It appears the spoils of victory may soon be squashed for Wake County Democrats. Or will they, the “spoils” that is? As a result of elections last fall, Democrats hold a 7-0 advantage over Republicans and unaffiliated voters on the Board of County Commissioners, winning all four of the open seats. And because of what happened last fall, Republicans, with State Senate Chad Barefoot leading the charge, in the General Assembly are proposing legislation that will break up the Democrat’s domination and probably usher in a few, maybe a majority of, Republicans, the way the Board make-up was before last fall’s election.
That Wake County as a whole votes for County Commissioners throughout the County instead of district by district is a little confusing anyway. In the cities and towns that make up Wake County, voters in a specific district only vote for representation in that district. In the commissioners races, voters in all districts can vote for candidates in all districts. In the North Carolina Congressional races, voting is allowed for candidates wanting to represent a specific district. If North Carolina followed the Wake County Commissioners voting model, all citizens of North Carolina would be able to vote in all 13 Congressional races. Also of interest: the seats on the Board of County Commissioners are staggered with four up one year and three another. The General Assembly is not that way; the US House is not that way. Why the County Commissioners?
One interesting fact about last fall's results is the vote margin of Democratic candidates versus Republicans for each of the four seats was about 170,000 to 140,000, about the same as the county-wide race for District Attorney, also won by a Democrat. It’s obvious that Democrats went to the polls in force and voted a straight ticket, though that’s not allowed with one mark on the ballot. The voters had to make the effort and won the elections fair and square. Republicans didn’t appreciate it.
In the category “be careful for what you ask” the Democrats, who wanted a 100% takeover of the Board, may find themselves on the short end when the General Assembly gets through changing the way the game of politics is played. Actually, the Republicans are playing the game the way it should be played. As the overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, the Republicans are in charge of gerrymandering election maps, a job well-done in recent years, even if you dislike the results. Now they want to change the way Wake County elects County Commissioners by setting up seven distinct districts that mirror the Wake County Board of Education districts (Dems 6, Reps 1) and adding two half-county districts. Voters would cast ballots only for the candidates representing their district.
All is fair in love, war and politics, someone once said, and the proposal to change Wake County elections for County Commissioners seems to fall in that category. The spoils do go to the victors, but in this case. though losers at the ballot box last fall in the Wake County Commissioners race, the winners could be the Republicans in the General Assembly, not the seven Democrats who make up the Wake County Board of Commissioners. The Republican proposal is actually a fair one that will make the Board more reflective of the political make-up of the various parts of the county instead of the county as a whole.
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