A Very Strange Runoff

Cross posted from HK Activist

By Will McMillan

November 8th is approaching and with it the fate of the Wake County School Board. The stakes are pretty high this Election Day because of one race in particular, the runoff election of District 3 between Kevin Hill and Heather Losurdo, and, to me, this particular race seems extra strange.

First, officially, the school board is supposed to be non-partisan. Of course, that all changed in 2009 when Republican backed candidates took over the board with the help of their financial supporters, notably businessman Art Pope who is notorious for funding puppet candidates who support his own agenda. District 3’s election is no different. Hill is being challenged by a candidate who not only spoke at a Tea Party rally, but was also president of the Northern Wake Republican Club.

The financial situation is also strange. This has proven to be one of the most expensive races in the history of the board with Hill raising $42,728 for his campaign, mostly from small donations from hundreds of supporters, and Losurdo breaking the record by raising a number nearly double that, $82,357, including a whopping $16,000 from Art Pope and his wife. To me that seems a bit much for a non-partisan race.

Strangest yet, though, is the fact that this race is even contested. On paper it’s no contest. Losurdo, a Wake county resident for the past three years, lists her own experience of being a mom, a member of the PTA, and a softball coach as the reasons why she is qualified to run for the school board. That’s fantastic, and I by no means minimize those things as valid qualifications. Frankly, though, they pale in comparison to Hill’s experience as an educator. Hill has been working in education in Wake County for nearly thirty five years. He was a Wake County public school teacher for seventeen years, assistant principal for three, and a full-fledged principal for eleven. He’s also been a professor at NCSU teaching education. Not to mention that for the previous four years he’s actually been on the Wake County School Board.

With that kind of background, it’s crystal clear who should be elected onto the school board on Tuesday. Hill’s experience alone should show that he knows how best to understand issues and make good decisions for the students in Wake County. We really shouldn’t let politics interfere with education, it’s simply too important for that.