Everyone knows that midterm elections draw out fewer voters than presidential elections but with abortion rights, marijuana legislation and immigration reform on the line, to name a few, political experts wonder if the turnout will go above the 40 percent average for midterms in NC. To get educated before you vote, check out our 2022 Election Guide which has almost all of the races on the ballot minus some smaller town elections.

Early voting starts on Oct. 20 and runs through Nov. 5. Voters can vote anywhere they choose during early voting. Election Day is Nov. 8. Voters have to go to their designated precinct on Election Day. Find the Forsyth County composite ballot here. Find the Guilford County composite ballot here. To find your specific sample ballot as well as your precinct, visit the state elections website here. If candidates did not have an opponent for the general election, they were not included in this guide. Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name; incumbents are always listed first.

Find our separate guide to all of the judicial races, including candidates for Supreme Court here.

Key:

  • D – Democrat
  • G – Green Party
  • L – Libertarian
  • R – Republican
  • i – Incumbent

TABLE OF CONTENTS

(Click any button below to jump to the section)

FEDERAL RACES

STATE RACES

GUILFORD RACES

FORSYTH RACES

JUDICIAL RACES

FEDERAL RACES

US Senate

Despite flying under the radar nationally, this race may be one of the most important in the country come November. Democrats are putting their hopes on Cheri Beasley to flip the seat now held by Republican Sen. Richard Burr, increasing the narrow Democratic majority in the Senate while Republicans believe Trump-friendly candidate Rep. Ted Budd will come out victorious. As of the writing of this story, the race was neck-and-neck in the polls, with Budd leading Beasley on average by about 1.6 percentage points according to FiveThirtyEight.

Cheri Beasley (D)

Since handily winning the Democratic primary back in May, former NC Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley has been making the rounds across the state, campaigning against her opponent.

During an event in Greensboro in mid-September, Beasley highlighted the fact that Budd voted against lowering prescription drug costs and took money from lobbyists instead.

“Ted Budd, who’s been in Congress for six years, has had every opportunity to show that he would stand up for North Carolina and he just hasn’t done it,” Beasley said. “He did vote against lowering prescription drug costs one day and just a few days later took tens of thousands of dollars in corporate PAC money from Big Pharma.”

Beasley also pointed out Budd’s record of voting against infrastructure, emergency funding for baby formula and funding for veterans affected by burn pits.

In August, just a few weeks after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Beasley made protecting abortion rights a central part of her campaign during an event in Winston-Salem.

“This is the first time in our nation’s history that the court has taken away a constitutional right,” she said. “And if it can happen once, it can happen again. And that’s why it is so important that we are all here today because so many people don’t know that…. They don’t know that their vote and their voice matters. But we know that.”

Beasley served as the chief justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court from 2019-20 after serving in district court for 20 years. In 2021, Beasley announced that she would run for Senate to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. Richard Burr. Now, she faces Budd, who has served as the representative for the state’s 13th Congressional District since 2017.

Thus far Beasley has outraised Budd by almost $10 million, with the total raised at more than $16 million. As of the end of June, Beasley had $4.8 million ending cash on hand according to the FEC.

Read more reporting on Beasley here.

Shannon Bray (L)

Libertarian Shannon Bray was born in Louisiana and enlisted in the Navy after a short stint in college. Currently, he works for the Department of Defense and lives in Apex. According to his campaign website, Bray is running to bring an end to “perpetual wars,” increase data privacy, improve homeland security and advocate for veterans. With a background in computer science, Bray advocates for modern solutions to immigration reform and does not support a wall at the border. He also notes on his website that he wants to change healthcare by taking it out of the hands of the government.

Ted Budd (R)

Winston-Salem born Republican Ted Budd has been involved in politics since he won his seat as the representative of the 13th Congressional District in 2017. Since then, he has been a close supporter of former President Trump, even going as far as voting against impeachment (twice) and voting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. He has also spread falsehoods about the integrity of that election.

On the campaign trail, Budd has attacked Beasley for being too close to Biden and for attempting to bring “woke politics” to North Carolina. He is staunchly anti-abortion, and recently supported a national ban on abortions after 15 weeks. The bill failed to pass the Senate. Budd also opposes the Affordable Care Act, as well as expanding voting rights. Earlier this year, Budd was one of 39 Republicans who supported the Merger Filing Fee Modernization Act which would have cracked down on corporations for anti-competitive behavior.

Through June, Budd raised a total of $6.49 million and had $1.78 million ending cash on hand.

Read more reporting on Budd here.

Matthew Hoh (G)

After the North Carolina State Board of Elections voted to recognize the Green Party as an official party in the state, Matthew Hoh was officially on the ballot for the general election this November.

According to his campaign website, Hoh served in the Marines for 10 years across three wars, an experience that he says motivated him to get involved in politics.

“In 2009 I resigned from the State Department over the surge of troops to the war in Afghanistan, and started speaking out against the endless war machine and the growing rot in our political system,” his site states.

As a Green Party candidate Hoh says he wants to “break away from the corrupt two-party system beholden to the wealthy, the banks and the corporations.” He wants to raise the minimum wage to $17.14 per hour, advocate for workers, invest in public housing, cancel student debt, offer free public education through university, offer free childcare and pre-K and cancel medical debt.

House of Representatives

District 5

Virginia Foxx (R, i)

Not much has changed for Rep. Virginia Foxx since we last wrote about her for the primary election in May. Foxx has held her seat for almost two decades since first being elected in 2005 and has been at the forefront of conservative politics in the state ever since. As reported, she is one of several NC reps who voted against impeaching former President Trump and voted against certifying the election in 2020. She is anti-LGBTQ rights, opposes the Equality Act and doesn’t believe in abortion even in cases of rape or incest. Thus far, she has raised $1.9 million.

Kyle Parrish (D)

Despite knowing that he faces an uphill battle against Foxx, Democratic hopeful Kyle Parrish told the Winston-Salem Journal in September that he’s running to let Republicans know that there are still those that oppose them.

“For them to have a free narrative, without any challenge from a competitor, even if it’s not a strong challenge because we have trouble raising money or we have trouble with party support, it’s unconscionable,” Parrish said. “So I decided at that time that I was going to run for office in order to at least provide some kind of feedback into the echo chamber that was evolving.”

On his website he states that candidates like Foxx pose an existential threat to American democracy.

“The legislation arising from the ‘Big Lie’ is nothing more than an effort to subvert the future will/vote of the American people,” he states.

Thus far, Parrish has raised $17,161.

District 6

Kathy Manning (D, i)

While Republican Foxx may be comfortable in her seat come November, the same could be said about Democrat Rep. Kathy Manning who is facing re-election just one district over. Unlike Foxx’s district, Manning’s domain covers most of Greensboro and Winston-Salem and leans heavily Democratic, especially since the redrawing of the districts in 2020. That year, Manning handily won the election against Republican nominee Lee Haywood with 62 percent of the vote. Since taking office, she has sponsored legislation protecting abortion rights, forgiving loans and protecting gay and interracial marriages.

As of the end of June, Manning had raised $2 million and had $1.49 million cash on hand.

Christian Castelli (R)

In May, Republican Christian Castelli narrowly beat Lee Haywood by less than 3 percentage points to become the Republican nominee for District 6. As a former Green Beret, Castelli is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and national security; he supports finishing construction of the border wall. He also is against critical race theory and “political indoctrination in curriculum.”

He outraised all other Republicans during the primary and raised $606,502 through the end of June. He had $149,762 ending cash on hand.

Thomas Watercott (L)

Libertarian Thomas Watercott supports term limits for federal office, fiscal responsibility, the elimination of income tax and removal of the government from abortion rights.

“I’m life-affirming pro-choice,” he states on his website. “The government shouldn’t be funding or promoting abortion, and it shouldn’t outlaw it either (on the federal level).”

Watercott has raised $3,755.27 in total, and spent $4,104.62.

STATE RACES

NC Senate

District 27

Michael Garrett (D, i)

Sen. Michael Garrett has been a member of the state senate since winning office in 2018. As a young Democrat, Garrett falls in line with most of the Democratic party when it comes to issues such as abortion rights (for), expanding Medicaid (for) and some police reform (for). This past legislative session, Garrett sponsored a bill that would have created a mental health program for public schools as well as a bill that would have made the statewide general election an official paid state holiday. Both bills died in committee. Additionally, Garrett supports increasing teacher pay, a tax exemption for small businesses for the first $50,000 of income and increasing voting rights.

Richard (Josh) Sessoms (R)

Richard Sessoms was born in Greensboro and served in the Marines from 2002-09, according to election website Ballotpedia. Sessoms supports an increase in police officers in schools and is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. His Twitter indicates that he is concerned with public safety and supports an increase in public funding for law enforcement.

He also supports legalizing medical marijuana and writes that the lack of affordable housing is one of the state’s greatest challenges going into the future.

Sessoms also supports a ban on abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and the health of the mother, as well as, an implementation of voter ID.

District 28

Gladys Robinson (D, i)

Democrat Sen. Gladys Robinson is fighting to win her seventh term in office this November. A graduate of Bennett College, Robinson has been a staunch supporter of HBCUs, as well as public education funding. She served on the UNC Board of Governors for a decade. She was the executive director of Piedmont Health Services and supports abortions before 20 weeks, funding for public education and pushing back against CRT critics.

According to reporting by the News & Observer, Robinson sees public school funding, affordable housing and mental health treatment as the main issues for her district. Robinson also supports legalizing medical marijuana.

Paul Schumacher (R)

Air Force Veteran Paul Schumacher, whose website address is 4rfreedoms.com, wants to limit federal government when it comes to education, healthcare, abortion, welfare and unemployment. When it comes to “bodily freedoms,” Schumacher states that he is against vaccine mandates but is also anti-abortion.

Like many other Republican candidates, Schumacher has made the issue of “parental consent” a central aspect of his platform, stating that “it is a parents honor duty and responsibility to monitor what is being taught and what indoctrination is being implemented.”

Schumacher is a strong supporter of law enforcement and advocates for neighborhood watches with neighborhood deputies in his answers to the N&O.

District 32

Paul Lowe, Jr. (D, i)

Chairman of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, Sen. Paul Lowe is interested in finding “pathways to secure economic justice, educational equity and more affordable, accessible healthcare.” Preceded in office by the late Earline Parmon, Lowe has been state senator of District 32 since 2015.

In that capacity, Lowe has introduced bills to address many issues concerning Winston-Salem, including the possible establishment of a four-year fire administration degree at WSSU and changing rules to allow DACA recipients to receive in-state tuition. A pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, his efforts to have Juneteenth be recognized as a state holiday were blocked by colleagues but were vindicated when President Biden recognized it as a federal holiday.

George K. Ware (R)

Ware, a private business owner and veteran, is a proponent of school choice and thinks “school choice with public-run, teacher-run, church-run and other private schools is the best alternative to our historically failing public schools.”

Ware believes that “the systemic educational policies of my opponent, Democrats, teachers unions and education bureaucrats are directly responsible for these systemic failures in our school systems.” By making the NC Dept. of Education provide a $7,000 voucher to students to attend private, home-school or charter run programs, Ware believes he can offer better education outside of a public school system, but still be funded by it. 

When it comes to health care Ware wants to pursue a “health share program” that is “economical, provider run and hospital run direct (private) health care programs” for the uninsured. By keeping healthcare private, Ware believes that this can protect citizens from the “the overwhelming and unaffordable health insurance costs of protecting their families.”

NC House of Representatives

District 57

Ashton Clemmons (D, i)

Rep. Ashton Clemmons is running for her third term in office. Coming from a background as an educator — Clemmons worked as a principal in Rockingham and Guilford counties — Clemmons is a strong supporter of public education. She wants to fund improvements for school buildings and increase educator and school staff pay. She also supports investing in mental healthcare and infrastructure as well as a more streamlined transportation system. She also is concerned with passing gun-control legislation.

She supports Medicaid expansion and supported legislation that would have raised the legal age for marriage in NC to 18, up from 14. She also told the N&O that “there should be fewer restrictions on abortion after 20 weeks,” which is the limit currently according to state law.

Michelle Bardsley (R)

Michelle Bardsley is running for state house after losing a bid for Guilford County School Board back in 2020. Like her opponent, Bardsley has a background in education. She worked for more than 15 years in public education, mostly in career and technical education. Because of this background, she supports enrolling more students in CTE programs to bolster the workforce.

Bardsley supports funding law enforcement and police in schools. She also “believes in restorative practices for incarcerated individuals to improve life success when reentering society.”

She supports competitive compensation for educators but also includes a line echoing the national Republican argument for increased parental involvement in their children’s education.

Bardsley opposed mask mandates last year, according to her Twitter.

District 58

Amos Quick (D, i)

Rep. Amos Quick is seeking his fourth term in office. Quick works as the senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church and is a Greensboro native. Prior to serving in state office, Quick was on the Guilford County school board for 13 years. During this past legislative session, Quick supported funding for affordable housing, an increase of the hourly minimum wage for school staff and funding an early childhood pilot program. All bills died in committee.

As a member of the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement and Justice, Quick proposed “an early warning system to flag officers with a history of discipline problems,” allowing police review boards with subpoena power and a statewide ban on chokeholds.

Chrissy Smith (R)

Chrissy Smith works as a health and PE teacher at GTCC, according to her campaign website. Smith advocates for alternative medicine and healing therapeutics for the public to “heal themselves from chronic issues and diseases.” She also states on her website that she is involved with Take Back Our Schools, a conservative group based in Guilford County that has mobilized around CRT, book bannings and anti-LGBTQ+ stances.

Smith explains that she became involved in politics in 2020 due to “tyrannical overreach” by the government.

Smith also has a dedicated page on her website for “alternative information” where she cites fringe websites that “give another view of what is going on in the world.”

District 59

Jon Hardister (R, i)

House Majority Whip Jon Hardister is running for his sixth term in office. Hardister has risen through the ranks over the years after first being elected in 2013 by being a rare NC Republican who works across the aisle with his Democratic colleagues, sometimes voting in favor of bills sponsored by Democrats.

However, Hardister has his fair share of conservative bills including the Don’t Say Gay bill, which he backed earlier this year and would have banned the instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity from kindergarten to third grade. Another bill that he sponsored would have let parents opt out from vaccines and sex education for their kids.

Sherrie Young (D)

Like we mentioned in the spring, candidate Sherrie Young has minimal online presence when it comes to her run for state house. During a candidate forum with Mount Zion Baptist Church on Oct. 11, Young said that expanding healthcare access for the elderly, increasing voting rights and protecting abortion access are top priorities for her.

“I’m the person that will bring all of the real to the table,” Young said. “What I mean by that is I would like to bring everything that is happening in the homes that people do not discuss actually to the polls, actually to the legislative [sic], all the way through Congress to understand and know that we have to bridge that gap…”

Her personal Facebook page notes that she went to Northeast Guilford High School and supports small businesses.

District 60

Cecil Brockman (D, i)

Democrat Rep. Cecil Brockman is running for his fifth term in office. Brockman is focused on investing in local higher education to bolster the economy as well as funding public education. He supports expanding Medicaid and more transparency when it comes to prescription drug costs. As an openly bisexual member of the state legislature, Brockman has supported LGBTQ+ rights and sponsored bills that seek to prevent hate crimes.

Brockman has also supported bills that would increase accountability for police who shoot and kill people including changes to the state’s body-worn camera footage law. He stated that “the current state law banning abortion after 20 weeks should remain,” in his responses to the N&O.

Bob Blasingame (R)

No information about this candidate could be found online.

District 62

John Faircloth (R, i)

Rep. John Faircloth is running for his seventh term in the state house. A former High Point Police chief and city council member, Faircloth is one of the more conservative members of the house. This legislative session, he sponsored HB 453, also known as the “Human Life Nondiscrimination Act/No Eugenics,” which would have targeted patients by preventing them from getting abortions based on their supposed reasons for doing so.

Faircloth also supported anti-immigration bills and a bill that would have allowed the issuance of lifetime concealed handgun permits. All three bills died in committee.

Brandon Gray (D)

This is Brandon Gray’s second time running against Faircloth. His first run in 2020 ended in defeat when he lost to Faircloth by less than five percentage points. Now Gray is back with a similar platform to the one he ran on two years ago.

An openly gay candidate, Gray states that expanding affordable healthcare, funding public schools, raising the minimum wage, building affordable housing and investing in renewable energy as his top priorities. He states that he supports reproductive rights and legalizing medical marijuana as well.

Gray currently serves as the Guilford County Democratic Party’s vice chair and is on the state Democratic Party Executive Committee.

District 72

Amber Baker (D, i)

A WSSU graduate, Rep. Amber Baker received her doctorate from Ohio State University. She is a past principal at Kimberley Park School and is finishing up her first term in District 72. As the incumbent, Baker has introduced or sponsored more than 200 bills including many schoolwide proposals such as adding nurses to each school, expansion of pre-K funds and restoring benefits to teachers and retirees.

If reelected, Baker says “it is critical that the NC Democrats protect the veto. Access to reproductive healthcare, defending voting rights, and expanding Medicaid MUST be protected and prevent the Republicans from steamrolling their agenda.” Endorsed by Vote Pro Choice, Baker “will continue to fight for the women to have the freedom to make medical decisions pertaining to their bodies.”

Shelton Stallworthy (R)

Shelton Stallworthy is a “a wife, a mother and ex-equestrian with a political habit that lead to a local house race.” A Trump-supporting conservative who is staunchly pro-life, even in the case of rape, Stallworthy was inspired by government mandates during the COVID-19 shutdowns to run for office. 

Her campaign website contains a few blog posts that state her unapologetic conservative beliefs including objections to critical race theory, stances against laws promoting gender theory in schools and a belief against public health mandates that infringe upon personal freedoms.

District 74

Jeff Zenger (R, i)

Rep. Jeff Zenger is a former town councilperson of Lewisville and the owner of a construction business. He defeated Dan Besse, who is now running for Forsyth County Commissioner, in 2020 and is running for his second term.

A “ principled conservative,” Zenger believes in a small role in government with a focus on decisiveness from local leadership. 

While in office, he has been the sponsor of many bills that were proposed by conservatives as a result of COVID-19 mandates such as increasing penalties for rioters and “election integrity,” but has also supported arts funding  of the Stevens Center and property acquisition of the Shallow Ford area of the Yadkin.

Carla Catalán Day (D)

Carla Catalán Day moved to Forsyth County with her family in the 1990s, attending Meadowlark Middle School and graduating from West Forsyth High School. Day is a registered environmental health specialist and owns a consulting agency in Winston-Salem. 

The top priorities of her campaign include expanding Medicaid, funding public schools and increasing support for social services. As a working-class mother, Day says she understands the feeling of canceling a child’s medical appointment due to not being able to afford the service. She supports teachers when they say they need reduced classroom sizes and school supplies. Day fully supports the Leandro plan and increasing NC educators’ salaries to the national average of $63,645.

GUILFORD COUNTY RACES

Guilford County Sheriff

Read more reporting about the sheriff’s race here.

Danny Rogers (D, i)

Democratic incumbent Sheriff Danny Rogers has served since 2018. Prior to that, he worked in the Guilford County Detention Center from 1985-87 and as a High Point Police officer from 1987-90. He also worked in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office from 1990-93.

During his first term, Rogers accomplished getting the department a CALEA accreditation, a national standard which includes having comprehensive and written directives, community relationship-building and independent review.

If re-elected, he said he would continue to focus his efforts on reducing crime, eliminating drug and gang activity, combating sex trafficking, reducing recidivism, preventing domestic violence and addressing mental health concerns inside and outside of the detention centers. He said that staffing is his biggest concern and that he doesn’t believe in defunding the police but said he supports increased transparency through roundtables.

Phil Byrd (R)

Phil Byrd spent his 30-year career in law enforcement with the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, retiring in 2014 at the rank of captain. During his three decades, he commanded the personnel and training division, internal affairs division, school resource officers division and field operations division.

Byrd said if elected, he would focus on transparency and increasing departmental morale. Byrd also disagrees with defunding the police, stating that, “the fact is we must have police in our communities.”

He advocated for changing the dynamics of policing through community policing, something he said has been forgotten.

Guilford County Commission

Read more about the county commission races here.

At-large

Kay Cashion (D, i)

Kay Cashion has held the seat since 2004 and told TCB that her 17 years of experience have helped her “get a good understanding of priorities.”

She has served on multiple budget committees, including the county’s internal budget and the joint school and county budget committee.

She said the county should spend more money on infrastructure, broadband access, homelessness issues and behavioral health services, including transitional housing for women with children who are in recovery.

Alan Branson (R)

Alan Branson served as a county commissioner from 2012-20 when he narrowly lost his re-election bid to Democratic newcomer Mary Beth Murphy. Branson said that during his tenure he helped lower county taxes, something he would push for if re-elected.

His priorities include increasing safety and security within the school system, Branson said. As such, he said he is not in support of defunding law enforcement and said that “they need more money, not less.”

District 2

Alan Perdue (R, i)

Incumbent Alan Perdue has represented District 2 since first elected in 2014.

Perdue mentioned that one of his priorities includes making sure that county departments that provide essential services are adequately staffed. This draws from Perdue’s experience as the former county Emergency Services Director and his time as a volunteer firefighter.

He also noted that maintaining infrastructure while keeping property taxes low is important for him.

Paul Meinhart (D)

Democrat Paul Meinhart worked as an aide to NC House Rep. Pricey Harrison from 2004-16 and has experience lobbying lawmakers. Some of the topics that he is passionate about include environmental/sustainability, social justice, equality, animal rights and fair/affordable housing issues.

If elected, Meinhart said that he would also bring his professional experience working as a state-licensed general contractor to the role.

“I have a keen insight into zoning and development issues, housing issues and codes and ordinances,” he said.

District 3

Derek Mobley (D)

Democrat Derek Mobley currently works as a quantitative analyst, building mathematical models to predict how customers’ financial choices will affect the company. 

Mobley said that combatting generational poverty and violent crime are at the top of this list. He also said he wants to invest more in public schools and in first responders to alleviate the issues listed above. He also sees affordable housing and substance abuse as issues to tackle but said that job training and education programs for youth could help with those.

Pat Tillman (R)

Pat Tillman currently serves as the school board member for District 3, a seat he won in 2016.

As a school board member, Tillman said that one of his priorities is funding the schools. He said that funding career academies, which provide training for students in areas such as health science, manufacturing and IT, will help to “reimagine public education.”

In terms of budgeting, Tillman said he would want funding to be focused on three areas: health and human services, education and public safety.

District 7

Frankie T. Jones Jr. (D, i)

Incumbent Frankie T. Jones, Jr. was first appointed to the District 7 seat after incumbent Carolyn Coleman, who had held the seat since 2005, passed away in late January.

Jones said that his priorities are affordable housing, economic development, education and health and human services.

He said the county should explore diverse housing options and solutions including having more streamlined and consistent property permitting regulations. Jones is also focused on funding the health department, which would help communities affected by infant mortality and hypertension.

Kenny Abbe (R)

According to Kenny Abbe’s candidate website, the Republican candidate supports transparency in government, the Second Amendment, tax cuts, funding education and smaller government.

Abbe notes that he would not support tax increases and is actively against mask mandates and vaccine mandates.

Guilford County Board of Education

Read more about the school board races here.

At-large

Demetria Carter (R)

Republican candidate Demetria Carter has made fighting against critical race theory a central part of her platform.

During a candidate forum at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro, Carter said that she lived through segregation and Jim Crow but that in today’s society, racism is no longer an issue.

“Racism was rampant, but when I look around today having grown up in this country and seen all of the progress that we’ve made, I am aghast at hearing people say, ‘We still live in a racist society,’” Carter said. “No, we don’t. CRT is a pernicious fraud and I want to say that outright, and if you don’t like what I’ve said, please don’t vote for me.”

However, Carter did say that she supports teaching African-American history in schools.

Alan Sherouse (D)

Alan Sherouse attended graduate divinity school at Wake Forest University and currently works as senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Greensboro.

Sherouse said that his biggest concerns facing GCS are the inequitable outcomes, empowering and trusting teachers and using money from the latest bond to renovate and construct school facilities.

He supports anti-bullying practices in schools and the hiring of more school counselors to decrease violence.

Sherouse said that CRT has been “used as a rallying cry to energize opposition” and that “understanding the difficult parts of our history, especially around racism and racial injustice, is part of how we ensure we do not repeat it.”

District 2

Amanda Cook (D)

Along with her opponent, Crissy Pratt, Amanda Cook is the only candidate with an education background running for school board. From 2008-17, she taught in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools as a dance educator and also monitored in-school suspension.

According to Cook, the biggest issues facing the school district are the staffing crisis, school nutrition and disjointed communication between parents, staff, students and the school board.

If elected, she said she would be a strong advocate for educators.

“When the teachers who are on the ground, equipped with the knowledge of their students and communities are not empowered to teach responsively, we are going to continue to fail,” she said. “No teacher should be silenced when it comes to providing a safe and rigorous education.”

Crissy Pratt (R)

Pratt has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a masters in instructional technology. She has worked in Title I schools in Washington, DC, and helped develop a financial literacy curriculum for Johns Hopkins University.

Some of Pratt’s primary focuses if elected are the lack of consequences for disruptive students and poor academic performance. As a solution, Pratt said she would push for a “revision of discipline policy.”

Unlike some of the Republican candidates, Pratt acknowledged that critical race theory is not being taught in Guilford County Schools. She supports teaching “an accurate version of history that reflects our country’s painful reality…”

Additionally, Pratt said she supports reduction of standardized testing, a return to a 180-day school calendar and a focus on early reading intervention.

District 4

Linda Welborn (R, i)

Incumbent Linda Welborn has been on the school board since 2012. During her tenure, Welborn has been critical of the past superintendent, argued against mask mandates and voted against revisions to the short-term suspensions policy.

If elected to another term, Welborn said she would focus on teacher retention by hiring more teacher assistants, social workers and counselors to lighten the load of educators.

Welborn supports limiting certain books in schools and also spoke out against CRT, stating that it is “demoralizing” to children because it “focuses on oppression identities.”

Deon Clark (D)

Democrat Deon Clark is currently pastor of Equation Church in Greensboro and has a history volunteering in the school system: He has served as president and vice president of local PTAs and most recently served on Guilford County’s reopening of schools task force.

Clark said that he’s running for District 2 to tackle learning loss, teacher and staff shortages, safety concerns and mental health challenges. He also stated that politicians are using critical race theory to sow division.

“Some politicians will use scare tactics to try and divide us along racial lines,” he said. “Schools should be a place where we come together.”

District 6

Khem Irby (D, i)

Democrat Khem Irby has been on the school board since first being elected in 2018. During her tenure, she has pushed back against Take Back Our Schools and supported the short-term suspension appeals process.

Prior to joining the school board in 2018, Irby worked for four years as an After-School Care Enrichment Services teacher at Pearce Elementary as well as a substitute teacher.

If re-elected, Irby said she would support new Superintendent Whitney Oakley and collaborate with local and state government partners to address inequities in education.

She supports LGBTQ+ rights and doesn’t engage in arguments against CRT.

Tim Andrew (R)

For the past two decades, Tim Andrew has worked in logistics and project management, skillsets he said would be useful on the school board.

I am a project-management professional formally trained in seeing projects through to completion within budget, time and scope,” he said.

His priorities if elected include increasing test scores and the quality of education and addressing staffing shortages.

He said that critical race theory means different things to different people and said that if “critical race theory is simply teaching the uglier parts of American history, then [he] will agree with you that history should be taught.”

FORSYTH COUNTY RACES

Forsyth County Sheriff

Bobby Kimbrough (D. i)

Sheriff Bobby F. Kimbrough, Jr. was elected to office in 2018. A Forsyth County native, Kimbrough’s law enforcement career has spanned almost 40 years. As an arson investigator, a WSPD officer and as a special agent with the DEA, Kimbrough’s experience has suited him to the various aspects of being sheriff.

While Kimbrough has often run on a platform of transparency, that commitment was put to the test when deputies killed John Neville, while he was being held in the Forsyth County jail. In the aftermath, weeks of protests and occupations by protesters called for accountability from the sheriff’s office and Kimbrough who was slow to respond. Kimbrough has also been criticized for the department’s dealings with ICE.

Ernie Lebya (R) 

Ernie Lebya first ran for sheriff back in 2018 when he lost in the Republican primary to William Schatzman. Leyba has worked in law enforcement for more than years. Formerly of the LAPD, Lebya, worked with drug and gang units, among others.

In a video on his campaign Facebook page, Leyba says that one of his priorities is increasing police presence in schools, making sure there are one to two officers in each school. He also proposes implementing metal detectors in all schools.

Data has shown that an increase in police in schools “have been linked with exacerbating racial disparities in justice involvement and youth being driven deeper into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems,” according to the Brookings Institute.

Leyba is also concerned with recruitment within the sheriff’s office and would start by looking at military schools and increasing deputy pay. He said he would also increase patrol within the county and implement a citizen’s patrol, similar to a neighborhood watch.

Forsyth County District Attorney

Jim O’Neill (R, i)

Appointed by Governor Perdue in 2009, Jim O’Neill is currently serving his third term as district attorney. O’Neill touts one of the highest conviction rates for sexual assault crimes and made headlines when he took advantage of NC’s Second Chance Act and expunged the records of 30,000 offenders who were prosecuted as adults while juveniles, under a previous law.

O’Neill’s opposition to review the case of Kalvin Michael Smith’s conviction in the brutal assault of Jill Marker caused controversy until a judge released Smith in 2016 due to his attorney’s error in releasing evidence that would have shortened his sentence. The death of John Neville in the Forsyth County jail did result in O’Neill prosecuting five detention officers and a nurse — only the nurse was indicted.

While expressing support for Neville’s family, O’Neill also took the opportunity during a press conference to speak out against defunding the police and to threaten Black Lives Matter protesters with prosecution.

Denise Hartsfield (D)

Denise Hartsfield has a long history as an attorney for Legal Aid, an assistant county attorney handling child support and abuse cases and a district court judge. Hartsfield thinks that low-level drug offenses overload the docket and should be treated as public health issues, not crime. Hartsfield would also like to investigate the causes of recidivism and revolving door policies of the justice system.

By looking at gang violence and gun crimes from a “national” lens, Hartsfield believes collaboration with other city and county officials is imperative. In 2012, Hartsfield was accused of fixing traffic tickets for family and acquaintances and the NC Supreme Court suspended her from the bench for two and a half months, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Hartsfield is past president of the Forsyth County Bar, and serves on the boards of H.O.P.E., the Carter G. Woodson School of Challenge and the Delta Fine Arts Center.

Forsyth County Commission

Read more about the Forsyth County Commission races here.

At-large (choose 1)

Dan Besse (D)

Dan Besse served for 19 years as a Winston-Salem City councilmember, successfully running for election and re-election five times. If elected to county commission, Besse said he will primarily be concerned with the public. 

“Public schools, public health, public safety, affordable housing development,” he said. “[T]here must also be investment in other community safety programs, including violence interruption, mental health services, neighborhood investment, education and poverty reduction programs.”

Besse has also made the gaps in equity between white and POC-areas of the county a priority.

“Let me be clear,” he says on his website. “Our Black and Hispanic/Latino neighbors, families, and children, and other historically underserved communities whether inside or outside of city limits, must no longer be left out or left behind. We must bridge the gaps in opportunity for all.”

Terri Mrazek (R)

Terri Mzarek is a self-described “political activist” who has been a prominent figure in local Republican politics the past five years. In 2020, she ran for a seat on the board of commissioners and finished fourth. She served as president of the Forsyth County Republican Women in 2021 and has managed other Republican campaigns. 

An avid supporter of former President Donald Trump, Mrazek was in Washington, DC on Jan. 6 but said she opted to stay on the bus her group rode from Winston-Salem rather than attend the insurrection within the Capitol, due to the cold weather. 

Mzarek is concerned with the county budget, among other things. “I feel it is important to know your communities and the issues,” she says. “Spending less money, if not needed, create lower taxes.”

Mzarek believes that she is prepared to handle the duties of having a seat on the Board of Commissioners. “The key is not how much money you spend, but how you balance the budget.” 

“Finding revenue sources other than property taxes is a key to success.”  

District A (Choose 2)

Tonya McDaniel (D, i)

Tonya D. McDaniel was first elected as a county commissioner for District A in 2018. Citing the budget she has overseen as a commissioner, she’s looking forward to helping put more resources in her community. She plans to work alongside state representatives and school board members to ensure a cohesive budget.

“I am also looking forward to recognizing our LGBTQ+ communities in the future and continuing the work on supporting the state goal of 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050 and creation of green jobs,” she said.  

Michael Owens (R)

TCB attempted to contact Owens multiple times for this story and received no response. All information is sourced from his campaign website, and other media, where noted.

A lifelong resident of NC, Michael Owens has lived in Winston-Salem for over 20 years. From his website: “I didn’t go to medical school, and I’ve never owned my own business. I’ve spent my adult life working regular jobs, just like everyone else.”

A staunch believer in the Constitution, Owens believes the Affordable Care Act “is not something the federal government has any Constitutional authority to legislate.”

Owens also believes that education is strictly a state issue and that the federal Dept. of Education is unconstitutional.

Reginald Reid (R)

TCB attempted to contact Reid multiple times for this story and received no response. All information is sourced from other media, where noted.

Reginald Reid is a Forsyth County resident who has run in previous elections, most notably, the  NC Senate in 2012 and NC House races in 2018. He lost both races by a landslide.

There is currently no campaign page or social media page that definitively belongs to Reid. 

Malishai Woodbury (D) 

Voters will likely recognize Malishai Woodbury, who has served on the WS/FCS Board of Education for almost four years, three of those years as board chair. Woodbury thinks schools are still insufficiently funded, pre-K accessibility needs attention and her experience on the school board helps inform her belief.

“The county should invest more money in increasing educator pay supplements, pre-K accessibility, and restorative juvenile justice, to name a few,” she said. “I think Forsyth County should spend less money on luxurious amenities for certain parts of the county.”

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board

At-large (Choose 3)

Deanna Kaplan (D, i)

Kaplan is the only incumbent running for re-election in this year’s at-large school board primary election. She won the seat in 2018 and currently serves as board chair. She is proud of all the great strides she has made as chair, “in bringing our board together to focus on children first and providing the best education possible.”

If re-elected, she plans to focus on teacher recruitment and retention, adequate pay to attract the best teachers, competitive pay for support staff, custodians, cafeteria workers and bus drivers, learning loss, third-grade literacy and closing the achievement gap. Her biggest push will be to increase state funding so WS/FCS can attract and keep “our most valuable resources, our teachers.”

Sarah Absher (R)

Sarah Absher is a nurse who, like many candidates, is a political newcomer this election cycle. “It became very clear to me during COVID that parents don’t have the voice they should when it comes to public schools,” she said. “The biggest issue that faces our children is the lack of focus on academic rigor and career readiness.”

Absher is also concerned with transparency. 

“I would push on day one for an in-depth, independent audit of the school budget including all third-party contracts,” she said. “Then I would make sure those findings were published and easily accessible.”

Absher feels that her varied experiences as a nurse will be beneficial to the school board, coming as an outsider. 

“The great thing about representative democracy is it allows people from a variety of backgrounds to participate in the political process.” 

On critical race theory, Absher said, “We need to teach all aspects of history the good, the bad, and the ugly. But any curricula that teaches that all of America is systemically racist and that skin color dictates one’s status as either victim or oppressor is simply incorrect, overly simplistic and should not be taught to our public-school students.”

Sabrina Coone-Godfrey (D)

Sabrina Coone-Godfrey has been an active volunteer in WS/FCS for the last nine years. She has two children in the district, both at Title 1 Schools. Her campaign focuses on pushing for more lobbying for funding and securing grants. Additionally, she wants to free up teachers’ time to get them back to teaching. She feels educators currently have too many demands related to teaching for the sole purpose of tests. If elected, she wants to let teachers transition back to working with students directly. She told TCB she’s also concerned about the current staffing crisis in WS/FCS. She feels providing funding and resources to teachers will allow them to better address academic, social, and emotional needs of students.

Allen Daniel (R)

Daniel volunteered in the WS/FCS school district from 2010-15 while maintaining a long-term career in software development. In 2015, he left that career for a one-year internship at the Early College of Forsyth for licensure as a middle- or high school math teacher. Daniel taught during the 2016-17 school year and was a sub in fall 2017. He is currently a math tutor, both privately and for a local non-profit organization.

His campaign focuses on giving a voice to everyone in the system who feels unheard, addressing an inequitable distribution of resources, both human and financial, and holding every student accountable for their behavior. Regarding student accountability, he feels schools are currently facing an issue with a lack of discipline and those students who want to learn cannot do so due to constant disruptions.

Regina Garner (L)

TCB attempted to contact Garner multiple times for this story but did not hear back. All information is sourced from her campaign website and other media, where noted.

Regina Garner “never had any expectations or aspirations in becoming a politician or serving on a school board” before she decided to run.

In Feb. 2021, Garner played a part in the disruption at a school board meeting when a national QAnon-aligned group encouraged conservative activists across the country to “serve” notices at school board meetings with frivolous liability insurance scares. Garner’s platform includes a “complete overhaul” of the school system without the influence of “bribes” like ESSER funds (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief) to force mask-wearing. Staunchly against the promotion of social and emotional learning and critical race theory, Garner believes that schools should “leave the parenting to parents” and that these programs promote racial division and gender confusion.

Michael Hardman (R)

According to a video posted on Hardman’s campaign Facebook page, he attended schools in the WS/FCS district and graduated from Mt. Tabor. He studied civil engineering at Virginia Tech and is a licensed civil engineer who works for a local construction company, at which he helps build schools.

Based on Hardman’s campaign website, he plans to focus on teaching basic subjects without political agenda or bias, reducing the amount of screen time that students experience for school and homework, teaching students about American exceptionalism, restoring high expectations and empowering administrators to enforce behavioral standards. He will also push to make curriculum and lesson materials easily available to parents online so they are able to make personal health decisions for their families.

Richard Watts (D)

Watts has served Forsyth County public education for over 32 years. During that time, he was a teacher at Wiley Middle School, an assistant principal at Southwest Elementary School, and principal of Kimberley Park Elementary, Julian Gibson Elementary School and Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy School. He was named Principal of the Year twice. He received an education specialist degree from Appalachian State University, master’s degree from Appalachian State University and bachelor’s degree from Wake Forest University.

His platform focuses on safety for students and staff, creating a sense of community in schools, academic achievement and closing the achievement gaps, building relationships and respect within schools through increasing morale, and sustainable funding.

District 2 (Choose 4)

Leah Crowley (R, i)

Leah Crowley successfully won a District 2 board seat in 2018, coming in second behind Lida Calvert Hayes, who is not running for re-election. Over the years, Crowley has volunteered as a PTA board member, coach, mentor, and substitute teacher. While on the board, Crowley has been a supporter of school choice and continues to push for options for parents. If reelected Crowley plans to focus on more support for teachers to address reading and math proficiency and equity in school facilities and resources.

On her website and campaign Facebook page, Crowley regularly talks about the importance of reading. When it comes to the wave of book-bannings across the country, she said, “children should have access to as many books as possible that are age appropriate (no pornography). Books that feature a non-traditional family (i.e. two moms) is not pornography.”

Robert Barr (R)

Robert Barr formerly served as an at-large member of the school board from 2014-18. He lost his bid for reelection in 2018 as a wave of Democratic female candidates won all three seats. According to his campaign website, he taught at Moore Elementary School, Paisley Middle School, and Kernersville Middle School. Additionally, he worked as a curriculum coordinator at Atkins Middle School. He received a master’s in education from Wake Forest University and his undergraduate degree from Winston-Salem State University. His campaign focuses on academics, parental involvement, empowering teachers and inspiring students to learn.

Jennifer Castillo (D)

Jennifer Castillo is a WS/FCS graduate who founded the Jennifer Castillo Foundation in 2020, an organization that “aims to increase civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy among the Latinx community in Winston-Salem, NC.”

If elected, Castillo plans to focus on safe schools, from protecting classrooms to mental health assessments, increasing teacher pay and resources, and being an advocate for homeless students and partnering with agencies that can best assist school resources.

“Having worked with the most vulnerable in our community for over 10 years, I am passionate about the issues affecting our staff and students,” she said on her website. “Homelessness, poverty, gang violence, legal issues, family violence, and immigration concerns-these are all things that are affecting our communities and spilling over into our schools.”

Stanley Elrod (R)

Elrod has served more than 30 years in the WS/FCS system with a range of positions that include teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal and principal. His campaign focuses on how his past work as an educator and administrator helps him understand the struggles educators are currently dealing with daily. His goals focus on supporting teachers and helping students get back to pre-pandemic learning.He shared that students, parents, and teachers need to evaluate losses and work together to find a solution. 

From his site: “All students in our system are equally important and it is our job to make them feel that way. They are all different, they are all special, and it is our job to teach each one of them.”

Steve Wood (R) 

Steve Wood, a Tobaccoville/Pfafftown native, served in the state legislature from 1985-2005, with two terms as House Education Chair. He attended Forsyth County Public Schools and later received a masters in history from UNCG, a master of divinity at Houston Graduate School of Theology and a doctorate at Luther Rice University in Georgia. He taught history and served as assistant academic dean at his alma mater John Wesley College.

Wood believes public schools are moving away from basic premises and “are embracing the ‘woke’ political agenda.” He said he wants to move the system “back to the basics of literacy and numeracy and away from social engineering.”

Wood also wants to reconfigure the school board.

“WS/FCS should consider recommending that our legislature eliminate the cumbersome and anachronistic multi-member school board districts in favor of single member districts and limited countywide elected board members,” he said.

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