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Political Notebook: Local teachers’ organization endorses candidates in November elections

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Association of Educators has endorsed nine candidates heading into the November elections.

“We have vetted candidates within the requirements set forth by the North Carolina Association of Educators and believe we have a strong slate of pro-public education advocates willing to work for teachers and students once in office,” said James B. Carter, association vice president.

Endorsements are as follows:

• John Motzinger, Democrat, state Senate District 31

Motzinger is running in the newly drawn District 31, which now includes Yadkin County and suburban parts of Forsyth County

The endorsement cited his yeoman’s work ethic and vibrant energy. He has said he decided to run because he felt he could no longer stay on the sidelines as education spending plummeted.

• Bonnie Clark, Democrat, state House District 77

In her campaign to represent western Rowan and Davie counties, Clark has said she is eager to protect public education from the legislature’s status quo and the threat charter schools pose to public schools.

“We sought out candidates for all available offices who were sincere in their beliefs that public education is valuable and must be placed at the forefront of policy and budgeting,” says Carter. “We felt if we were to support public servants, they had to support equal playing fields between charters and true public schools, know the differences between the two, and always advocate for true publics first.”

• Arin Wilhelm, Democrat, state Senate District 33

Wilhelm, who has served on the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen, said he is eager to apply his skills of bringing together people who have varying viewpoints and finding common ground. He is running for the newly drawn Senate District 33, containing all of Rowan and Stanly counties.

According to Carter, the association feels his commitment to the county and to a life of service will make him a valuable asset to the education community.

“Each candidate we have endorsed shows sincere interest in not only working for public education but for remaining in contact with teachers once elected,” says Carter.

• Gail Young, Democrat, state House District 83

Young, whose district includes parts of southern Rowan and central Cabarrus counties, said she sees a quality education and respect for teachers as issues of human dignity. She faces incumbent Republican Larry Pittman. Pittman was a co-sponsor of House Bill 2, the controversial “bathroom bill” that caused many organizations to withdraw from investments in the state.

• Joe Fowler, Democrat, state House District 76

Fowler, running to represent eastern Rowan, said he places education at the top of his priority list, along with agriculture and access to high-speed internet. Four of his own children attended Rowan-Salisbury Schools, and he hopes to build communication among teachers, parents, and school leaders.

• Latasha Wilks and Veleria Levy, Democrats, Rowan County Board of Commissioners

Levy said she plans to revitalize the mall area of Salisbury by building more ties between public schools and vocational training. Wilks is active as a volunteer in local schools and leads programs designed to help at-risk students succeed.

• Kevin Jones, Seat 1 on the Rowan-Salisbury school board

Jones faces Lawrence Bolen on the November ballot in the county’s only contested Board of Education race. The association chose to endorse Jones for what he brings to the board as a parent and active member of the Spencer community, Carter said.

Carter said the association sees no reason to contest school board members Dean Hunter, Travis Allen, and Jean Kennedy as they run for re-election unopposed.

“We remember our school leaders who respected us as professionals and supported our desires to march on behalf of teachers and students last May,” says Carter, referring to the May 16, 2018, Rally for Respect in Raleigh, attended by 30,000 people.

• Kathy Manning, Democrat, Congressional District 13

Running against incumbent Republican Ted Budd to represent the northern half of Rowan, parts of Guilford and Iredell, and all of Davidson and Davie counties, Manning was endorsed for what Carter called a willingness to listen to educators across her district.

“She knows educators can articulate what is needed for the state to improve its abysmal education policy,” said Carter. “… She knows we need someone who listens to us now and once they are in office, not someone who has become comfortable supporting legislation friendly to corporate entities before public schools and who is content to craft education policy from the politicians ‘down’ to the teachers rather than from the teachers to the politicians.”

The election is Nov. 6. Early voting starts Oct. 17.

State Association of Educators endorses Gail Young

The N.C. Association of Educators has endorsed Democrat Gail Young in N.C. House District 83, which includes southern Rowan and Cabarrus counties. She is challenging Republican incumbent Larry Pittman.

Young is a native North Carolinian and a product of the public school and state university system. She has a record of supporting public schools and worked in local government advocating accountability and transparency, NCAE said.

Young has said she is focused on the need for the state to return to the days when quality education was a priority.

“Most of us grew up in a time when North Carolina was considered tops in education,” Young said in announcing the endorsement. “The foundational education I received helped me get to where I am today. I want to ensure every child in District 83, and across North Carolina, has access to the same opportunities I had.”

According to a news release, the selection committee based its endorsement on her career record of advocacy and government accountability. It endorses candidates who will work to restore education funding with priorities including increasing per-pupil spending; strengthening accountability standards for charter and private schools receiving public money; ensuring school safety by funding nurses and counselors to national recommendations; and retaining and recruiting quality teachers with pay that matches the value they provide the state.

“I am proud to have the endorsement and backing of the North Carolina Association of Educators. In the legislature, I will work to ensure every child has access to a quality public education,” Young said.

Young has said she wants to raise per-pupil spending from 39th in the nation so that students have the textbooks and technology they need.

She also said she wants to bring teacher salaries to the national average and provide an appropriate level of school support personnel to ensure student safety and well-being.

Young said the teachers she has spoken with throughout the campaign are advocating not so much for themselves as for their students.

“Our educators are qualified, dedicated and inspiring contributors to our community,” she said. “We entrust them with our most valuable resource, the future of our children. And since 2011, year after year, we require them to do more with fewer resources and less support.”

Young has an undergraduate in psychology from the University of North Carolina atCharlotte and a master’s in education from the University of Arkansas.

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