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Democrats pick Annette Scippio for East Ward

Annette Scippio

Democrats pick Annette Scippio for East Ward
October 11
09:19 2018

Annette Scippio was chosen by her fellow East Ward Democrats on Sunday to fill the seat that will soon be left vacant by City Council Member Derwin Montgomery.

Montgomery, who is also co-owner of The Chronicle, will be stepping down at the end of the City Council meeting on Nov. 5 to fill the 72nd District seat vacated by Ed Hanes in the General Assembly. The City Council wanted to select his replacement, but that proved controversial among East Ward Democrats. The council decided to let the Forsyth County Democratic Party (FCDP) recommend a candidate, which it will vote on whether to approve.

Scippio, Tony Burton and Abrea Armstrong submitted their names for consideration.

They were all part of a heavily attended two-hour candidate forum for the seat last week, on Oct. 4.

The vote Sunday, Oct. 7, at FCDP Headquarters was preceeded by more than two hours of deliberation on how the vote was to be conducted. Then the candidates each addressed a weary crowd. Scippio, a 69 year-old retired executive director of Leadership Winston-Salem and a Winston Lake precinct chair, told attendees she was only looking to fill the position until the next election, which she doesn’t intend to run in.

“I have my time to give to you,” she said. “I will do an excellent job serving you. I am patient.

But what we saw today is what is going to happen in any issue on the City Council or a board or commission, it’s going to be like this. We have to have the real patience to listen, to learn, to put off all of our other agendas and come up with the best for everyone in our ward and in our city.”

The City Council stated that its intention was for the East Ward replacement to not run for that seat in the next election. Scippio was the only candidate who told attendees she would not run then. The council plans to submit legislation to the General Assembly to allow for special elections with primaries for Winston-Salem City Council vacancies. If that doesn’t happen, the next City Council election is in 2020.

Other candidates reacted to the long deliberations as well.

“I want you all to think about what happened today and what a 25-year-old would have thought about this process,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong, 27, works as a marketing coordinator at Innovation Quarter and Wake Forest University School of Medicine. She ran on the hopes that the East Ward would again choose a youthful voice to represent it. Montgomery was only 21 years old when he was elected in 2009, becoming youngest person to win a council seat.  His supporters praised the youthful energy and new ideas he has brought to the ward.

Burton, 51, is a consultant and former executive director of North West Child Development Centers. He told Democrats they need to unite. He said the East Ward has the potential to be as great as any place in the city.

“We need to unify, we need to move forward and we need to be progressive,” said Burton.

Party Chair Eric Ellison described the vote as being in “No Man’s Land” since there were no procedures and laws governing how the FCDP should pick a replacement for a partisan municipal seat. There were lengthy debates and votes over procedural disagreements.

At one point, Ellison considered delaying the vote and holding additional meetings to hash out all the details, which Party Treasurer Donald Dunn said they didn’t have time to do before the critical November election. Montgomery said he would ask the City Council to reconsider its motion if the vote was delayed until after the election. Scippio stood up and urged the party to work through the issues and hold the vote because she didn’t want to see the ward go without representation.

“We’ve got too much work to be doing to be delaying this anymore,” she said.

And work through it, they did. They agreed to let precinct chairs and vice chairs, party officials and State Executive Committee members have one vote and include precincts that were only partially in the East Ward.

Scippio won the majority of the vote and grew emotional as her fellow Democrats applauded the result. She said she was inspired by her late father-in-law Kenneth R. Williams, Winston-Salem’s first black alderman, who showed her what it took to do that type of service. She told them to feel free to contact her with any issue they have.

“Together, we’re going to make the East Ward wonderful,” she said.

After the vote, Burton said he was considering running for the seat when it comes up for election.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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