With the endorsements this week, we have endorsed in every race on the ballot in Guilford County, excluding the referenda in Summerfield and the City Council race in Archdale.
So if you missed last week, the candidates we endorsed are on the list on page 8, but the explanation of why we endorsed them was last week edition. It’s available online or, if you need a print version, we have them at the Rhino Times World Headquarters at 216 W. Market St. Papers are on a table in the first floor hall, so you don’t even have to come upstairs.
The endorsements are our opinions and we always try to give a brief synopsis of why we are making the endorsement but we don’t give an exhaustive list of the candidates’ attributes or political opinions.
North Carolina Senate District 24
Republican North Carolina District 24 Sen. Rick Gunn is running against Democrat J.D. Wooten.
Gunn has served eight years in the state Senate and is running for his fifth term. His old district included parts of Alamance and Randolph counties; his new district is the western portion of Alamance and the eastern portion of Guilford County, including Climax, Gibsonville, Julian, McLeansville, Pleasant Garden, Sedalia and Whitsett.
Gunn is chairman of the Commerce and Insurance Committee and also on the Appropriations on Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources Committee.
Commerce deals with recruiting new industry to the state. He fully supports the tax reform that has led to North Carolina’s economic recovery. He has supported the over $2 billion in increased funding for the schools, which have included teacher pay increases for the past five years.
Gunn, in short, is part of the Republican establishment whose policies have gotten the state going in the right direction with economic development, eliminating unnecessary regulations and increasing education funding.
Wooten is an Air Force Academy graduate and an attorney who doesn’t appear to disagree a whole lot with what the Republicans are already doing. He is for increased education funding and economic development. But he is a proponent of independent redistricting, which the Democrats could have done when they were in power for over 100 years but didn’t. He came out in favor of a bipartisan committee on the monitoring and cleanup of the environment, something that already exists.
Gunn is already doing much of what Wooten says he would like to do if elected and not doing some of the things that don’t need to be done.
It makes a lot more sense to stick with Gunn.
North Carolina Senate District 26
Republican North Carolina District 26 Sen. Jerry Tillman, like everyone else, is running from a new district. His district used to stop at the Guilford-Randolph county line, but now his district comes up to take in a little of the southwestern corner of Guilford County. Tillman has been in the state Senate for 16 years and is running for his ninth term.
He is a powerhouse in the Senate, and as a retired education administrator has a lot of clout to shape education policy. Tillman is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. He is outspoken, says what he thinks and nobody ever has to wonder where they stand with Tillman.
At the League of Women Voters candidates forum, while many of his fellow Republicans danced around the redistricting issue, Tillman said, “The best way to do redistricting is the way we do it now. The constitution says that the prevailing party has that responsibility.”
He noted that the Democrats drew the maps for 140 years and had no problem with the prevailing party drawing maps and, now that the Republicans have redistricted once, they are claiming it needs to be bipartisan.
His speech didn’t go over well with that audience, but Tillman doesn’t tailor his opinions to fit the crowd he’s speaking to.
Tillman played a major part in the tax reform policies that have reduced taxes in the state and brought about an economic recovery. Tillman noted that because of the improved economy the legislature had been able to set aside $2 billion in a rainy day fund that allowed the state to write a check for $800 million for hurricane relief without having to borrow a dime.
Democrat Senate District 26 candidate Bill McCaskill is opposed to the tax reform bill passed by the Republicans, which means in favor of a tax increase. When the Republicans took over the state government in 2013, it was in terrible financial shape because of the tax-and-spend policies that are a part of parcel of the Democratic Party.
Tillman has done a great job for the state and for his district for 16 years and should be reelected.
North Carolina Senate District 28
Democratic North Carolina District 28 Sen. Gladys Robinson is being challenged by Republican Clark Porter.
Robinson has served in the state Senate for eight years and is running for her fifth term. Sometimes political predictions are dangerous but not in this case, although it is a new district for Robinson, there is almost no chance she is going to lose.
The federal court hired a special master to draw the districts in Guilford County and if Robinson had been allowed to draw her own district, it’s hard to see how she could have done much better. Robinson more or less will represent Greensboro in the state Senate. There are parts and pieces of Greensboro in adjacent districts but the vast majority of the city is in district 28. It’s a doughnut hole in the middle of Guilford County.
Since Greensboro has eight democrats on the City Council and one city councilmember too liberal to be a democrat, the odds of a Republican being elected are less than slim.
Robinson is in the minority in the Senate and her bills go straight to the Rules Committee where they stay, except she did once have a bill sent to the Ways and Means Committee that is worse than rules because it never met. She did have a resolution to honor NC A&T State University football team for going undefeated and winning the national championship passed, but that’s about it.
When Greensboro was desperate to get a bill passed to change the Police Community Review Board, Robinson’s bill went straight to the Rules Committee where it still sits. The city had to turn to Republican Sen. Trudy Wade to get a very similar bill through the Senate which is something people in Greensboro should consider in this election because if Wade loses the city will have no one to shepherd their bills through the Senate.
Porter has been active in the Republican Party but has never run for office. He’s on the executive committee of the North Carolina Republican Party and a committee chairman for the Guilford County Republican Party.
Porter challenged some of the voters who cast votes in the 2016 election and was sued by the voters for the challenge. The suit is still pending.
Porter supports the Republican tax reform plan which is to gradually reduce the state income tax to zero. Reducing state and corporate income tax has resulted in North Carolina being rated by Forbes as the best state in the country to do business.
Porter also supports the Republicans setting aside $2 billion in the rainy day fund something Robinson says isn’t necessary.
Only 16 percent of District 28 voters are registered Republicans and 58 percent are registered Democrats. So even if every Republican in the district voted for Porter three times, he’d still come up short.
It’s a long shot but imagine the clout Greensboro would have in the state legislature if it had another Republican senator representing it?
Vote for Porter and maybe Robinson will realize she should represent all the people in her district not just the Democrats, but it’s not likely.
NC House District 58
Democratic state House District 58 Rep. Amos Quick is running for his second term and should get it.
Quick was on the Guilford County Board of Education for 12 years before running for the state House after the unexpected death of Rep. Ralph Johnson.
Quick is in the minority party but he has still managed to get some bills passed and, because he has respect on both sides of the aisle, he has been able to have an effect on other legislation. Quick doesn’t scream and shout as much as some of his fellow Democrats, but in the end he gets more done.
Politically, I have a lot of differences with Quick, but he is someone you can discuss those differences with and walk away with a different perspective.
You read a lot about safe Republican districts. This is a safe Democratic district. The election for this seat is in the Democratic primary, not the general election.
Republican House District 58 candidate Peter Boykin is president of Gays For Trump and has far more conservative political views than Quick. However, Boykin appeared before the Greensboro City Council in September because he said his husband was hit in the face by another man in a bar and no one was arrested.
The City Council doesn’t determine who does and does not get arrested in bar fights. The police chief doesn’t even work for the City Council, much less a police officer. This was either an attempt by Boykin to get some free television time or represents a misunderstanding of how government works. In either case it was ill advised and wasted the time of the police, the City Council, the city staff, those who came to testify in a case that didn’t really exist and everyone else in the room.
The last thing we need in politics are more people who like to create controversy for controversy’s sake.
Quick is the far better choice in this race.
North Carolina House District 60
Democrat North Carolina House District 60 Rep. Cecil Brockman is being challenged by Republican Kurt Collins.
Brockman has served four years in the state House and is running for his third term. District 60 is a majority-minority district with a population that is 52 percent black and heavily Democratic. Collins has very little chance of winning.
But Collins is the better candidate. He says his primary focus would be on economic development and Brockman says his is education. While education is vital, with economic development there will be more money to spend on education. It makes sense to try and make sure that when kids graduate from high school there are jobs for them in the state.
Brockman talks about incentives for renewable energy and spending more money on programs and projects, and Collins talks about lowering taxes to improve the overall economy of the state. Whereas Brockman is about giving more money away, Collins is about the state bringing in more money with a more vibrant economy.
The choice for a conservative is pretty simple: Collins. But the reality is that Brockman is going to go back down to Raleigh, vote no on all the Republican initiatives and have very little impact. That’s politics for you.
Guilford County Board of Education
All members of the Guilford County Board of Education were up for election in 2016. The at-large and Districts 2,4, 6, and 8 members were elected to two-year terms and the rest to four-year terms. So the at-large and those districts are up for election again and will be elected to four-year terms.
Republican District 2 Guilford County Board of Education member Anita Sharpe is being challenged by Democrat Greg Drumwright.
The two have very different philosophies of education and I believe that Sharpe’s is better.
Sharpe also has an attribute that make her essential to the school board – experience. Sharp was a member of the old Guilford County School Board when there were three school systems in Guilford County. That may be ancient history to some, but knowing how the three schools systems were consolidated into one is necessary to fully understand some of the current problems in Guilford County Schools.
Sharpe was a school board member from 1990 to 2008 then took eight years off and was elected again in 2016. Taking a sabbatical, albeit a long one, allows someone to look at the same old problems from a new perspective and it appears that is what Sharpe has done.
Sharpe recognizes that the schools are totally dependent on outside bodies for funding and therefore any funding for the extensive capital needs that are the subject of a study jointly funded by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners must be paid for with the cooperation of the commissioners.
Drumwright said he would support a tax increase.
If no additional funding is available for the operation of the schools, Sharpe said she would eliminate unnecessary positions, courses that were not successful and testing not required by law.
Drumwright said he would implement town hall meetings for District 2. Town hall meetings are good for allowing constituents to blow off steam but aren’t going to do much for funding issues.
Drumwright has taught in the public schools and is now a pastor, but Sharpe is and will be a much better school board member.
Republican District 4 Guilford County Board of Education member Linda Welborn is being challenged by Democrat Desiree Best.
Welborn in this race is the better choice.
Both candidates are retired – Welborn as an information technology professional and Best as a retired teacher from Guilford County Schools. Best may be able to do it, but it is extremely difficult for a retired teacher to see issues from anything but the teacher’s perspective; and while that is important, being able to see the bigger picture is more important.
It’s unfortunate that both Welborn and Best see charter schools as a drain on the traditional public schools, but Welborn appears to be less opposed to charter schools than Best. Charter schools do get funding from the state passed through the local school systems for their students, but they also get the students, which means Guilford County Schools doesn’t have to build schools to house the students and teachers don’t have to buy school supplies to provide for these students. Guilford County Schools also doesn’t have to provide transportation for charter school students.
Welborn is also more practical about the schools’ capital needs, saying that she would support a county bond referendum. Best talks about getting federal and state funding, which would be nice but the bulk of any funding will be local.
Best says that a new marketing program for the schools will help with the lack of funding. Welborn is more realistic in her approach, talking about cuts to spending that could be made without affecting the quality of education.
Republican District 6 Guilford County Board of Education member Wes Cashwell is being challenged by Democrat Khem Denise Irby.
Cashwell has served since 2016, when he defeated Irby to win a two-year term on the board. The 2018 election is a rematch of that 2016 election.
The Guilford County school board and the Board of Commissioners jointly funded a study on school building needs. The report is not final but the initial estimates are from hundreds of millions up to a billion dollars in building needs for the schools. It’s going to mean a massive amount of construction and Cashwell is a general contractor. The last time the schools launched a huge construction initiative it was an unmitigated disaster. The reason was a lack of construction experience by school board members and school staff. Eventually, most of the problems were worked out, but having someone on the board with construction experience would have made an enormous difference and saved the county millions of dollars in wasted money.
Cashwell also has a sound education policy.
Irby doesn’t seem to understand what the school board does. When asked about school safety she said she would review the layout of all the schools and their safety plans. That is not the job of a school board member. It is the job of the school board to develop policy, and certainly not the job of one school board member to go over the safety plans of every single school. In fact, one school board member doesn’t have the authority to do anything; it takes five votes.
Cashwell is going a good job and should be given the chance to serve a four-year term.
NC Superior Court District 18D Seat 1
Superior Court Judge William Wood was appointed to his position by Gov. Roy Cooper this year and by all accounts is doing a good job and deserves a full term. Before being appointed Wood was an assistant district attorney for 29 years. Wood is highly rated as a candidate by his fellow attorneys.
Wood’s biggest political asset though is that he is married to Cindy Farmer at Fox 8 who pretty much everyone in the area thinks they know even if they have never met her in person.
His opponent, Gavin Reardon, is a well qualified attorney, but he has never been a judge. In this case you have two well qualified attorneys, but one has had the opportunity to prove that he also does a good job on the bench and although Wood’s experience is limited it is enough to prove that he can make the transition, something that we don’t know about Reardon.
Remaining Judicial Races
The rest of the judicial races are pretty simple for me. All of the candidates appear to be well qualified and all promise to be fair and impartial on the bench.
But I happen to think that we need more Republican judges at every level, because it usually takes judicial experience to move up the ladder and once you get to the North Carolina Supreme Court partisan matters are decided on partisan votes. With more Republican judges in the system the likelihood is that there will be more Republican judges at the top.
NC Court of Appeals Seat 1
The endorsement goes to Republican Superior Court Judge Andrew Heath over Democrat Court of Appeals Judge John Arrowood.
NC Court of Appeals Seat 2
In Court of Appeals Seat 2 the endorsement goes to Republican District Court Judge Jefferson Griffin over Democrat Tobias Hampson, and Republican District Court Judge Sandra Alice Ray. There were no judicial primaries this year but the Republican Party has endorsed Griffin, not Ray.
NC Court of Appeals Seat 3
For the Court of Appeals Seat 3 race the endorsement is for Republican Chuck Kitchen over Democrat Allegra Katherine Collins and Libertarian Michael Monaco.
Soil and Water District Supervisor
Most people don’t know much about what soil and water conservation supervisors do, but there sure are a lot of folks who want to be one.
There are eight candidates running for two seats and this for a job that doesn’t pay anything. My prediction is that the first two on the ballot will get a lot of votes because people won’t get any further down the list than that.
However, after consulting with an expert on soil and water conservation supervisors, the two official Rhino Times endorsements are Andrew Courts and Lewis Brandon. Courts is extremely knowledgeable and Brandon has been on the soil and water conservation supervisors board for a long time and, according to reports, does a good job of whatever they do. Plus, he must like doing it because he keeps running and he is also knows his stuff when it comes to soil and water.
If we could vote for three the third choice would be Josh Myers because he has campaigned so hard, which may not be a good reason to vote for someone, but he really wants the job, so it seems likely he would work hard at doing it well.
No doubt everyone running would do a good job and our official soil and water conservation supervisor expert says that no one is running under an alias this year, as has happened in the past.