The policy direction of the Wake county school board may be heading for another major shift after a likely sweep by Democrats of the five available seats on Tuesday.
Candidates supported by the Wake County Democratic Party won four of the five school board seats up for grabs. The election gained national importance after a year of controversy surrounding the Wake County diversity policy.
Read the recap of the race here
The results of the election raise speculation on whether or not the board’s controversial 2009 decision to end the countywide diversity busing program will be overturned by the new Democratic majority.
The remaining seat for district 4 will go to a runoff, since none of the candidates received a majority of the vote. The top vote winner in that race was Kevin Hill, endorsed by the Democratic Party.
“This election was particularly challenging because we have to win 100 percent of the seats. Normally if you get 4 out of 5 seats, you’d consider it a success, but here we have to win 5 of the 5 seats up for grabs to win back the majority,” said Nation Hahn, Wake County Democratic party spokesman, as he and fellow Democrats watched results come in at the Wilmoore café in Raleigh.
While the elections are officially non-partisan, the campaigns were largely shaped by the Republican and Democratic parties and their respective endorsements.
Early voting results showed Democrat-backed candidates surging ahead in most races. Cheers and handshakes were exchanged by Democrats gathered in Raleigh after each district’s results reported Democratic victories.
District 8 winner Susan Evans said she was very pleased with the results and that the elections shows that the Wake county community values the education of its children.
The mood in the Republican camp was more somber. District 8 incumbent and school board chairman Ron Margiotta thanked his supporters after conceding defeat to Evans.
The Wake County School Board seized the attention of the national media when a Republican majority overturned the former diversity-based school assignment plan for a more “community-based” plan.
And this year, while other issues — budget reform, improving academic programs, discipline policy, etc. — have received some attention, school assignment has been the controversy at the center of the election again.
“My concern is that I think we’ll go back to where we were two years ago,” Margiotta said. “I don’t think that’s what the public wants, I don’t think that’s what the parents want. I don’t think it’s good for the community, but I can accept the will of the people.”
View the Reesenews photo gallery of Tuesday’s elections here