If you have been confused by all the whooping and hollering by School Board Member Kathy Falls on TV, in the Star and on Facebook about the Republicans in Raleigh passing laws without reading them, about mistakes in the law, how she and all unaffiliated candidates are being picked on and who knows what else, Read on. Pulling up the law and calling the Cleveland County Board of Elections filled me in on the facts. Which I am sharing with you, Kathy Falls and the world.
First of all:
1. Any citizen duly registered to vote in North Carolina, no matter what party or unaffiliated, can run for office and have their name placed on the ballot in the General Election by a petition process that has been in effect for many, many years. This allows any of the over 60,000 registered voters in Cleveland County to run for any partisan office. For a countywide office such as the County Commissioners, and now the School Board it takes a petition signed by 4% of registered voters in Cleveland County (2,535 valid signatures) on a petition to run for these offices which places your name on the General Election ballot avoiding all party primary elections.
Political Parties such as the Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians have beforehand petitioned the State of North Carolina for their Party candidates to register and run for office without having to file petitions, but the candidates have to submit to a Political Party Primary Election process that they have to win in order to have their name placed on the General Election Ballot. Any voter registered as Unaffiliated, as Kathy Falls is, who have decided, for their own reasons, that they do not want any political party affiliation, cannot simply decide at the last minute to run for a Partisan Election as Unaffiliated and expect to have her name placed on the General Election Ballot. No matter how unfair they think that is or how self important they think they are. That is the process. That is the law. That is the way it is.
2. The NC General Assembly passed a law (Sessions Law 2017-78) effective June 29, 2017 that makes School Board elections partisan, instead of non-partisan, in certain NC counties, including Cleveland County. The reason this law was passed was to make these counties, including Cleveland County, the same as all other counties in North Carolina. This process started way back in March and went through much debate in Raleigh between the NC House and NC Senate before becoming law. Any School Board incumbent, responsible for knowing the laws regarding schools, educating children, etc. as Kathy Falls is, should have been aware of the progress of Sessions Law 2017-78 and made their political decisions accordingly. For example, Cleveland County School Board member Danny Blanton was previously registered Unaffiliated, became aware of the change in law that was in progress, and changed his registration to Republican. Now there are five Republicans either signed up or going to sign up for the four seats open on the Cleveland County Board of Education. These five Republican candidates running for four offices will have a Primary Election to determine which four will have their names on the General Election Ballot. On the Democrat side, School Board Chairman Phillip “Bully” Glover is the only Democrat that has signed up ( as of now that I know of) and at the end of the filing period if there are four or less Democrats signed up, there will be no Primary Election for them. If that is the case, their names will be placed on the General Election Ballot.
3. Of the counties included in Sessions Law 2017-78 all the counties except Cleveland County have their School Board elections in even numbered years. That means the election schedules in those counties in the next election cycle will occur in their 2018 Election cycle. So any 2017 Election year issues regarding the Cleveland County School Board are in Cleveland County only.
4. Sessions Law 2017-78 as it applies to Cleveland County only affects the Cleveland County election cycle because the law came into effect June 29, 2017 and the well established election year filing schedule requires any candidate who plans to run as Unaffiliated has file their petitions by noon, the last Friday in June-Which is June 30, 2017 in the 2017 election cycle.