Wake County school board member Bill Fletcher announced Tuesday that he will run for re-election this fall in the new District B regional seat that represents much of the suburban part of the district.
Fletcher currently represents District 9, which encompasses much of Cary. But the General Assembly redrew the school board election maps in 2013, including carving out a Democratic-leaning regional district that covers the old Raleigh city limits and a Republican-leaning district that encompasses the suburbs.
“I’ve been serving the county for the last 20 years, and I’m familiar with many of the schools and community leaders around the county so it just made sense,” Fletcher said Tuesday of his decision to run in District B. “I’m comfortable running countywide and have good relationships with many of the municipal leaders.”
Fletcher’s decision to seek District B means he won’t have to run against fellow board member Jim Martin.
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When the legislature redrew the school board maps, Fletcher, Martin and board member Susan Evans were all placed in the redrawn District 6. Evans said she didn’t want to run against her colleagues. Instead, she is seeking the N.C. Senate seat now held by Tamara Barringer.
Martin says on his campaign website that he anticipates running for re-election when the filing period opens June 13.
No other candidate has announced yet for District B.
Fletcher, 67, is the most experienced member of the Wake school board. He initially served from 1993 to 2005 in District 9. He was appointed by his colleagues in 2013 to fill the District 9 seat when it became vacant. He went on to win the election that fall.
The Cary resident noted in his announcement Tuesday that he’s the “only GOP member of the Board.” School board elections are officially non-partisan, but both major parties have been heavily involved in the contests.
But Fletcher, who was the GOP nominee for state Schools Superintendent in 2004, may not find it easy getting Republican support. His positions in support of busing for diversity and criticism of the Republican-led General Assembly have alienated him from conservative elements of the GOP.
None of the other Republican board members voted for him to fill the vacancy in 2013, resulting in him getting appointed by the Democratic members. The Wake County Republican Party endorsed Nancy Caggia over Fletcher in 2013.
In his news release, Fletcher pointed to his ability to work with the Democratic majority on the school board.
“Over the past three years, I have worked across party lines to focus on student achievement, improving teacher effectiveness, salaries and professional development as well as providing the new schools we will need based on our growth projections,” Fletcher said. “As we move forward, we must continue our progress and renew our commitment to our students, parents and educators.”
Fletcher, a real-estate agent, described himself in the release as being a major advocate and champion for the county’s public schools and a voice for accountability and fiscal responsibility on the school board.
Fletcher said in his campaign announcement that “he wants high performing schools close to every home and family in Wake.”
“During the last three years, I have worked with my fellow board members to focus on meeting the academic needs of our students,” Fletcher said in the release. “I believe we must look at results and provide our educational leaders with the flexibility they need to deploy the resources necessary to meet the needs of the children they serve.”
Fletcher is the cousin of Jim Goodmon, CEO of Capitol Broadcasting.
The General Assembly denied that partisan motives were behind the rewrite of the Wake school board lines. But past voting results indicate that the new lines could create a 5-4 Republican majority.
Things could be thrown up in the air if the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals orders that new lines be used in this November’s elections, when all nine school board seats are on the ballot. A hearing was held May 9 but no opinion has been announced yet.
Fletcher said he expects to run in District 9 if the old lines are reinstated.