Wake Ed

Former teacher seeks seat on Wake County school board

Former teacher Sheila W. Ellis is hoping to be elected to the District 1 seat on the Wake County school board that includes parts of seven municipalities, stretching from northwest Raleigh to eastern Wake and into Garner

Ellis, 44, taught for 20 years, including at East Wake Middle School where she was known by the last name of Mazzeo. Ellis, now an independent insurance agent, said she thinks her experience as both a teacher and a parent would benefit the school board.

Ellis is a registered Republican and the officially non-partisan school board has a Democratic majority. But Ellis said she’s not running as a vocal critic of the school board.

“I think the school board is headed in the right direction in terms of its growth,” Ellis said. “I think they’re going to take their responsibility of trying to to keep teachers in the workforce. I think they’re moving in the right direction.”

School board Vice Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler, executive director for the N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault, is the only other candidate who has filed so far in District 1. Johnson-Hostler, has said she’s running on a five-point platform: student achievement, community engagement, resource equity, teacher capacity, and parental involvement.

“I do realize that I’m filing against an incumbent,” Ellis said. “But if nothing else, I’ll get my name out there and try to help.”

One of the wild cards is whether school board Chairman Tom Benton will jump into the race. The redistricting plan adopted by the General Assembly in 2013 has led to board member Kevin Hill, Benton and Johnson-Hostler all being placed in the same district.

Hill has said that he won’t run unless the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reinstates the election maps adopted by the school board in 2011. Benton has said that he’s weighing his options on whether to run against Johnson-Hostler.

The Wake County Republican Party may also try to find someone in District 1 if the GOP isn’t comfortable supporting Ellis.

The filing period ends Friday at noon.