Eight candidates – five of them African Americans – filed papers Monday to run for seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.
At the Board of Elections office, the atmosphere was festive. Hopefuls arrived with cheering supporters, filed their paperwork and paused to offer brief speeches, the opening salvo in what could be an exciting fall race.
Charlotte mayoral candidate Anthony Foxx was there, although he said he won’t file his own paperwork until July 15. Looking around the room, Foxx predicted a good year for Democrats at the polls.
“This fall will be an opportunity for us have a real robust debate about the city’s future,” he said.
Foxx’s main challenger, Republican and fellow Charlotte city council member John Lassiter, also did not file on opening day. Republican Martin Davis, however, did file papers to run for mayor.
On the school board, the hottest race is shaping up in District 3, where four candidates announced plans to challenge board member James Ross, one of two African Americans currently on the board. Three of his challengers – Nicole Hudson, Teresa Tudor and Joyce Waddell – also are African American. The other candidate is Hans Peter Plotseneder, who failed in a previous race.
In District 1, Robin Bradford filed to run for the seat being vacated by school board member Larry Gauvreau, who won’t seek re-election. Bradford is an African American mother of two who is likely to face Rhonda Lennon, a Huntersville resident who came close to defeating Gauvreau in 2005. Lennon did not file papers Monday.
In District 2, retired educator Richard McElrath filed for the seat currently held by Kimberly Mitchell-Walker, the other black school board member. Mitchell-Walker, appointed to fill the seat left vacant when former school board member Vilma Leake was elected to county commission, has said she won’t seek election this fall.
Incumbent Ken Gjertsen filed to retain his seat in District 6, and newcomer Susan Walker filed in District 5, a seat currently held by school board chairwoman Molly Griffin, who says she won’t run again.
Leake, who said she came out Monday for the excitement, said she was pleased to see such interest in school board races. Leake has been a vocal critic of recent CMS budget cuts that included hundreds of teachers and other classroom workers.
“I feel certain that we are getting some quality people,” she told Qcitymetro.com. “We need some strong candidates on the school board.”
In the race for Charlotte City Council, at least two new faces will be on the fall ballot: Democrat David Howard, an African American, filed to run for an at-large seat, while Democrat Jane Bott Childrey filed to run in District 6, a seat currently held by Republic Andy Dulin.
Other city council candidates — all incumbents — who filed on opening day were:
- Democrat Susan Burgess (at-large)
- Democrat Patsy Kinsey (District 1)
- Democrat Warren Turner (District 3)
- Democrat Michael Barnes (District 4)
- Democrat Nancy Carter (District 5)
- Republican Warren Cooksey (District 7)
Local election filing continues through noon Friday, July 17.