Campaign 411

I recently received the following question through our contact form. I thought this information would be of interest to a lot of readers, so I hope the writer doesn't mind if I answer it here.

I am wondering what the requirements are for running for local offices in NC. Specifically Hillsborough School board, Town council, and Mayor. I am looking to run for office but I don't know the age restrictions and am worried that I am too young. I am 19. I have looked everywhere for this information and can't seem to find it. Can you help me out? Thank you in advance.

I couldn't find the answer to the age question so I called my friend Mark Chilton, who was 21 years old when he was first elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council, and who is now elected as the Mayor of Carrboro. In addition to the requirement that you must live in, and be registered to vote in, the district that you wish to represent, the state also says that you must be 21 years old to hold office. Chilton pointed out that you do not need to be 21 to run, but you do have to come of age before being sworn in.

The offices that will be on the ballot this fall are all listed on the OP election page at They include the Mayor and half of each elected board in Hillsborough, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education (a.k.a. "city school board") will also be on the ballot, but the Orange County Board of Education (i.e. "county school board") are elected in even years.

The period to file (register to be on the ballot) for this year's election is from noon on July 6 to noon on July 20 - an usually short window, starting one month from now!

My advice to anyone thinking about running is to read this and other local blogs. But more importantly you should volunteer on the campaigns of any candidates you like. This is the best way to learn about the community, the issues, the leaders and and the demands of campaigning. Best of luck and we'll see you in two years!



Let the wild speculation begin! Who's running for what?

Article VI, Section 6 of the NC Constitution says: "Every qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to office."

And Section 8 goes on to say: "The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
-First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.
-Second . . . any person who is not qualified to vote in an election for that office.
-Third, any person who has been adjudged guilty of treason or any other felony . . ."

And under section 7, you will have to take this oath:
"I, ..........................., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States, and the Constitution and laws of North Carolina not inconsistent therewith, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office as ............................................., so help me God."

And Section 8 goes on to say: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office:
-First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

So, atheists need not apply. I'm wondering if anyone's attempted a legal challenge to this section of the state constitution or, conversely, if anyone's been run out of office because they've been discovered denying "the being of Almighty God."

They should also start saving up! Hillsborough mayor and town commissioner has a filing fee of $10; Chapel Hill has $5, while the Carrboro Mayor is $15 and Alderman is $10. :->

Oh my god I totally thought Mark was kidding about the Almighty God stuff! How has that not been challenged before? How was I ever permitted to run for office???

Thanks for the reminder about the fees, Fred. They had totally slipped my mind.

A campaign treasurer is also needed, it cannot be a spouse. The reports have rigid due dates during the campaign with a $50 per day late fee.
The press has been known to hover at the BOE for these juicy reports, how much candidates have raised and spent. Chapel Hill Council and Mayor races require more detailed disclosure of donors than other jurisdictions.

Gerry could elaborate, but I believe the Almighty God provision in the constitution has been challenged. If I recall correctly, the courts basically ruled that the issue would not be legitimately presented to the court unless some level of the state government attempted to enforce the provision against someone (which apparently has never happened). So the courts declined to take action, viewing the problem as merely hypothetical for the moment. That's all from recollection - could be wrong.

I'm not aware of any court challenges, but it is clearly unenforceable as a First Amendment violation.

Our constitution is replete with unenforceable stuff, like:
Article VI, Section 4, which still has the Jim Crow era literacy test:
"Sec. 4. Qualification for registration.
Every person presenting himself for registration shall be able to read and write any section of the Constitution in the English language."

To its credit, the 1969 General Assembly in a fit of right-thinking put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to repeal the literacy test (by votes of 85-25 in the House and 47-1 in the Senate), but it was defeated at the polls in 1970 by a vote of 279,132 yes to 355,347 no. The bill was sponsored by Representative Henry Frey, who in 1968 became the first Black members of the General Assembly since 1901.

Once burned, twice-shy.

Judge Henry Frye also made history on September 7, 1999, when he took the oath of office as the first African American chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. Also, in 1983 he became the first African American appointed as an associate justice to the court.


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