by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

National and state races heat up as filing ends

From the US Senate to the local school board, the political races this election season offer voters intrigue, excitement and clear choices. As the filing period closed on Feb. 26, a significant number of challengers emerged. Six Democrats have filed for the US Senate seat currently held by Republican and Winston- Salem native Richard Burr, including NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Lexington lawyer Cal Cunningham and Chapel Hill lawyer Ken Lewis. Susan Harris, Ann Worthy and Marcus W. Williams have also filed on the Democratic side. Burr will square off against Eddie Burks and Brad Jones in the Republican primary May 4. UNCG professor Michael Beitler will run as the Libertarian Party candidate in the race.

Billy Kennedy, a radio talk show host from Boone, is the only Democrat to file for the 5th Congressional District seat currently held by Republican Virginia Foxx. Foxx is seeking her fourth term in office. She will face Republican challenger Keith Gardner in the May primary.

Republican Howard Coble, who has held the 6th Congressional District seat since 1985, faces five Republican challengers, including Guilford County Commissioner Billy Yow, Cathy Brewer Hinson of High Point, Jon Mangin of Stokesdale, Jeff Phillips of Greensboro and James Taylor of Pinehurst. Only one Democrat, Sam Turner of Salisbury, has waded in.

Democrats Mel Watt and Brad Miller, who respectively represent the 12th and 13th Congressional districts, have attracted no challengers from their own party, but a field of Republicans is competing for the opportunity to take them on in November. The Republican challengers in the 12th district include Greensboro Tea Party activist Doc Gillenwater, Greg Dority and Scott Cumbie. High Pointer Lon Cecil is running on the Libertarian ticket. Four Republicans are contending in the 13th Burr district: Frank Hurley of Chapel Hill, Dan Huffman of Wake Forest, Bernie Reeves and Bill Randall, both of Raleigh.

Classic political match-up unfolds in NC Senate 28

Democratic incumbent Katie Dorsett’s sudden withdrawal from the NC Senate District 28 race in Guilford County less than an hour before the close of election filing on Feb. 26 suddenly threw the seat into play. Until the last day of filing, Dorsett’s had been the only Democratic name on the ballot, and Dorsett could be considered a warning to aspiring politicians within her party to steer clear.

Following a late-night strategy session with Guilford County Republican Party Executive Director Tony Wilkins and political consultant Bill Burckley, Trudy Wade made the decision at the crack of dawn on Feb. 26 to file for the District 28 seat. A two-term Greensboro city councilwoman and conservative political brand in Guilford County, Wade is the best known of the four Republican candidates, who also include Jeffrey Brommer, Robert Brafford Jr. and John Wayne Welch.

Dorsett has announced that she is backing fellow Democrat Gladys A. Robinson, who filed to run on the same day the incumbent withdrew. Robinson said she and Dorsett have been talking about the seat for several years, and she would not have run against her mentor.

Robinson is the executive director of Piedmont Health Services Sickle Cell Agency. Dorsett and her predecessor in the Senate, the late Bill Martin, served on the agency’s board of directors and hired Robinson for the job.

“I served with Bill Martin on the first NC Commission on Minority and At-Risk Children starting in the late eighties and early nineties, that first addressed the issue of children who are low-income, minority and not achieving. They’ve been certainly carving a path for me, but I think they’ve also respected by leadership and my service to the community.”

Robinson faces Evelyn Miller in the Democratic primary on May 4. Miller is a member of the Greensboro Zoning Commission.

Dorsett’s retirement marks the end of a trailblazing political career in which she holds the distinction of being the first African- American woman elected to the Greensboro City Council. Later, she gave up a seat on the Guilford County Commission to serve as Gov. Jim Hunt’s secretary of administration.

Dorsett’s popularity allowed her to defeat Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis in a primary challenge two years ago by a 30-point margin. Her sudden withdrawal from the race caught her fellow Democrats off guard.

“If there were some people who wanted to run, like Bruce Davis, but out of deference to her didn’t file, it undermines democracy and denies the citizens a choice,” said Earl Jones, a fellow African- American politician who represents District 60 in the NC House. “It just doesn’t look right. As an incumbent, she had respect. Other folk who respected her position and thought she was doing a good job might not have run. It limited the field of individuals who would run.”

Meanwhile, with Wade on the ballot, many Republicans are publicly hoping the District 28 seat where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans can be flipped into the Republican column. Wade has retained the consulting services of Bill Burckley, a respected and feared political operative who engineered Bill Knight’s upset victory in the Greensboro mayoral race last year.

While Robinson lacks Republican counterpart Wade’s name recognition, she’ll have some seasoned talent in her organization: Her campaign manager is Pamlyn Stubbs, who was the senior staff member in US Rep. Mel Watt’s office before her retirement.

Several last-minute filings in Guilford County suddenly created both primary and general election contests.

Republicans Wendell Sawyer, a former state senator, and Jon Hardister, a 27-year-old mortgage executive, will battle for opportunity to challenge Democratic incumbent Pricey Harrison in the fall in NC House District 57.

Michael K. Garrett, a 25-year-old marketing professional, is challenging veteran John Blust in the Republican primary for NC House District 62.

Scott Jones is challenging BJ Barnes in the Republican primary for sheriff. Jack Dwayne Crawford has joined incumbent Linda Shaw and Samuel Spagnola in the Republican primary for the District 3 seat on the Guilford County Commission.

Two Guilford County School Board races will have primaries with the entry of third candidates. At-large board member Nancy Routh will defend her seat against Lisa Ingle Clapp and Charo Tomlin. And first-term board member Garth Hebert will defend his District 2 seat in High Point against Richard Becker and Ed Price.

The Democratic winner in the NC House District 58 contest between incumbent Alma Adams and challenger Ralph Johnson will meet Republican Darin H. Thomas, while the Democratic victor in the NC House District 60 race between incumbent Earl Jones and challenger Marcus Brandon will contend against Republican Lonnie R. Wilson.

Democrat Don Vaughan, who represents District 27 in the NC

Senate, faces Republican Jeff Hyde in the general election, and Democrat Maggie Jeffus, representing NC House District 59, goes up against Republican Theresa Yon in November. — JG

More challengers than usual in Forsyth races

Forsyth County Commissioners Ted Kaplan, Walter Marshall, Beaufort Bailey and Debra Conrad will face challenges in the upcoming election. Ted Kaplan, an at large Democrat, will face the winner of the May 4 Republican primary between Republicans Bill Whiteheart, Jonathan Mark Corts, Mark Baker and Fred Benson. Everette Kaplan

Witherspoon, who helped manage former Winston-Salem City Councilwoman Evelyn Terry’s failed 2009 re-election bid, will vie for one of two board seats from District A currently held by Democrats Bailey and Marshall. Democrat Stan Dean will challenge Republican Conrad for the one open seat in District B.

Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman will face Republican challenger Dave Griffith in his party’s primary, and the winner will square off against Democrat Jerry Wayne Herron in the Nov. 2 general election.

Two current members of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board are running in different districts in 2010, the first ever nonpartisan race for the board. Incumbent Jeannie Metcalf, who currently represents District 2, will run as an at-large candidate. Buddy Collins, an at-large representative, has filed to run in District 2. Challengers Robert Barr, Lori Goins Clark, Stan Hill, Joyce McAdams, William H. Roberts, Nancy P. Sherrill and Shai Woodbury will vie for the board’s three at-large seats against incumbent chairman Donny Lambeth and Elisabeth Motsinger. Regina Barnes, Jimmie Lee Bonham, Chenita Barber Johnson and Diana Williams-Cotton will vie for the two District 1 seats held by incumbents Geneva Brown and Victor Johnson. Donald Dunn, Carla B. Farmer, Tom Hackelman, Norman Hill, Jim Toole and Stacey Walker McElveen will challenge incumbent board members Jill Tackabery, Marilyn Parker and Jane Goins for the four seats from District 2.

In the NC Senate races, Democrat Ed Hanes will challenge incumbent Linda Garrou for the District 32 seat in the May 4 primary. Republicans Brian C. Miller and Nathan Jones will battle it out to square off against the Democratic nominee in November. Republican Sen. Pete Brunstetter is running unopposed.

In NC House races, Democrat Gardenia Mae Henley is challenging incumbent Earline Parmon in the District 72 contest.

Republican John Magee will face the winner in the November election. Cristina V. Vazquez, a Democrat, will square off against Republican incumbent Dale Folwell in the District 74 race, while NC House Reps. Larry Womble, Larry Brown and Bill McGee are all running unopposed.

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, who was appointed by Gov. Beverly Perdue to serve out the remainder of former DA Tom Keith’s term last November, is also running unopposed. — KTB

Yadkin Riverkeeper opens new office next to Krankies

Dean Najouks, the Yadkin Riverkeeper, opened his new office adjacent to Krankies Coffee in downtown Winston-Salem on Feb. 23. Naujoks celebrated the opening of the office, which is located on Patterson Avenue, with a reception at the popular coffee shop. Naujoks encouraged those in attendance to support the Yadkin Riverkeeper organization, which is a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Naujoks cited the sobering statistic that less than 1 percent of all water on the planet is available fresh water, and within the next 25 years, 90 percent of all the available fresh water is either going to be allocated or used.

“Future generations will not have access to clean water like we have, so the role we play is very important in enforcing the Clean Water Act and clean water protections,” he said. Najouks has served as the Yadkin Riverkeeper since the fall of 2008. The Riverkeeper’s charge is to manage and implement a river advocacy program for the Yadkin-Pee Dee River watershed. Naujoks cited the recent controversies surrounding the Thomasville sewage spill — where the city under reported a 15 million-gallon spill — and Alcoa’s re-licensing effort to seize monopolistic control of the Yadkin for the next 50 years, as two examples of the Riverkeeper’s vital role in protecting the state’s natural resources.

“This organization stands up to defend this river,” Naujoks said. “When there’s a big pollution problem or a clean-up effort, we’re going to be the one to take the lead on that.” — KTB