Triad City Beat’s first Primary Election Guide since 2020 is the biggest one yet — 134 candidates in 31 races running more than 15,000 words and consuming most of the pages in the print edition, as well as most of our other newsroom resources. We’ve got info on every candidate in every primary race in Guilford and Forsyth counties, except the judicial races which are beyond the capabilities of our newsroom this year. A well-informed voter would want to use this guide as a starting point on researching candidates, but there is enough information here to send voters confidently to the ballot box. And there is more reporting on most races on our website.
All information has been gleaned from media reports, candidate websites and social media accounts, and from the candidates themselves when they have responded to our questionnaires. They’re listed in alphabetical order after the incumbent in each race, if there is one.
Early voting starts today, Thursday April 28, and runs through Saturday, May 14. Election Day is on Tuesday, May 17. To find your voting location and look up your sample ballot, go here.
Early voting sites and times for Guilford County and Forsyth County are as follows:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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There are two referenda on the ballot this year in Guilford County: a large school bond and a sales-tax increase to pay for it. They are on the ballot in reverse order.
Guilford County Local Sales and Use Tax (For or Against)
A quarter percent (0.25 percent) sales tax increase would help pay for the $1.7 billion school bond that is also on the ballot. The tax increase would not apply to groceries, gas, car sales or prescription medicines. County commissioners have passed a resolution stating that they would decrease the property tax rate if this sales tax increase is passed.
Guilford County School Bond Referendum (For or Against)
This item refers to a $1.7 billion school bond that will help fund safety and technology upgrades at all schools, fund three new schools, rebuild 18 and fully renovate 13 schools within Guilford County. It is a continuation of school funding on top of a $300 million school bond that was passed in November 2020. The bond is in response to a 2019 study that found that half of the schools in the district were in either poor or unsatisfactory condition. Reporting by Triad City Beat found that the worst schools in the county disproportionately affect minority students.
Eleven Democrats and 14 Republicans are vying for the chance to win the Senate seat vacated by Richard Burr, also a Republican, when he decided not to run again just months after his last re-election. The race will be one of the most expensive in the country, if not the most, with deep ramifications on the slim majority in the Senate.
Dr. Greg Antoine
A veteran of the navy and army who retired at the rank of colonel, Greg Antoine originally hails from Mississippi, where he was the first Black student to integrate and graduate from a formerly all-white public high school in his hometown, according to his campaign website. Antoine is a licensed physician who has fought hard for veteran’s medical care and supports the expansion of Medicaid as well as improving rural broadband to increase telemedicine access. Antoine also lists voting rights as a top priority and supports “an expansion of resources focused on securing our borders” as well as “ending cash bail for minor nonviolent first-time offenders.”
Antoine supports the reduction or elimination of student debt, universal pre-K and the continuation of the child-tax credit.
As of March 31, Antoine had raised $11,066.48 and had $5,290.65 ending cash on hand.
A political heavyweight, voters will recognize Cheri Beasley f as the first Black woman to serve as the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court (March 2019-December 2020). Prior to that, Beasley served as an associate justice of the NC Supreme Court. Beasley has won endorsements from figures such as Attorney General Josh Stein, Rep. Kathy Manning and Vice President Kamala Harris. Her priorities include expanding the Affordable Care Act with a public option, investing in early-childhood education, “reforming student loan programs” and increasing funding for HBCUs and tribal colleges. Beasley supports a $15 minimum wage, making the Expanded Child Tax Credit permanent and passing federal paid family and medical leave. She would vote to strengthen abortion rights and expanding renewable energy. When it comes to criminal justice reform, Beasley supports the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act, legalizing and regulating marijuana, reforming sentencing and ending some mandatory minimums and the cash bail system. Beasley is a strong supporter of campaign finance reform who supports overturning Citizens United. Despite not accepting any corporate PAC money because she “believes leaders should be accountable to the people, not special interests,” Beasley is outraising all of the candidates in the Senate race, Democrat or not. So far, her campaign has raised $8.6 million with $5.1 million ending cash on hand as of March 31.
Chrelle Booker is the current Mayor Pro Tem of Tryon and works full-time in television broadcasting. She is also a licensed realtor and a board member of the National League of Cities Information Technology and Communications Committee. Booker supports an online system for voter access and family and medical leave for workers. She explains that she is “pro-choice” but not “pro-abortion” and supports gun control including mandatory training for gun owners. She supports legalizing mariujana for medicinal uses and raising the minimum wage to $15.
Thus far, Booker’s campaign has raised $6,389 and has $2,840 ending cash on hand.
James L. Carr Jr.
Born in Lexington, James L. Carr Jr. served in the US Air Force from 1985-89 and currently works as an IT consultant. According to his campaign website, Carr Jr. supports expanding rural broadband, Medicare for All and apprenticeship-type work programs for students who graduate high school. He also supports building public rail systems to connect those who live in rural areas with jobs. Carr has not filed any campaign finance information with the FEC.
This is not Robert Colon’s first time running for federal office. In 2020, he made an unsuccessful bid for the 7th Congressional District and came in last in the Democratic primary. On his website Colon says he supports reducing government spending on weapons of war and remodeling the justice system. He states that he avoids money from lobbyists and donates at least half of his salary back into the community to “remain a true, genuine voice of the people.”
No campaign finance information was available for this candidate.
Alyssia Rose-Katherine Hammond
A Winston-Salem State University alum, Alyssia Rose-Katherine Hammond is a 33-year-old social-justice advocate from Raleigh. She has canvassed for the Democratic Party in the past, has worked in healthcare and led protests against police brutality. As the youngest candidate in the race, Hammond views her age as an asset.
“I believe my young spirit and strong leadership skills will inspire more young adults and the youth involved into politics, and serving our country,” she writes on her website.
No campaign finance information was available for this candidate.
Constance Lov Johnson
Constance Lov Johnson is no stranger to running for political office. In 2014 she ran for the NC Senate District 34 seat; in 2017 she ran for mayor of Charlotte; and in 2020 she ran statewide for Superintendent of Public Instruction. She has made it through the primary to the general election just once, in 2014. She has served as the publisher of CityPolitical magazine and Legislative Star, outlets that educate Black voters, for 20 years. This time around Johnson lists that she is supporting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan and Biden’s Build Back Better Bill.
No campaign finance information was available for this candidate.
A “pro-life conservative Democrat,” Tobias LaGrone believes that “all life is sacred from the womb to the tomb.” LaGrone began working as a pastor at the age of 19 and has taught religion at various colleges in the area. He supports a national registry for officers who have engaged in misconduct as well as a bill that would require employers to notify employees if they are planning to replace them with any form of artificial intelligence.
LaGrone has raised $6,706 thus far and had $2,186 cash on hand as of March 31.
An alum of UNCG, BK Maginnis explains on his website that he was compelled to run for office after Trump was elected president and after the events of Jan. 6.
“Winning this Senate race is critical not just for the citizens of North Carolina, but also for the people of the United States and the democracy we hold so dear,” he writes on his website.
He supports increasing law enforcement officers’ pay, limiting Congressional terms to 20 years and reforming the Supreme Court nomination process. Maginnis also supports two years of free community college after high school graduation as well as a mandatory two-year military obligation with non-combat options.
No campaign finance information was available for this candidate.
Rett Newton is a veteran who served in the Air Force in 28 roles and was mayor of Beaufort, NC in 2017. During his time as mayor, Newton helped the town prepare and recover from hurricanes, responded to the COVID-19 crisis and upgraded the town’s water and sewer lines. Newton supports expanding the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and eliminating for-profit prisons. Based on his social media posts, Newton supports workers’ rights including the formation of unions and increasing the federal minimum wage.
Newton has raised $214,694 as of March 31 and has $19,373 cash on hand.
Marcus W. Williams
Like Constance Lov Johnson, Marcus W. Williams has run for public office many times before. In 1992, Williams ran for governor, in 2008 a US Senate seat. In 2012 he ran in the Democratic primary for US House District 8; in 2014 he ran in the Democratic primary for NC Senate District 13, in 2016 he ran in the Democratic primary for attorney general — losing by just under 7 percentage points — and in 2020 he ran for US House District 9 in the Democratic primary. His campaign website still lists him as running for attorney general. Williams is a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience who posts clips of former TV interviews and newspaper articles on his social media and website in lieu of campaign priorities.
Williams has raised $2,492 thus far and has no cash on hand.
Jen Banwart, from Apex, left a 19-year career with the Dept. of Defense, where she specialized in tactical operations support, to run for Senate. She has not been included in any televised debates. According to her Twitter, because she does not accept PAC donations — she has raised less than $5,000. She favors strong defense — both of the United States and the Constitution, feels “very uncomfortable with the broad nature of the current abortion conversation,” believes in “medical freedom” but not universal healthcare, disagrees with critical race theory, thinks that “sanctuary cities” should be cut off from state and federal funds, supports fracking and spending cuts at the federal level.
Lee A. Brian
Lee Brian of Clayton has no experience as an elected official, has not participated in any candidate forums nor appeared in any debates. Her website is very lean, with no policy positions but a link to a Telegram conspiracy channel and a list of “White Hat Websites” that includes far-right activists Steve Bannon, the My Pillow guy, Dan Bongino and Gen. Mike Flynn. She has raised less than $5,000.
Leonard L. Bryant
Leonard Bryant of Fayetteville is one of several Black Republicans in the race, with 31 years served in the Army National Guard and Army Reserve, and a degree from Liberty University. From his website: “The White House is censoring conservatives. Legacy media is censoring conservatives. We must speak out about the issues that matter, from the radical agenda to force toddlers to conform to liberal gender ideology to the left’s attack on parental rights in public education, we all must speak out against their very dangerous agenda and refuse to be silenced.”
He has raised $6,577 and has $1,741 ending cash on hand.
Rep. Ted Budd
Sitting US Congressman Ted Budd, a gun-shop owner born in Winston-Salem, got his seat in 2017 after winning exactly 20 percent of the vote in a 17-way primary in a district built for a Republican. He then rode Trump’s coattails to beat Democrat Bruce Davis in the General Election by more than 12 points. Budd is Trump’s choice for the seat, possibly because he voted against impeachment twice, voted to overturn President Biden’s election after Jan. 6, 2021 and has repeated falsehoods about the integrity of the 2020 election — which he himself won by almost 37 points. Other than Trump’s endorsement, his platform mirrors everyone else’s except maybe more so. From his website: “The Senate is our last line of defense against the Left’s woke, socialist agenda and weak foreign policy. Putting America first is the only way that our country will succeed.”
So far his campaign has raised $4.2 million and has $1.9 million ending cash on hand.
On his website, cowboyforcongress.com, Drew Bulecza says, “Although you can only vote for me in North Carolina I want to make this a nationwide campaign for a few reasons. Nationwide publicity will inspire other everyday Americans (like the truck driver in Jersey or the cowboy in NC ) to step up and take back our country!” Oddly, the site itself is a subdomain of his business site, TWSSH Buildings, selling pre-fab steel structures like carports and barns. He’s against government overreach, pro Second Amendment and wants to “remove the career politicians” from Congress. He has raised $0, according to the FEC.
Marjorie K. Eastman
An Army Reserve combat veteran with tours in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Marjorie Eastman is also an award-winning author of The Frontline Generation: How we Served Post 9/11. She’s bullish on national security and strong borders, believes increased law enforcement will reduce violent crime and is positioning herself as an alternative to career politicians. She’s up there in the money race as well, fourth overall with almost $800,000 raised so far.
David Flaherty Jr.
David Flaherty has no campaign website or social media we could find aside from his voter-registration info, has raised no funds according to the FEC and has not returned an email sent to his campaign account. He is the son of David Flaherty Sr., the late two-term state senator who served in the cabinet under NC governors Jim Holshouser and Jim Martin, and ran unsuccessfully for governor himself in 1976. Flaherty Jr. served in the state House in the 1990s, then left to become district attorney of Caldwell County. In 2000 he was arrested for DWI in December 2000. In 2005, the state bar transferred him to disability inactive status due to “depression and addictive diseases which significantly impair his professional judgment, performance or competence as an attorney.” He is still legally unable to practice law in NC.
Benjamin E. Griffiths
There’s no website for candidate Benjamin Griffiths, who lives in Charlotte, and a campaign Facebook page is bereft of policy positions. But in the comments he expresses support for impeaching President Biden, election integrity, Congressional term limits and former President Trump. The page currently has 25 followers. He has raised about $5,000.
Kenneth Harper Jr.
Another Black Republican, Kenneth Harper of Archdale has a narrative: a former student-body president, high school athlete and academic achiever, his best friend died before his senior year of high school sending him into a spiral that led to expulsion and arrest, followed shortly by the birth of his first child. He has worked as a salesman — vacuum cleaners, modular homes, cars, insurance — and has raised more than $33,000 for his campaign. He has $2,025 ending cash on hand. There are no policy positions on his website, but he is against “cancel culture,’ masks and career politicians.
As the seven-term mayor of Charlotte (1995-2009), Pat MCCrory was considered a progressive Republican, spearheading initiatives like public transportation and downtown development. As the one-term NC governor (2012-16), he presided over the Republican takeover of the General Assembly that included numerous redistricting boondoggles and the disastrous HB 2 “Bathroom Bill” that saw numerous film production, sporting events and convention leave the state for years to come, costing the state between $450 and $650 million. Now he’s running as a Washington outsider, though his views are indistinguishable from the others at the front of the pack: fiscal responsibility, military spending, supporting conservative judges and punishing sanctuary cities. He’s a close third in the money game right now with $4.15 million raised so far, behind Democrat Cheri Beasley ($8.6 million) and Republican Rep. Ted Budd ($4.2 million). Is it worth mentioning that he graduated from Ragsdale High (Class of ’74)?
Charles Kenneth Moss
Charles Moss of Randleman has no campaign website, has reported no funds and done no interviews. He’s almost certainly the same Charles Moss who has been running for office in NC since 1986, according to this News & Observer article from 2016, the last time he ran for governor. He received 7.66 percent of the vote in the March primary that year. His Facebook page has not been updated since September 2015.
Lichia Sibhatu is a daycare owner from Raleigh but was born in Eritrea, a country on the Horn of Africa. She has been endorsed by the American-Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee. Her main issue seems to be abortion — she’s against it — and she’s raised almost $8,000 in small donations and has $1,100 ending cash on hand. Her Twitter has just two posts: one announcing her campaign and another from March expressing the desire to work with Britney Spears on new music.
According to her LinkedIn page, Debora Tshiovo — another Black Republican in the race — is a Congolese-American citizen with a recent master’s degree in public policy from the University of Maryland. Her political experience includes seven months as junior office coordinator at the International Monetary Fund in 2017 and as a lobbyist for Maryland Common Cause, “a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to restoring the core values of American democracy.” Her website, which is two weeks old, is short on policy and long on faith: “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ and get my orders from on High. As I have been praying for this country, and waiting on the Lord to hear His instruction, the Lord has impressed on my heart the issues of Unity, National Security, Education, Prison Reform and Abortion.”
Who knows why Trump chose Budd instead of former Rep. Mark Walker, who declined to run for re-election in NC’s 6th Congressional District after court-ordered redistricting turned it blue. His positions are pretty much identical — basically Trumpian Republicanism — but Walker came about through Greensboro’s Lawndale Baptist Church, where he was an assistant pastor and where Guilford County’s Tea Party chapter, Conservatives for Guilford County, began. Walker says Trump has been pressuring him to drop out. And he’s a distant fourth in the money race, with just $1.68 million raised and $509,318 cash on hand.
US HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
No Democrats are running in this race which means that the winner of the Republican primary will take the seat.
Virginia Foxx (i)
Assuming office in District 5 of US House in January 2005, Virginia Foxx remains in the seat today. Prior to that, she was a member of the NC Senate and the deputy secretary for management for the state. Since taking office, Foxx has represented and been staunchly in line with the increasingly conservative GOP, and is one of several North Carolina representatives who continues to push the Big Lie. In her first year in office, she voted against sending aid to victims of Hurricane Katrina and has voted against programs like the American Rescue Plan Act in 2021. She is anti-LGBTQ rights, opposes the Equality Act and doesn’t believe in abortion even in cases of rape or incest. In 2019, she voted against both articles of impeachment against then-President Donald Trump and on Jan. 6, 2021, was one of 147 Republicans who objected to the certification of electoral votes for the 2020 election.
As of March 31, Foxx had raised this campaign cycle $1,244,118 and had $2,834,985 cash on hand.
Michael Ackerman currently resides in Valle Crucis with his wife and daughter. He taught middle school US History on the Navajo Reservation in Sanders, Ariz. Additionally, he is a former police officer in both Arizona and South Carolina, with 14 years of combined service. In 2014 while serving with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina, he was awarded the Silver Star for being shot in the line of duty. According to his campaign website, he served as a Juvenile Court Counselor with the NC Dept. of Public Safety until October 2021. He shares there, “I was terminated because I would not comply with Governor Roy Cooper’s tyrannical vaccine mandate.”
If elected, his top goal listed on his website is to “introduce and or support articles of impeachment for President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of State Blinken for Malfeasance and Misfeasance in office.”
His campaign had raised $24,961.10 and had $1,174.85 cash on hand as of March 31.
After winning the district handily in 2020, Democrat Kathy Manning, who does not have a primary this month, looks towards November to keep her seat. So far Manning has raised $1.47 million and has $1.24 million ending cash on hand, more than five times the highest-raising Republican in the race.
Summerfield and Oak Ridge resident Gerry Austin is an Army National Guard veteran who worked for both the Greensboro Police Department as well as the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office for decades. According to his website, Austin supports voter ID, “finishing the wall,” protecting the Second Amendment and improving veterans’ lives through medical and mental healthcare and housing. As a former first responder, Austin believes in funding law enforcement and opposes “critical race theory, or any similar indoctrination,” in public schools. He is pro-life. Austin has raised $4,848 and has $1,253 cash on hand.
Marvin Bogulawski has worked as an engineer and executive in corporate America for the last 30 years, according to his website. His LinkedIn profile states that he currently works as a director of operations for Agiliti, a Minneapolis-based medical equipment management company. Using his work experience, Bogulawski states that he would “drive out billions and billions of dollars of waste at the federal level.”
He believes that life starts at conception, supports voter IDs and says that big Chinese companies in America are a “communist attack from within our country economically.”
Bogulawski has raised $7,825 and has $3,906 cash on hand.
Christian Castelli comes from a long line of military service that dates back to his great grandfather. Castelli spent 20 years in the military, earning his Green Beret in 1998 and serving as lieutenant colonel for the Secretary of Defense. He attended Harvard University, earning a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in international security and political economy. He retired in 2012 after being awarded the Legion of Merit for his service. After his retirement Castelli started two logistics businesses and helped his brother start a church in Florida. Like his Republican colleagues he supports a universal voter ID program for elections, is pro-life, supports school choice and opposes critical race theory and is against vaccine mandates. He also supports the Second Amendment, securing the border and opposes increasing taxes.
Castelli has raised $204,497 thus far, including $140,000 in loans — the most of any Republican — and has $144,621 ending cash on hand.
Mary Ann Contogiannis
Dr. Mary Ann Contogiannis is a plastic surgeon with a practice in Greensboro. According to her website, she is running because she has “witnessed firsthand how government often interferes, rather than enhances, an individual’s or a business’ success.” She is against gun control, abortion and raising taxes. “Non-military federal budgeting should be decreased,” she states. “In particular, better control of entitlement program spending with elimination of duplicate spending across government agencies should be enacted.”
Contogiannis’ campaign has raised $14,740 and has 12,995 cash on hand.
This is Lee Haywood’s second time running for Congress. In 2020, Haywood won the Republican primary and ran against Democrat Kathy Manning in the general election, losing by almost 25 percentage points. This time around, Haywood has doubled down on his platform, even promoting the “Even More Politically Incorrect Raffle” on his website in which supporters can enter to win an AR-15 rifle, a half gallon of bourbon or concealed-carry lessons for donating to his campaign. His priorities include funding law enforcement, eliminating deficit spending, eliminating government regulations that hinder growth for small businesses and supporting school choice. Haywood also states that he wants to create opportunity zones in the district, including one centered around NCA&T State University. Of all of the Republicans, Haywood has been one of the most publicly visible candidates in the last few years, showing up to local events such as those opposing lockdowns during COVID-19 and protests outside of school boards.
Haywood has raised $48,062 and has $14,162 ending cash on hand.
Greensboro native Laura Pichardo is running for Congress a second time. In 2020, Pichardo faced opponent Lee Haywood in the Republican primary and lost by almost 50 percentage points. Pichardo is one of the youngest candidates in the race, having graduated from UNCG in 2014. She works as a global transaction services accounts payable analyst. According to her website, she supports flexible options for students whether that be a traditional four-year college or two-year technical program post high school.
“There should be maximum monetary limitation to how much a person can take out for student loans based on their chosen career path to protect them predatory loaning practices,” she states.
She supports voluntary COVID-19 vaccinations and limited government spending.
No campaign finance information was available for this candidate.
Licensed pilot, former police officer and welfare fraud investigator William “Bill” Schuch’s website reads less like a candidate’s campaign site and more like a personal diary. In long paragraphs, Schuch talks about the kind of person he is and then outlines broad issues with today’s society in lieu of an “issues” page. He mentions how the price of goods has risen and how the pandemic “has been used as the most prolific weapon ever designed by man” and that “free speech is gone.” He takes issue with being asked what his pronouns are and of people “getting canceled.” He opposes things he claims incumbent Democrat Kathy Manning stands for including abortion, “boys in the girls room” and forced vaccinations.
No campaign finance information was available for this candidate.
Currently represented by Republican Jon Hardister, this district covers all of eastern Guilford County from the north, all the way to the south. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Hardister, who has no primary opponent, in the general election this November. Hardister had $89,545 ending cash on hand at the end of 2021.
Eddie Aday is a veteran who has served in the marine corps and army national guard. He has lived with his family in the district since 2007 where they manage a small farm. He believes in funding public schools, increasing apprenticeship programs, increasing support for social workers and mental health professionals, protecting the environment, increasing minimum wage and supporting veterans.
According to his 2021 end of year campaign finance report, Aday has raised $6,850 and had $3,750 cash on hand.
Greensboro resident Sherrie Young filed to run in the state Senate race but has virtually no online presence indicating that she has done so. TCB couldn’t find a campaign website for Young and an email went unreturned.
Three candidates, including the incumbent’s husband, are set to run in the Democratic primary for the District 71 NC House seat on May 17. As there are no Republicans running, the winner of the primary will win the seat.
After launching an unsuccessful challenge to unseat Evelyn Terry in the 2020 Democratic primary, Kanika Brown is back to try again. Brown currently serves as the community liaison for the Southside community through Experiment in Self Reliance. In this position, she works on various projects throughout Winston-Salem, mostly in schools and recreation centers. If elected, she plans to focus on education, healthcare, affordable housing, the environment, financial literacy, and the minimum wage. Her stance on education includes a stronger focus on reading literacy, financial literacy and implementing a pet therapy program for youth. Brown promotes that healthcare needs to be affordable for all people and people should not be forced to choose between eating or paying bills and medication or medical expenses. She says she understands the importance of working across the political aisle and if elected is willing to work alongside all parties to make a difference.
Born in Winston-Salem, David Moore believes helping convicts in the rehabilitation process; helping others see they are changed individuals is one of his biggest priorities, according to his website. This is an important issue for Moore as an ex-convict himself who served a two-year sentence for marijuana trafficking. In 2004, he opened an auto-body shop in Winston-Salem and the following year filed the business as a nonprofit. Currently, his business serves as a community-service work spot for the Winston-Salem court system. He also collaborates with the Winston-Salem Police Department in their gang prevention initiative to help at-risk youth.
Frederick Terry resides in Winston-Salem with his wife Evelyn Terry who has held the District 71 House seat for five terms. Terry is a graduate of WSSU. He is currently retired; however, he serves as the Legislative Assistant to his wife Evelyn. His community involvement includes previously serving as chair for the Forsyth County Democratic Party. Additionally, he served the following local organizations: United Way, Experiment in Self Reliance, Inc., and MUSE Winston-Salem. Terry’s main campaign focuses are education, healthcare (with an emphasis on women’s healthcare), and fighting against the inequalities in state government. His stance on education is that there is too much censorship in schools and that private institutions don’t face the same challenges as public schools. Additionally, he shared with TCB that there is a need for improvement in funding and opportunities for teacher development. Regarding healthcare, he promotes expanding Medicaid.
Republican Jeff Zenger currently holds the seat and is running unopposed. The winner between Day and Lew will face Zenger in the general election this November.
Carla Catalán Day
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. If elected, she aims to expand Medicaid for working-class and middle-class people. She supports teachers when they say they need reduced classroom sizes and school supplies. She plans to do this by pushing for funding for public education. Day fully supports the Leandro plan and increasing NC educators’ salaries to the national average of $63,645.
Sean (pronounced “seen”) Lew has lived in Forsyth County for more than 20 years. He received his Juris Doctor from the UNC School of Law and is currently an attorney with his own practice in Winston-Salem. Lew served as a citizen commissioner for the city of Winston-Salem on two community boards from 2003-06. His priorities include supporting family businesses, strengthening schools, expanding healthcare coverage and preserving natural resources and green spaces. As a small-business owner, Lew is passionate about supporting family businesses in the district to help them recover from the pandemic. Lew said he supports increasing access to early childhood education, raising teacher pay and investing in increasing staff size to support the needs of students. He supports the Leandro decision to add $1.7 billion to schools in the state budget.
With no Democrats running, the winner of the Republican primary in May will automatically win the seat in November. District 91 was redrawn after the 2020 census to encompass the whole of Stokes County and the northern part of Forsyth County.
Kyle Hall (i)
Kyle Hall is the District 91 incumbent and a 2012 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2015, when he was 25 years old, Hall was appointed to the House seat by Gov. Pat McCrory after the resignation of Rep. Bryan Holloway. He was elected to his first full term in 2016, then re-elected in 2018 and 2020. Hall describes himself as a “commonsense conservative committed to the ideals of limited government and personal responsibility.” Hall is Chair of the Agriculture, National and Economic Resources Appropriations Committee. As of April 20, Hall has raised $16,327 for his current campaign.
James Douglas (R)
James Douglas (No relation to TCB contributor James Douglas) attended Davidson College and University of South Carolina. Douglas believes that his long career in marketing and development will make him an effective state senator. If elected, his focus will be eliminating the state income tax by making federal tax deductible by the state, reducing taxes for seniors by not taxing Social Security benefits or pensions and improving education by supporting the development of online-accessible modules to help close education gaps.
Stephen James (R)
Stephen James, from King, describes himself as a “Constitutional Conservative and lifelong Republican.” TCB reached out to James multiple times and hasn’t received a response. A flashy dresser, his campaign page on Facebook shows an enthusiasm for poker.
GUILFORD COUNTY RACES
GUILFORD COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY – DISTRICT 24
The primary responsibility of the district attorney is to prosecute all criminal cases filed in the Superior and District Courts. District attorneys also advise local law enforcement and prepare the criminal trial docket.
Avery Crump (D, i)
Avery Crump was initially voted into office in 2018 after working as a district court judge in Guilford County for a decade. While Crump cited her accomplishments during the last four years such as restoring drivers’ licenses and working to purge non-violent offenses from criminal records, the murder of Fred Cox Jr. by Davidson County Sheriff’s deputy Michael Shane Hill in November 2020 has colored the last two years of her tenure. Rather than pressing charges against Hill, Crump presented two bills of indictment for voluntary manslaughter and felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury to a Grand Jury in June 2021. The Grand Jury failed to indict, finding insufficient evidence to support criminal charges. Attorneys representing the Cox family filed a civil lawsuit against Hill as well as the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office in August 2021. The suit is ongoing.
When asked why she didn’t press charges initially, Crump said that “it is not unusual to go to the Grand Jury first in these types of cases.”
If re-elected Crump said she would focus on decreasing the backlog of cases by hiring more staff, increasing the number of defendants on the calendars and prioritizing homicide trials.
Brenton J. Boyce (D)
First-time political candidate Brenton Boyce has been practicing law since 2007 and has had his own private practice since 2013. He puts criminal-justice reform at the top of his platform and said he would take a “proactive approach by reporting misconduct, refusing to prosecute offenses involving gross civil rights violations and fairly presenting witnesses to a Grand Jury in cases of police misconduct.”
If elected, Boyce said he would clearly establish policies to promote transparency, host regular opportunities for dialogue with the press and community members, modernize discovery practices to get evidence more quickly and consistently review where inequality exists in the system such as reconsidering policies on cash bail and plea negotiations.
GUILFORD COUNTY SHERIFF
Danny Rogers (i)
Danny Rogers was first elected as Guilford County sheriff in 2018, unseating six-term incumbent Republican BJ Barnes to become the first Black sheriff of the county. Rogers worked in the Guilford County Detention Center from 1985-87 and as a High Point police officer from 1987-90. His last law enforcement job before being elected to sheriff in 2018 was in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office from 1990-93. Rogers said that the biggest issues facing Guilford County are the lack of engagement between law enforcement and community members to help solve crimes as well as a lack of adequate pay for employees. When asked about specific practices he would support to address police reform, Rogers talked about a broader outlook on the issue, stating that his office was “committed to breaking down barriers of culture and race by engaging with every community within Guilford County….”
Juan Monjaras has worked for more than nine years with the GCSO and a little more than a year with the Greensboro Police Department. A Latinx man, one of Monjaras’ focuses is his consideration of the Hispanic population and their interactions with police. If elected, he said he would work to “shine light on the common misconceptions regarding Immigration and Customs Enforcement, law enforcement and undocumented individuals.” If a deputy uses deadly force on the job, Monjaras said he would immediately issue a press conference “as soon as all facts are known. This will be done to show transparency and accountability.”
In 2018, Phipps ran against current Sheriff Danny Rogers in the Democratic primary, losing by about 15 percentage points. In terms of experience, Phipps has the most of the three candidates when it comes to working in law enforcement. He is a retired Greensboro Police captain and a graduate of the FBI’s National Academy. As one of his main concerns, Phipps noted the “distrust of law enforcement, particularly in communities of color.” In 2020, Phipps signed a petition that called for police body-camera footage to be made available to the public as much as possible. He supports the co-response model of policing and said questionable jail deaths should be investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation every time.
Phil Byrd retired in 2014 as a senior captain of the sheriff’s office after a 30-year career. Byrd said that he wanted to build trust and loyalty within the department again and to make sure that employees felt supported. He also expressed support to those who speak out at school board meetings.
“I will be the sheriff that goes to school board meetings,” Byrd said. “We need the sheriff to go to school board meetings and lay out the problems, lay out the proposals and let the school board answer the problems through the sheriff.”
Lee Melvin, the only Black candidate in the pool of Republicans, also worked for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department but for only three months in 2018. Prior to working for GCSO, Melvin worked for 24 years as a state trooper, the last 18 of those stationed in Guilford County. He talked about how morale had dropped under Danny Rogers’ leadership. He also argued that the Jan. 6 event wasn’t an insurrection. Adding to Byrd’s support for those speaking out at school board meetings, Melvin took it one step further.
“If I’m sheriff, you can stand on top of the desk and scream from the top of your lungs about what’s right for your child’s education,” Melvin asserted. “That’s your First Amendment right.”
While the sheriff’s office may provide deputies to monitor school board meetings, the school board members have the right to have any individuals removed from meetings if they so choose. Melvin also said that if he were elected, he would decrease the amount of time to get a gun permit to “six weeks or less” and promised to double or triple the amount of officers in schools.
Adam Moore has worked in law enforcement since 2014 and also considered the importance of employee morale and staff retention. According to his LinkedIn, Moore worked as a police officer for the Haw River Police Department and said how many of the officers there know at least 75 percent of the people in the community. Because of that, Moore said that, were he elected, he would have his deputies working in the communities where they live as much as possible. He also repeatedly pushed for the importance of the sheriff and deputies having a presence in all parts of the county, not just in Greensboro.
Randy Powers has served as the Director of DMV Enforcement and as a Chief Deputy/Colonel of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, according to his website. If elected, Powers said that he would ensure that officers patrol the county, not within the city limits of Greensboro or High Point.
While he has never worked for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, Billy Queen has worked for more than 30 years in law enforcement, including in positions with the US Border Patrol and as a special agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Working as an undercover agent, Queen said he was subjected to aggressive behavior by the police including being kicked.
“I know there are bad guys out there, but they’ve got to be treated with respect also,” Queen said. “If you want respect, you have to treat them with respect.”
In addition to bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community, Queen stated that he would use his national experience to communicate with the different agencies around Guilford County and Greensboro such as city council, the county commissioners and district attorneys.
As one of the youngest candidates running, along with Adam Moore, White doesn’t have as many years of professional experience but did come with specific policy plans including working with the county commissioners to increase all deputies’ annual salary to $60,000 per year. White has served in the Marine Corps and as an officer with the Greensboro Police Department. He expressed an interest in utilizing technology, such as developing an app where citizens can request calls for service and communicate directly with sheriff’s deputies. He also stated the importance of working with Democrats to make changes.
GUILFORD COUNTY COMMISSION AT-LARGE
Kay Cashion (i)
Kay Cashion has been on the Guilford County Commission since 2004, and was known in the community for her work in the furnishings and decorating business prior to taking office. She has also been a strong advocate for victims of domestic violence. Some of her proudest achievements include instituting and facilitating the first county citizen’s academy in 2011, leading a study on substance abuse in young adults in the county and another on family and domestic violence which led to the establishment of two family justice centers, and serving as a member of the committee that studied ways to improve the county’s behavioral-health services. She believes the county should be spending more money on funding for schools and county facilities.
While this is only Greg Drumwright’s second time running for political office — he ran for the Guilford County School Board in 2018 and lost — his name is well-known in the local community for his efforts leading racial equity marches in Graham in 2020, as well as his recent efforts to seek justice in the killing of Fred Cox Jr. which took place in High Point in 2021. After leading a peaceful rally in Graham on Oct. 31, in which officers deployed pepper spray at protesters, Drumwright was charged with two felony counts of assault against a law enforcement officer and obstructing justice, and three misdemeanors of failure to disperse on command, resisting a public officer and public disturbance. In September 2021, an Alamance County judge found Drumwright guilty on the first two misdemeanor charges. Drumwright, who maintains his innocence and has said that he and his lawyers are appealing the charges, told TCB that the charges are an example of the kind of racist policies he has been fighting against for decades. Drumwright has prioritized criminal justice reform as the main arc of his platform and supports police reform including integrating more de-escalation tactics and mental-health training for officers. He supports the $1.7 billion bond for schools and dispersing rental assistance faster to families in need.
Alan Branson first won election to the board of county commissioners in 2012 to District 4. In 2020, Branson narrowly lost his re-election bid. During his time on the board, Branson served as both the chair and vice-chair. During his tenure, Branson said the board increased the budget for Guilford County Schools and the sheriff’s department. He also noted that during those years the county created the special ops building for the sheriff’s department, the Family Justice Center, the county mental-health facility, the new animal shelter and made improvements to county parks. He said that he’s concerned about “bond debt” and “how it will affect the taxpayers.” He also pointed to repairing schools, homelessness and drugs, and building a better relationship between the public and first responders as some of his priorities.
First-time political candidate and pastor Alvin Robinson told TCB that he is running for county commissioner because the “Guilford County Board of Commissioners needs to remember that neither the board, or any other government bodies, is God.” Robinson worked as a full-time firefighter from March 2003-December 2021. He also served as a part-time deputy for the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department before being fired from both jobs in December after invoking a religious exemption against the county and city’s COVID-19 testing policies. One of Robinson’s main concerns is poverty within the county. To alleviate this, Robinson said he would work to “encourage fathers to be the first educators of their children” to instill morals such as uprightness and integrity.
GUILFORD COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 2
Alan Perdue (i)
Incumbent Alan Perdue has represented District 2 since 2014. As a two-term incumbent, Perdue said that he wants to continue using his experience as a first-responder to serve his community. When he was 16 years old, Perdue joined the volunteer fire department and eventually rose through the ranks within the Dept. of Emergency Services to become director in 2003. He said that the current staffing levels in departments that provide essential services is one of his biggest concerns. Keeping property taxes as low as possible and maintaining a business-friendly environment through limited regulations is high on the list of priorities for Perdue.
During his tenure, Perdue said he’s been proud of overseeing projects like the building of the new emergency services facility, the new animal shelter and the new behavioral health facility all without raising property taxes.
Stephen Arnold was first elected as a county commissioner in 1991 and served until 2010. Prior to that, Arnold served on High Point City Council from 1985-88 and in the NC General Assembly from 1988-90. In his 20 years as county commissioner, Arnold said that helping to make the downtown ballpark and the veterans memorial in Triad Park a reality were two of his successes. During his tenure, Arnold was seen as the board’s strongest conservative voice, an aspect that he told TCB he would bring back to the board if re-elected.
He noted how he opposes critical race theory (which is not taught in public schools), “outrageous bond proposals,” health mandates as well as restrictions on religious liberty. He said he supports school choice and law enforcement agencies.
GUILFORD COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 3
During a March 15 candidate forum at Kickback Jack’s in Greensboro, McClellan talked about his support of first-responders and his experience on Oak Ridge’s town council. He touted voting on 10 budgets as a member of town council without increasing taxes and said he would do the same if elected as county commissioner. He also said he would give sheriff’s deputies a raise and would support reasonable requests from the school board but that the “money must follow the child.” McClellan has come under fire from progressives for pushing for an audit of the school district.
Dan Suter is using his background as a project manager to differentiate himself from his opponents.
“Business project managers, they strategically plan, they tactically implement projects in a well-organized format for the best use of the dollars allocated in the most efficient manner within schedule and within scope that was actually outlined to produce the product, service or result that benefits you as the people,” Suter said in a Facebook video posted on March 14.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Suter is a senior project director for LabCorp, a position he has held for almost 15 years. Prior to that, he worked as a program manager for Gilbarco Inc.
Until very recently, Pat Tillman served as a school board member for District 3, a seat he won in 2016. During his tenure on the school board, Tillman was a conservative who got along with his Democratic colleagues and would not always vote along party lines. Tillman said he wants Guilford County to be the most business-friendly county in the southeast, the safest county and the cleanest and most welcoming county in the region. Job creation and retention as well as building and maintaining public schools rank high on Tillman’s list of priorities. He said he views the two as inextricably linked.
“Empirical evidence and current data shows that in order to attract and retain a high-functioning workforce we must have a robust pipeline of career-ready students ready for these challenges,” he said.
GUILFORD COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 7
Frankie T. Jones Jr. (i)
Incumbent Frankie T. Jones was first appointed to the District 7 seat after longtime incumbent Carolyn Coleman passed away in late January. Jones was a member of the advisory committee for the 2020/21 Greensboro/Guilford County Financial Capacity Study, currently works as the vice president in the investments department at Lincoln Financial and is also a licensed attorney with 14 years of experience. He wants to focus on affordable housing, economic development, public health and school infrastructure. He supports the school bond and the sales-tax increase on the ballot. In terms of public health, Jones said he would focus on continuing strategic partnerships with local health providers, diverting people from non-emergency visits to local ERs.
Izzard has worked as a Fatherhood Coordinator for various organizations around Guilford County for more than a decade. He works with fathers and families on workforce trainings, mental-health trainings and more. To help the district he grew up in, Izzard advocates for spending more money on community programs and trainings that help disadvantaged communities.
Lisa McMillan’s website states that she is running for county commission to advocate for accountability, safe and secure schools, and effective county government. As a school bus driver, McMillan advocates for all drivers being “paid as professionals and offered permanent, full-time employment” and for education professionals to be paid a livable wage. McMillan also supports creative solutions to homelessness including tiny house communities.
TCB did not hear back from Kenny Abbe for this piece and could not find information about this candidate online. According to his candidate filing, Abbe lives in Greensboro.
Karen Coble Albright
This is Karen Coble Albright’s second time running for office. In 2020, she unsuccessfully ran for soil and water commission. Albright currently works as a paralegal. During a March 15 candidate forum at Kickback Jack’s, she said supporting the police department, veterans and voter integrity are her top priorities. While she didn’t share specific policies, spouted popular Republican tropes about “illegal people coming over the borders” and making sure to bolster the Republican party so that “Democrats don’t destroy our country.”
GUILFORD COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT 2
There is only one Democrat, Amanda Cook, running in this race so the winner of the Republican primary will face her in November.
Crissy Pratt is one of the candidates running as part of a slate called New Vision, New Direction, put together by the local conservative group Take Back Our Schools. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a Master of Education in instructional technology, and is a national board-certified teacher. As a former educator, Pratt said that what concerns her the most about Guilford County Schools is student performance. She does not believe in banning books, instead offering action items such as a set of criteria for rating books as well as a process to allow potentially controversial books to remain in libraries. On critical race theory, she said, “I do not believe that we should be teaching that students should be separated into two groups based on race: the oppressed and the oppressors.” However, she said that schools should teach “an accurate version of history that reflects our country’s painful reality, which should include African-American history, Native American history and all of the history of our country.”
Marc Ridgill is a registered Republican and former Greensboro police officer who worked in Guilford County schools as an SRO. In 2020, TCB reported on comments Ridgill made on Facebook that likened Black Lives Matter protests to anarchy and felonies. He has previously run for Greensboro City Council and Guilford County School Board, in 2015 and 2018 respectively, losing both times in the general election.
GUILFORD COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION DISTRICT 6
There is only one Democrat, incumbent Khem Irby, running in this race so the winner of the Republican primary will face her in November.
Tim Andrew is another candidate running as part of New Vision, New Direction, put together by the local conservative group Take Back Our Schools. Andrew, who works as a project manager, lamented about students’ test scores and suggested that the board should devote more time during its meetings to monitor student progress. He also told TCB that he is “not for banning books per se, but we have to agree that some books are not age appropriate.” He also conceded that there are varying beliefs about what critical race theory is in the public sphere.
“If you believe that critical race theory is simply teaching the uglier parts of American history, then I will agree with you that history should be taught,” he said.
Matthew R. Kuennen
Matthew Kuennen, an associate professor of exercise science at High Point University, said that the health measures put in place by the current school board during the pandemic were “draconian” and were “not based in science.” Kuennen also stated that he has “significant concerns about critical race theory being taught in schools” and argued that the theory “re-writes” the history of the United States. He did not express support for teaching African-American history in schools and said that Jan. 6 was not an insurrection.
CITY OF GREENSBORO
City council races, including the mayoral race, are nonpartisan but we have listed each candidates’ political affiliation. The general election for the city races will take place on July 26 instead of in November.
Nancy Vaughan (D, i)
Nancy Vaughan has been mayor since 2013 and has served on Greensboro City Council off-and-on since 1997, when she was first elected to represent District 4. During her time as mayor, there has been a considerable amount of economic development in the city including the construction of the Tanger Center, LeBauer Park and partnerships with new businesses such as Honda Jet, Boom Supersonic and Toyota. During the 2020 protests she instituted a citywide curfew, which opponents said violated the First Amendment. She also supports making sure police and fire departments are well-funded. After the murder of Marcus Deon Smith, she worked with the police department to change certain policies such as discontinuing the use of hogtying, but voted against written consent for searchs by police and didn’t support an independent investigation into Smith’s death. She supports a co-response model of policing and the “500 Jobs for Teens” which pairs 14- to 21-year-olds with summer jobs.
Mark Cummings (D)
Mark Cummings is an attorney who runs his own practice out of downtown Greensboro. He formerly served as a Guilford County District Court Judge until December 2019 when he resigned after a yearlong state investigation into misconduct. Cummings, who told TCB that the investigation was flawed, said that “when the then-chief justice improperly and without legal authority, suspended me… and it was evident that the legal process that followed could take years… I chose to resign and return to private practice.”
Cummings mentioned the rise in crime as one of his biggest concerns, stating he supports police reform, not a defunding of the police. He also said to combat the mass exodus of graduates from the city, he would start a “Learn Here, Earn Here” initiative that would create incentives for companies that hire recent graduates from local colleges and universities.
Justin Outling (D)
Justin Outling has been on city council since 2015 when he was elected to District 3. He currently works as an attorney and partner at Brooks Pierce;he did not specify whether he would continue in the position if elected as mayor. Critics have pointed out that Outling has had to recuse himself from voting on several measures before council because Brooks Pierce was one of the parties involved. Still, Outling said it wouldn’t be a problem.
“It is worth noting I have served seven years on council without notable issues in this regard,” he said.
Outling did not support an independent investigation into the death of Marcus Deon Smith but did support the written-consent measure. He has used misleading data on violent crime in Greensboro and has said he would hold monthly work sessions focused on public safety. He also said the criteria for releasing people on bonds should be reconsidered given the rise in domestic-violence issues. Outling also wants to prioritize investment in East Greensboro and create an innovation corridor that stretches from NC A&T State University to the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship.
Eric Robert (U)
Eric Robert is a local real-estate developer and designer at QUB Studios. A political outsider, Robert said he is running for mayor because current elected officials “have promoted self-serving extreme cronyism and an elitist environment.” Robert said he supports the notion of police reform and not a defunding of police because the latter “is simply not a viable and realistic option.” He supports increasing officer pay and body-camera footage being made available to the public immediately as well as a civilian oversight board. He has been an outspoken critic against those he believes are working together for their own profit, like other developers in the city.
“Such access and influence are alarming as some elected leaders forget that their constituency actually includes more than just the three or four rich guys,” Robert said.
GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL AT-LARGE (May vote for THREE)
Marikay Abuzuaiter (D, i)
Come May 17, this will be Marikay Abuzuaiter’s seventh time running for office and her fourth time running as an incumbent. Since her election in 2011, Abuzuaiter has come under fire for her alignment with local law enforcement, including her work as a confidential informant for the Greensboro Police Department. According to her campaign website, she has been endorsed by the Greensboro Police Officers Association. In addition to public safety, Abuzuaiter said her main objectives as a council member include economic development, infrastructure and housing for the influx of employees the city will see from its new business partnerships such as Boom Supersonic and the Toyota megaplant.
Hugh Holston (U, i)
Hugh Holston was unanimously chosen for the seat in September 2021 after Michelle Kennedy resigned from the post in August to take a job with the city. Holston, who is registered as unaffiliated, formerly served as chair of the city’s planning and zoning commission and has served as chair of the board of adjustment. As part of his run for re-election Holston said he is focusing on “three pillars for progress: economic development, public safety and community engagement.” He argued that some of the main issues facing Greensboro include job creation, and making it easier to do business in Greensboro by designing effective public transit, housing and public safety.
Yvonne Johnson (D, i)
First elected to Greensboro city council from 1993-2007 to an at-large seat, Johnson has since served as Greensboro’s first Black mayor (2007-09) as well as mayor pro tem, a position she currently holds — the mayor pro tem is the at-large member who gets the most votes.
Johnson has served as the executive director for One Step Further, Inc., a nonprofit that helps people convicted of crimes through mediation for years. During her time as mayor, Johnson helped to start the International Advisory Council which helps understand the needs of the immigrant community in Greensboro. In terms of what she still wants to work on, Johnson noted that economic development, including small businesses that pay workers a living wage, was high on her list. She also said she wants to help the police department develop a better relationship with the community. Last year, prior to Michelle Kennedy’s resignation, Johnson was the only other councilmember besides Kennedy who supported an independent investigation into the death of Marcus Deon Smith.
Taffy Buchanan (U)
The largest issues facing Greensboro in Taffy Buchanan’s opinion, are homelessness, food shortages and unsafe living spaces. As a longtime resident of Greensboro, Buchanan said she’s fit to help lead the city because she has “witnessed firsthand all of Greensboro’s changes, both good and bad.”
In terms of police reform, Buchanan said that everyone in the community was hurt by the death of Marcus Deon Smith. She said no one should die at the hands of police and that there needs to be reform on a “sensitivity level.”
“Officers need to be better trained on de-escalation and on how to recognized mentally ill persons,” she said.
Mentioning the recent growth the city has seen with major contracts like Boom Supersonic and the Toyota megaplant, Buchanan said she would continue to work with programs like “NCWorks to ensure that our community have a the opportunities to receive proper training and acquire skills that will allow them to be able to equally compete and benefit from this growth.”
Melodi Fentress (R)
Melodi Fentress is one of two registered Republicans who are running for the at-large seats in this race. Fentress currently works as the owner of Rainbow Magic Alpaca Farm. Fentress noted the city’s crime rate, improving the public transportation system and combating food deserts as some of her key platform ideas. She also said that the police department should be “fully funded,” and should prioritize combating violent and property crimes rather than non-violent drug offenses. As a farmer, Fentress advocated for easing restrictions on the rules for community gardens and urban farms. On her Facebook, Fentress has shared COVID-19 misinformation including posts stating that masks harm children physically and psychologically, as well as statistics that attempt to downplay COVID-19 by stating the survival rate of the world population. She has also compared the influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in a Facebook story.
Tracy Furman (D)
Tracy Furman is the executive director of Triad Local First, a nonprofit that promotes local businesses, a position she previously told TCB she would keep if elected to council. Furman mentioned the lack of access to shops and retail in east Greensboro and a need to improve the public transportation system, including allowing college and university students to use the bus lines for free. She also mentioned the need for better-priced housing for students as well as a need for council to keep its overarching goals for the city in mind when it comes to working with developers.
With regards to police reform, Furman said she wants to make sure the culture of the police department is “one of community policing and not militant enemy/combatant.”
Franca Jalloh (D)
Franca Jalloh, who has more than 15 years of legal experience helping the immigrant community, has served as the chair for the city’s International Advisory Committee — the first woman to do so — and currently serves as a commissioner on the city’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee as well as a board member of the Police Community Review Board.
Jalloh listed education equity, economic opportunity, housing security and justice and public safety as her top priorities. She supports eliminating cash bail and decriminalizing homelessness and mental health issues. She also stated that she would fight back “against hostile law enforcement agencies that seek to tear our immigrant families apart.”
Dustin Keene (U)
Dustin Keene is the owner of both Common Grounds Coffee Shop, which has been open since 2013, and the Flat Iron, a music space in downtown Greensboro which he resurrected in 2019.
Many of Keene’s talking points expressed broad views of change rather than specific policy initiatives, alluding to his lack of political experience. One of the more specific answers Keene gave pertained to his thoughts on police reform. To that, he mentioned that the department should invest in an education approach and officers should learn “how to de-escalate any situation.” He also supported paying police officers more.
Katie Rossabi (R)
In past articles for TCB, Katie Rossabi has said she didn’t feel that the current city council has supported the police department and its chief. On her website she supports increasing pay for officers and “will speak out against those who wrongly try to vilify them.” She also notes that she would support any police reform by experienced law enforcement. In a campaign video on her website, she stated that Marcus Deon Smith, who was killed in September 2018 after he was hogtied by police, was treated “humanely” by officers who “helped him get assistance.”
Part of Rossabi’s stance on policing may be influenced by her husband Amiel Rossabi, who has supported the Greensboro Police Officers Association through his work.
Linda Wilson (D)
Linda Wilson currently serves as the executive director of the Sebastian Health Center on the A&T campus. If elected, Wilson said she would focus on economic development, expanding public transportation and improving safety. With regards to policing, Wilson said she supports providing police offices with mental health training, cultural sensitivity and equity and inclusion training.
GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1
Sharon Hightower (D, i)
Sharon Hightower won her seat back in 2017 with overwhelming support, garnering more than 84 percent of the vote. In a previous TCB piece, Hightower pointed to her work as the city council liaison on the Ad-hoc Committee on African-American Disparity as well as passing the city’s $15 per-hour minimum wage as efforts she’s made to close racial disparities in Greensboro. She also mentioned wanting to continue being involved with the city’s Minority Women Business Enterprise program which provides opportunities for minority contractors. Hightower was also pivotal in the passage of Juneteenth as a citywide holiday, an act that was finalized in 2020. In past articles, Hightower has rejected the notion of defunding police, and has instead expressed support for Cure Violence as well as racial-equity training for police as well as investments in affordable housing, job training and mental-health services. In 2019, Hightower supported an independent investigation into the death of Marcus Deon Smith but has remained fairly silent on the issue since then.
Felton Foushee (D)
First time political candidate Felton Foushee was born and raised in Greensboro. He grew up in the Greenfield Homes community and graduated from Dudley High School before attending UNCG. Eventually, Foushee found work at the Hayes-Taylor YMCA and became the Director for the Black and Latino Achievers program there. Currently Foushee works as a history professor at UNCG and as a racial equity and engagement officer for the Racial Equity Learning Community. If elected, Foushee said he will focus on alleviating issues of economic disparity in the city, particularly those that face the Black community in southeast Greensboro. To do that, Foushee said he would create pathways to homeownership and encourage investment in Black communities through development.
Timothy Kirkpatrick (R)
TCB did not receive answers to candidate questionnaires for Timothy Kirkpatrick and at the time of publication, he did not have a candidate website.
GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2
Goldie Wells (D, i)
Goldie Wells has served in District 2 since she was appointed to city council in 2017 after Jamal Fox resigned from the post. Wells also previously represented the district from 2005-09. Wells played an instrumental role in founding the Renaissance Community Co-op and helped get the White Street Landfill closed prior to her time on council. In 2018, Wells supported the installation of a metal detector in a credit union which sat between the co-op and a Family Dollar. Those who opposed the measure at the time said it reinforced negative stereotypes about commercial real estate that serves Black residents. In 2018, Wells opposed the solicitation ordinance that replaced the city’s panhandling ordinance, saying that the ordinance discriminated against panhandlers directly. In 2020, opposed a written consent policy, arguing that it wouldn’t stop racial discrimination.
Cecile Crawford (D)
Cecile Crawford has touted herself as the people’s candidate, expressing more progressive views than incumbent Goldie Wells. As part of her priorities if elected, Crawford noted making sure families have affordable housing, addressing root causes of violence and increasing the minimum wage past just $15 per hour. She pointed towards building up the local economy by supporting local businesses, ensuring rental housing is financially viable, as well as setting up an eviction legal defense fund and a right to counsel for renters. When it comes to police reform, Crawford is one of the most progressive candidates in the city council race. She supports giving the city’s criminal justice advisory commission more power to investigate police conduct and said she supports the CAHOOTS model of policing, which is an alternative response where mental-health providers respond to certain calls without armed police. Currently the city employs a co-response model.
LaToya Bernice Gathers (R)
As a medical health professional, La Toya Gathers stated that she believes poverty, education and housing are the three social determinants of health. She noted that increasing area income, combating climate change, prioritizing housing affordability and investing in higher education institutions were high on her priority list. When it comes to public safety, Gathers noted that she supports the police department and would work to recruit officers to fill vacancies. She also stated that the city should increase workforce development programs for young people to deter violence.
Portia Shipman (D)
Like Cecile Crawford, Portia Shipman is pushing herself as a community social-justice advocate in this race. A former member of the city’s zoning commission and redevelopment committee, Shipman served as the regional director of the state’s NAACP for three years and is the founder and executive director of the Sherri Denese Jackson Foundation, an organization that advocates for domestic-violence awareness and prevention. Racial inequality is the biggest issue facing the city, according to Shipman. In her response about how she would work with immigrant and refugee communities, she said that while the city should be welcoming to newcomers, that by doing so, the Black community “suffers more when this happens.”
“Let us find a way to make room for our immigrant friends and make sure to take care of our permanent residents as well,” she said.
GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3
Bill Marshburn (R)
This is Republican Bill Marshburn’s first time running for office. In 2008, he was charged with nine counts of communicating threats after threatening to shoot members of city council. As reported by the News & Record, Marshburn was arrested outside of the city council building downtown after he called a senior city planner and threatened to come to the city council meeting the next day and “shoot all the council members.”
In addition to concerns about increasing crime and rising prices, Marshburn condemned the media’s coverage of the pandemic, stating that “they have completely misinformed the public through falsehoods and zero reporting of any dissenting information on COVID-19 and the lockdowns.”
Expanding on his ideology, Marshburn appeared to condone police’s behavior in both the George Floyd and Marcus Smith cases, stating that “the safest way to restrain someone is to restrain more than apparently necessary. Restraint protects both parties.”
Zack Matheny (R)
Republican Zack Matheny was first elected to the District 3 Greensboro city council seat in 2007, a position he held until he left office in 2015 to become president of Downtown Greensboro Inc., a position he still holds. When asked about whether he would continue to work for Downtown Greensboro Inc. if elected, Matheny responded that neither he nor the city attorney, Chuck Watts, have found a direct conflict of interest. His understanding of economic development is what gives him a leg up on the other candidates, Matheny argues. That’s why he sees working with developers as integral to the growth of the city. If re-elected, he said he would focus on strategic vision, housing, jobs, public safety, future growth and smart leadership. Matheny supported some form of police reform in theory, stating that the city should “have a strategic focus on mental health, which is beyond the police department and is an area in need of reform.”
Chip Roth (D)
Though this is Chip Roth’s first time running for office, he has previously held a leadership position within the Small Business Administration after appointment by former President Obama; his wife, Denise, was appointed to head the federal government’s General Services Administration in 2015. His priorities include creating strong economic development and good jobs. Because of his experience at the SBA, Roth said he has experience advocating for small businesses. Roth has also worked for the Teamsters union, a position he said helped him to understand the needs of first-responders. He said one of his main concerns is the high crime rate. In order to address that, Roth said he would raise officer pay to help recruit more officers. When it comes to police reform, Roth stated that he wanted to “make sure that our police department and our criminal justice system is colorblind.”
GREENSBORO CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5
Tammi Thurm (D, i)
As an incumbent, Tammi Thurm mentioned her work on the city’s first permanent supportive housing project as well as the passage of the non-discrimination ordinance in 2021. The biggest issues facing the city, Thurm said, are affordable housing, public transportation and public safety. To ensure the last item, Thurm said she would invest in embedding mental-health professionals within the department to work with officers on calls. In 2020, Thurm and former councilmember Michelle Kennedy were the most vocal supporters of a written-consent policy for police searches that was suggested by the city’s criminal justice advisory committee. In the end, the proposal failed. When it comes to economic development and how it will impact the city, said she wants to prioritize ensuring minority and women-owned business entities land contracts and expanding the city’s transportation system so workers can get to their jobs easily.
Robert Bodenhamer (R)
Robert Bodenhamer is a political outsider who touts his lack of political experience as a plus in his campaign. He has served as an EMT and a firefighter for 25 years and worked in the emergency room at Wesley Long Hospital as well. His time on the frontlines impacted his worldview and has helped him to empathize with different groups of people, he said. As a first responder himself, Bodenhamer said he supports his fellow police officers but that if they are accused of wrongdoing, he would be the “first to throw them in the fire.”
As a solution to the increased tensions between police and communities of color, Bodenhamer suggested a more transparent hiring process. To increase collaboration between the different universities, Bodenhamer suggested a large festival — hosted by A&T and Bennett College — that would celebrate the Feb. 1 sit-ins every year.
Tony Wilkins (R)
Tony Wilkins is the former executive director of the Guilford County Republican Party and a former city councilmember who served from 2012-17, when he lost to Tammi Thurm by 10 percentage points. As a candidate who has aligned himself closely with law enforcement, Wilkins failed to answer the question about whether or not he supports police reform. Instead, he stated that his biggest concern as a candidate is getting crime under control and maintaining a strong police department by supporting the police chief with money and tools. If re-elected, Wilkins expressed his goal of making Greensboro the “most business-friendly city in the state.”
FORSYTH COUNTY RACES
FORSYTH COUNTY COMMISSION AT-LARGE
In the at-large race this year, there are two Democrats running, the winner of which will face Republican Terri Mrazek in the general election come November.
Ted Kaplan (i)
A lifelong politician, Ted Kaplan has served three terms as County Commissioner, three terms as a member of the NC House, five terms as a member of the NC Senate and two terms as Senate Majority Leader. He views his years of experience as a leg up against his opponents.
Budget minded when it comes to his position as a commissioner, Kaplan is optimistic.
“I have dealt with billion-dollar budgets for years,” he said. “Budgets that are balanced and fair.” Kaplan is pleased with the current budgets. “[We are] keeping our AAA Bond ratings and meeting the needs,” he says. “Our biggest challenge today is finding employees.”
Dan Besse served for 19 years as a Winston-Salem City Council Member, 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.”
FORSYTH COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT A (May vote for TWO)
The District A race has two seats available with five Democrats — including two incumbents Fleming El Amin and Tonya McDaniel — fighting to make it to the general election. The top two vote-getters will move on to the November general election along with the two Republicans who have filed — Reginald Reid and Michael R. Owens.
Fleming El Amin (i)
Fleming El Amin has served on the Forsyth County Commission since 2017. He was chair of the Forsyth County Democratic Party for two terms. El Amin wants to continue working on what he says are “three critical needs in District A” that include more resources for a focused economic development, reducing gang activity and focusing more resources towards academic excellence. A believer in workforce development, El Amin wants to spend less money on PAYGO funds and doesn’t believe in a reduction of law enforcement spending.
Tonya McDaniel (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.
Currently the co-chair of Housing Justice Now, Phil Carter is an advocate for housing rights. He is also on the NC Democratic Executive Committee. If elected, Carter intends to be a “critical thinker, reviewing budget analysis, and keeping a keen eye on wants, needs and savings of the taxpayers’ taxation.”
Carter thinks current law enforcement policies need addressing, as well as housing issues. “Our commissioners easily invest taxpayers’ money in large corporations and developers, not local businesses or the everyday person,” he said. “They too need incentives to sustain and thrive, and I will fight to support citizens and small businesses.”
Gardenia Henley, an Air Force Veteran, is a retired US Diplomat Inspector General Officer from the Agency for International Development, where she was employed for 22 years. She has been a member of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, ran for Governor of NC in 2012, ran for US House in 2014 and 2016 and the NC House in 2020. If elected, she will focus on decreasing the tax rate, increasing Forsyth County employee salaries, supporting community non-profits and assisting taxpayers with affordable housing.
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 SCHOOLS AT-LARGE (May vote for THREE)
A dozen candidates have filed to run for three at-large seats: four Democrats and seven Republicans. Three from each party will advance to the November general election, along with Libertarian candidate Regina Garner, who has no primary opponent.
Deanna Kaplan (i)
Kaplan is the only incumbent running for re-election in this year’s at-large school board primary election. She won the at-large seat in the 2018 election 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.”
She recognizes the importance of creating a safe learning environment for all students to be seen and validated.
Coone-Godfrey has been an active volunteer in the 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 teacher’s 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 change this 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.
Stone has been an active parent volunteer for the last 12 years while her two children attended WS/FCS. At the onset of the pandemic and throughout the first year of it, she partnered with guidance counselors and school food banks to keep elementary, middle and high school food pantries stocked. If elected, Stone plans to focus on creating stronger alliances with teachers, putting in better support systems for students, adding more incentives for student teachers and teacher retention, and engaging in programs that push towards career placement and futures that will help students escape the cyclical poverty this county has battled for decades. Her biggest concerns are the many students who have fallen through the cracks as well as the failure to address mental and health issues causing burnout for teachers in the school system.
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.
If elected, he wants to be a part of pushing the WS/FCS system to become “the best in the state at education and providing the best opportunities for all students.”
According to Absher’s personal Twitter and LinkedIn profiles, she is currently a Registered Nurse in the Winston-Salem area. Absher does not appear to have a campaign website or social media accounts. She declined to answer candidate questions.
According to Facebook and her candidate email address, Albright is a professional photographer. TCB did not receive a response from Albright and there is currently no campaign website or social media accounts for her.
Robert Ninzio Capizzi
According to Capizzi’s LinkedIn profile, he is the owner of CapED Educational Group, based in Winston-Salem. The company, which was founded in 1992, helps students excel in academics and train for college entrance exams. Capizzi is also a Wake Forest University alum. He does not appear to have a campaign website or social media account.
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 Early College of Forsyth for licensure as a middle- or high school math teacher.
He 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.
According to Hackett’s campaign website, she was born and raised in Forsyth County and has lived in the area her entire adult life. Both she and her three children have attended or are currently attending school in the WS/FCS system. Hackett is employed in the accounting department of a local auto dealership. Her platform focuses largely on having more parental involvement in the WS/FCS system. If elected, she wants to focus on turning the school board into a body where parent’s feel their concerns are heard and considered. Hackett says on her site, “I believe the parents have answers to the issues within the school system. It is my goal to see as much power as possible placed into the hands of the parents whom the school system serves.”
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 and making curriculum and lesson materials easily available to parents online so they are able to make personal health decisions for their families.
TCB did not receive a response from Williams and there is currently no campaign website or campaign social media accounts for her.
WINSTON-SALEM/FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS DISTRICT 1 (May vote for TWO)
Five Democrats contend for two open seats in District 1 this year, including incumbent Alexandre Bohannon. The other incumbent, Malishai Woodbury, declined to run again, seeking instead an open seat in this year’s county commission race. The top two vote-getters will automatically win the two seats in District 1, essentially making the primary the real election.
Alexandre Bohannon (i)
In Feb. 2021, Bohannon was appointed to the school board making him the youngest member ever to serve on the WS/FCS school board. The largest issues Bohannon thinks Forsyth County schools face are a lack of funding from the state, low literacy rates, and the impact of COVID-19. Bohannon said that critical race theory isn’t taught in our school system but is “a framework developed for the purpose of understanding how American racism has shaped public policy,” he says.
“I would push for a focus on the delivery of high-quality instruction for every child, investments in more experiential learning, more funding from the state to address pay, and cultural infusion in the curriculum.”
Brown-Gaither taught mathematics for more than 19 years in both middle and high schools in the district. A post on her campaign’s Facebook account states “it is imperative that we address common safety issues such as bullying, harassment, and school discipline policies. Ensuring that every school has a dedicated social worker and school resource officer will provide a layer of safety not only for our students but also staff and a safe space for dialogue and solutions.”
Her priorities include keeping schools safe, equity in the classroom, advocating for students and teachers and pushing for transparency within the school system.
Chenita Barber Johnson
Chenita Barber Johnson is a cofounder of the Coalition for Equity in Public Education, which has advised policies to the school board, including studies of the 2016 bond proposals.
Barber Johnson wants to address the school choice system, noting that it is detrimental to the entire community. She is also a proponent of collecting community data about racial inequities and gaps to increase reading/literacy. The continued funding of home/school parent coordinators is a necessity to her, along with increased counselors.
She wants the community to become more involved. “Public education touches us all, as we all are stakeholders,” she said.
Ricky Johnson is working to complete his doctorate in organizational leadership. His education background consists of volunteering and working in K-12 schools and outreach programs.
If elected, Johnson said he would push for academic achievement and discipline.
“Both fall under the guise of inequity and should be addressed…,” he said. He would also push for more teachers who are racially diverse.
“[NC has] at least seven HBCUs that graduate hundreds of Black and Brown students each year,” he said. “We should take advantage of that opportunity that is right in front of us.”
Tarsha Shore has 30 years of experience working within the WS/FCS system. She has worked as a teacher’s assistant, EC assistant and has taught middle and elementary grades. Shore wants to address the educational growth gap between minority and non-minority students and wants to look at the ways in which the pandemic has affected children. She believes “their social emotional needs [are] not being met, which contribute to them not having a sense of belonging.”
“I believe all children can learn,” she said. “I want the children of Forsyth County to have a quality education with the necessary resources they need to become productive citizens.”
WINSTON-SALEM/FORSYTH COUNTY SCHOOLS DISTRICT 2 (May vote for FOUR)
The top four vote-getters in the Republican primary will advance to the general election in November where they will face Democrat Jennifer Castillo, who has no opponent in the primary.
Leah Crowley (i)
Crowley successfully won a district two WS/FCS board seat in 2018, coming in second place behind Lida Calvert Hayes. Over the years, she 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 re-elected Crowley plans to focus on more support for teachers to address reading and math proficiency, equity in school facilities and resources, and putting students first in all decisions made.
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.”
Lida Calvert Hayes (i)
Hayes was first appointed to a District 2 seat in 2015 after board member Jeannie Metcalf resigned. She then won re-election in 2018 as the top vote-getter and currently serves as vice chair. She attended Virginia Intermont Jr. College, University of North Carolina, and East Carolina University. She shares her proudest achievements serving on the WS/FCS board is her work on the buildings and grounds committee for the school district. Her focus if re-elected will be on dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic, increasing pay for teachers and staff, ensuring corrective actions for staff happen when necessary, and safety in schools.
When it comes to the pandemic’s influences on the school system Hayes shares, “This has been a very difficult two years, but we have survived and hopefully will have learned from all of this and, as a result, will be a better system.”
Barr formerly served as an at-large member of the school board after being elected in 2014 and served until 2018. He ran for re-election in 2018 and lost in the general election 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.
Boyd is a parent in the WS/FCS system and does not have a background in education, a lack of experience that Boyd feels makes him more relatable. He feels those with education backgrounds have failed the kids and education system. His campaign focuses on curriculum and giving parents more access to engage with their children’s education. His campaign slogan is “Students Before Politics.” As is evidenced by his responses, Boyd is part of a wave of conservative Republicans who view the fight for schools and school boards as one revolving around the teaching of race and LGBTQ+ rights.
Boyd stated “I would have to say absolutely not to LGBTQ rights being taught in school, that is a sexual preference and not an educational point. LGBTQ rights has nothing to do with sex education, sex education concerns the body parts, functions the creation of life, and not sexual preferences.”
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 if elected focus on supporting teachers and helping students get back to pre-pandemic learning. Regarding getting back to pre-pandemic learning, Elrod shared students, parents, and teachers need to evaluate loses and work together to find a solution. He is also a strong advocate of ensuring students feel special and important.
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.”
Originally from the West Coast, Jason Lucero was placed in the foster-care system when he was 6 months old, and stayed until he aged out. According to his campaign website, among the struggles he was still able to gain a good education which he attributes to his successes. “I came from nothing and understand what it’s like to benefit from an opportunity of getting a good education, and the programs out there to help educate our children.”
His campaign focuses on providing a safe, well-rounded education for all children, regardless of religion, race, or orientation. In addition to education, his platform focuses on reforming educator compensation plans and having parents and educators work more closely together.
Finally, while Lucero does not believe CRT should be taught in WS/FCS, he does state on his website that African American and racism history is important to learn to stop history from repeating itself.
Miller was a Reading/Literacy Specialist with WS/FCS for over two decades up until 2019. Her experience during that time included serving as an instructional facilitator at the career center, reading specialist, and teacher in the WS/FCS system. Miller received a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s in education in Literacy/Reading (K-12). Her campaign focuses on literacy and improving reading levels for all students in the WS/FCS system. She feels the current 38 percent reading proficiency rate for grades 3-8 in WS/FCS is very concerning and unacceptable. If elected, she plans to focus on and prioritize literacy. She fully supports Superintendent McManus’ ‘90 by 25’ initiative. The goal of that initiative is to ensure that by the end of the 2024-25 school year 90 percent of third graders test as proficient readers.
TCB did not receive a response from Pegram and there is currently no campaign website or campaign social media accounts for her.
Williams was an educator for 30 years whose background includes teaching in public schools and private high schools as well as teaching Spanish at the college level. She received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from UNCG and a master’s in education from the University of Southern California. She is currently retired but still volunteers and substitutes in the WS/FCS system. Her platform focuses on increasing active community and parental engagement in schools, working to provide more after school activities for students, increasing pay for certified/ classified educators, and scheduling evening town hall talks with all educators. Her goals, if elected, are to focus on student achievement, help ensure success for all students and advocate for strong public schools. She places much emphasis on the importance of having a school board that is “even-tempered, willing to collaborate, and have a sincere interest in public school education.”
TCB did not receive a response from Wood and there is currently no campaign website or campaign social media accounts for him.
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Concerning the Forsyth County Board of Elections At-Large race, several folks have posted links to Sarah Absher’s blog posts which include language like “Leftists are very skilled at insidiously weaving Marxist threads into the fabric of school curriculums. Too much is at stake, we can not have naïve board members who will unintentionally allow radicals to bring CRT into our schools.”
She definitely leans hard to the right – anti-CRT, anti-mask, and likes to throw around false information and dog-whistle phrases.
For some reason, Google didn’t bring much up about her, but her conservative minions have been posting links to her blog on the Nextdoor app.https://sarahabsherforboe.com/blog?blog=y