Politics & Government

GOP candidates to face off in primary for new Wake board district

Fuquay-Varina attorney John Adcock filed to run for a seat on the Wake County Board of Commissioners on Friday, setting up a Republican primary contest against former board chairman Phil Matthews in District B.

Adcock, 47, practices business and real estate law and has never run for elected office. But he thinks his experience with land-use issues and his knowledge of the area – he grew up in southern Wake and graduated from Fuquay-Varina High School – make him the right fit for the seat.

District B is one of two new “super” districts. It wraps around Wake’s borders, encompassing most of Raleigh’s suburbs. The other is anchored in Raleigh.

Adcock espouses many of the same views as Matthews, who opposes the proposed transit plan and pledges to raise teacher pay.

Adcock said he thinks the county should especially raise teacher pay for those who have advanced degrees. Noting horrendous traffic in southern Wake, Adcock said the county should focus on equipping its roads to better handle growth.

Adcock said he appreciates Matthews’ service both on the board and in the military but that the region is ready for new leadership.

Matthews, a Garner town councilman for eight years, was a commissioner from 2009 to 2013 and chairman for the final year. He was defeated by Raleigh attorney Matt Calabria.

For his part, Matthews said he regretted having to run in a contested primary. “It’s just another time-consuming thing,” he said. “But that’s politics. It happens sometimes.”

Commissioners with governing experience are better-equipped to handle growth issues, Matthews said.

“Experience is a very positive thing, you don’t have that learning curve,” he said, adding “I learned a lot at the council level that helped me once I got to the board.”

The Wake County Republican Party won’t pick a favorite between Matthews and Adcock, said spokesman Charles Hellwig. “We’ll take anyone who wants to run,” Hellwig said.

The winner of the GOP March primary will face the winner of the Democrat primary. So far, Morrisville councilwoman Vicki Scroggins-Johnson is the only Democrat to file in District B.

Transgender policy

The Wake County school board could soon step into the sensitive issue of how to meet the needs of transgender students.

Wake handles transgender students’ requests on a case-by-case basis, allowing some to use a private staff bathroom or change clothes in a coach’s office or other gender-neutral location.

That policy might not pass muster with the Obama administration, which is supporting a transgender student’s federal lawsuit against a Virginia school district that is preventing him from using the boys’ restroom at his high school. Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory announced he’s joining the legal battle to oppose the Obama administration’s position in the case, arguing that policies regarding transgender students should be set at the local level.

At the N.C. School Boards Association’s Public Policy Conference this month, Wake school board members Bill Fletcher and Christine Kushner heard the parents of Hunter Schafer talk about the experiences of raising a transgender child. Hunter was biologically born male, but underwent hormone treatments at Duke Children’s Hospital and Health Center to help transition to a female.

At this week’s board meeting, Fletcher said it was “thought provoking” hearing about the challenges that Hunter went through as a transgender student in Wake County.

“It’s a topic that we’re going to be dealing with as a board,” Fletcher said. “I was very glad to participate in that.”

Compiled by Paul A. Specht and T. Keung Hui

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