake and into Garner.
Cash is running in District 2, which includes parts of Wake Forest and Raleigh from the Brier Creek to Wakefield areas and down inside Interstate 440.
Clark is running in District 3, which starts in northeast Raleigh and runs diagonally, hitting parts of east Raleigh and the Five Points area before ending in west Raleigh.
Sutton is running in District 4, which includes parts of Knightdale, east Raleigh and Garner.
Kushner is running in District 5, which includes parts of Morrisville, Cary and midtown Raleigh.
Martin is running in District 6, which includes parts of Garner, Cary, Apex, Holly Springs and Fuquay-Varina.
Lewis is running in District 7, which covers parts of Garner, Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Apex and Cary.
Mial is running in District A, which includes most of the area inside the Interstate 440 Beltline.
Fletcher is running in District B, which includes the suburban parts of the county not in District A.
The filing period runs until noon July 1. But the situation could change if the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is hearing a legal challenge to the new maps, intervenes.