The 2014 election season promises to be an interesting one, with major shifts on the horizon for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education and a new judge joining the 21st District fold.
Four of the school board’s nine members did not file for reelection by the closing of the filing period on Feb. 28. Al “Buddy” Collins, Chair Jane Goins, Marilyn Parker and Jill Tackabery, all of whom represent District 2, have decided not to seek additional terms. Incumbents Irene May and Jeannie Metcalf, both former at-large representatives, have filed as District 2 candidates, as have fellow Republicans Dana Caudill Jones, Lori Goins Clark and David Bryant Singletary. Democrats Deanna Frazier Kaplan and Laura Elliott are also throwing their hats in the ring in the district.
The race for the decidedly more urban District 1 will be decided in the primary. Democrats Chenita Barber Johnson, Deanna Taylor and Malishai “Shai” Woodbury and incumbent Vic Johnson will vie for the District’s two seats. John Davenport Jr., the other District 1 incumbent, has decided to run for an at large seat.
Barber Johnson, an advertising consultant and president of the African American Caucus, is making her third bid for the school board. If elected, she says she will work toward boosting the graduation rate, improving the quality of education offered and increasing diversity and parity districtwide.
“My whole thing is about equity with the schools. I think we’d have a better education for children in our county if we were more equitable about how we’re spending our money,” she said, noting that new schools have gone up in predominantly white communities in recent years, while older structures in minority communities remain underutilized. “We’re still building more schools, and we’re not utilizing what we have.”
Woodbury, an instructor at her alma mater, NC A&T State University, and a Guilford County Schools employee, is also a seasoned school board candidate, having lost a bid in 2010. She says her passion and professional experience make her a strong contender for the job.
“I’m still willing and anxious to serve my community,” said Woodbury, the president of the Carver High School Alumni Association. “…What makes me the best person for this job is just that I’m 100 percent ready to serve.”
In the at-large race, incumbent Elisabeth Motsinger is joined by fellow Democrats Suzanne Carroll, Donald Dunn, Katherine Fansler and German Garcia and three Republicans: Davenport, Robert Barr and Mark Johnson. Dunn, the president of the North Carolina PTA and a 17-year veteran of the child development field, is hoping the third time truly is a charm. He lost previous bids for a District 2 spot.
The Winston-Salem State University alumnus, whose family owns The Little Red School House and Waughtown Kids R Us child development centers, believes running at-large is his recipe for success, as many of his supporters live outside District 2. The School Board’s mass exodus is one of his chief reasons for running again, Dunn said.
“I had several people call me saying that several of the school board members were not going to run again, and they were concerned that there was going to be a new crop of people that were not public education friendly,” explained the father of one. “… I believe we’ve lost ground overall, and we cannot afford to lose any more ground.”
The race for the newly-created District Court judgeship has attracted veteran attorney Donald Buie, who has spent over three decades in private practice. He is one of five lawyers who have filed. Buie, a native of Red Springs, will face competition from fellow judicial hopefuls Daniel Anthony, Valene Franco, Ted Kazakos and Andrew Keever. A member of the “first generation out of the field” in a family of sharecroppers, Buie believes he brings a perspective that is sorely needed on the bench.
“You have people on the bench that don’t have empathy for poor folks, they don’t understand what poor folks go through. They have nothing in common with them – that’s one of the big issues that I’ve seen,” said the North Carolina Central University School of Law graduate, who made an unsuccessful bid for a Guilford County District Court bench in 2012 and relocated to Forsyth County in January to run for the open seat. “I think you need to have a representative of the community on the bench.”
As a judge, Buie said he would work hard to apply the law equitably and ensure that everyone who comes before him feels respected and heard.
“I think it’s important for people to feel like they’ve had their day in court. A lot of times, people just want to be heard,” he said. “…I think you have to have patience when you’re on the bench. You have to have a good knowledge of the law, and I’ve been told that I have that type of demeanor.”
Donna Taylor, a local attorney who had also been campaigning for the newly-created District Court seat, filed instead for a Superior Court seat, where she will face off against Stacey Rubain and Richard Gottlieb in the non-partisan race.
Dr. Tony Burton III, CEO of Northwest Child Development Centers, had announced his intentions to run for the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners in District A, even launching a campaign web site and Facebook page. He did not file, however, citing a recent illness and the impending birth of his son.
Incumbents Everette Witherspoon and Walter Marshall – both Democrats – have filed for reelection in District A. Democrat Donald Scales, who has also filed in the district, could not be reached for comment.
The primary will be Tuesday, May 6. The general election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 4.