State House, District 56
Democrat: Verla Insko

Verla Insko, now in her 12th term, is North Carolina’s longest-serving Democratic House member. With education, health care, the economy, fair and safe elections, and diversity as her top priorities, there’s no reason she shouldn’t serve a 13th. Her opponent, Joe Parrish, moved to the Triangle in 2010 to attend UNC-Chapel Hill. When Parrish announced his candidacy in April, he described himself as a progressive in the mold of FDR. That’s cool, but we’re still on Team Insko.

Orange County Board of Commissioners, At-Large
Democrat: Amy Fowler

Last year, Mark Marcoplos pushed commissioners to back a tax hike to combat climate change. We love the sentiment. But Orange County is already among the highest-taxed counties in the state, there wasn’t a good sense of how the money would be spent, and the county has aging school buildings in desperate need of repair. Marcoplos has the right intentions, but we think Amy Fowler deserves a shot.

Fowler, a pediatrician with a background in biomedical engineering who sits on the Chapel Hill- Carrboro City School Board, criticizes the board’s “ad hoc” approach to spending. She also points out that Marcoplos was on the GoTriangle Board of Trustees as the Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit project imploded, costing the county $30 million in transit funds. Perhaps that’s a cheap shot, but maybe someone a little more skeptical could have averted the light-rail mess. In any event, we think Fowler will bring some balance to the board.

Orange County Board of Commissioners, District 1
Democrat: Mark Dorosin and Jean Hamilton

Three people are running for two District 1 seats on the Board of Commissioners. The easy choice is Mark Dorosin, a veteran civil rights attorney who has spent the past 25 years working on economic, social, racial, and environmental justice issues. He’s been at the forefront of efforts to provide water and sewer access to the Rogers Road community and to develop affordable housing.

That leaves a choice between incumbent Penny Rich and newcomer Jean Hamilton, a licensed clinical social worker who has previously served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board. Hamilton, who has a Ph.D. in economics from UC-Berkeley, includes among her priorities better funding for public schools, affordable housing, economic development, public transportation, and environmental protection.

Rich, seeking her third term, has similar priorities, and she has accomplishments under her belt, including more than 600 living-wage jobs that have come to the county. But we think the more collaborative approach Hamilton promises could yield greater benefits for county residents.

District Court Judge 15B, Seat 3
Democrat: Hathaway Pendergrass

Judicial races can be difficult to assess because judges can’t really tell you much about how they’d rule. That said, we’re backing Chapel Hill attorney Hathaway Pendergrass for this seat, which covers Chatham and Orange Counties.

A 2010 graduate of N.C. Central School of Law, where he was editor-in-chief of the law review, Pendergrass emphasizes “justice with dignity,” saying his philosophy rests on three pillars: equity, compassion, and serving the best interests of children and youth. Pendergrass serves on the boards of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and The ArtsCenter, and he was a Teen Court judge. While president of the 15B Judicial District Bar, Pendergrass developed a policy that provided funding for all judges and bar members to participate in training with the Racial Equity Institute.

Pendergrass has three opponents for this seat—Lamar Proctor, Noah Oswald, and Erika Bales—but we think he’s the best choice.

Orange County Schools Board of Education
Carrie Doyle, Jennifer Moore, LaTarndra Strong

Orange County Schools had a rough year, to put it mildly. We’re endorsing Jennifer Moore, Carrie Doyle, and LaTarndra Strong for the school board.

Moore, who worked with exceptional children for more than a decade in Orange, Durham, and Wayne Counties, cites school safety as her priority. She also wants varying instructional and learning methods implemented in response to the different ways children learn.

Doyle is a chemist and former teacher who is now a homemaker with three children enrolled in public schools. She wants to facilitate a broad conversation to address unequal school communities, longstanding issues of racial inequality, disparities in disciplinary practices, and OCS’s new racial equity policy.

LaTarndra Strong has some things that might give folks pause—repeated incidents of driving without a license or insurance, a dismissed charge for writing a bad check last year. If that stuff makes you question her fitness for office, well, there you go.

But Strong, the founder of the Hate-Free Schools Coalition and a member of the Orange County Schools Equity Task Force, has been a force for change in the school system for years. She’s a constant presence at school board meetings, and she’s pushed the Board of Education to seriously address its racial discrepancies.

She promises to bring a unique understanding of classroom inequalities and experience with coalition-building to the board, and we think that’s worthwhile.

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