U.S. House 2: Deborah Ross

When Deborah Ross was first elected to the U.S. House in 2020, she became the first Democratic Party candidate elected in over a decade to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

The civil rights lawyer was first elected in 2002 to serve in the NC House, where she worked to protect voting rights, provide access to affordable housing, and raise the minimum wage for state employees.

The incumbent lists her top priorities as lowering prescription drug prices, pursuing racial justice under the law, investing in infrastructure, and combating climate change.

Republican challenger Christine Villaverde promises to fight any taxpayer initiative to expand abortion and says that “progressives have imposed a destructive Critical Race Theory curriculum” that “attempts to rewrite history” and indoctrinates students with “toxic messaging” that divides the country.

CRT isn’t taught in North Carolina’s public schools, but hey, never let the truth get in the way of a divisive political campaign.

U.S. House 13: Wiley Nickel

Of all the congressional contests in the country this November, this race—which will be decided by swing voters in District 13’s rural battleground—is one of the few true toss-ups and will play a major role in determining the balance of power in the U.S. House.

The INDY endorses Wiley Nickel, a state senator and criminal defense attorney who worked as a White House staffer for Barack Obama.

While some of Nickel’s stances are a bit moderate for our taste, his voting record in the General Assembly is solidly progressive, as are his priorities for Congress, which include funding community safety programs and improving housing affordability.

Nickel’s opponent, Trump-endorsed political newcomer Bo Hines, is hard to take seriously (if you missed his “banana republic” gaffe, look it up)—but he’s dangerous nonetheless.

Hines has supported a total ban on abortion with no exceptions and touts a host of other far-right stances that are out of step with the ideals of most North Carolinians.

State Senate, District 13: Lisa Grafstein

With all the politics in the air, it’s hard to find a candidate you can truly care about, but Lisa Grafstein fits the bill.

The 55-year-old civil rights attorney has spent decades fighting for the little guy and has an overwhelmingly progressive stance on worker’s rights, health care, and election integrity.

Not only does she want to raise the minimum wage, but she’s unabashed about supporting unions. Grafstein also shares the worries of women everywhere regarding Roe v. Wade and says she will make protecting abortion rights a priority.

Finally, she’s in support of a nonpartisan redistricting commission and has the expertise to fight for her case. In this race, Grafstein is the clear choice over her Republican opponent, David Bankert, and Libertarian Michael Munger.

State Senate, District 14: Dan Blue

Blue is a four-decade liberal stalwart in the General Assembly, a man with arguably unmatched institutional knowledge of state government as well as his southern Wake County district.

He’s well deserving of his role as senate minority leader.

First elected to the legislature in 1980, Blue rose as high as house speaker during his 20-plus years in the lower chamber before moving on to the state senate, where he seeks a seventh term.

No need to beat a dead horse here. Few are as deserving of another term.

State Senate, District 15: Jay J. Chaudhuri

The senate Democratic whip is seeking his fourth term in office, and we see no reason he shouldn’t have the honor.

An attorney by trade, Chaudhuri was a trusted liberal voice and adviser at the highest levels of state government for nearly four decades, including stints as special counsel to then attorney general Roy Cooper and former state treasurer Janet Cowell.

Chaudhuri is a safe, knowledgeable, and well-liked face within Democratic circles who is best positioned to represent this left-leaning district again.

State Senate, District 16: Gale Adcock

A retired nurse, Adcock is seeking the seat left open by Wiley Nickel’s departure in his pursuit of a congressional seat.

Adcock brings experience as a legislator as well as deep knowledge of this western Wake County area, which she has represented since 2015 as a state house member.

As you’d expect from someone with three decades of experience as a nurse practitioner, Adcock’s priorities as a lawmaker include ensuring quality access to health care, which includes pushing lawmakers to (finally) expand Medicaid.

State Senate, District 17: Sydney Batch

Appointed to the senate by Governor Cooper in January 2021 following the resignation of fellow Democrat Sam Searcy, Batch served the equivalent of a full two-year term during her first stint in the upper chamber.

Before joining the senate, she represented one of the county’s more right-leaning areas in southern Wake as a house member from District 37.

An attorney by trade, Batch’s legislative priorities include strong public school funding and healthcare affordability.

She’s also a champion of clean drinking water, the pursuit of which is a never-ending battle in the state.

State Senate, District 18: Mary Wills Bode

A relative newcomer to state politics, Bode is seeking a first term in the General Assembly against an opponent with more name recognition: E.C. Sykes, the Republican nominee for secretary of state two years ago.

While new to the process of running for state office, Bode isn’t new to the hard work of making North Carolina better.

Her experience includes past and present leadership roles within good-government nonprofits and coalitions, such as North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform and the voter outreach group New North Carolina Project.

State House, District 11: Allison Dahle (unopposed)

Dahle is running unopposed for a third term in NC House District 11, a reliably left-leaning district that encompasses the campus of NC State University.

The state GOP knew better than to put up a fight here.

State House, District 21: Ya Liu

Liu knows this Cary/Morrisville–area district as well as anyone and has a great story to boot.

As she details on her website, Liu arrived in the United States nearly two decades ago “with no money, no connections,” and knowing “very little English.”

From humble beginnings, she went on to join the faculty at Duke Law School with doctoral degrees in sociology and law.

As a current member of the Cary Town Council, Liu is well versed in the concerns and challenges facing this booming area of Wake County.

State House, District 29: Vernetta Alston (unopposed)

A progressive firebrand with the ability to work across the aisle, Alston has accomplished a lot in her two years as a state representative, including securing funds to improve prison conditions and building bipartisan support for affordable housing research.

Alston previously served as a Durham City Council member and an advocate for the wrongfully convicted, both of which get her some bonus points.

State House, District 33: Rosa Gill

A former high school teacher with more than two decades of political experience, Rosa Gill has been an effective advocate for public education during her 13 years in the General Assembly.

If reelected, Gill has vowed to fight for a fully funded Leandro plan, higher teacher pay, and workplace training that enables teachers to meet the needs of diverse student populations.

We don’t know much about Gill’s opponents, Republican Stephanie Dingee and Libertarian Chris Costello, but Costello recently told The News & Observer that he supports expanding the state’s school voucher program—which would leave public schools even more desperately underfunded than they already are—so we’re sticking with Gill on this one.

State House, District 34: Tim Longest

Longest, a 31-year-old attorney and state supreme court law clerk, was chosen by the Wake County Democratic Party to replace incumbent Grier Martin on the ballot after Martin dropped out last summer to accept a job at the Pentagon.

A member of Raleigh’s Human Relations Commission, Longest has a strong background in civil rights advocacy, having provided legal aid to groups such as the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the NAACP.

Protecting women’s reproductive freedom, expanding Medicaid, and funding public education are Longest’s top legislative priorities should he win this Northwest Raleigh district.

State House, District 35: Terence Everitt

Everitt is seeking a third term in Wake County’s northeasternmost house district.

An attorney and owner of a Wake Forest private practice that specializes in working with small businesses, Everitt has done little to disappoint since we first endorsed him in 2018.

Like fellow Democrats, Everitt is running on a pro–public education, pro-Medicaid, and pro–reproductive rights platform.

His district boundaries are mostly unchanged under the state’s post-redistricting map, and Everitt has earned the right to continue representing his constituents in Raleigh.

State House, District 36: Julie von Haefen

This southwest Wake County house district has little resemblance to the district von Haefen first won in 2018 and won again in 2020.

The newly drawn maps brought a larger conservative constituency and a well-funded Republican challenger in John Harris, a “decisively pro-life” candidate whose top priority is cutting taxes, according to his website.

Von Haefen, meanwhile, wants to protect reproductive freedom, expand Medicaid, and strengthen public education.

The race could be close.

We’re endorsing von Haefen and urging voters to turn out.

State House, District 37: Christine Kelly

In the southernmost part of Wake County, almost anyone would be a better choice than Erin Paré, the Republican incumbent who forced a teacher to resign over classroom flashcards.

Paré has spent her years in office touting “parental rights,” condemning “critical race theory,” and joining Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in a series of increasingly horrific public statements.

Luckily, her challenger, Holly Springs native Christine Kelly, isn’t just anyone. Kelly, a former town council member, is an advocate of the Leandro plan and universal health care and says she will work with Republicans to bring those issues back to the table.

She’s also a strong proponent of building up infrastructure and transportation in rapidly developing areas like Holly Springs.

State House, District 38: Abe Jones

The General Assembly is full of driven go-getters, but few have the résumé of first-term house member Abe Jones: Harvard Law graduate. Assistant U.S. attorney. Assistant state attorney general. Wake County Superior Court judge. Wake County commissioner.

The 70-year-old Jones represents a district that encompasses the heart of downtown Raleigh, a district he will almost assuredly win again.

Republicans didn’t bother offering up a challenger.

State House, District 39: James A. Roberson

Roberson was handpicked by Wake County Democrats in January 2021 to replace Darren Jackson, who left for a post on the NC Court of Appeals, and is running for another two years in the General Assembly.

Roberson was mayor of Knightdale for four years before leaving to accept this seat in Wake’s westernmost district.

A former senior dean at Wake Tech Community College, Roberson is a champion of the state’s community college system and has worked to only strengthen its role as an engine of workforce development during his time in Raleigh.

State House, District 40: Joe John

If there was an “EGOT” equivalent for state officials, it would be awarded to Joe John, the only person in history who has served in all three branches of North Carolina government.

His unique set of experiences has given him an edge in fighting for constitutional checks and balances.

Since joining the General Assembly eight years ago, John has fought to preserve the independence of the judiciary and made significant advancements toward abolishing partisan gerrymandering.

John’s challenger is Marilyn Avila, a former state representative who lost her seat after cosponsoring the abhorrent House Bill 2 in 2016.

We’d like to keep her away from our law books.

State House, District 41: Maria Cervania    

Cervania earned our endorsement two years ago for the District 3 seat on the Wake County Commission, which she ultimately won, and she earned our endorsement again.

This time, Cervania is running to represent this Cary/Apex–area house district, a seat currently held by state senate candidate Gale Adcock.

A public transit advocate with a track record of working on LGBTQ and women’s rights issues, Cervania’s legislative priorities include protecting reproductive freedom, improving healthcare access, and strengthening public school funding.

State House, District 49: Cynthia Ball

The bitterly partisan world of state politics needs more certified mediators like Ball, who is running for a fourth term in the house.

She’s a refreshing lawmaker who looks to find legislative common ground with colleagues across the aisle, and that approach has paid off in bipartisan legislation to address gaps in public school funding.

Expanding Medicaid and protecting reproductive health are also legislative priorities for Ball, who appears likely to hold this Northwest Raleigh district again.

State House, District 66: Sarah Crawford

Elected to the state senate two years ago, Crawford is hoping to relocate to the house after redistricting drastically altered the boundaries of Senate District 18.

Keeping Crawford in the General Assembly is all that matters.

She entered state politics after years of distinguished work within the nonprofit sector, most recently as CEO of Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities.

Her top legislative concerns include ensuring affordable and equitable health care and spurring investment in public education, and we see no reason she shouldn’t continue pursuing these goals with a new title.

Wake County Sheriff: Willie Rowe

In Wake County’s quest to elect another Democratic sheriff, Rowe is an excellent candidate against Republican Donnie Harrison, who is trying to reclaim his seat and add to his 16 years in office.

Rowe doesn’t have only plans for reform but a wealth of experience that will make it easy for him to jump in and get started.

After 28 years spent working in the Wake County sheriff’s office, Rowe is well versed in developing policy, managing budgets, and supervising staff.

Rowe’s long record of community service also proves he’s dedicated to including voters in the decision-making process.

As a deacon at First Baptist Church, Rowe has worked to increase affordable housing, reduce homelessness, and reach out to at-risk youth. If elected, Rowe plans to hold weekly meetings with community members, he says.

Most importantly, he’s dedicated to using education, awareness, and education to prevent crime rather than mass arrests to punish it.

Wake County District Attorney: Lorrin Freeman

Incumbent Lorrin Freeman is already the de facto winner in the race for district attorney after winning the Democratic primary back in May, but her reelection isn’t official yet. Although her tenure has been troubled by several incidents of police violence, we’re endorsing her for a third term. Freeman hasn’t been as progressive as some advocates would like in prosecuting law enforcement officers involved in use-of-force incidents. But since her election in 2014, she has moved the district attorney’s office forward.

Freeman has helped reduce recidivism by investing in programs to help people reenter the community after imprisonment. One of her biggest accomplishments is the ongoing assistance the office provides in restoring driver’s licenses and expunging criminal records. Freeman has also created diversion programs for people dealing with addiction and expanded teams to prosecute domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.

Freeman’s opponent Jeff Dobson got his law degree in 2019 and is a Republican. Pass.

Wake Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor: Jenna Wadsworth & Alex Baldwin 

Wadsworth and Baldwin earned our endorsements in this five-candidate race for two seats on the board of supervisors, which oversees the conservation and preservation of the county’s natural resources.

Wadsworth is the current vice chair of the board and a former Democratic nominee for state agriculture commissioner.

Baldwin, a newcomer, would be a welcome addition to the board, bringing expertise as a licensed soil scientist, which is professional training that no other candidate or sitting board member possesses.

Wake County Board of Commissioners, Seat 1: Donald Mial

District 1 candidate Donald Mial is a retired military officer and longtime public servant who is currently secretary with Raleigh’s board of adjustment. Mial, who formerly served as a member with Wake County’s board of elections, points to his “Big 3 Brochure” that prioritizes education, safety, and health. He says he wants to focus on retaining teachers, expanding access to pre-K programs, and closing the achievement gap. He also wants to improve county law enforcement along with other first responder services and the ongoing need for affordable housing.

Mial’s Republican opponent, Chanel N. Harris, has a scant online campaign presence. We’re not exactly sure what her platform is, and she was not immediately available for comment.

Wake County Board of Commissioners, Seat 2: Matt Calabria

In Matt Calabria’s eight years on the Wake County Board of Commissioners, he’s proven himself to be one of the most progressive and forward-thinking members.

During his time in office, Calabria led the charge to protect LGBTQ residents from employment discrimination—cowriting a nondiscrimination ordinance now adopted by six municipalities including Raleigh, Cary, and Apex.

Calabria also worked to create a living wage for county workers, writing the law that raised their pay to at least $13.50 an hour.

The commissioner is an enthusiastic advocate of housing affordability, pledging to create a long-term tax relief program for overburdened property owners. He’s a supporter of public transportation and has worked to increase teacher pay, give county workers paid parental leave, and combat the opioid epidemic.

We wholeheartedly endorse Calabria for a third term over his opponent, Mark McMains.

Wake County Board of Commissioners, Seat 3: Cheryl Stallings

“Healthy” and “sustainable” are the keywords that define Cheryl Stallings’s campaign to win  a seat on the Wake County Board of Commissioners. Stallings, who currently serves on Apex’s town council, is a licensed psychologist whose platform calls for an economic climate that will attract diverse, good-paying jobs to Wake County. She wants to promote housing affordability projects and initiatives that will help end homelessness. She wants more private investment in education, advocates for affordable medical and mental health care, the county’s clean energy goals, and protection of green spaces.

Stallings says she thinks diverse recreational and performing arts events are essential for enjoyment, education, and relationship building.

Stallings’s opponent Irina Comer’s platform is heavy on rhetoric, light on details. The self-described first-generation Russian immigrant, businesswoman, and political outsider wants to “restore freedom to Wake County residents” and “protect our children from bureaucratic overreach.”

Comer says the government’s “first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

Wake County Board of Commissioners, Seat 7: Vickie Adamson (unopposed)

Incumbent Vickie Adamson is seeking a third term and running unopposed in District 7.

Adamson is chair of the board’s affordable housing committee that last year built the most affordable housing units in Wake County’s history, according to her campaign website.

Adamson also supports a cost-effective regional transit system that includes local circulators, along with safe schools with an emphasis on support for students and teachers.

She’s running unopposed but we’re happy to endorse Adamson for another term.

Wake County Board of Education, District 1: Ben Clapsaddle

In the messy, overpoliticized races for Wake County school board, we’re supporting candidates with proven experience, liberal values, and no association with the so-called “parental rights” movement, which has mostly come down against mask mandates, inclusive education practices, and teachers.

Ben Clapsaddle, an army veteran and training director at Fort Bragg, is an advocate for raising teacher pay, hiring more school counselors and support staff, and investing in resources for children with disabilities.

He’s also in support of the practical needs of our growing county, like school repair and construction. Clapsaddle—who has been endorsed by the Wake County Association of Educators and his predecessor, Heather Scott—is an easy pick over his conservative opponent Cheryl Caulfield, a Moms for Liberty supporter who considers information about gender identity “age inappropriate.”

Wake County Board of Education, District 2: Monika Johnson-Hostler

Monika Johnson-Hostler, first elected to the school board in 2013, is an experienced, consistent advocate for students and teachers. During her time on the board, Johnson-Hostler helped lead the charge to reduce student suspensions and racial disparities in student discipline. If reelected, she plans to continue that work by identifying ways to resolve behavioral problems while keeping children in school and on track to graduate, she says.

Like our other endorsees, Johnson-Hostler is an advocate for more social workers, school counselors, and nurses. She also supports raising pay for teachers by increasing Wake County’s contribution to their salaries. As the state’s Republican legislature makes consistent cuts to the education budget, Johnson-Hostler is fighting to keep qualified and experienced teachers in Wake County.

She plans to continue lobbying the state for more school funding. One of her opponents, Monica Ruiz, is openly homophobic, calling gender fluidity a “false idea.” The other, Dorian Hamilton, lacks Johnson-Hostler’s wealth of experience.

Wake County Board of Education, District 3: Doug Hammack

Doug Hammack says he credits his success in life to investment in education, and plans to continue the board’s work in funding teachers and schools. One of the major problems Wake County is facing this year is a loss of qualified teachers, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic and in part due to consistent pay cuts. Hammack pledges to support teacher pay raises and teachers themselves as what he calls a “toxic narrative” takes over school board elections. He also wants to expand the county’s teaching fellows program to help recruit more qualified teachers.

If elected, Hammack says he wants to be aggressive in addressing staff shortages, hiring counselors and social workers, and training staff and school resource officers to support students. He’s also the only rational choice against two Republicans, including Wing Ng, whose platform raises some major red flags.

Wake County Board of Education, District 4: Tara Waters

Tara Waters, a parent with a passion for equity and inclusion, will face her first election this year after she was appointed to the District 4 seat in March. Waters was appointed to fill the seat after longtime board member Keith Sutton resigned in 2021 to become the superintendent of Warren County Public Schools.

Waters says closing the achievement gap between white and minority students is her priority, and she supports implicit bias training for staff and teachers.

Waters is also dedicated to parent and community outreach, currently overseeing a Raleigh volunteer program.

Wake County Board of Education, District 5: Lynn Edmonds

Edmonds is running to replace Jim Martin, an outspoken liberal who has actively advocated for raising teacher pay and renovating aging schools.

Martin’s blunt comments have often drawn criticism from parents and sometimes other board members, but he always pushed issues forward. Edmonds, who has been endorsed by Martin, is another champion of public schools.

As the director of outreach for Public Schools First NC, she’s spent years lobbying the legislature to fully fund the Leandro plan and raise teacher pay.

If elected, Edmonds says she’ll prioritize attracting qualified staff, expanding equity across the district, and supporting curriculum integrity and the “freedom to read.” Not only does Edmonds have a progressive agenda, but she has the experience to back it up.

Wake County Board of Education, District 6: Sam Hershey

Sam Hershey, an entrepreneur and former high school sports coach, is running to replace yet another longtime board member, Christine Kushner, who is stepping down. Kushner has thrown her support behind Hershey. Hershey says he’s focused on addressing the county’s teacher shortage, remediating COVID-19 learning loss, and improving school funding. He’s in support of hiring enough social workers to staff every school full-time, as well as reducing the need for school resource officers over the long term by investing in more support services. One notable campaign promise is Hershey’s pledge to work toward using solar power in schools.

Wake County Board of Education, District 7: Chris Heagarty

Chris Heagarty, the current vice chair of the school board, has served on the board since 2018 and helped guide the district through the coronavirus pandemic. During his tenure, Heagarty helped lead the charge to renovate aging schools and build new schools to keep up with the growing student population. He has advocated for higher teacher pay and hiring more social workers. If reelected, Heagarty says he’ll focus on helping students catch up on their education after the COVID pandemic by working on a district-wide intensive tutoring program. Heagarty also wants to continue to work toward protecting students from intolerance and bullying, he says.

Wake County Board of Education, District 8: Lindsay Mahaffey

Lindsay Mahaffey, chair of the school board, was first elected in 2016, and has been a leader in public education for the last six years. During her time on the board, she’s helped expand the pre-K programs to give more children a head start on learning, increased pay for school support staff, and put a $537 million bond on the ballot this November that will help the district build four new schools and make HVAC and safety improvements to schools countywide. Many of the district’s schools were built more than 30 years ago and need updates to remain effective learning environments, Mahaffey says. Mahaffey also touts the district’s 90 percent graduation rate, up from 80 percent in 2018. If reelected, she aims to expand tutoring programs to help students with learning loss and increase the number of social workers in schools. Her opponent, Steve Bergstrom, went on national news to tout helping get an elementary school teacher to leave her job over flashcards and is firmly on the parental choice, book-banning train.

Wake County Board of Education, District 9: Tyler Swanson

Tyler Swanson, a former Wake County schoolteacher, is a refreshingly young and down-to-earth candidate. Having experienced the emotional and financial strains of teaching firsthand, he’s committed to improving working conditions for teachers, he says. One of Swanson’s priorities is school safety, which he wants to improve by adding more school counselors and nurses. Swanson is also an unabashed supporter of the Leandro plan and wants to move forward with the county’s new equity policies. He says it’s important to give students a sense of belonging, regardless of race, religion, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation. Swanson will bring a breath of fresh air to the board’s efforts to improve schools, and he’s the only rational choice against Republican Michele Morrow, a conspiracy theorist who called mass shootings “fake event[s],” talked about the “One World Order,” and implied “Satan is coming” in the form of the “Muslim movement” in America.

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