by Jordan Green and Sayaka Matsuoka

**For our 2020 general election guide visit here.**

There’s nothing more urgent on this primary ballot than choosing the best equipped Democratic candidate to go up against Donald Trump. North Carolina is joining a slate of 13 other states in the “Super Tuesday” election, with the nominating contest still pretty much wide open.

Beyond that, this is the first election in North Carolina in 12 years in which president of the United States, a US Senate seat and governor are on the ballot at the same time, not to mention a new, urban, Democratic-leaning US House seat. Winston-Salem’s mayoral and city council seats are also up for election, with two open seats and others that are hotly contested. Beyond that, voters only have to worry about council of state, state House, county commission, school board, clerk of superior court and judicial contests.

Pro tip: Look up your voter registration at and review your sample ballot so you can narrow down to the races that affect you before you peruse this voter guide.



Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Joe Biden

Joseph R. Biden: As Barack Obama’s vice president, Joe Biden is hoping to benefit from warm feelings towards the nation’s first black (or biracial) president, while positioning himself as someone who can restore the status quo after Donald Trump upended the American political system. Biden’s consistent pitch has been that he’s the candidate with the best shot at attracting votes from Republicans and independents dismayed by Trump’s presidency, but after a poor showing in Iowa and New Hampshire, Biden is struggling to defend the moderate lane against opponents Mike Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg.

Michael Bloomberg

Michael R. Bloomberg: The former New York City mayor is heavily focused on Super Tuesday states including North Carolina, hoping to pick up the baton as a centrist alternative to Bernie Sanders while other candidates stumble. Bloomberg has racked up an impressive list of endorsements from Democratic mayors and other officials, including Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles and US Rep. Bobby Rush of Virginia, even as damaging stories about his defense of his controversial “stop-and-frisk” policy and redlining have emerged. In addition to spending heavily on campaign advertising, the billionaire candidate has lavished money on a range of causes, from curbing climate change to gun control.

Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg: A Harvard-educated military veteran with combat experience in Afghanistan, Pete Buttigieg is a presidential candidate straight out of central casting, except that he would be the first openly gay president. The fact that his political experience consists of being mayor of South Bend, Ind. — a city less than half the size of Greensboro — has been wielded against him by opponents like Amy Klobuchar, but Buttigieg argues that it grounds him in real America, versus the Washington bubble. His tie with Bernie Sanders in Iowa and second-place finish in New Hampshire gives Buttigieg a plausible claim to being the leading centrist candidate. Read more about Buttigieg here.

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard: A congresswoman from Hawaii, Tulsi Gabbard is the strongest voice in the Democratic field for reining in the United States’ endless military interventions abroad. It’s a position that potentially appeals to voters across ideological and party lines, but Gabbard has a number of liabilities that have prevented her from gaining traction with Democratic base voters. Those include a 2017 meeting with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, widely viewed as a war criminal and human-rights abuser, and ties to the Hindu nationalist movement. Despite disappointing fifth-place finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, Gabbard is still in the race as of publication.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar: Despite serving as the senator for Minnesota since 2007, former attorney Amy Klobuchar didn’t rise to mainstream consciousness until she announced her run for presidency last February. Considered a moderate Democrat, Klobuchar has surged in the polls recently, given her strong finish in third after the New Hampshire primaries. Her platforms include a Medicaid buy-in program and a $100 billion plan to combat drug and alcohol addiction. In February 2019, Buzzfeed reported instances of Klobuchar’s at-times abusive treatment towards former staff.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders: As of the writing of this guide, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is the leading Democratic candidate in the presidential race, coming off of a close tie with former South Bend, Ind. mayor Pete Buttigieg during the Iowa caucuses and a strong win during the New Hampshire primaries. Sanders is running on a campaign similar to his one from 2016, including single-payer universal healthcare, cancelling student debt and reducing military spending. In 2019, Sanders came out in support of the Green New Deal, a comprehensive legislative package that aims to address climate change and economic inequality through a push towards using 100 percent, zero-emission, renewable energy within the next 10 years. Read more about Sanders here.

Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer: Another billionaire candidate, Tom Steyer accumulated his wealth as a hedge-fund manager for Farallon Capital, a San Francisco-based firm he founded in 1986. In 2012, Steyer stepped down from Farallon to advocate for alternative energy. However, news reports have found that Steyer divested his holdings in companies that produce fossil fuels and fund private prisons. His top priorities, according to news interviews, include breaking up the influence of corporations and addressing climate change. In 2017, he founded the group Need to Impeach, in which he spent more than $10 million in television ads and a digital campaign calling for the Trump’s impeachment.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren: A senator from Massachusetts, Warren has emerged in recent years, along with fellow candidate Bernie Sanders, as one of most progressive voices within the party. A former law professor, Warren helped establish the Consumer Protection Bureau under President Obama and runs on a platform that includes increasing taxes on the wealthy and eliminating student debt for most borrowers. In November, Warren dialed back her ambitious Medicare For All plan and opted for an expansion of public health insurance with a plan to pass Medicare For All by her third year in office. Known as one of the most detail-oriented candidates, Warren has more than 70 plans listed on her website including proposals for addressing maternal mortality and ending private prisons.

* Michael Bennet, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, John K. Delaney, Deval Patrick, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang have withdrawn from the race, but their names will remain on the ballot.

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Donald Trump

Donald Trump (i): A former businessman and television personality, Donald Trump won election to the White House in 2016 using a mix of fearmongering and populist tropes. In December 2019, Trump became the third president in the history of the country to be impeached on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, stemming from his efforts to illegally coerce the Ukrainian president to investigate political rival and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Since 2017, Trump has rolled back numerous protections on the environment, instituted travel bans against Muslim-majority countries which were narrowly upheld by the Supreme Court, implemented a family-separation policy for migrants which resulted in hundreds of migrant children being detained and ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, which escalated the US’s conflict with Iran.

William Weld

William Weld: Governor of Massachusetts from 1991-97, William Weld first ran in a federal election in 2016 as the Libertarian vice-presidential nominee alongside Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Weld has positioned himself as a fiscal conservative who supports tax cuts and opposes government spending, but also a social liberal who supports gay marriage, abortion and marijuana legalization. Weld also supports addressing climate change and has said that he would re-enter the Paris climate accord if elected.

* Joe Walsh has withdrawn from the race, but his name will remain on the ballot.


Democratic primary (vote for 1)

(Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Republican operatives were supporting Cal Cunningham rather than Erica Smith.)

Cal Cunningham

Cal Cunningham: Born and raised in North Carolina, Cal Cunningham first took political office in 2001 when he was elected to represent District 23, which covered parts of Davidson, Rowan and Iredell counties, in the state Senate. Trained as a lawyer, Cunningham has also served in the armed forces. According to his website, Cunningham prioritizes building upon the Affordable Care Act, bolstering education, fighting climate change, curbing gun violence and enacting sensible immigration reform as some of his key platforms. News reports from early February found that Republican operatives were flooding airwaves in support of Cunningham’s rival, Erica Smith, for the Democratic primary. (Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the operatives were supporting Cunningham.)

Trevor Fuller

Trevor M. Fuller: Trevor Fuller is currently serving as the at-large member of the Mecklenburg County Commission, a seat he has held since 2014. According to his campaign website, Fuller supports Medicare For All and increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as universal pre-K for children until age 5. Fuller also supports combating climate change and has voiced his support for the Green New Deal.

Atul Goel

Atul Goel: According to his campaign website, Atul Goel states that he is the “only the Democratic candidate that can win the general election in November” because he is willing to canvass and appeal to unaffiliated voters. Goel, who has a background in medicine, supports expanding the current healthcare system rather than opting for a single-payer system. As a veteran, Goel also advocates for improving healthcare for veterans, although specifics are not given on his website.

Erica Smith

Erica D. Smith: Erica Smith has represented District 3 in the state Senate since 2015. In the past year, Smith sponsored 27 bills including a bill to adopt the Equal Rights Amendment as well as a bill to establish a citizens’ redistricting commission. In a recent interview, Smith also stated that she fully supports Medicare For All as well as the Green New Deal. In February, news reports found that Republican operatives were flooding airwaves with ads supporting Smith against her biggest rival in the race, Cal Cunningham. (Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the operatives were supporting Cunningham.) Smith has also talked about the importance of representation, pointing out that only two African-American women have served in the US Senate.

Steve Swenson

Steve Swenson: Not much is known about candidate Steve Swenson, who according to his filing information, hails from Bunnlevel. According to his website, Swenson advocates for abortion rights and passing a reparations act totaling $2 trillion.

Read more about the US Senate race in our reporting here.

Republican primary (vote for 1)

thom tillis
Thom Tillis

Thom Tillis (i): A one-term incumbent, Thom Tillis went to Washington as a business-friendly establishment Republican. He pushed an immigration-reform initiative that never got off the ground. And he made early sounds of standing up to Trump, including penning an op-ed in the Washington Post that said he opposed Trump’s national-emergency declaration to build a border wall. And then, last May, he voted to support the national-emergency declaration. Since then, Tillis has become one of the president’s most loyal foot soldiers, publicly stating that he had no interest in hearing from former National Security Advisor John Bolton during the Senate impeachment trial.

Larry Holmquist

Larry Holmquist: Larry Holmquist of Greensboro is hitting the incumbent from the right. Holmquist says on his campaign website that he’s running for Senate for one reason: “Like many of you, I am disgusted by Thom Tillis’ ‘flip-flopping’ and inconsistency on issues that are critical to conservatives, and his failure to vigorously defend President Trump!” In an interview with TCB in January, Holmquist joined Tillis in supporting Trump order to carry out a targeted killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. “If the president feels that a proactive strike is the best way to protect people,” Holmquist said, “I trust him.”

Sharon Hudson

Sharon Hudson: A longtime Mecklenburg County Republican Party volunteer, Sharon Hudson has played an active role in efforts to fight the addition of toll lanes on Interstate 77, while faulting Tillis for pushing that initiative as Republican leader of the North Carolina House before he was elected to the Senate. She says on her website that she wants a seat on the Senate so she can ensure citizens have a voice as the federal government undertakes infrastructure improvements. “When an elected official goes to great lengths to ignore the wishes of his constituents,” she says, “he does not deserve to be re-elected.”

Paul Wright

Paul M. Wright: Paul Wright calls illegal immigration a “war against American citizens” and “an engine for revolution,” while arguing that congressional “tampering” with the Second Amendment is “causing unrest among the people.” The headers alone for his extensive campaign platform express his far-right stance: “Seek the Lord. Restrain the courts. Stop abortion. Immigration or revolution? Resist gun control. No war with Russia. Terror. Christian America — the great debate. Patrick Henry. De-Christianization. What must be done! Reverse it. End GMO farming.” Among the Republican candidates, Wright articulates the strongest position on limiting executive power and foreign military intervention.

US House District 6 (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Bruce Davis

Bruce Davis: Among the four black candidates in the race for the new Democratic-leaning 6th Congressional District seat, former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis has claimed the moderate lane. A retired Marine and daycare owner, Davis supports building on the Affordable Care Act as opposed to scrapping it in favor of Medicare for All. Davis aligns closely on many issues important to Democrats, including addressing climate change and protecting reproductive rights. During a candidate forum in Winston-Salem earlier this month he said, “I believe in doing what is right at the end of the day, and I don’t let much sway me.”

Rhonda Foxx

Rhonda Foxx: Having worked as a staffer for more than six different politicians, including most recently, US Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Foxx decided to use her background knowledge to run for office for the first time. A former attorney, Foxx is the only candidate in the race besides Manning who has never held political office and is the only black woman in the race. In addition to being strongly opposed to the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, Foxx prioritizes supporting Medicare for All, funding for HBCUs, and working on criminal justice reform. Foxx also talked about the importance of ensuring security of online information and pointed to 2018 legislation in Europe, also known as the General Data Protection Regulation, as an example of what the United States should be doing.

Ed Hanes Jr.

Ed Hanes Jr.: Ed Hanes Jr. represented state House District 72 from 2012-18, when he personally tapped campaign opponent Derwin Montgomery for the seat. Hanes supports expanding the Affordable Care Act, and helped pass legislation in the General Assembly that resulted in more police officers being equipped with body cameras. Hanes also faced political scandal in 2018 when issues of illegal campaign contributions were brought to light. As a former representative, Hanes emphasizes his experience working and building relationships within the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Kathy Manning

Kathy Manning: A Greensboro philanthropist and immigration lawyer, Kathy Manning was the 2018 Democratic nominee in the old 13th Congressional District, where she made a respectable showing against GOP incumbent Ted Budd. She’s had to recalibrate from her 2018 campaign, when she described herself to the News & Record as a “business-oriented moderate” and promised to stand up to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now promising in a TV ad to fight President Trump’s “dangerous, hate-filled agenda.” Manning says, “I was willing to take on the tough fight in 2018 to run for Congress, even though it was a Republican district because I was so worried about the future of this country.”

Derwin Montgomery

Derwin Montgomery: Derwin Montgomery represented the East Ward on Winston-Salem City Council for nine years before accepting appointment to the state House. He’s also a pastor who operates the Bethesda Center for the Homeless, helping to round out his appreciation of constituents’ needs. More so than many politicians, Montgomery is thoroughly a policy wonk who likes to talk about his “2021 Equity Package,” which includes a “Farming Modernization Act.” His pitch is to help farmers, but also legalize marijuana and “expunge criminal records for individuals who have been convicted of marijuana charges that are nonviolent.”

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Lee Haywood

Lee Haywood: Lee Haywood, who has been the GOP chairman of the 6th Congressional District for the past two years, said in a statement on Facebook that despite the likelihood that a Democrat will win the newly-drawn district, that he entered the race because he refused “to sit by and let the Democrat Party obtain this seat without any competition.” In other posts, Haywood highlighted eliminating the national debt, overhauling the immigration system, protecting gun rights and fixing the education system as reasons for his campaign. In a Fox 8 news report, Haywood mentioned his skepticism for the Affordable Care Act stating, “[I]f we took government out of it as much as we possibly can and left it to the people to decide the level of healthcare coverage that they actually need, I think the cost would come down and it would be affordable for everybody.”

Laura Pichardo

Laura Pichardo: A political newcomer, Laura Pichardo comes across as a fiscal conservative with progressive social politics. In a recent interview with TCB, Pichardo lamented the Republican party’s increasingly right-leaning views, saying she wants to “start a rebellion” within the party. “It’s moving way too far right. I believe in treating people with dignity and respect, no matter what our economic or racial background is.” Pichardo also mentioned wanting to install solar panels on government buildings to harness renewable energy and making sure people’s tax dollars benefit the local community. “I’m tired of seeing our tax dollars go overseas. If we’re paying taxes, our tax benefits should stay at home.”

Read more about the US House District 6 race here, here and here.



Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Roy Cooper

Roy Cooper (i): In 2016, Cooper narrowly defeated incumbent Pat McCrory to become the first challenger since 1850 to defeat a sitting governor. Prior to becoming governor, Cooper served as the state’s attorney general for 16 years, most notably using his powers to dismiss the case against three Durham lacrosse players who had been falsely accused of rape. As governor, Cooper has vetoed several bills brought forth by the Republican-led legislature, including anti-abortion bills as well as a bill that would have required sheriffs to cooperate with federal immigration agents. Cooper also vetoed the proposed state budget in June, because of its corporate tax cuts, lack of Medicaid expansion and robust pay raises for teachers and because it didn’t rely on bonds for school construction.

Ernest Reeves

Ernest T. Reeves: Ernest Reeves is no stranger to running for political office. A retired military officer from Greenville, Reeves has unsuccessfully launched campaigns for the state’s 3rd Congressional District, Greenville City Council and state House District 3 in recent years. For this go-around, Reeves is running on a platform that includes support for expanding the Affordable Care Act and starting a Social Security program for younger individuals. He also states on his website that he wants to tackle the state’s opioid crisis with a “comprehensive statewide and county plan”

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Dan Forest

Dan Forest: Currently serving as lieutenant governor, Dan Forest is closely aligned with the Christian right. After a 2017 investigation by the Associated Press highlighted accounts by dozens of former members of Word of Faith Fellowship members assaulting congregants to expel “homosexual demons,” the News & Observer obtained a photo of Forest at a fundraiser with a leader of the church. And last September, NC Policy Watch reported that Forest shared the stage at a Charlotte event with an array of extremists, including a pastor who called for “anyone not committed to the US as an explicitly Judeo-Christian nation” to leave.

Holly Grange

Holly Grange: A lawmaker from Wilmington, Holly Grange serves as the deputy conference chair for the Republican leadership team in the state House. A member of the third class of women cadets to graduate from West Point, Grange is currently employed as director of community relations for Osprey Global Solutions, described on her campaign website as “specializing in remote medical, logistics, security, training and business intelligence services.” Grange boasts the endorsement of the NC Police Benevolent Association, and the self-avowed “Trump supporter” says she “led the charge to pass a tough immigration law that would require sheriffs to cooperate with ICE.”

Lieutenant governor (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Chaz Beasley

Chaz Beasley: A state lawmaker from Mecklenburg County, Chaz Beasley earned the endorsement of Equality NC. During a candidate forum in Greensboro, Beasley highlighted his vote against HB 142, the compromise bill that modified the infamous HB 2. Contrasting himself against opponents Yvonne Lewis Holley and Terry Van Duyn, who voted for HB 142, Beasley said, “We need somebody in the role of lieutenant governor, who, if they are the last stop for a bill, that you know they will not vote for a bill that enshrines discrimination in law.” (The lieutenant governor casts the tie-breaking vote in a deadlocked Senate.)

Yvonne Lewis Holley

Yvonne Lewis Holley: A state lawmaker from Raleigh, Yvonne Lewis Holley said her vote for HB 142 was “the most difficult decision that she ever had to make” and that she “literally cried on the floor of the General Assembly,” but that she did so because her African-American constituents were pleading that they needed employment opportunities from sporting events. “As an African American who has fought discrimination all my life, because I am a child of the Civil Rights Era,” Holley said, “I know sometimes that you don’t win it all, and you don’t win it all quickly.”

Ron Newton

Ron Newton: Formerly a business manager for AFSCME Local 77 representing staff at Duke University, Ron Newton runs a financial-services company in Durham. He’s making his second run for lieutenant governor after making an unsuccessful bid in 2016. Newton’s core message is that you can’t trust anyone else. “Election after election, we have experienced candidates coming into our communities presenting promises with no solutions,” he says, while calling for universal healthcare, criminal-justice reform, a fund to “create poverty repair zones,” increased funding for public education, legislation to close the wealth gap and eliminating fossil fuels.

Allen Thomas

Allen Thomas: A Hoke County commissioner, Allen Thomas persuaded his colleagues to allocate $100,000 in county funds for food vouchers when federal aid after Hurricane Matthew was delayed, and he calls ending poverty his “cornerstone issue.” Using the office of lieutenant governor as a bully pulpit, he wants to advocate for full funding for daycare assistance; a ballot initiative to allow voters to decide whether North Carolina should legalize marijuana; making low corporate tax rates dependent on companies maintaining worker-friendly policies such as paying a living wage, providing parental leave and programs to assist in student loan repayment.

Bill Toole

Bill Toole: A Winston-Salem native, Bill Toole retired last year after 27 years as an environmental lawyer in Charlotte. A self-described “pragmatic, progressive Democrat,” Toole said during a recent candidate forum: “I have a plan for controlled access to cannabis that would allow us to automatically expunge the records of those who have been incarcerated with an ounce and a half — nonviolent possession — or less.” He wants the state to ensure that there’s a teacher assistant in every classroom from pre-K to third grade. Like his opponent, Chaz Beasley, Toole says he opposed HB 142.

Terry Van Duyn

Terry Van Duyn: A state senator from Asheville, Terry Van Duyn told voters during a recent candidate forum that she was the top fundraiser for the Democratic caucus when the party flipped six seats last year to give Gov. Roy Cooper veto power. She argued she has the relationships to effectively leverage the clout of the office of lieutenant governor. “The reason I am running,” Van Duyn said, “is because I appreciate Gov. Cooper’s vision for North Carolina — one where we are healthier, where we are better educated and we have more money in our pockets.”

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Buddy Bengel

Buddy Bengel: A former professional baseball player-turned restaurateur, Buddy Bengel entered the race for lieutenant governor to use “business background to be an advocate for economic development and job creation across the state,” according to his campaign website. In 2018, in the wake of Hurricane Florence, Bengel formed the New Bern Relief Fund which raised more than $350,000 in two months to help rebuild homes in New Bern.

Deborah Cochran

Deborah Cochran: Former Mt. Airy mayor Deborah Cochran is using her political experience combined with her time as a public education teacher in her run for lieutenant governor. Cochran currently works as a business education teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Winston-Salem and calls herself a devout Christian with a working-class background according to a campaign video. In a story published by First In Freedom Daily, Cochran emphasizes bolstering existing business sectors such as agriculture while bringing in new industries. 

Renee Ellmers

Renee Ellmers: After narrowly beating Democratic incumbent Bob Ethridge in 2010, Ellmers represented the state’s 2nd Congressional District for seven years. During the 2010 campaign, Ellmers ran a political ad against Ethridge in which she tied him to then-president Barack Obama, stating that Obama wanted to build a “victory mosque” at Ground Zero. She frequently opposed Obama’s initiatives and said that she entered the state congressional race because of the Affordable Care Act and is a vocal supporter of President Trump. “I was the first female member of Congress to endorse Donald J. Trump for president of the United States during the 2016 Republican primary,” she said in her announcement to run for lieutenant governor. “I stand proudly today supporting President Donald J. Trumpmp [SIC].”

Greg Gebhardt

Greg Gebhardt: A current major in the NC National Guard, Greg Gebhardt first began to influence politics during his time as a policy advisor in the state House where he worked to craft Voter ID legislation that required voters to present identification before voting. According to his campaign website, Gebhardt is a supporter of immigration enforcement and gun rights, and is pro-life. He also mentions the need to “fight against the left’s socialist agenda.”

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson: Currently serving as state superintendent of public instruction, Mark Johnson recently became embroiled in a political scandal after he used his position to send 540,000 text messages and 800,000 email messages to parents and educators on Feb. 11 about his opposition to Common Core, a major part of his political campaign, according to the News & Observer. Since then, about a dozen ethics complaints have been filed with the state’s ethics commission. Johnson previously served on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education from 2014 to 2016. Last year, Johnson supported a plan to provide a 5 percent salary increase to all teachers by 2030.

John Ritter

John L. Ritter: Lawyer John Ritter is running on a platform that mostly emphasizes the importance of education and infrastructure. On his campaign website, Ritter voices his support for community colleges, stating that “vocational and technical education in high schools and community colleges will be of particular importance in the next 20 years.” Ritter also advocates wiser spending and budgeting to bolster infrastructure needs such as roads and utilities.

Mark Robinson

Mark Robinson: Mark Robinson from Greensboro became known as a vocal conservative after he spoke during a Greensboro city council meeting in support of the Second Amendment in April 2018. The video of his city council speech went viral, landing him some time on Fox News. Since then, Robinson has been active supporter of gun rights, often leading rallies about the issue. He was even invited as a speaker during the 2018 NRA convention. As a political candidate, Robinson opposes abortion and NAFTA, and has called undocumented immigrants “invaders.”

Scott Stone

Scott Stone: Prior to running for lieutenant governor, Scott Stone represented state House District 105 in Mecklenburg County, for a single term from 2016-18. Stone currently serves as president of American Engineering, a regional civil-engineering and survey firm in Charlotte. Stone supports reducing corporate and personal income taxes and is a supporter of gun rights as well as anti-abortion bills such as the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, which was vetoed by Gov. RoyCooper last year. Stone opposes “sanctuary sheriffs,” stating on his campaign website that they should “be compelled to honor ICE detainers.”

Andy Wells

Andy Wells: Andy Wells has served in the state Senate, representing District 42 in Alexander and Catawba counties since 2015, and prior to that served on term in the state House. Like Stone, Wells has been outspoken against sheriffs who refused to honor ICE detainers, and was also an outspoken critic of those who supported the removal of Silent Sam. Wells also supported the Voter ID law, which was blocked by a federal judge in December. Wells sponsored a bill in April that would have given every licensed teacher in North Carolina $400 to pay for classroom supplies.

Attorney general

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Sam Hayes

Sam Hayes: Sam Hayes has practiced law for the past 20 years, according to his campaign website, and in 2015, he served as general counsel of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, now the Department of Environmental Quality. There, he assisted in the implementation of the Coal Ash Management Act which addressed the problem of coal-ash contamination. According to his website, Hayes supports Voter ID, reducing the rape-kit backlog, backs the Second Amendment and wants to help the agriculture sector. Hayes said he would “ask the General Assembly for the authority to hold sanctuary sheriffs accountable” and that he supports “capital punishment” for “sanctuary sheriffs.”  

Christine Mumma

Christine Mumma: Christine Mumma has been working as the executive director of the NC Center on Actual Innocence, which works to get wrongfully convicted people out of prison, since 2001. Prior to working for NCCAI, Mumma served as a clerk for now-deceased Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr. In a campaign announcement, Mumma described herself as “the only candidate who will stand up for the rule of law and enforce President Trump’s policies on immigration, defend the sanctity of life, and safeguard the Second Amendment.”

Jim O’Neill

Jim O’Neill: This will be Jim O’Neill’s second time running for attorney general. In 2016, O’Neill lost to Buck Newton in the Republican primary. O’Neill has served as district attorney in Forsyth County since 2009. According to his campaign website, O’Neill spearheaded a state program to help those struggling with opioid addiction and started an Elder Abuse Task Force. A resident of Winston-Salem, O’Neill states on his website that he will focus on clearing the decades-old backlog of untested rape kits, defending capital case murder convictions, and combating the heroin and opioid crisis.

Superintendent of public instruction (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

James Barrett

James Barrett: James Barrett has been the at-large member on the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Board of Education since 2011. On his campaign website, Barrett lists specific plans for many of his platforms including changing school testing, promoting equity in schools, making sure schools have necessary funds and resources and promoting school safety. His plan for overhauling school testing is one of the most detailed and includes “more frequent but much lower-stakes assessments that will genuinely help teachers adjust instruction.”

Constance Johnson

Constance (Lav) Johnson: Constance Johnson is a former K-12 teacher, school counselor and school administrator. According to a document outlining her positions, Johnson has some of the most ambitious goals among the candidates including free lunches for all students and selling school recycling to help pay for supplies. Johnson also advocates for a harsh gun-control measure which she calls GLUP21 which indict parents of children under the age of 21 who brings a gun into a school. The proposal would also penalize parents who teach children under the age of 21 to shoot.

Michael Maher

Michael Maher: Michael Maher has worked as an educator at the high school level as a science teacher for public schools in Forsyth and Wake counties, as well as a professor at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh. A first-time political candidate, Maher currently serves as the president of the NC Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators. On his website, Maher advocates for equity in schools, calling for a transition from a report-card system to a public-accountability dashboard that would rate schools based on access to programs, suspension rates, principal experience, school safety and other measures rather than on test scores.

Jen Mangrum

Jen Mangrum: Prior to becoming an associate professor at UNCG, Jen Mangrum spent 14 years teaching at elementary schools in Onslow and Guilford counties. In 2004, Mangrum started the Elementary Education program at NC State University. In 2018, Mangrum lost to Republican Phil Berger in the race for the seat in state Senate District 30. On her campaign website, Mangrum lists securing a living wage for all school personnel, prioritizing recruitment of educators of color, expanding access to early childhood education with a goal of providing universal pre-K in the next five years as well as increasing teacher pay to the national average as part of her priorities.

Keith Sutton

Keith A. Sutton: A member of the Wake County School Board, Keith A. Sutton is an educational consultant with a strong public-policy background, having previously served as a policy-development analyst and program-development coordinator for the state Department of Public Safety and as legislative-affairs program manager for the state Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Among the priorities listed on Sutton’s campaign website are continuing “innovations in addressing the academic and social-emotional learning needs of students wherever they are performing” and providing “more targeted support to struggling schools and underperforming schools.”

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Craig Horn

Craig Horn: A former Russian linguist in the US Air Force, Craig Horn was elected to the state House in the red-wave election of 2010. Now serving his fifth term, Horn chairs two key education committees in the House. Although he’s running for the office, he’s on record as supporting legislative change to make superintendent of public instruction an appointed position. “What makes good sense is to go out and hire the best possible person in the country for that job,” he told NC Policy Watch, “not the most popular person, not the person who fills a political need.”

Catherine Truitt

Catherine Truitt: Now chancellor of the nonprofit, online Western Governors University North Carolina, Catherine Truitt previously served as senior advisor on education to Gov. Pat McCrory. Like her opponent, Craig Horn, Truitt supports universal pre-K to all 4-year-olds free of cost and opposes a cap on the number of charter schools in North Carolina. Among the six priorities listed on her campaign website is “mak[ing] certain there is a highly qualified teacher in every classroom across the state” and “collaborat[ing] with experts to solve our statewide challenge around equitable funding for public schools.”


Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Dimple Ajmera: An immigrant who came to the United States with her family at the age of 16, Dimple Ajmera graduated from the University of Southern California and became a certified public accountant before getting elected to Charlotte City Council. “I literally went from cleaning hotel rooms to pay for college to managing multi-million-dollar budgets,” she says in her campaign literature. As state treasurer, Ajmera wants to apply her experience to the job of managing North Carolina’s $100 billion pension fund and $3 billion state employee healthcare fund. “I will be a fighter for you,” she says, “and respectfully ask for your vote.”

Ronnie Chatterji

Ronnie Chatterji: Ronnie Chatterji, a Duke University business professor and former senior economist in the Obama administration, and his opponent, Matt Leatherman, agreed on many issues when they addressed voters during a Jan. 26 candidate forum in Greensboro. They agreed that more of the state pension fund should be shifted from savings to market investments, and that funds should be steered towards women and minority managers. Chatterji said his election would be a rebuke to the crowd that chanted “send her back” at a Trump rally in Greenville last summer. “They’re talking about people like me, my kids,” Chatterji said. “People like me need to stand up and run for office in this cycle, and show another narrative.”

Matt Leatherman

Matt Leatherman: Matt Leatherman and opponent Ronnie Chatterji both agreed that the next state treasurer needs to use their position as a bully pulpit to advocate that the General Assembly expand Medicaid. But Leatherman, who served as policy director under former state Treasurer Janet Cowell, said his experience sets him apart. “You’re going to hear a lot of similar ideas and values here on the stage here today,” Leatherman told voters in Greensboro on Jan. 26. “I’m going to try to differentiate myself as a person who has done the work before in this office.”

Read more about the state treasurer’s race in our reporting here.

NC House District 59

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Jon Hardister

Jon Hardister (i): Since his election to the state House in 2012, Jon Hardister has ascended to the position of majority whip. He’s shepherded some bipartisan legislation, like the so-called “Brunch Bill” that allowed local governments to authorize restaurants to sell alcohol after 10 a.m. on Sunday morning, but he also angered Democratic constituents with his vote for HB 2 in 2016. The remedial maps adopted last year make rural District 59 slightly more competitive, and Democratic challenger Nicole Quick is lined up for the November general election. But first, Hardister will have to dispatch Allen Chappell in the Republican primary.

Allen Chappell

Allen Chappell: A retired colonel in the Army Special Forces and Global War on Terrorism veteran, Allen Chappell said he doesn’t have any criticism of Hardister. “I’ve never met the gentleman,” Chappell told WXII News. “I’ve never seen him around.” The 57-year-old Chappell who recently purchased a horse farm in Liberty, describes himself on his Facebook page as “a neighbor fighting to bring tax dollars back to our community for broadband connectivity, road upkeep and safer communities.”

NC House District 60

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Ryan Blankenship

Ryan A. Blankenship: Currently working as a manager for Morgan’s Farm, Ryan Blankenship writes on his campaign’s Facebook page that he is “no career politician nor [does he] want to be.” Blankenship served overseas as part of the Marine Corps and worked as an elementary school teacher for Guilford County Schools. According to his Facebook page, Blankenship supports limited government, stating that “the economy thrives when the government gets out of the way of innovation and entrepreneurship. Lower taxes, deregulation and pro-growth policies are the best way to boost our economy.” Blankenship also opposes the Affordable Care Act writing “deregulations brings choice, choice brings about customizable plans at affordable prices while ensuring individuals with pre-existing conditions are not left behind.”

Frank Ragsdale: Frank Ragsdale supports increasing teacher pay and expanding Medicaid, two stances that set the first-time political candidate apart from his fellow Republicans, according to reporting by WXII News. “Medical cost is no secret,” Ragsdale told the station. “Medical costs are rising tremendous amounts.” Still, like many Republicans, Ragsdale supports President Trump, calling him “a true leader” who has “turned this country around.”

NC House District 71

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Evelyn Terry

Evelyn Terry (i): Evelyn Terry was elected to the state House in 2012, when the Republicans won a supermajority in the General Assembly and control of the governor’s office. Since then, Democrats took back the governor’s office in 2016 and broke the Republican supermajority in 2018, but much of Terry’s tenure has been marked by frustration with Republican non-cooperation. A member of the House Appropriations-Health and Human Services Committee Terry complained during a candidate forum at the Winston-Salem Urban League that North Carolina lacks the funds to address many healthcare needs because of the Republican majority’s refusal to expand Medicaid.

Kanika Brown

Kanika Brown: Kanika Brown told voters during the candidate forum that incumbent Evelyn Terry invited her to her home and asked her to run for the District 71 seat, but then changed her mind and decided she wanted to run for re-election after all. During the forum, Brown took aim at Terry’s vote against a 2017 law that allows school districts to place cameras on buses to record drivers who illegally pass stopped buses. “Those cameras protect our children, our teachers and our bus drivers,” Brown said.

NC House District 72 (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Amber Baker

Amber M. Baker: Amber Baker, who has been the principal of Kimberley Park Elementary in Winston-Salem for the past 12 years, told TCB that she was inspired to run for political office to build on her experience as an educator. Among her priorities as a candidate are increasing affordable housing and funding for public education. Baker also voiced her support for a mandatory African-American studies course, but said that individual school districts should be allowed to design the course curriculums for students to graduate. Baker also voiced support for an increase in base salaries for teachers as well as more flexibility in who can be hired as ways to improve education in the state.

LaShun Huntey

LaShun Huntley: For the past several years, LaShun Huntley has worked as the CEO of United Health Services, a network of health clinics in Winston-Salem. Through his work at United Health Services, Huntley said he sees a lot of issues with the healthcare system and would work to get Medicaid expanded if he were elected. Huntley, who worked as a biology and earth science teacher at Parkland High School in 1993 and 1994, also supports an increase in teacher pay. In an interview, Huntley said his longtime residency and ties to the district make him the best candidate for the seat.

Read more about the NC House District 72 race here.

NC House District 75

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Gardenia Henley

Gardenia Henley: An Air Force veteran and retired US State Department inspector general, Gardenia Henley made an unsuccessful run for state House in 2010, and then for governor, Congress and Winston-Salem mayor. As an inspector general, Henley said she reviewed federal legislation to “make sure it was working correctly, that the tax dollars were going to the correct location…. I was fighting fraud, waste and mismanagement.” Henley pledged during a candidate forum at the Winston-Salem Urban League that if she gets to Raleigh, “the first thing I will do is look at that budget, and I’m going to tear that budget apart.”

Elisabeth Motsinger

Elisabeth Motsinger: First elected to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board in 2006, Elisabeth Motsinger is the longest-serving at-large member among her Democratic colleagues, and in 2012 she was the Democratic nominee for the 5th Congressional District. Given the Republican advantage in House District 75, Motsinger noted during the candidate forum that if she beats incumbent Donny Lambeth in November, “that means the Democrats are in charge. And it means we have to be focused and immediately work to pass Medicaid expansion.” She also wants to expand a $15 minimum wage for state workers to also include public education employees.

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Donny Lambeth

Donny Lambeth (i): A retired hospital CEO, Donny Lambeth has taken the lead role in driving healthcare policy for the Republican majority. Since 2017, Lambeth has been working to come up with a compromise Medicaid expansion bill with a work requirement and subscriber buy-in that would be amenable to his Republican colleagues. “I can’t get a very conservative General Assembly to move on it because it’s tied up in some of the politics in Raleigh,” Lambeth recently told the Winston-Salem Journal. “Whether it ever sees the light of day, I don’t know.”

Jacob Baum

Jacob Baum: At just 20 years old, Jacob Baum would be the youngest person to ever serve in the General Assembly if he’s elected. (He turns 21 — the minimum age — in April. Though he’s currently a student at UNC-Charlotte, where he studies political science and writes for the Niner Times, Baum is registered to vote in Kernersville, where he grew up. Baum’s father was killed when his vehicle was hit by a tractor trailer on Highway 52 while he was returning from work — a formative experience that the candidate talks about on his website.


Guilford County Commission District 5 (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Carly Cooke

Carly Cooke: Carly Cooke, who owns a real estate business with her husband, said education is the main reason why she decided to run for county commission. As a mother of two children in Guilford County Schools, Cooke talked about how she has experienced the school system personally. To pay for the $1.5 billion need that was found for Guilford County School facilities last year, Cooke said she would consider tax increases or additional bonds. Cooke also cited public health as well as increasing revenue as priorities. “Ensuring that all of our Guilford County citizens have access to vital health services is really important,” Cooke said.

Macon Sullivan: Not much is known about Macon Sullivan, who according to his campaign filing, resides in Greensboro. According to his Facebook page, Sullivan served in the US Army from 1992 to 1994 and went to high school in Georgia and then in Louisiana.

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Cyndy Hayworth

Cyndy Hayworth: Cyndy Hayworth, who lived in Summerfield for 15 years before moving to Greensboro, ran for city council in 2007 when she was registered as a Democrat and again in 2011,. She works as the operation manager for Midtown Financial Advisers, a position she’s had since 2016. Hayworth said her priorities lie in the board’s responsibility to fund education in the county, noting support for an education bond or a tax increase to help fund schools. Hayworth told TCB that she has supported Democratic candidates such as Kay Cashion, for whom Hayworth organized a fundraiser in 2014 and that her willingness to work with Democrats makes her the stronger candidate.

Troy Lawson

Troy Lawson: Troy Lawson, who moved to Greensboro five years ago said in an interview with TCB that his priorities lie in education as well as maintaining the conservative majority on the board. Lawson was the first African-American chairman of the Guilford County GOP, a position he held from 2017-19. In 2018, he ran for state House District 57, losing to Democrat Ashton Clemmons by about 36 percentage points. Lawson noted that schools needed funding, but declined to say whether or not he supports a bond or a tax increase to pay for school fixes.

Read more about the District 5 county commission race here and here.

Guilford County Commission District 6 (open seat)

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Jim Davis

Jim Davis: Jim Davis served on High Point City Council from 2012-17, and even filled in as mayor for three months in 2014, after Bernita Sims resigned. In an interview with TCB, Davis said education is his main concern in running for the seat. “I know this bond issue for the schools is going to hit us front and center,” Davis said. “I am not an advocate for property taxes because our county has one of the highest property taxes in the country.” Davis also mentioned the importance of infrastructure when it comes to needs at the sheriff’s department as well as concerns about the opioid crisis and how it affects residents in the district as well as countywide.

Jason Ewing

Jason Ewing: Jason Ewing served on High Point City Council from 2012-19, losing his seat to Michael Holmes by just a handful of votes. In his run for county commission, Ewing mentioned that he would be in favor of a sales-tax increase over a property-tax increase if it comes down to a decision between the two to pay for a potential education bond. Ewing also pointed to economic development and affordable housing as his other concerns for the county. “I’m focused on bringing new businesses here,” Ewing said. “But to do that, you’ve got to make sure you have strong schools and strong infrastructure in place, and be welcoming to the businesses.”

Read more about the District 6 county commission race here.

Guilford County Commission District 8

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Skip Alston

Skip Alston (i): Skip Alston makes the case for his re-election based on his years of experience in the seat. He first held the seat from 1992-2012, then returned in 2017 to fill the unexpired term of Ray Trapp. “I’ve gone through 22 budgets,” Alston said in an interview with TCB. “More than anyone on the entire board. It would be selfish of me to not lend my knowledge and experience at this crucial time.” Similar to other county commission candidates, Alston prioritizes funding education on his platform. In order to do so, Alston said he would work to get a $1 billion package to start and then phase in another approach for the remaining $1 billion. He also mentioned the need for an increase in teacher pay and more economic development in the county.

Fahiym Hanna

Fahiym Hanna: Fahiym Hanna first ran for county commission in a special election in 2018 against incumbent Skip Alston when he lost by 40 points. This year, Hanna is running on a platform built entirely around what he calls the Correct Priority Society model, a county-wide work program that would ensure residents’ basic needs like food, water, shelter and access to education and infrastructure. Under the model, participants would work from 7 to 14 hours a week in any of a number of basic-needs sectors, and in exchange they would receive access to all of their basic needs in the amount needed, according to Hanna.

Read more about the District 8 county commission race here and here.

Guilford County School Board District 1

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Dianne Bellamy-Small

Dianne Bellamy-Small (i): Greensboro resident Dianne Bellamy-Small, who has represented District 1 since 2017, noted several primary concerns for her district, including school safety, achievement levels for students, competitive pay for teachers and staff, and more medical and mental-health services for students. When it comes to the $1.5 billion need for school facilities, Bellamy-Small said she supports the leadership of Superintendent Sharon Contreras, and trusts Contreras and her staff to guide the priorities for the county.

Jeff Golden

Jeff Golden: Jeff Golden, who served on High Point City Council from 2012-19, said in an interview with TCB that he believes the school board needs a voice from High Point. “People don’t feel like High Point is represented,” Golden said. He noted an imbalance in the county’s schools and emphasized a need to find adequate funding to help some of the poorer, older schools. “We can’t take our most risky students and most at-need and put them up in one school,” Golden said.

Ron Ruck

Ron Tuck: Ron Tuck, an independent contractor in Greensboro, advocates for the implementation of more apprenticeship programs for students as part of his platform. “I have a plan for the youth to become workable in this area,” he said. Tuck also noted school safety as one of his priorities and concerns within the district and opted for a face-to-face approach in dealing with students who may pose problems. “You have to sit down with them on a one and one and bring their parents in at the same time,” Tuck said. “You have to be stern.”

Read more about the District 1 school board race here.

Guilford County School Board District 7

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Byron Gladden

Byron Gladden (i): Byron Gladden, who has represented District 7 since 2017, said that the biggest concern facing his district is equity. “Not just with an equitable share as it relates to new facilities,” Gladden said, “and not just to keeping neighborhood schools open, but putting programming in those schools that will attract kids from all over.” Gladden also noted the need for high-quality teachers in east Greensboro. To promote equity, Gladden said representatives should look at reducing the achievement gap as well as reconsider some school district lines. He also noted the importance of listening to constituents. “I feel that we should have community input every step of the way.”

Bettye Taylor Jenkins

Bettye Taylor Jenkins: A former teacher’s assistant for Guilford County Schools, Bettye Jenkins ran for the seat in the 2016, losing to Gladden in the general election by more than 30 points. In an interview with TCB, Jenkins noted her 33-year tenure of working within the education system, where she served as a teacher’s assistant, school social worker and more. She noted her support for increasing career and technical education courses, resources for students with disabilities and pay increases for employees as some of her platform points.

Jayvon Johnson

Jayvon Johnson: Before becoming the youth pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church of Greensboro, Jayvon Johnson served as the at-large member on the Guilford County Council of PTAs. Johnson cites systemic concerns with regard to economics, racial tolerance and societal trust as the main issues facing District 7. When it comes to school safety, Johnson said he will work with police officers in schools, educate families on the student handbook, and create mini scenario workshops to train for different events.

Read more about the District 7 school board race here.

NC District Court Judge District 18, Seat 4

Tomakio Gause

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Tomakio Gause: Tomakio Gause is a private attorney who has been running her own practice for nine years and practicing law for 14. In an interview with TCB, she said that she wants to prioritize addressing mental health, substance abuse and poverty in the courtroom. She also noted how she has made it her goal to work with indigent clients — those who cannot pay for an attorney and have one assigned to them by the court system — in her capacity as an attorney. She said she wants to bring that same passion for fairness to the bench.

Caroline Tomlinson-Pemberton

Caroline Tomlinson-Pemberton: Tomlinson-Pemberton, who has worked as an assistant district attorney for the past 13 years, was hit by a car in January but said that she is recovering and that she wouldn’t let the accident hinder her campaign. Pemberton said she is running because of her passion for juvenile court and her passion for “breaking the cycle” for those who get caught in the judicial system. She noted that her experience working in district court makes her the best candidate for the seat.

NC District Court Judge District 18, Seat 7

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Angela Foster

Angela Foster: District court judge Angela Foster is fighting to remain in her seat this election cycle against challenger Michele Lee. Foster, who has been in Seat 7 for 12 years, said that she’s concerned with family reunification and helping foster children in her capacity as district court judge. She also talked about the importance of addressing drug use so that children can be reunited with their parents. In 2019, Foster was censured by the NC Supreme Court for ordering bailiffs to handcuff a mother and place her in a holding cell while Foster lectured her two teenage children on the importance of visitation, according to local news reports. “It was never my intention to embarrass her,” Foster told TCB, “but it was my intention to show her children that their actions could lead to this…I’m happy to say that these people act like a family unit now. They’ve stopped coming to court. They are visiting their father. If their mother went to jail, they would have gone to live with their father.”

Michele Lee

Michele Lee: Lee, a senior judicial hearing officer and probate judge in the office of the clerk of superior court, said she’s running for the seat because she wants to change the way people think about the court system. “The public distrust is very high for the judicial system,” Lee said. “It is extraordinarily problematic. It doesn’t give people the confidence to report crimes or come in as a victim of a witness.” She said that as a judge, she would listen intently to all who come before her in court. “You have to remember to treat people fairly and give them their dignity,” she said. “People walk away remembering how you made them feel.”

NC District Court Judge District 18, Seat 12

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Gavin Reardon

Gavin Reardon: Attorney Gavin Reardon currently works as a partner at Rossabi Law Partners in Greensboro. Both Reardon and Amiel Rossabi represent 10 police officers involved in a 2016 case against Zared Jones, who is represented by attorney Graham Holt. In a phone interview with Triad City Beat, Reardon repeatedly discussed his commitment to social justice as the reasoning for his occupation and run for district court judge. When asked about his involvement in the 2016 case, Reardon responded by saying, “You don’t represent people just because they’re popular.” Reardon, who mentioned issues such as mandatory fines, pretrial incarceration and implicit bias as reasons for his run, said that if elected, he would work to combat racial disparities in the judicial system. The lawyer of more than 25 years said he advocates for more organized data to track what kinds of sentences people get so that it is uniform across the board; he also said he will advocate for a racial-disparity scorecard for individual judges.

Kelvin Smith

Kelvin Smith: Kelvin Smith noted that while he has less experience than Reardon, he is the better candidate because he works in district court every day. “Maybe his district court experience was 15 years ago,” Smith said. “My opponent practices on the appellate level. That’s admirable work, however, we’re running in a race for district court, the people’s court and I service them every day between Greensboro and High Point. I am uniquely aware of what goes on.” Smith has only been practicing law since 2016 but argued that he has the experience needed to ascend to the bench. Smith, who is one of six black candidates in the district court judge races, also said it’s important for the bench to have a diverse group of judges who reflect the people that it serves.

NC District Court Judge District 18, Seat 13

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Moshera Mills

Moshera Mills: Mills said she thought about running 10 years ago but opted to wait until her two kids were older to run for office. The lawyer of 18 years said she’s running to make sure people are “treated fairly and with human dignity and respect.” In an interview, Mills said she wants a way to track charges so that everyone who comes before a judge gets treated equally. “There should be some tracking system so the public can hold judicial officials accountable for decisions,” Mills said. “If all things are equal, people should have the same punishments.” Mills also noted the importance of efficiency within the courtroom, so cases don’t drag on for years and years.

Brian Tomlin

Brian Tomlin: Tomlin, was first appointed to fill the seat left open by Judge Lora Cubbage by Gov. Roy Cooper in March 2019. Tomlin, like many others running for district court judge, said he wants to maintain consistency within the courts and ensure that people feel the system is just and fair. “I just hope to do my job really well in a way that people feel that they’ve been treated fairly,” he said, “and people think that the results of their case was just.” A lawyer of 23 years before he ascended to the bench, Tomlin said his array of experience makes him a good judge. “I think having seen what I’ve seen and done what I’ve done makes me able to cover and handle the things you see as a judge,” he said.

Read more about the district court judge races here.

Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Renita Thompkins Linville

Renita Thompkins Linville (i): Renita Thompkins Linville was appointed to the position of Forsyth County clerk of superior court by Superior Court Judge Todd Burke to fill the unexpired term of Susan Frye in July 2019, but this will be her first election. “My first priorities were to make sure that I got to know the staff,” Linville said during a Jan. 27 candidate forum. She said she worked with security to improve evacuation procedures in the event of an emergency. Overall, she said, “There’s always room for improvement. However, the staff is functioning very well.”

Denis Hines

Denise Hines: Denise Hines currently serves as chief magistrate judge for Forsyth County. She said her priority would be to “train and develop responsive clerks,” and “to evaluate staff, resources, processes — what’s working, what’s not.” Hines said that as a magistrate judge, she’s attempted to reach a clerk and no one picked up the phone. “If you don’t answer the phone when a magistrate judge is calling and she has a defendant in front of her who may need to be released,” Hines said, “I can’t imagine what you all, the community, are getting when you call.”

Forsyth County Commission District B

Republican primary (vote for up to 3)

Richard Linville

Richard V. Linville (i): The doughnut-shaped District B includes three seats, over which Republicans have held a lock for at least three decades, so the Republican primary will eliminate one of the contenders, and three survivors will go forward to contend with three Democratic candidates in November. A farmer from rural, northeast Forsyth County, Richard Linville has served on the county commission since 1980. Among the most challenging issues facing the county, Linville says, is operating volunteer fire departments in unincorporated areas of the county. “The commissioners as a whole in the last two years has worked on some issues related to that,” he said. “So, whenever issues come up that has to have extra attention, that’s what we do: We try to work it out.”

David Plyler

David R. Plyler (i): Currently chairman, David Plyler of Kernersville was first elected to the Forsyth County Commission in 1994 after retiring from a career in broadcasting. One of two moderate Republicans on a commission, Plyler has shepherded a number of capital improvement projects. “This library wasn’t here a few years ago, not the way it is now,” Plyler said during a recent forum at the Forsyth County Library in downtown Winston-Salem. “I helped play a role in what we now call our new library. And this is one of the most wonderful things county commissioners can do.” Next up: a new county courthouse.

Gloria D. Whisenhunt

Gloria D. Whisenhunt (i): One of the board’s two conservative Republicans, alongside Linville, Gloria Whisenhunt was first elected to the county commission in 1996, following a career in cosmetology. Whisenhunt highlights workforce development as one of the county’s biggest challenges. “There’s no need in us handing out these incentives if we don’t have the workforce,” she said. Whisenhunt also noted that Forsyth County has the highest tax rate among the five most populous counties in the state. “I’m not proud of that at all,” she said, “and I think that hurts us in attracting business to our county.”

Terri Mrazek

Terri Mrazek: The “newcomer” in the Republican primary, Terri Mrazek of Kernersville describes herself as a “strong conservative candidate.” Mentioning that she once taught at Oak Ridge Military Academy for low pay, she said, “I think if you’re a good teacher you’re gonna base your qualities on the love and passion you have for each of your students. So, I am that candidate that’s not really for raising your taxes.” Doing so, she said, could put residents with limited means in a position where they couldn’t afford to buy clothing.

Winston-Salem mayor

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Allen Joines

Allen Joines (i): Allen Joines has been the mayor of Winston-Salem for 18 years, a longer tenure than his counterparts in Greensboro and High Point, combined. Joines is also the president of the Winston-Salem Alliance, an economic development organization that has pumped money into the revitalization of downtown, and it can be hard to tell where one position ends and the other begins. But his re-election campaign is focusing on his efforts to reduce poverty, including a recently announced grant by BB&T Corp. to pay for community college for all low-income graduates of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

JoAnne Allen

JoAnne Allen: A frequent presence during the public-speaker portion of city council meetings, JoAnne Allen is known for her scorching criticism of the mayor and city council. She charges — without evidence, it must be said — that the city’s current leadership is incompetent and corrupt, with the city falling behind as a result. “If you don’t understand government — civics 101 — how can you fix it?” she asked at a candidate forum in late January. “If we don’t have a group of individuals that’s making policy for the good and the welfare of the people, we end up right back where we started.”

Read more about the Winston-Salem mayoral race here.

Winston-Salem City Council, East Ward

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Annette Scippio

Annette Scippio (i): A retired nonprofit leader and corporate manager, Annette Scippio was appointed to city council to fill the unexpired term of Derwin Montgomery in 2018. In her relatively short tenure on council, Scippio has made waves suspending a plan to revitalize the newly designated East End, a signature project of her predecessor. The incumbent speaks nostalgically about a past when manufacturing provided ample employment to residents of the economically struggling ward, but she also emphasizes personal responsibility. “Children were nurtured by neighbors, churches and teachers,” she said. “They were given expectations and aspirations. That doesn’t exist now.”

Phil Carter

Phil Carter: A longtime Democratic Party volunteer and previous candidate for city council, Phil Carter said as representative of the East Ward, he would emphasize “keeping the people first” and “inclusive governance.” In response to the challenge of maintaining affordable housing — a particular challenge in the East Ward — Carter wants Winston-Salem to emulate a program in Chattanooga, Tenn., which uses state funds to offset the cost of any property tax increase for low-income homeowners who are elderly, disabled or military veterans.

Kismet Loftin-Bell

Kismet Loftin-Bell: A consultant and community college instructor, Kismet Loftin-Bell is also concerned about preserving affordable housing. She wants to enlist churches and recreation centers in educating residents on “after-life planning,” so that families can preserve wealth and housing. Her pitch to voters is that she understands the needs of the ward because she’s experienced its struggles firsthand. “I am the East Ward,” Loftin-Bell told TCB. “I understand what it’s like to be a child going home to little food. I understand what it’s like to be a young mother.”

George Redd IV

George Redd IV: George Redd IV’s roots in the ward grow deep. His grandfather was one of the first African-American officers to serve on the Winston-Salem Police Department, and his uncle retired as an assistant chief. Redd, who is the program-services director for Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, decided to run for city council after going through the City University of Winston-Salem program. He pointed to the city’s Transforming Urban Residential Neighborhoods program as a resource for helping homeowners finance repairs to aging housing, and said he would work hard to get the word out.

Read more about the East Ward race here.

Winston-Salem City Council, North Ward

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

DD Adams

DD Adams (i): Since she was first elected to city council in 2009, DD Adams voted with her colleagues for most of the financial-incentives packages that helped stimulate redevelopment in downtown. But in this election, Adams is positioning herself as a change-maker, while touting her success at persuading retired NFL player Chris Harris to build housing at Whitaker Park, the shuttered RJ Reynolds plant in the North Ward. She also stands behind the city’s $1.5 million investment in a hydroponics project — an effort by a local CDC to provide jobs and food.

Eunice Campbell

Eunice Campbell: An analyst with a corporate travel agency, challenger Eunice Campbell is running as a change agent, questioning what she sees as lack of progress in the North Ward. She wants the city to levy higher taxes on vacant land to discourage real estate speculation, a program that’s been tried in Washington, DC and Pittsburgh. She also questioned the benefit of the Whitaker Park development, arguing that a proposed transportation plan linked to the development will prevent current residents from benefiting. And during a recent candidate forum, Campbell took aim at the hydroponics project, charging that it “has no real return on investment.”

Read more about the North Ward race here.

Winston-Salem City Council, Northeast Ward (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Barbara Hanes Burke

Barbara Hanes Burke: The political retirement of Vivian Burke, who has served on city council for 42 years, means the Northeast Ward is guaranteed to have new representation. Among the contenders is Barbara Hanes Burke, Vivian Burke’s daughter-in-law and the wife of Superior Court Judge L. Todd Burke. Burke’s run for city council comes one year into her first term on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, where she led an unsuccessful charge for mandatory African-American studies, created a community volunteer literacy council to improve third-grade reading scores, and organized a college and career fair.

Keith King: Keith King takes it as a point of pride that he lost twice to Vivian Burke, first as an independent candidate in 2013 and then as a Democrat in 2017; she was a formidable opponent. King owns Kingz Downtown Market, a fixture on Liberty Street that draws a significant portion of its clientele from the Northeast Ward. The position gives King a vantage point for understanding the ward’s challenges. “I am on the ground with the people,” King said. “People talk to me. I see how people live. I see eye to eye with them.”

Morticia Tee-Tee Parmon

Morticia (Tee-Tee) Parmon: Like Barbara Hanes Burke, Morticia (Tee-Tee) Parmon comes from a Winston-Salem political dynasty as the daughter of the late Earline Parmon. “I was cut from the cloth of the late Sen. Earline Parmon,” the candidate told TCB. “All I know how to do is fight for the people.” Parmon has already chalked up an accomplishment for the community. In September 2019, after years of delays in the replacement of Ashley Elementary, Parmon addressed city council to ask why an item proposing the sale of land to the school district had been removed from the agenda. A month later, council members voted unanimously to approve the sale.

Read more about the Northeast Ward race here.

Winston-Salem City Council, South Ward

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

John Larson

John Larson (i): A historian who retired in 2016 as the vice president of restoration for Old Salem Museum & Gardens, Larson was elected that year as the hand-picked successor to Molly Leight, who represented the South Ward for 11 years prior to that. In his first term, Larson spoke up for West Salem residents unhappy about a needle exchange operating out of a neighborhood church, and cast a vote against dropping the name “Dixie” from the city’s annual fair, winding up on the losing side. But he’s not one to focus on negatives, declaring, “The trajectory is that Winston-Salem is a city that’s reinventing itself.”

Mackenzie Cates-Allen

Mackenzie Cates-Allen: After working for the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership for a couple years, Mackenzie Cates-Allen started her own organization, Winston-Salem Ambassadors and her civic engagement has propelled her into a run for city council. Cates-Allen is calling for a more transparent and user-friendly city government, but shares the incumbent’s preference for playing up the city’s strengths instead of dwelling on its shortcomings. Rather than bemoan the loss of corporate headquarters, she wants to celebrate entrepreneurial startups. “Those are the innovators I want to talk about,” she said. “It’s our job as city council to let people know the opportunities.”

Carolyn Highsmith

Carolyn Highsmith: A retired nurse, Carolyn Highsmith set up a community watch in Konnoak Hills in 2007, when construction of BB&T Ballpark displaced crime and caused a wave of break-ins in her neighborhood. Highsmith mounted two unsuccessful challenges against Molly Leight, the ward’s former representative, and then ran against Larson in 2016. Highsmith narrowly won the primary, but the election was thrown out because of irregularities, and Larson ultimately prevailed in a do-over contest. “Only a certain number of businesses are benefiting from the largesse of city council,” Highsmith charged in an interview with TCB. “They tend to be developers or the pet projects of certain council members.”

Read more about the South Ward race here.

Winston-Salem City Council, Southwest Ward (open seat)

Democratic primary (vote for 1)

Scott Andree-Bowen

Scott Andree-Bowen: Dan Besse, who has represented the Southwest Ward since 2001, is vacating the seat to run for state House District 74. (He doesn’t have an opponent in the primary, and will face Republican Jeff Zenger in the November general election.) Scott Andree-Bowen, one of the candidates vying to replace Besse for the Southwest Ward seat on city council, is the director of youth and food-pantry ministries at a local church who serves on the Winston-Salem Urban Food Policy Council and on Mayor Allen Joines’ Think Orange campaign. Andree-Bowen is unique among candidates for city council in calling on the city to take steps to combat climate change. He also wants to enhance the visibility and authority of the Citizen’s Police Review Board.

Kevin Mundy

Kevin Mundy: Now the program and alumni coordinator for Leadership Winston-Salem, Kevin Mundy previously served as community relations director for Sara Lee Apparel (now Hanesbrands). Like his opponent, Mundy emphasizes compassionate governance. He would be the first openly gay member of city council, and he argues his representation would bring diversity to the body. Mundy has received the endorsement of the NC Police Benevolent Association. He also says Winston-Salem needs to invest more in the arts, arguing that the City of Arts and Innovation “has missed the mark” in not building a performing arts center like Greensboro, Durham and Charlotte.

Read more about the Southwest Ward race here.

Winston-Salem City Council, West Ward

Republican primary (vote for 1)

Robert Clark

Robert Clark (i): Robert Clark, who has represented the West Ward since 2001, is the sole Republican member of Winston-Salem City Council. His primary focus, he says, is economic development. “The city is doing well,” he says. “Now is the time to push harder on the accelerator.” The one area where a citizen survey showed dissatisfaction, he said, was road maintenance, including pothole and sidewalk repair. “They’re not where they need to be and we need to allocate the resources and do a better job.” As a Republican, Clark says, “I hope I bring a measure of reasonableness to the council.”

George K. Ware: According to information from, Ware is a real estate broker who joined the race because of his concerns about the city’s budget and spending. “WS City Officials and City Council Members are seriously failing in [budget] management and its ability to find ways to rationally balance it as well as the way it interacts with its citizens,” Ware writes. He also advocates for addressing employee salaries.

Due to space constraints, this voter guide does not cover the following contests on the Guilford and Forsyth county ballots:

  • Constitutionalist primary for president: Don Blankenship, Charles Kraut
  • Libertarian primary for president: Max Abramson, Ken Armstrong, Dan Behrman, Kenneth Blevins, Souraya Faas, Erik Gerhardt, Jedidiah Hill, Jacob Hornberger, Jo Jorgensen, Adam Kokesh, John McAfee, James Orlando Ogle, Steve Richey, Kim Ruff, Vermin Supreme, Arvin Vohra
  • Democratic primary for state auditor: Beth A. Wood (i), Luis A. Toledo
  • Republican primary for state auditor: Anthony Wayne (Tony) Street, Tim Hoegemeyer
  • Democratic primary for state commissioner of agriculture: Walter Smith, Jenna Wadsworth, Donovan Alexander Watson
  • Republican primary for state commissioner of insurance: Mike Causey (i), Ronald Pierce
  • Republican primary for state commissioner of labor (open seat): Josh Dobson, Pearl Burris Floyd, Chuck Stanley
  • Republican primary for NC secretary of state: Chad Brown, Michael LaPaglia, EC Sykes


  1. There is a big contradiction here in your reporting about the GOP PAC buying ads in the democratic primary. This is from your previous story from Jordan Green: “Revelations in early February about a shadowy, Republican-connected political action committee flooding the airwaves with ads supporting Democrat Erica Smith’s campaign for US Senate have understandably stoked indignation among Democratic voters angry about GOP operatives trying to pick their winner.” In this article you say the opposite, that the GOP is running ads supporting Cunningham.

  2. Glad to see the correction about the intention of the ads in the Democratic Senate Primary on here. It’s unfortunate the mistake went out in the print version. Also the wording about Steyer’s divestment from fossil fuels, etc. makes it hard to understand if it is consistent with his statements and positions or not.

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