Curb the dropout rate: The number of school board candidates dwindled last week after two Wake County Republicans withdrew from the contest: Jerry Ballan in District 7 and Ray Martin in District 9.

Ballan, who had been endorsed by the Wake County GOP, declined to say why he folded his tent. However, it’s notable that the GOP and the conservative-leaning Wake Community Schools Alliance parted ways over their respective endorsements, with WSCA supporting Deborah Prickett, who is registered as unaffiliated, for District 7.

GOP spokesperson Gail Marold told the Indy that WSCA’s endorsement won’t factor into the party’s new endorsement. Yet, given that Karen Simon is a registered Democrat, it’s more likely the GOP will endorse Prickettor no one.

The GOP’s executive committee is expected to decide no later than its Aug. 11 meeting.

In District 9, Martin did not receive the GOP’s blessing, which instead went to Debra Goldman. Martin said in a GOP press release that he will now back Goldman, who’s up against environmental educator Lois Nixon, who lists herself as unaffiliated.

School board districts 7 and 9 include parts of Cary, which is also holding town council elections. On his blog at, Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said he would endorse incumbent Town Councilwoman Julie Robison for the at-large seat, but “will not endorse in any other race.”

Robison faces Republican Philip Scarsella.

Cary residents can grill the town council and school board candidates by submitting questions now for a Sept. 15 forum in Town Council Chambers. Deadline for questions is Sept. 8.

Residents must provide their name and contact information. No anonymous questions will be accepted. There are several ways to send them:

  • By mail: N.C. Center for Voter Education 3933 Arrow Drive, Suite 101, Raleigh, NC 27612. Write “Attn: Cary forum” on the envelope.
  • By phone: 783-8811
  • By fax: 783-8855
  • By e-mail:

And town residents are no longer limited to writing their questions: Record them at Cary’s Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival on Saturday, Aug. 22, or post them for consideration on YouTube. Send the link to

The forum will be cablecast on Cary’s government access channel, TV 11. It is sponsored by the Town of Cary and moderated by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Voter Education, which also ran the 2007 forum. The town is paying NCCVE $2,500 to manage the event.

Town officials will not review questions before the forum, nor will candidates receive questions in advance. Afterward, the public can see a copy of all submitted questions.

More information is available at

In Chapel Hill, Town Councilman Bill Strom, who is not up for re-election this year, is resigning, effective Aug. 1.

In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, Strom said he resigned “to pursue other personal and professional opportunities outside the community.”

The Town Council is on its summer hiatus, but when it reconvenes in September, it can appoint someone to serve out Strom’s term, which ends in 2011. He was elected to Town Council in 1999, 2003 and 2007.

Disclosure: Strom is married to Indy Food Editor Jennifer Strom.