As a result of a new state law to redistrict the Wake County School Board, candidates running for the school board this year will have to serve shorter terms and run for entirely different districts come 2016.
On Oct. 8, Wake County voters will elect School Board members to Districts 1, 2, 7 and 9.
Under the new state law to redistrict the Wake school board, Senate Bill 325, ratified June 13, those districts and the rest of the nine current school districts have been turned into seven districts and two new at-large seats that will represent the county as a whole.
This is the second redrawing of the Wake school board in two years and a dramatic redrawing of the school system’s political map. The previous redistricting, in 2011, was legally mandated in accordance with the 2010 Census.
The law also moved elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years. As a result, the four school board members elected this year will serve shorter terms – just three years instead of the staggered four-year terms of their colleagues on the board.
The next school board election will be in 2016, which some also have said could give Republican candidates an edge by syncing it with general elections.
Two Wake County Republicans, State Senators Neal Hunt and Chad Barefoot, proposed the redistricting bill.
Bill Fletcher, the incumbent Republican school board member representing District 9, is running this fall for a district that will be gone completely from the new map. He does not approve of the changes.
School board members, Fletcher told the Record in an email, “advocate for their district and support the needs of every child and family in the county. This change in districts makes that more difficult.”
“The new districts divide towns and create unnatural geographic service areas making it more difficult for board members to serve their constituents and build important relationships with municipal and community leaders,” he wrote.
Fletcher also criticized moving elections to general election years, when partisanship will be more of a factor. It will be tough for school board candidates to stand out, raise funds and gather volunteers amid federal and state elections, he said.
Monika Johnson-Hostler, the Democratic newcomer running for the District 2 seat, wrote in an e-mail that she might be redistricted to District 1 or District B come 2016.
“There are many offices that are elected for two years, so if elected I will work hard and remain dedicated to bringing the voices of District 2 to the table,” she wrote. “I would run for a second term if elected regardless of the district or the term.”
Here’s a breakdown of how Districts 1, 2, 7 and 9 will be changed under the new law:
The current District 1 is in the northeastern corner of Wake County and covers Wake Forest, Zebulon, Knightdale, Rolesville and Wendell. The district has five high schools. On the new map, the district will be huge, running from northeastern to northwestern Wake and down to southern Wake.
Party affiliations in the new District 1:
Democrats: 39.51 percent
Republicans: 35.44 percent
Unaffiliated: 24.89 percent
The current District 2 is in the southeastern corner of Wake County and covers Garner and Fuquay-Varina. The district has one high school, Garner Magnet High School. On the new map, the district has been moved to North Raleigh, with a tail reaching down into within the Beltline.
Party affiliations in the new District 2:
Democrats: 34.95 percent
Republicans: 38.08 percent
Unaffiliated: 26.79 percent
The current District 7 covers the Morrisville and Raleigh-Durham International Airport area, running from a little past Creedmoor Road in the east to N.C. 55 on the west. There are two high schools in the district: Panther Creek High School and Leesville Road High School. On the new map, the district is moved to southern Wake County and expanded, running from east to west along the county line and going up north on both sides.
Party affiliations in the new District 7:
Democrats: 32.58 percent
Republicans: 36.82 percent
Unaffiliated: 30.39 percent
The current District 9 covers Cary and has two high schools, Green Hope High School and Cary High School. On the new map, the district will disappear completely.