Members of the Government Relations Committee met to interview candidates seeking Wake NCAE endorsement for the March 3rd primary this past weekend. If you are willing and able to help hand out apple cards during early voting, please sign up here. After reviewing questionnaires and considering the responses shared during the interviews, Wake NCAE GRC is endorsing the following candidates:
WAKE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
We were excited to hear Jeremiah Pierce speak as a candidate for District 1 with such enthusiasm and support for our public schools and the children and staff within them. As an organization focused on improving the working and learning conditions in our schools, we always look for specific ways candidates plan to support educators and students. We were impressed to hear Jeremiah take responsibility for the role a Commissioner can (and should) play in building relationships with members of the General Assembly, particularly in conversations about the funding responsibility of county needs. As someone regularly having conversations with a variety of educators, Jeremiah has made way for regular 2-way communication with educators, specifically Wake NCAE members. His intention to be open and approachable to constituents is evident with plans to hold open conversations, meet regularly with groups in our communities, and a willingness to visit work sites. He recognizes the need for our Education Support Professionals to make beyond a $15/hour wage in order to experience a true living wage and understands that this will help us retain educators in all schools across a variety of roles. His vision for fully funded public schools closely aligns with the needs public school educators frequently express and the vision that Wake NCAE members have been building. After having the Commissioner in District 1 as the sole “nay” vote on the County budget for the past two years, and knowing that budgets are a reflection of values, we are confident that we will see Jeremiah’s values in the choices he makes, his interactions with citizens, and in the votes he casts.
Audra Killingsworth impressed the endorsement committee with a sophisticated understanding of how public school needs go beyond funding or how funding needs can show up in ways not commonly recognized. She demonstrated a tight connection to the needs educators experience around training, housing, employment rights, and salaries that recognize both the amount of time and value in the work that educators are dedicated to providing each day. We were excited to hear an alignment in the belief that public tax dollars should remain in public schools as well as an emphasis on the recruitment, retention, and ongoing support for a diverse field of educators, including the attention needed for encouraging a robust teacher pipeline. We appreciated specificity in Audra’s agreement that all of our Education Support Professionals deserve at least $15/hour as she extended this to express a more appropriate living wage would be over $20/hour, especially in a place with a higher cost-of-living like Wake County. We feel it is important that the next District 3 Commissioner is able to clearly connect how better working and living conditions for educators of all roles affects student learning, and we were impressed with the precise examples Audra provided when talking about teacher preparation, opportunities for quality professional learning, including educators in decision-making, and the role of County Commissioners in lifting up all of the incredible opportunities our public schools offer children in Wake County. We are confident that, as District 3’s Commissioner, Audra Killingsworth will continue the example Commissioner Holmes has set as a strong defender of public schools, even when faced with adversity.
NORTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Wake NCAE is excited to announce our endorsement of Rosa Gill and Abe Jones in the NC House and Sarah Crawford in the NC Senate. Representative Gill has continued to serve Wake County’s public school students, educators, and community supporters well. As a leader on the Education sub-committee, she continues to be a voice in the House who moves and creates policies, practices, and budgetary choices that would support the strengthening of our public school system. Abe Jones offers a unique perspective to the Wake delegation as a retired judge. We were particularly impressed with his insistence that funding in the General Assembly match the priorities spoken aloud by legislators, especially in connection to the proclamations of support for public schools. We are pleased that Abe is a candidate who plans to be in continuous conversation with constituents in his district and understands that he has to make legislative policy and ideas accessible to all. Sarah Crawford’s acknowledgment of the necessity to address and fund the whole child when attempting to impact student achievement left our committee excited for the potential of Senate District 18 to be flipped in favor of a strong public education supporter. In addition to understanding the impact that healthcare, living wages, and equitable access to instruction has on economic mobility, Sarah also expresses an investment in helping our community appreciate the great learning already happening in our public schools. We are looking forward to the continuation of Rep. Gill’s leadership and the addition of Abe and Sarah to the Wake delegation in the General Assembly.
U.S. CONGRESSIONAL HOUSE
We don’t often recommend dual endorsements, but in this race of four possible candidates, it is crystal clear that these two fly high above the rest in both their appreciation and support of public school educators and in their knowledge of policy and practices that impact public school students and staff. There is a reason Wake NCAE has endorsed both Monika Johnson-Hostler and Deborah Ross as representatives in other elected offices. They both exhibit a passion for public schools and an understanding of the transformative impact fully funded public schools have on children’s lives and on the surrounding communities. Because of her leadership on the WCPSS Board of Education, Monika brings very specific ideas about where funding and support gaps exist and how improving them could have an immediate impact on the learning and working conditions for students and educators including, but not limited to, Universal PreK for seamless transitions into elementary school, an investment in Special Education, expanding services to assist homeless students, and early investments in the teacher pipeline. Deborah brings experience from time in the NC House and her early work on the Leandro case to bring specific ideas for tax reforms that would allow for us to consistently and reliably address retirement security, affordable housing, Title I funding for services that directly impact our students, and access to healthcare for everyone in our community. We are excitedly anticipating a strong pro-public school Representative in Congress with either of these dedicated candidates.
*No membership dues dollars are used in candidate endorsements activity. NCAE has a Political Action Committee (PAC) that accepts voluntary contributions for candidate support.