The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

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Wake County Commissioner Erv Portman running for state Senate

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Erv Portman has become the third Wake County commissioner to seek higher office this year.

Portman announced today he's filed for the state Senate seat now held by Republican Richard Stevens, who isn't seeking another term. Portman's candidacy means he's giving up the chance to run for the seat on the commissioners that expires this year.

Portman, a Democrat, was appointed last year to fill the opening caused by Stan Norwalk's resignation.

Paul Coble and Tony Gurley have already filed to run for higher office. But unlike Portman, the two Republican commissioners, are in the middle of their terms so they'll stay on if they don't win the May 8 primary.

One question this year is whether Republicans will increase their 4-3 majority on the board of commissioners. Only the three seats held by Democrats are on the ballot.

In District 4, Caroline Sullivan has filed to run in the Democratic primary for the seat now being held by Portman. No Republican has filed yet.

In District 5, James West has filed to hold on to the seat that the Democratic commissioner was appointed to fill when Harold Webb resigned. No  Republican has filed yet.

In District 6, Democratic incumbent Betty Lou Ward has filed. Paul Fitts has filed for the Republican nomination.

The filing periods ends at noon Wednesday.

The winners of this fall's contests will likely help decide the amount of the next school construction bond issue. They'll also deal with the school system's annual budget requests.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.