Under the Dome

5 candidates file for Wake judge seat, but election date isn’t set yet

Former Wake County Superior Judge Paul Gessner.
Former Wake County Superior Judge Paul Gessner.

Five attorneys are seeking the Wake County Superior Court judge post recently vacated by Judge Paul Gessner – but the date for the election hasn’t been set, and it could be a low-turnout affair.

Gessner resigned from the bench on Dec. 31 with seven years left in his term to take a job as attorney for the Wake County Sheriff’s Office. That triggered a special election to replace him, and candidates had until last week to file for the position.

Under state law, the general election will be held in November. Because five candidates filed, a nonpartisan primary election is required to narrow the field to the top two contenders.

And that primary will coincide with the second primary for other races, which will be held in May. But the exact date won’t be set until after the March 15 primary: If there’s a runoff in any federal races anywhere in North Carolina, the election will happen May 24.

If the only runoffs involve state races, the election will be held on May 3. And the whole schedule could change if the state legislature redraws congressional districts under a court order and then reschedules the primary.

“There are no guarantees,” said Josh Lawson, general counsel for the State Board of Elections.

If no Wake County races require runoffs, the Superior Court District 10C race could have the ballot to itself – a scenario that would likely mean extremely low turnout because Superior Court races get little attention.

District 10C includes Wake Forest, Rolesville and areas of northwestern Wake County around Falls Lake. Here’s who’s running:

▪ Rebecca “Becky” Holt, a Wake County assistant district attorney

▪ Hoyt Tessener, a personal injury attorney with the firm Martin & Jones

▪ Karlene “K” Turrentine, who practices municipal, business and administrative law with Turrentine Law Firm

▪ Ronnie Ansley, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for a District Court seat in 2014

▪ Michael Denning, a Wake County District Court judge who has served since 2010

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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