Wake County
Wake County Board of Commissioners District 1: Sig Hutchinson

Read his candidate questionnaire here.

It takes nerve to stand up to the NIMBYs, especially when it’s in support of the construction of a highly unpopular quarry outside a beloved park. While we might not agree with Hutchinson on every issue, he’s a necessary pushback on a board stacked full of education advocates who brings with him a realistic vision for the county’s growth. 

His challenger is Republican Greg Jones, an anti-abortionist campaigning on Second Amendment rights and limited government. Pass. We’ll stick with Sig. —LT

Wake County Board of Commissioners District 3: Maria Cervania

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

It feels like you can’t drive a mile in Wake County without running across a campaign sign for  Maria Cervania. That’s because the hype for the newcomer candidate is real. We endorsed Cervania in the primary based on her well-rounded resume and record of working for LGBTQ and women’s rights. 

She’s facing off against Republican Steven Hale, a former homicide detective with the Wake County Sheriff’s Office campaigning on public safety. And while there’s certainly crime in Wake County, beefing up law enforcement isn’t as much a priority in Wake as addressing gaps in our transportation system and the lack of affordable housing. We trust Cervania will be the one to pursue the progressive agenda laid down by former board chair Jessica Holmes, who left the board to run for N.C. Commissioner of Labor. —LT

Wake County Board of Commissioners District 6: Shinica Thomas

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

Shinica Thomas—a 46-year-old mother known for her work with the state’s Girl Scouts program—was tapped to replace Board Chair Greg Ford on the ballot earlier this year and has been busy campaigning on how to safely reopen schools and address children’s emotional support needs during this pandemic. She has fresh ideas, and her experience as an education advocate will mesh well with her colleagues on the board. 

Running against her is Republican Karen Weathers, whose platform reveals little about what she actually stands for other than “conservative common-sense fiscal responsibility.” 

Yawn. Instead, we pick Thomas. —LT

Wake County Board of Commissioners District 7: Vickie Adamson

Read her candidate questionnaire here. 

Two years ago, a brawl over education funding and a controversial Fuquay-Varina park project resulted in a schism on the board. A contentious primary ousted two incumbents and a new majority of school funding champions emerged.

Among them was Vickie Adamson, a PTA leader with a background in finance who has garnered trust among her constituents for her careful, well-rounded approach to governing. While increasing school funding is still one of her top priorities, she’s also worked with the private sector to obtain funding to distribute free car seats and at-home nurse visits in an effort to decrease racial disparities in the county’s infant mortality rates. 

Her Republican challenger is Faruk Okcetin, a businessman hoping to hold down taxes. 

We wholeheartedly back Adamson. —LT

Wake County Board of Education District 1: Heather Scott

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

In her first term on the board, educator and advocate Heather Scott has invested a huge amount of time and effort visiting district schools and getting to know the issues firsthand. She’s gained public trust through her willingness to learn and listen. She is dedicated to the community and willing to make tough choices that won’t always be popular. 

It’s a nonpartisan race, but Deborah Prickett’s policies align more with a conservative ideology and her supporters rail against the school system’s so-called “anti-American Marxist curriculum.” She previously served as part of a conservative cohort that seized control of the board in 2009 and achieved national ridicule after defunding integration busing (even Stephen Colbert made fun of them). She subsequently lost her reelection bid by 16 points in 2013.

We’re not looking to return to “the good old days.” We’ll stick with Scott. —LT

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

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

After an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate, former board chair Monika Johnston-Hostler is ready to put her efforts back to improving Wake County schools. Since originally joining the board in 2013, Johnson-Hostler has pushed the county to increase investments in the school system and has proven herself to be a thoughtful and strategic public servant. 

Her challenger, Greg Hahn, is among a conservative group that’s unlikely to gain much traction in the increasingly blue county. Hahn recently admitted during a forum he wasn’t aware of the state’s landmark Leandro Supreme Court case that affirmed the right of every student to quality education. Yikes. That alone is reason enough that Johnson-Hostler deserves another term. —LT

Wake County Board of Education District 7: Chris Heagarty 

Read his candidate questionnaire here.

Incumbent Chris Heagarty is a former Democratic member of the state House of Representatives and the executive director of the City of Oaks Foundation, a nonprofit committed to preserving Raleigh’s parks and natural resources. Since winning election to the board in 2018, he’s offered insightful questions during meetings and shown a willingness to listen.

His opponent is Rachel Mills, another conservative challenger who promises not to be a “not a rubber stamp for misguided Marxist agendas.” That’s silly. Vote Heagarty. —LT 

Wake County Board of Education District 8: Lindsay Mahaffey 

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

In her two terms on the board, parent and teacher Lindsay Mahaffey has shown herself to be an effective and thoughtful leader. She offers up a comprehensive platform that balances the safety of students returning to public schools and the need to increase support staff like counselors and social workers to address students’ emotional needs.

Her challenger is Steve Bergstrom, a veteran who boasts managing billions in contracts for the Department of Defense. While that may be helpful in balancing the board’s budget, we believe Mahaffey better understands the needs of students and staff in the classroom. We pick Mahaffey. —LT

Wake County Board of Education District 9: Bill Fletcher

Read his candidate questionnaire here.

Since joining the board in 2013, Bill Fletcher has proven to be a tireless advocate for education, unafraid of (rightfully) calling out the N.C. General Assembly for underfunding schools.

   Fletcher’s challenger is Karen Carter, who compared to the other challengers, seems relatively sane. But her platform is vague, and Fletcher has been effective from his seat giving us no reason to seek his replacement. Fletcher should serve another term. —LT

Wake County Register of Deeds – Tammy Brunner 

Tammy Brunner is the former executive director for the North Carolina

Democratic Party, which not only gives her the management experience necessary to effectively serve this post, but also deep connections within the community. She understands people, which is critical for a role that essentially deals in customer service. She’s committed to overhauling the department by bringing more services online, which is long overdue. 

We’ve heard good things about Republican incumbent Charles Gilliam, who was appointed to clean up the department in 2017 after former Register Laura Riddick’s embezzlement scandal. By most accounts, he’s done a fine job, but we feel more excitement surrounding the potential innovations Brunner could bring to the office. Plus, we made a grievous error not initially endorsing her in the primary. We’re not making that mistake again. -LT

Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor: Jean-Luc Duvall

Read his candidate questionnaire here.

Currently a field organizer with the League of Conservation Voters, Jean-Luc Duvall is a progressive Democrat with a passion for environmental stewardship. He views this position as an opportunity to lead by example, getting his hands dirty and taking an active role in preserving Wake County’s natural resources. Through his work with the League of Conservation Voters, Duvall has become a trusted voice in the media, providing expert analysis to journalists about environmental issues, as well as writing for outlets such as the News & Observer and Coastal Review. If elected, he’d be well-positioned to use his profile to serve as a liaison between the Soil and Water Conservation District and the general public. Additionally, he seeks to cultivate (get it?) relationships with business complexes and faith networks to educate them on the potential for community gardens in their spaces, as well as push for an expansion of urban agriculture in an ever-growing Wake County. —DM

Durham County
Durham Water And Soil Conservation District Supervisor: Anjali Boyd

Read her candidate questionnaire here.

There are five candidates for this job, four of whom—Anjali Boyd, Jillian Riley, Jan Cromartie, and Terence Priester—are currently associate supervisors. Priester is the founder and senior pastor at a church that lists as part of its beliefs that “marriage is a God created institution between a man and woman,” and that “nothing other than this will be recognized or accepted,” so he’s obviously out of contention.

Riley is pursuing a master’s of social work at UNC-Chapel Hill and describes herself as an environmental justice activist who stands against corporate pollution. She also formerly worked for North Carolina state Senator Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe). Boyd, a native Durhamite and doctoral student at Duke, also considers herself an advocate for environmental justice and already has a lot of good experience and ideas that make her well-suited to the role in spite of being just 23 years old. We endorse Boyd, but it was a tough call, as Riley would also be a good supervisor. —PB

*This endorsement originally called Priester an “anti-LGTBQ pastor.”

Clarification: We were contacted by the Terence Priester campaign after the endorsements were released and the campaign stated “Candidate Terence Priester is a pastor and he believes that all people should have access to clean natural resources, regardless of what they choose to believe or practice. He has never made a statement regarding the “LGT-BQ” community.” It is accurate Priester did not make a statement to INDY Week regarding the LGTBQ community. INDY Week reported this based on the statement listed on the beliefs page of a church where he is listed as the founder and senior pastor.

Click here to return to our list of endorsements.

Follow Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com. Follow freelance writer Paul Blest on Twitter or send an email to prjblest@gmail.com. Follow INDY Daily writer Drew Millard on Twitter or send an email to dmillard@indyweek.com.

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