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Diversity policy supporters pointing to 2011 school board elections

Supporters of the old diversity policy are ramping up the message of "wait 'til next year" in the aftermath of last week's GOP election victory on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

As noted in Thursday's American Independent article by Ned Barnett, diversity policy supporters say last week's election results shouldn't be seen as a referendum supporting community schools. Instead, they're pointing to the 2011 Wake County school board elections as the true test of public sentiment.

“I don’t think the voters went to the polls and voted the way they did because of what was going on with the school board,” said Karen Rindge, executive director of WakeUP Wake County, the parent group of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition. “But I think we’re going to see a change next year. That’s when we’re really going to see if the public agrees with this board of education.”

UPDATE

In today's article in the American Independent, newly elected Wake County Commissioner Phil Matthews is calling last week's election results a mandate for neighborhood schools.

Bob Geary on the impact of Democrats controlling the board of commissioners

Bob Geary is speculating on what could happen if Democrats win at least one seat today to retain a majority on the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

In an online column today for the liberal Independent weekly, Geary writes that he's optimistic that Democrats are closing the gaps on private polls showing the four GOP candidates in the lead. Geary is speculating that Steve Rao has the best chance of winning of the four Democrats.

(I've heard from both sides in the last week that the Republicans are still ahead in the private polls. Public Policy Polling, which was hired by the Democrats, has said it doesn't plan to release the results.)

Final pre-election campaign finance reports in for commissioner candidates

All of the final pre-election campaign finance reports are in now and they show that the four Republican candidates for Wake County commissioner have raised more than their Democratic opponents.

Republicans got $48,000 from Art Pope and his family and $31,000 from political action committees for realtors and homebuilders. They also got thousands of dollars from individuals involved in both fields.

Democrats got $13,000 from Jim Goodmon and his wife. Democrats didn't get anywhere close to the Republicans in terms of PAC money. But they did a lot  of individual smaller donations from people who've opposed the school board's elimination of the diversity policy.

Democrats warn that GOP will lead to "separate, but not so equal" schools

A new campaign mailer from the state Democratic Party urging Wake County voters not "to go back back to the days of separate, but not so equal" is drawing complaints from the Republican candidates for county commissioner.

The mailer urging candidates to vote for the four Democratic candidates for commissioner insinuates that resegregation could occur in the school system if the GOP candidates win. The state Democratic Party has been using the school board's elimination of the diversity policy all year to invigorate its base.

"Wake County is at a crossroads," says the mailer. "Are we going to continue our progressive tradition that all our children matter, or are we going to go back to the days of separate, but not so equal? This year's election of County Commissioners is crucial to the future of Wake County schools."

Tony Gurley touts school funding and accountability in campaign mailer

Republican County Commissioner Tony Gurley is talking about schools in his new campaign mailer, but he's steering clear of the current controversy in the Wake County school system.

In the mailer, it says "Tony voted to fund the school system budget to build schools, maintain current facilities and provide safe places for students to learn. He helped save millions of dollars by requiring more financial accountability and transparency from the School Board."

The latter reference is about how Gurley, back when the GOP had a majority on the commissioners, required the school system to use "purpose and function" budgetary requirements. The old school board had complained about the rules and the Democrats, once they gained the majority, lifted the requirement in 2009.

Steve Rao and Tony Gurley argue over insulin incident

Harsh words are being exchanged over a new campaign mailer from Democrat Steve Rao that blasts Republican Commissioner Tony Gurley over his election as chairman and how he reacted when Commissioner Stan Norwalk asked for a recess for health reasons.

In the mailer, Rao questions Gurley's leadership for taking advantage of Betty Lou Ward's unexcused departure for a potty break last December to be elected chairman. Rao also accuses Gurley of denying Commissioner Stan Norwalk his insulin by voting against recessing the lengthy meeting.

Gurley argues that Rao's campaign is lying about him denying Norwalk insulin. He also accused Rao of engaging in negative campaigning.

UPDATED TO INCLUDE STATEMENT FROM GURLEY AT END OF POST

Art Pope and Jim Goodmon heavily donating in Wake commish races

Businessmen Art Pope and Jim Goodmon are out in the financial forefront when it comes to backing candidates for Wake County Board of Commissioners.

As noted in today's article, the latest round of campaign reports show that  Pope and his family have given at least $32,000 to Republican candidates for commissioner. Campaign reports also show that Goodmon and his wife have given at least $13,000 to Democratic candidates for commissioner.

“It’s a contributor referendum on the school board,” said Democratic candidate Jack Nichols.

Candidates for commissioner agree on taking over school construction

You would have been disappointed if you had gone to Wednesday night's forum hoping the candidates for the board of commissioners would talk about Wake County's student assignment fight.

As noted in today's article by Thomas Goldsmith, the Wake Schools Community Alliance stayed clear of student assignment questions at the forum the group sponsored. While discussing other school issues, candidates from both political parties blamed the other for the economic woes facing the nation and county.

Some differences emerged with Democrats Jack Nichols and Steve Rao both saying the county will have to consider impact fees or other means to meet school construction and renovation demands that could easily run to $2 billion in the next 20 years.

The Independent announces Wake commissioner endorsements

The Independent is calling this year's Wake County Board of Commissioners elections "a referendum on the policies of the Wake school board and its majority of five Republican members."

In this week's issue, the Independent is endorsing all four Democratic candidates for commissioner after having endorsed two of the Republicans in 2006. The liberal weekly says "the (school board) majority is out of control" and that it's the job of the commissioners to reign them in.

"True, the commissioners can't and shouldn't micromanage the school board," the Independent writes. "However, when five members of the school board are acting recklessly while simultaneously shutting out public debate and input from anyone not a card-carrying member of the Republican right wing — including the four other school board members — the commissioners have a duty to step in."

WSCA holding candidate forum on Wake school issues

The Wake Schools Community Alliance announced today that it will host a forum Oct. 20 for candidates for county commissioner to discuss the Wake County school system.

The WSCA says discussion topics will include funding for school operations and construction, the role of mandatory year-round in addressing school capacity issues, the commissioners' 2010-11 legislative agenda regarding schools and the relationship between the commissioners and school board.

The public is invited to attend the forum, which will be held next Wednesday from 7:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Bond Park Community Center in Cary. The WSCA is setting up ground rules such as audience members not being allowed to bring signs or ask questions directly to candidates during the forum.

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