Updated Dec. 12 with a statement from Board of Education attorney Neil Whitford on BOE electoral districts.
Next year’s county elections may be decided by the Republican primary in March rather than on election day itself.
Candidate filing opened Dec. 2 for three county Board of Commissioners (BOC) seats and three Board of Education (BOE) seats. All nine candidates who have filed as of noon Wednesday are running as Republicans. Filing closes Dec. 20 at noon.
Four candidates have filed for county Board of Commissioners, including the three incumbents:
- Bob Cavanaugh (R) – District 3
- Jimmy Farrington (R) – District 4
- Ed Wheatly (R) – District 5
And one challenger:
- Chimer D. Clark, Jr., (R) – District 3
The Board of Education race has a wider playing field so far. One of the three incumbents with seats up for grabs has filed:
- Travis Day (R) – District 4
And four challengers have filed:
- Andrea Phillips Beasley (R) – District 4
- Jerry Buttery (R) – District 2
- Dennis Goodwin (R) – District 3
- Katie Statler (R) – District 2
Incumbent Melissa Ehlers announced at the Dec. 3 BOE meeting that she would not seek re-election.
The BOE has recently come under fire over the resignation of Superintendent Mat Bottoms. Some have alleged that BOE members are choosing partisan politics over students. Beasley and Statler were among those who spoke out against a partisan BOE Dec. 3.
The passage of NC Sen. Norm Sanderson’s 2017 bill, SB 253, switched the Carteret BOE and several others from non-partisan to partisan.
At their Dec. 3 meeting, the BOE unanimously passed a resolution to adjust its districts to match BOC districts. The resolution cites NC General Statute 115C-37(i) and the fact that the two boards used to have overlapping districts before the BOC made adjustments due to population changes.
“The school board acted on Dec. 3 with respect to aligning its districts to those of the county commissioners to resolve a growing problem that could well have caused chaos in the upcoming primaries,” BOE attorney Neil Whitford said.
“The problem was centered around the county board of elections publishing district maps for school board seats that were the same as the districts for county commissioners and advising candidates and potential candidates for school board elections that their districts were those shown on the published maps.”
Whitford said his understanding is that the local Board of Elections is taking BOE candidate filings for the 2020 election based on BOC districts rather than the official BOE districts.
“It was for this basic reason the school board took action to align its districts with those of the commissioners so there would be no confusion,” he said.
The resolution has to be passed by the NC General Assembly before going into effect. He expects that decision to be made by spring, if not earlier.