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."
The Indy contends that not stopping the school board majority will either result in taxes going way up "or else the entire school system will deteriorate due to half-filled schools in the center of Raleigh and overcrowded schools across the suburbs."
In District 1, the indy accuses Republican Commissioner Joe Bryan of being "AWOL" on "the school board fiasco." The weekly notes that Democratic challenger Don Mial "remembers attending 'black schools' as a youngster, and he vows to do whatever he can to stop resegregation in its tracks."
In District 2, the Indy chides Democratic Commissioner Lindy Brown for having voted to use the Rolesville High School site instead of Forest Ridge HIgh. But the weekly is no fan of Republican challenger Phil Matthews because he "is happy to say he backs the Republican school board majority and is a Tea Party guy all the way."
In District 3, the Indy jumps on Republican Commissioner Tony Gurley, saying he's "cheering them on — School Board Chair Ron Margiotta and his henchman John Tedesco in particular." The Indy praises Democratic challenger Steve Rao for saying he doesn't support "splitting into 'good' schools and 'bad' schools depending on what neighborhood you live in."
In District 7, the Indy complains that Republican Commissioner Paul Coble "heartily supports" the GOP school board majority. The weekly contrasts this by calling his Democratic challenger Jack Nicols a centrist.
"We agree with Nichols that the Wake Commissioners must not be an ATM machine for the school board's bad ideas," the Indy writes. "A Democratic board of commissioners can, as Nichols says, sort out the school board's good moves from those that would result in economically segregated schools and, ultimately, lower quality or higher taxes."