Wake Ed

Wake County GOP makes ‘last call’ for school board candidates

The Wake County Republican Party has been urging its members to step forward and run for school board this year.

In a June 24 email message to members, Wake GOP 1st Vice Chair Charles Hellwig issued a “last call” saying they need to hear from people who are willing to run for Wake County school board. With the filing period ending noon July 1, Hellwig said “we are looking for a few more outstanding candidates to run for this critical local office.”

“Do you care about children?” Hellwig writes. “Do you care about the future of Wake County? Do you believe education is critical and nothing is more important than teaching our kids?

“Then we should talk – ASAP.”

School board races are officially non-partisan in Wake, but both major political parties have been heavily involved in recent elections. Seven of the nine board seats are held by registered Democrats, one by an unaffiliated member who used to be a Democrat and one by a Republican who often sides with the Democratic majority.

The rewriting of the Wake school board maps by the General Assembly in 2013 appeared to give local Republicans a chance to regain the majority. Results from recent elections indicate that five of the nine revised districts now lean Republican.

In the email. Hellwig asks to hear from people who “have ever thought about running or know someone who should.” He said the Wake County Republican Party “will help you in any way we can – answering questions about the process, pointing you in the right direction, connecting you with the right people, etc.”

The email went out a week before the end of the filing period. Since then, only two new Republican candidates have filed this week. Both are seeking the same seat.

Four of the nine seats on the ballot have no Republican running as of Thursday afternoon. In two races where registered Republicans are running unopposed, both candidates are more likely to agree with the Wake County Democratic Party than the Wake GOP on education issues.

School board member Bill Fletcher is a Republican running for the District B regional seat. Fletcher has been highly critical of the Republican-led state legislature and didn’t receive the Wake County GOP’s endorsement in his 2013 election campaign.

Former school board member Roxie Cash is a Republican running unopposed for the District 2 seat. Cash backed Democratic incumbent Kevin Hill over Republican challenger Heather Losurdo in the 2011 school board election and has given money to Democratic candidates for Wake County Board of Commissioners.

The Wake County Democratic Party may opt to not recruit candidates to run against Cash and Fletcher. Depending on your perspective, they’d be considered moderate Republicans on education issues by Democrats or liberal Republicans by some fellow GOP members.