Monday, June 20, 2016

The Race: Wake County Board of Education (Background and Process)

When Government Lab decided to explore politics, it was on the small scale: a local, non-partisan election. Why and how?

In Wake County, NC, non-partisan elections do not require a signature threshold. As a registered Unaffiliated voter, there are certain elections (municipal and/or state-level offices) that I would not be able to participate in without meeting a voter-signature threshold requirement to get my name on the ballot.

I'm... mostly sympathetic to that, I suppose, if only because it deters single-issue candidates or watch-the-world-burn political renegades from playing 'election spoiler,' while allowing those candidates that have real support to participate. Happily, however, Wake County Board of Education District Representative is a non-partisan position which does not require such a threshold to be met, although the reasoning for such classification is a bit cloudy. One interpretation might be that citizens have an inherent stake in the operation of their local school system. Another interpretation would be that educational policy is not something subject to political philosophy/leanings -- I admit to being a bit skeptical about that proposition, though.

No matter which line of reasoning you prefer, declaring candidacy for local office in Wake County is a remarkably straight-forward process. Appear at your local Board of Elections, declare your candidacy, fill out some very brief paperwork, pay the registration fee, and -- congratulations, you're a candidate now!

There are two non-partisan races during this election cycle in Wake County: Board of Education, and Soil & Water District Commissioner. On the one hand, I have effectively zero knowledge of ecology, hydrology, soil science, or environmental protection. On the other hand, I have a fair amount of education, and I am passionate about encouraging others to pursue their education as well (it's what I do for a living!) Needless to say, the decision wasn't a difficult one.

The Wake County Public School System Board of Education consisted of 9 numbered districts across the county, prior to this year. However, for the 2016 election, Wake County will be divided into 7 numbered districts, and 2 lettered districts which seem to function as at-large slots. I am a candidate for Representative of District 3. If you live in Wake County, and aren't sure what district you're in, go here to find out (enter your address in the top left corner).

 -J. McL.

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