New Raleigh’s City Council and Board of Education Endorsements

New Raleigh’s City Council and Board of Education Endorsements

October, 02, 2009, by Khaner

Advertise on NR

Elections are next Tuesday for Raleigh citizens and as such your faithful NR contributors put forth their picks for city council and the board of education.

David Millsaps, Khaner Walker, Betsy Kane and Steven Waters talked it over, here are their nominations for 2009 municipal and board of education elections.


Charles Meeker: We all love Mayor Meeker. He’s a no nonsense, honest civil servant (traits all too rare these days). Facing no real opponent this year, we’re not sure why an endorsement is needed – however one was made whole-heartedly.


Russ Stephenson: To quote Betsy, “Russ has earned his reputation as the councilor most responsive to Raleigh citizens. He combines depth of understanding of Raleigh’s issues with a nearly pathological commitment to reaching out with courtesy to all groups.” Also quoting a semi-famous comic book character played by Hugh Jackman, “Nuff said.”


Lee Sartain: Sartain offers a youthful, extremely knowledgeable view on all that Raleigh can and should be. His ability to articulate both short and long-term issues facing Raleigh has been very impressive as are his steady stream of fresh ideas. He has a tough race however against incumbents Russ Stephenson and Mary-Ann Baldwin and challenger Champ Claris.

Dissenting pick-Steven Waters: Mary-Ann Baldwin


Nancy McFarlane: Facing no real opposition, a hands down, favorite pick.

Rodger Koopman: A pro-downtown, mass transit candidate, Koopman’s long-term views on urban planning and open spaces earned an easy pick.


James West: The current mayor pro-tempore, West is a community-driven voice for southeast Raleigh.


Thomas Crowder: While hotly contested by heavily-backed opponent Ted Van Dyk, Crowder is a man of the people and most of those in his district love him for it. Steven Waters: “Thomas spends an enormous amount of time moving throughout District D attending every little neighborhood meeting no one has ever heard of. He is a champion of increasing density but at a human-scale and in appropriate locations that protects the character of existing communities.”

Bonner Gaylord: The General Manager of North Hills, Bonner is a young candidate we hope will bring a new outlook to the city council.

Dissenting picks David Millsaps & Khaner Walker: Abstaining


A recent article in the News & Observer put it succinctly:

“In the most significant Wake County school board contest since the 1970s, opponents of the board and administration say Tuesday’s voting offers a huge opportunity to tip over the sitting panel and its longstanding policies.

Supporters of the current board argue that discarding an approach that serves Wake County’s students well would be disastrous. They say the diversity policy has led to national recognition and has boosted economic growth.”

NR is pro socioeconomic diversity – in our view, the fundamental backbone to the growth Raleigh and surrounding communities enjoy.

District 1: Rita Rakestraw
District 2: Horace Tart
District 7: Karen Simon
District 9: Lois Nixon

Read Betsy Kane’s Full Endorsements here.

Whatever your choice is for the 2009 elections, just vote. To find your polling place, visit: or to vote early:

We hope to see you at the polls on Tuesday, October 6 and even better yet, the election night party at Busy Bee starting at 7:30 p.m.

Read More

Politics, Other posts by Khaner.


Nancy McFarlaneThomas CrowderBonner GaylordRuss StephensonJames WestCharles MeekerLee Sartain


  • Kevin
    10/02 10:58 AM

    Keep it to yourself.

  • RaleighRob
    10/02 11:41 AM

    Great job guys.  You give good insight into an election many people aren’t paying as much attention to, as they should.

  • Jeff
    10/02 01:16 PM

    I agree with the endorsements, especially Lee Sartain.  I hope he actually wins, though I don’t know how likely it is.  Also, to Kevin, if you don’t want to see what they have to say, don’t click on the link.  No one made you read it. (I hope!)

  • armywife
    10/03 10:10 AM

    Great choice and very sound reasoning for all your choices.

  • Drew
    10/03 10:22 AM

    “socioeconomic diversity [is] the fundamental backbone to the growth Raleigh and surrounding communities enjoy.”

    It’s also the right thing to do.  The more we engage with one another, the more we share in our successes and can help/be helped in our times of need.

  • Shando
    10/03 09:13 PM

    “West is a community-driven voice for southeast Raleigh”?!?! You’ve got to be kidding me. West is going to win no doubt, because his challenger is some young schmuck who is white, doesn’t think he needs to campaign or go out and meet his potential constituents, but the district would likely be better off not having ANY representation than West. He hasn’t done a darn thing for his district - votes against projects that could potentially revitalize or bring better quality of life to the area (hello aquatics center, Chavis carousel, etc). He’s completely MIA from district goings-on unless he has to report something to council/Meeker or his name might end up in the paper - otherwise he could care less. For shame.

    Also, as someone who is as blue a liberal as they come, I am all for nixing busing. It’s easy to be “pro-socioeconomic diversity” when you don’t have a five year old getting on a school bus when it’s dark outside and riding almost 20 miles to their school in Cary, only to make the trek again that afternoon, arriving home after dark. What kind of life is that for a small child? As someone who works full-time, it is impossible to be an active parent at my child’s school, though I would dearly love to be able to volunteer for PTA events, field trips, take my child to school and pick up. My child goes to a different school than kids less than a block away, who ride 15-20 miles in another direction, and has almost nothing to do with his classmates as they live too far away for us to go back and forth to and vice versa - I’m sorry, but that’s messed up. It has nothing to do with socioeconomic diversity and everything to do with creating a real sense of community. Our cobbled mess of schools is a true problem - if you’re going to soapbox about socioeconomic diversity, then do so where it counts. Why are we not shouting from the rooftops about creating new living opportunities that encourage diversity - in North Raleigh, in Cary, hell - here in downtown where every new condo project had a higher price tag and single family housing is impossible to afford unless you are willing to rehab a place yourself or put up with substandard conditions.  Only then can adults and children from a variety of different backgrounds and income-levels TRULY integrate, rather than forcibly, and live and learn within the same geographic area. It’s all too easy to speak in uptopian terms when you aren’t living the reality on a day-to-day basis.

  • pablo
    10/04 08:54 AM

    Shando, I couldn’t agree more with you about James West. District C would be better with NO councilor. There is so much potential for community revitalization in his district and he continues to sells out to development/real estate concerns for scraps.

    I don’t agree with you regarding scrapping our nationally recognized school diversity program. The board tries to not allow any school become more than 60% poverty based. Over 90% of wake school children are currently going to schools within 5 miles of their house. In a county growing as fast as Wake, that’s pretty damn good.

    Finally, I’m surprised Betsy Kane, Steven Waters would endorse Bonner Gaylord in district E. Gaylor Bonner is Jim Kane’s ‘right hand man’. The same Jim Kane who wanted to jeopardize city finances by building a city subsidized parking deck that HE would own. Their buddy Paul Coble pushed hard, but our wise Mayor and other progressive council members were able to push their proposal back. Developers already dominate the local government process. Why would anyone actively increase their clout on council is beyond me. Millsaps & Walker were right to dissent or abstain from his endorsement. Gaylord’s opponent is Wahid Haq. Haq has performed miserably on the Planning Commission and basically been a fop for development interests, but at least he is a democrat who has contributed heavily to progressives in our state.

  • Betsy
    10/04 10:53 AM

    Pablo - Regarding the District E race; yes, the facts you point out did give me pause.

  • Shando
    10/04 12:27 PM

    Pablo -

    I too couldn’t agree with you more - but must say if my child’s trek was but 5 miles, I would be all for maintaining the current policy. Like I said, it all sounds damn good when it’s not your poor child who has to sit on a bus and spend a couple of wasted hours driving to the burbs (meaning VERY early mornings and no time to just be a kid after school, like so many of us enjoyed); mom and dad can’t be an active part of your educational experience though they would dearly love to be; you have negligble interaction with the children who live on your BLOCK, or even a couple away because they’re all going to different schools - not to mention, as I’ve already noted, children you actually go to school with. When you schlep SE kids 40 miles roundtrip to Cary, though you have litters of schools far closer - some even across the street from you - that’s when I have a problem. If you’re having a sleepless night, you should check out the districting for SE - in other areas of the city, it kinda makes sense - in SE, it is literally on a block by block basis - in just a 5-6 blocks radius of our immediate SE neighborhood, elementary students are assigned to 10 different schools! Being a kid when we were young was hard enough when you perhaps went to the same school year after year - can you imagine what it’s like having to re-establish your young, vulnerable self all over again once every 2-3 years, or even sooner, especially under the afore-mentioned conditions? I am as bleeding heart as they come, but as someone whose child and neighborhood is living it, it is simply not right - the realities far extend any award received, let me assure. Believe me, if I didn’t have a kid, I’d be all for how it sounds on paper too - but priorities and views have a way of bending and reconfiguring once they come along…

  • pablo
    10/04 12:52 PM

    Practically my whole generation grew up being bused 45 minutes (one way) and only going to a particular school 2-3 years during the 1970’s. Farsighted leaders and parents insisted on it. Trust me there was far more vocal (sometimes more than vocal) demonstration against this integration of socio-economic groups than now. It took me a while to come the conclusion that as an individual and as a society we are better off for it. I can tell by the way you write that you will make it work for your child too. May your family live long and prosper.

  • Cliff
    10/04 04:34 PM

    I hate to see that you have endorsed a person like Thomas Crowder.  He is horrible for the typical neighbor of Raleigh.  He amounts to the typical high end affluent person of the Cameron Village neighborhood, ENSURING that no one who doesn’t make over six figures ever enters his arena.  You should give Ted Van Dyk a second look! 

    I’m game for Sartain too, but Mary Ann Baldwin is the better incumbent.  She will do more for the growth of our city than Russ.  What has Russ done for us lately!

  • smitty
    10/04 04:42 PM

    Is NR “pro socioeconomic diversity” or pro ITB?  You can’t really be both.

  • Betsy
    10/04 08:55 PM

    Cliff, here is what Russ has done for us lately:

    I encourage readers to take a look at Case Studies 1 and 2, here:

  • pablo
    10/05 04:00 AM

    The Cameron Village neighborhood is the mostly middle class apts, condos, and single family homes sandwiched between Cameron Village and Wade Ave. Crowder doesn’t live there or the more affluent Cameron Park neighborhood, but ironically, Ted Van Dyk does live in Cameron Park. Everybody who follows local politics knows that Russ Stephenson does his homework before council meetings more than ANY other councilor. I’m glad your paying attention the race.

  • Matthew Brown
    10/05 10:15 AM

    Shando, Have you applied for transfer to a magnet school? There are several close by, to which you can probably send your child.

    I agree that it is difficult for many folks in the inner part of southeast Raleigh, whose children are bused to other parts of town. But what would happen if we did things the way most cities do them? In most cities, all the kids in the poorest parts of town go to the closest schools. What are those schools like? With a few rare and precious exceptions, they have very low academic standards, have terrible discipline problems, and a high teacher burn-out rate. Most kids spending twelve years in these schools are not prepared for college or for a serious career.

    When a child is surrounded by delinquency, drug use, teen pregnancy, and the criminal culture, he or she concludes that that is normal. Wake County makes a priority of not dooming any children to this environment. I’m sure you do not want this environment for your child, either.

  • A Non-Person
    10/05 10:29 AM


    There is no evidence that Raleigh’s socioeconomic diversity policy in schools aides those who most need an education:  namely, the poor.


    The economic diversity policy was designed to ensure that fewer schools failed to comply with No Child Left Behind by distributing lower scoring students (i.e.: the poor) among more affluent schools. 


    Busing the poor outside of their communities does more damage to those communities than keeping poor children in a school closer to their neighborhood.

    Please discuss.  And remember, it is all well and good for us enlightened elites to talk about what is better for other people.

  • Resolved
    10/05 11:10 AM

    Well, I’m glat that’s been resolved.

  • pablo
    10/05 05:50 PM

    non-person, I’m not sure if you realize that you sound like the typical conservative reactionary of the 1960’s because your answers are identical to Barry Goldwater’s. Remarkable. Do you wear your hair in a crew cut?

  • A Non-Person
    10/06 04:51 AM

    Pablo: rather than hurl insults, why not talk about the merits of these candidates and their positions?

  • pablo
    10/06 08:18 AM

    Why is having a crew cut an insult to you?

  • Voting for Crowder
    10/06 09:25 AM

    @Cliff 10/04 06:34 PM - What has Van Dyk done for your business…I mean neighborhood lately???

  • Cliff
    10/06 09:38 AM

    Hi “Voting for Crowder”

    The only thing Van Dyk has done for me is give me a fresh positive impression for our neighborhood.  Unfortunately I am a young professional renter and as a renter I didn’t appreciate Crowder’s huge force of a tenant tax on apartments this year! 

    (PS:  I voted for Van Dyk, oops, it cancelled out your vote)

  • Jonathan
    10/06 11:26 AM

    I was the 50th voter in my precinct at 2:15 PM.


  • RG
    10/06 01:39 PM

    Pablo, great reference, but non-person is dead right about #2.
    It’s “easier” for Wake to bus kids as part of its policy than wait two years for bad test scores and parents to opt out themselves under NCLB. The irony of SE Raleigh is that you can have the lowest test scores in the county and still be nominated for principal of the year!

  • Cliff
    10/06 06:06 PM

    I was number 10 at mine…what a horrid turnout.  So sad…

  • Chico
    07/31 01:46 AM

    I don’t know if the critics of James West ever attend Central or Southeast Raleigh CAC meetings, but if they did they would most likely see him there. I’m not commenting on his politics, but saying his district would be better served with “NO” councilor is an insult to his years of service to his constituents and his community.

Share Your Thoughts

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.