Politics & Government

State board to hear Durham election protests

The N.C. State Board of Elections plans to consider on May 31 two election protests filed by candidates in the Durham County commissioner primary who say the election was tainted by the mishandling of provisional ballots.

Incumbent Commissioner Michael Page and Elaine Hyman placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in the March 15 Democratic primary for the five seats on the Durham County Board of Commissioners.

Hyman’s protest asks that every vote be counted to “give proper credit to candidates.” Page wants a new election held.

The State Board of Elections has been investigating the county’s handling of provisional ballots in the primary since early April. A discrepancy, discovered after the local results were certified, suggests staff members counted about 200 provisional ballots twice to match how many eligible provisional ballots its records showed were cast. Provisional ballots are used when there are questions about a voter’s eligibility.

The elections board meeting will be at 1 p.m. in its board room at 441 N. Harrington St. in Raleigh.

‘Budget is not fluff’

School board members say they hope to persuade the Wake County Board of Commissioners to provide more money this year than recommended by County Manager Jim Hartmann.

Hartmann proposed this week providing a $23.9 million increase instead of the $35.7 million funding boost requested by the Wake County school board. School board members hope to get the full funding provided when commissioners adopt the county budget in June.

“We offered a budget that does not have fluff in it,” said school board Chairman Tom Benton. “If that budget is not fully funded, we will have to look at programs that we would like to initiate that we may not be able to initiate. Or we may have to look at programs that we have underway that we have to scale back.”

School board Vice Chairwoman Monika Johnson-Hostler seconded Benton’s assertion that “our budget is not fluff.” The school board wants $421.7 million from the county for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

“What we gave to the county is exactly what we need to ensure that we’re educating all of our students across Wake County,” she said.

Bell invites rally

For months, the Durham Beyond Policing campaign has been picketing Durham City Hall every Monday night.

This week, about a dozen members of the campaign, which opposes a planned $71 million police headquarters, interrupted a City Council meeting by chanting and holding signs for about five minutes as elected leaders patiently waited for them to finish.

On Thursday, representatives spoke at the City Council work session.

“We really want the city of Durham to look into divesting from policing and instead funding black futures and investment in the black and brown communities,” D’atra Jackson said.

Mayor Bill Bell responded by saying he thinks the efforts are admirable but that some of their suggestions are not doable. Protesters don’t have the votes on the council to overturn the decision on police headquarters, he said, but maybe they can work together on other issues such as raising wages and affordable housing.

Jackson said she would continue to rally opponents of the new headquarters.

“That is your right to do that,” Bell said.

“I know,” Jackson said.

Bell then suggested she keep coming meetings when she can.

“Rally as many people as you think you need to rally,” Bell said. “I don’t have a problem with it at all. That’s what’s good about Durham. That is the openness that we have in the community. “

Political events

▪ Democratic candidates for Council of State races will speak to the Western Wake Dems on Wednesday, May 25, at Mellow Mushroom, 4300 N.W. Cary Parkway in Cary. Speakers include Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, commissioner of labor candidate Charles Meeker and agriculture commissioner candidate Walter Smith, along with N.C. Supreme Court candidates Judge Michael Morgan and attorney Daniel Robertson. Social begins at 6 p.m., the program at 7 p.m. RSVP to westernwakedems@hotmail.com.

▪ Laura B. Edwards, founder and chair of Women AdvaNCe and co-founder of Lillian’s List of NC, will speak to the Democratic Women of Wake County on Thursday, May 26, at the N.C. State University Club, 4200 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh. The lunch buffet opens at 11:30 a.m., program begins at noon. Program free; lunch is $20. For reservations, email Pam Sturgeon at pjsturgeonp7@gmail.com or call 425-879-1636 by noon Monday.

Compiled by T. Keung Hui and Virginia Bridges.

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