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Chronicle endorsements in Democratic Primary races

Chronicle endorsements in Democratic Primary races
March 10
00:00 2016

The Chronicle provides the following endorsements in the contested races in the Democratic Primary.

(The U.S. House of Representatives is currently scheduled to have a separate primary on June 7, but voters still must vote for someone in that race. Those races still remain on the ballot and, to avoid confusion, the State Board of Elections is urging voters to vote the entire ballot. Senate races and all other contests are being conducted as normal.)

President

Candidates: Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and Roque Rocky De Le Fuente

The Chronicle endorses Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who brings a new view of governing to the table. He is bringing a liberal viewpoint to shake up Democratic sensibilities. He is emphasizing that the wealthy should be bearing the monetary burden of helping the middle class like the middle class helped wealthy institutions with the huge bailout under President George W. Bush. He also is urging free college tuition and universal healthcare. He was an officer of the Congress of Racial Equality and led a sit-in opposing segregated student housing owned by the University of Chicago.

Sanders has an office in Winston-Salem on Waughtown Street.

The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary on Nov. 8. It is unclear who that will be, but Donald Trump has the highest delegate count so far.

U.S. Senate 

Candidates: Ernest Reeves, Chris Rey, Deborah K. Ross and Kevin D. Griffin

The Chronicle endorses Spring Lake Mayor Chris Rey. Rey, an African-American, began planting seeds for his candidacy in 2015, making an appearance in Winston-Salem. He was elected the youngest mayor in the history of Spring Lake in 2011. He’s served in the National Guard and Army, being deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He is executive director of Cumberland HealthNET, a non-profit organization that helps coordinate care for the uninsured in Cumberland County. With this experience, Rey is well qualified to navigate through the Congress to help North Carolina work for progressive issues, such as improving health-care, not trying to trash Obamacare.

On Nov. 8, the winner of the Democratic Primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary, which is expected to be incumbent GOP Sen. Richard Burr.

U.S. House of Representatives 

Incumbent: Democrat Alma Adams

Candidates: Alma Adams, Gardenia Henley and Juan Antonio Marin Jr.

The Chronicle endorses U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, who in her first term has worked hard for her constituents. She has launched or helped to launch initiatives that help the poor and historically black colleges and universities as well as addressed other issues. She introduced a bill to rename the downtown Winston-Salem post office after Dr. Maya Angelou and won House approval. The measure has now gone to the Senate for a vote.

The N.C. General Assembly, led by Republicans, gerrymandered her out of representing parts of Forsyth and Guilford counties during the recent redistricting effort, but Adams has vowed to run for the new District 12 seat in the June 7 primary.

Governor 

Candidates: Ken Spaulding and Roy Cooper

The Chronicle endorsed Ken Spaulding on February 18. Spaulding, an African-American from Durham, has experience as a legislator, so he knows how to deal with issues of concern to the people directly. He also has served on the North Carolina Board of Transportation.

Spaulding has been a practicing attorney since 1970. During Spaulding’s private sector career, he helped bring hundreds of millions of dollars of economic investment and development into North Carolina along with thousands of jobs for the people of this state. He supports teachers, also.

Spaulding would work for stable social and business climates to create “a vibrant and active business community.”

On Nov. 8, the winner of the primary will face the winner of the Republican primary, which is expected to be incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory.

Lieutenant Governor

Candidates: Holly Jones, Ronald L. Newton, Robert Wilson and Linda Coleman

The Chronicle endorses Linda Coleman, an African-American who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor as the Democratic nominee in 2012. She received 2.1 million votes statewide. She served as a Wake County commissioner for four years, was elected three times to the North Carolina House of Representatives and served as director of the Office of State Personnel from 2009 to 2012. Coleman has the background to step into the Governor’s position if needed. North Carolina needs a lieutenant governor who knows how to navigate state government yet has the courage to work for change. “I want to give North Carolina’s middle class families a fighting chance again,” she says.

The winner of the primary faces incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on Nov. 8.

Attorney General

Incumbent: Democrat Roy Cooper (who isn’t seeking re-election in order to run for governor)

Candidates: Josh Stein and Marcus W. Williams

The Chronicle endorses Marcus W. Williams of Lumberton, an African-American who is an attorney with decades of legal experience. He is licensed to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and other federal courts. He has been the assistant public defender for North Carolina and executive director of Legal Services (which provides legal assistance to low-income individuals) for the state of Pennsylvania and two regional programs in the North Carolina.

North Carolina needs a flexible attorney general who has an ear toward people who could be wrongly accused, which the current attorney general appears to not have.

The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary on Nov. 8.

One Republican vying to replace Cooper is Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill.

Some wonderment: Mr. O’Neill has basically ignored cries from the black community to look at questionable cases like Kalvin Michael Smith. We have not speculated on it one way or the other. Yet, in O”Neill’s campaign ad, he has the gall to insult every fair-minded person in America  by placing blame for the troubles of the world on Barack Obama while  positioning himself as the savior of the free world. God Almighty seems to be the only One who can save this country from people like him, Senator Richard Burr and Attorney General Roy Cooper.

N.C. Commissioner of Labor

Candidates: Charles Meeker and Mazie Ferguson

The Chronicle endorses Mazie Ferguson of Greensboro, an African-American lawyer who is a life-long civil rights activist. She’s worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the NAACP.  She’s the former assistant legal council for N.C. A&T State University. Ferguson is the former pastor of First Missionary and Liberation Baptist churches. She’s also former head of the Pulpit Forum ministerial alliance.

Ferguson says she would work for the workers of North Carolina. We need a commissioner who has that drive.

The winner of the primary will face incumbent Republican Cherie Killian Berry on Nov. 8.

N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction

Incumbent: Democrat June Atkinson

Candidates: Henry J. Pankey and June Atkinson

The Chronicle endorses Henry J. Pankey, an African-American from Durham who is a retired assistant principal with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School’s Parkland High School. He has won numerous awards during his almost 40 years in education, including Durham’s Principal of the Year for turning around the low-performing Southern High School. While at Parkland, he was named Assistant Principal of the Year by the N.C. Association of Educators in 2012.

While Atkinson has been state superintendent for public schools since 2005 and touts the increase North Carolina’s graduation rate during her tenure, Pankey, who has written numerous op-ed pieces that have appeared in The Chronicle, supports teachers and students and advocates working to get them to a standard of excellence.

The winner of the primary will face the winner of the Republican Primary on Nov. 8.

N.C. Treasurer

Incumbent: Democrat Janet Cowell

(who isn’t seeking re-election)

Candidates: Dan Blue III and Ron Elmer

The Chronicle endorses Dan Blue III, an African-American from Raleigh who is the son of state Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue Jr. and is a lawyer who practices commercial transactions and bond financing. Current state treasurer Cowell, the North Carolina Association of Educators, AFL-CIO and Equality NC, have endorsed him.

Blue has the financial acumen to handle the office as well as fiscal responsibility. “North Carolina deserves fiscally responsible leadership that respects and protects the public employees, taxpayers and communities throughout the state,” he says. We agree.

On Nov. 8, the winner of the primary will face Republican Dale Folwell of Winston-Salem, a former N.C. representative and former Employment Security Division head.

Forsyth County Register of Deeds

Incumbent: Democrat C. Norman Holleman

Candidates: C. Norman Holleman and Lynne Johnson

The Chronicle endorses Lynn Johnson, an African-American who is a Winston-Salem State University alumna with 27 years of experience in the Register of Deeds office, which included being supervisor of the vital records division. She now works for the Clerk of Courts office.

Johnson has the expertise to keep that office running smoothly and knowledge of working with the Clerk of Courts office to add to it. Knowing how county government operations work as a whole would be a plus to have in our register of deeds.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Steve Wood of Pfafftown on Nov. 8.

The Register of Deeds records, manages, and pre-serves public real property records, vital information on births, deaths and marriages, and military service records, while also administering the Notary Oath.

Winston-Salem City Council Northeast Ward 

Incumbent: Democrat Vivian H. Burke

Candidates: Vivian H Burke and Keith King

The Chronicle endorses Keith King. In this Ward race, there isn’t a question of qualification or platform or program or anything that would clearly differentiate one person over another. There is no question about Mrs. Burke’s commitment to this community. She has proven that over the last 39 years. Therein lies our perplexing state of mind.

Mrs. Burke has been, and we’re sure will always be, a champion for all of the people of this city. She has learned much and she has taught much. We hold her in the highest esteem. There is no criticism here, only accolades for a job well done. As is stated in the Holy Bible, we all want it to be said of us, “well done thou good and faithful servant …” Mrs. Burke will always be our champion. But, as it is with all things, there is a time to hold on and a time to let go. We believe it is time to let go.

Part of the concern that we have always had in this city is developing and grooming new leadership. Well, how can we groom future leaders if there is nowhere for them to serve or nothing for them to lead?

This is perhaps one of the most difficult things this newspaper has ever felt obligated to do. And, yet, we feel compelled to say it.

Mrs. Virginia Newell served 16 years, Mr. Carl Russell served 16 years and Mrs. Wanda Merschel served 16 years. We believe those periods of time, less than half the time Mrs. Burke has served, is longer than we should ask anybody to serve. And, so, this peculiar predicament we find ourselves in forces us to ask voters to praise Mrs. Burke for her service, but it is time to give someone else the opportunity to do likewise.

We thank God for the fact that we have competent, committed and other capable citizens willing to step into Mrs. Burke’s shoes and continue to carry the torch. We believe her opponent, Keith King, is that person.

The winner of this primary faces no Republican opposition on Nov. 8.

Winston-Salem City Council South Ward 

Incumbent: Molly Leight (who isn’t seeking re-election)

Candidates: Carolyn Highsmith and John Larson

The Chronicle endorses John Larson, who is vice president of restoration at Old Salem Museum and Gardens. Larson, a longtime South Ward resident, has spearheaded efforts to preserve city landmarks and worked to protect negotiations. He is a current member of the Creative Corridors Board and the Old Salem Residents Association. Current South Ward City Council Member Leight endorses him.

While Highsmith has been a community advocate for years, Larson has, too, and has more experience working with a wider variety of entities in the city. He would be able to forge alliances with other City Council members for the good of Winston-Salem as a whole.

The winner of the primary will face Republican Michael Tyler on Nov. 8.

Referendum

Connect NC Public Improvement Bond

The Chronicle endorses Connect NC and urges voters to vote “Yes” for it.

It is a $2 billion general obligation bond for state infrastructure spending. The bond won’t raise taxes and the state will still be able to maintain its Triple A bond rating while borrowing the money. The money will fund local projects such as a new science building for Winston-Salem State University and renovation of Forsyth Tech’s Forsyth Building.

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