Don't Forget to Vote (Again)

Tuesday is the Democratic runoff primary contest between June Atkinson and Marshall Stewart. They are running against each other for the Democratic nomination for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

I'll let the candidates speak for themselves:

June Atkinson from the Herald-Sun Votebook:

Favorite Book: "Cold Sassy Tree . . . Laws and policy should be the honest and accurate expression of the will of the people."

Marshall Stewart from the Herald-Sun Votebook:

Favorite Book: "Bible . . . I have very strong values that are based on my faith."

The polls will be in their regular places and open for the regular amount of time (6:30 am - 7:30 pm). If you are registered Democrat or if you are Unaffiliated (and you voted in the Democratic Primary last month) then you are eligible to vote.



Thanks for the reminder, Mark. This election is so not on the radar screen. The choice seems pretty clear - I know who I would prefer to have looking after my kids.

I don't blame her either; I blame the people who refuse to fix a law that should have been fixed years ago.

If she wins, you can bet her opponent will use the expensive second primary that she requested as part of his campaign against her. I can see it now, "She lost to her opponent in the Democrat primary, but she took advantage of the law that allowed her to demand a second chance, and it cost the people of North Carolina 3 million dollars that could have been put to better use."

Sometimes, what you have a right to do isn't always "right" to do - politically or otherwise.

If there ever was a cause for election reform, this expensive election is! I like Micky Michaux's take on it:

"Tuesday's election -- a Democratic primary runoff for state Superintendent of Public Instruction -- has resurrected criticism of the cost and effectiveness of North Carolina's party primary system. It will cost an estimated $3 million statewide, even though elections professionals project that it could set a new record for low turnout.

"Although a handful of counties, including Granville, feature other local runoffs, the superintendent runoff is the only statewide race.

"'Three million dollars, for one statewide runoff, that's an awful price to pay when it could very easily have been avoided ... It's bordering on being ludicrous.' said state Rep. Mickey Michaux, a Durham Democrat who has pushed to change the state's election laws since losing a primary runoff in 1982 despite winning the initial race.

"Michaux said the current rules were a holdover from the days when Democrats dominated North Carolina politics and winning the Democratic primary was tantamount to winning the general election.

"'The whole playing field has changed now," he said. "We have a two-party state now.'

The article also states that:

"Under the current law, a second-place finisher in a party primary can call for a runoff if the winner does not garner more than 40 percent of the vote.

"In this year's case, superintendent candidate June S. Atkinson called for a runoff with Marshall Stewart after Stewart won 135,348 votes (35 percent) in the July 20 primary to her 132,041 (34 percent). The winner will advance to the Nov. 2 general election and face Republican Bill Fletcher."

Do you think that some who even bother to vote tomorrow will choose the one who is causing us to spend this money that could be better used on other things? I know, it's her right under the law, but ... 3 million dollars?

Seems like a bit of editorializing to copy only favorite books as part of the description. In this "progressive" community, the guy who reads the Bible may be perceived at first glance as the conservative. However, if you look at the endorsements for both candidates, he's the one with the more liberal endorsements, including the AFL-CIO. To see the endorsements, check the candidate home pages:

June Atkinson

Marshall Stewart

It is ridiculously expensive, but I'm not going to blame June for that. I voted for J.B. last time, so this runoff is a chance for me to actually have more of a say in the outcome - I have to like that.

June Atkinson is endorsed by the local Planned Parenthood PAC, by the way. This is especially relevant since so many conservatives are trying to eliminate sex education in favor of ineffective, moralistic "abstinence-only" policies.

Terri, I didn't write his Herald-Sun VoteBook comments - they chose to tell the Herald-Sun's readers what they wanted to tell them.

Almost all of the information provided in the VoteBook is utterly meaningless for both candidates. I think the favorite book question actually gives some insight into who the candidates are.

Neither candidate promised to do anything at all in the VoteBook, so we have to look at other information provided.

Also, you will note that you can click on the VoteBook links above to read their entire statements and to find their candidate websites.

I agree that neither the Votebooks nor the candidate websites are informative. That's why I went to look at endorsements. Stewart's are more impressive IMHO.

Atkinson also received an endorsement from EqualityNC for her position on health/sexuality education.

Many people might not realize that the DPI curriculum in NC continues to forbid the discussion of gays and lesbians in the classroom except that teachers are to "inform students of the current legal status of those homosexual acts that are a significant means of transmitting diseases, including HIV/AIDS" as proscribed by G.S. 115C-81(e1)

Go June!

Thank you very much for posting the reminder. As we returned from vacation yesterday prior to start of schools tomorrow in Chapel Hill, we had not recalled the possible 2nd primary date. We just read a postcard from June Atkinson and a Google search came up with a few sites, most interesting is this one !

We also voted for JB, and can't find the Independent's comments from the primary to get another opinion on Atkinson vs Stewart. Hate to have a single issue determine my vote, but the sex education issue is nowhere in any comments I can find on Marshall Stewart's site or others.

Sad to say, now I have spent far more time per candidate researching this election than the first primary and lean toward June Atkinson.

This will be interesting, to see if the challenger who called for the run-off election gets in or is snubbed for taking advantage of this dated election law !

Cheers de Mark W4CHL

The Chapel Hill Herald article yesterday was many column inches long & all about how few people would be voting, what the pollworkers would do, etc. I read it to the end hoping for some actual information about the candidates that would get me interested in voting and help me decide who to vote for. Nothing of use.

Instant run-off voting would solve the problem and save $. It could affect the two-party duopoloy however and is resisted by the Party insiders who don't want too much democracy to break out.

When I voted at 12 Noon at the Colonial Heights Precinct (Smith Middle School), I was voter #17. When my wife voted at 9am, she was voter #6. So if we assume 3 voters per hour, when the polls close tonight they might hit 40!

The three precinct workers had stacks of reading material to get through the day.

Wow Fred...and our precinct (colonial heights) is usually one of the best, if not in percentage, at least in absolute numbers. Not a good sign. I voted sometime before you, but after your wife. I don't remember what number I was.

If anyone is running around would be cool to get an update from Colonial Heights, Weaver Dairy, Estes Hills, or some of the other big precincts.

The issue of the costliness of run-offs was addressed yesterday on the State of Things (WUNC-radio). Here's the solution one of the guests proposed:

King's Mill precinct (Aldersgate Methodist) was at 22 at 2 PM. The poll watchers (one had used the day to do a LOT of knitting) said this was running at less than 10% of the July 20th primary. They estimate a 2% turnout.

Dogwood Acres (Scroggs Elementary) had 12 votes in at 3:45. However, Scroggs had an open house from 3:30 to 5:00. This helped double the turnout to 23 by 5:15. WOO-HOO.

I voted at Weaver Dairy at 6:30pm, and was voter #58.

Early returns:

Stewart 52
Atkinson 48

Doug Berger -- former oldschool UNC politico has a slim lead in Dist 7 Senate Race.
Foxx is running way ahead in 5th district congress race

Hey, I was one of .39% of the unaffiliated voters voting!

Estes Hills
509 Registered Unaff
2 Turnout 0.39%

At 6:45 I was voter #27 in Northside. And I think I was the the first "U."

I was voter #21 at White Cross Recreation Center. I am pleased with the results, regardless of the low turnout.

Does it strike anyone else as interesting that the commissioner campaign was significantly fueled by an obsession with education policy and yet these same people didn't come out to vote for the state's highest educational job?

I guess that I still don't understand why it's even an elected position, as opposed to being an appointed one.

But you are right, Mark. People I guess don't appreciate the impact that the person in that office can have on education in North Carolina.

I agree, I came back from the beach at 4 PM and on the way home stopped at Cedar Falls and was voter #7. I also had to sign a form signifying that I had voted in both primaries. I voted because I felt it was very important. Most of the money and a lot of the educational policies are set by the state.


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