by Bob Geary
Susan Evans (that's her, top left), who's made no secret of her dislike for Ron Margiotta's agenda since he became Wake school board chair, announced today that she'll challenge Margiotta for the District 8 school board seat in the October elections.
Evans, who lives in Apex, is a CPA with Big Four as well as small-business accounting experience. She's also part owner of a local residential construction and development business, according to her press release. She and her husband, Chuck, have two children, both graduates of the Wake public school system.
(Her materials are copied below. She also has a campaign website taking form as I write this.)
Evans' announcement fills a hole for Wake County residents who think the Republican school board majority, led by Margiotta, has harmed rather than helped a very school system since four GOP-backed candidates swept into office following the 2009 elections.
Before that, Margiotta was the only Republican member and the only critic on the board of its balanced student assignment policies. Margiotta was and continues to be an outspoken proponent of neighborhood schools — for the middle-class neighborhoods of Apex and western Wake County especially. The fact that poor neighborhoods in East Raleigh and eastern Wake County would be left holding the bag with their "neighborhood schools" has not seemed to concern Margiotta all that much.
In the 2011 elections, Margiotta is the only one of the five-member school board majority facing re-election. And until this morning, it wasn't clear who would file against him. Jim Martin, who was considering it, was redistricted out of District 8 under the plan drawn up by the school board's Republican lawyer, Kieran Shanahan. Martin is now a candidate for the District 5 seat held by Anne McLaurin, who is not seeking re-election.
All four seats held by members who are not part of the Margiotta majority are on the ballot this year.
Martin and Christine Kushner, who's announced her candidacy for the District 6 seat now held by Carolyn Morrison, are thus far unopposed. Morrison, like McLaurin, is stepping down.
In District 4, Keith Sutton is seeking re-election and is likewise unopposed thus far.
(The formal filing period doesn't begin for three weeks.)
The real fireworks this year, in addition to the Margiotta-Evans race, will likely come in District 3, where Kevin Hill is seeking re-election and where Shanahan's handiwork only adds to the district's Republican tilt.
Hill is a popular former principal and teacher who is now on the faculty at N.C. State. Running against him is a formidable Republican challenger, Heather Losurdo, as well as the unaffiliated Jennifer Mansfield, a critic of past school boards who apparently doesn't want to see the seat go Republican either.
If Hill holds onto his seat and Margiotta to his, with Sutton, Martin and Kushner also winning, the same 5-4 split would continue as we have today, with Debra Goldman, who sometimes departs from the majority bloc, holding the swing vote.
Should Hill win and Evans unseat Margiotta, however, and assuming Sutton, Martin and Kushner also win, control of the board would shift to members who are, I would say, more likely to back Superintendent Tony Tata's push for a middle-ground on student assignments — a pro-diversity AND pro-neighborhoods compromise.
On the other hand, if Hill loses ...
... another day.
Evans press release follows:
From Susan Evans:
Apex, NC—July 5, 2011—Susan P. Evans, a 30+ year Wake County resident, public school advocate, and business person, will seek election to the Wake County Board of Education.
“The Wake County public schools are a national model for excellence that have served our community well over the past decades,” said Evans. “I want to bring my leadership expertise and passion for public education to the Board so our schools continue to be a source of pride and an economic driver for our community.”
Evans believes strongly that all students, regardless of their ability, have the right to a high quality education that allows them to reach their highest potential. Leveraging her business acumen, she will bring thoughtful, evaluative decision-making to the Board. Her goal is to provide a public school environment that encourages students and teachers to excel and supports families, while maintaining the greatest economic efficiency possible.
“Susan will be a strong and positive leader who will maximize the use of taxpayer dollars in the classroom to close achievement gaps and foster success for all students in our public schools,” said retired educator Betsy Lovejoy.
“Susan is very aware of the positive effect that a well-respected public school system has on the economic prosperity of a region,” said Swadesh Chatterjee, business and community leader. “I know she will work tirelessly to keep Wake County an attractive place for businesses and families.”
The parent of two recent Wake County public school graduates, Evans has served as a PTA Board member and volunteered in each of her children’s schools. She has a proven track record in leadership roles within local churches, including those in areas of administration, finance and long-range planning, as well as being active with children and youth ministries.
“As a resident of the Western Wake high growth area, I am very sensitive to the frustrations that have been borne by many families in recent years, as our school system has struggled to accommodate the explosive growth of students in our area. I believe that having a Board of Education that is willing to listen effectively to one another and the community, while giving thoughtful consideration to finding non-polarizing solutions, will be the key to moving Wake County Public Schools forward in the best possible direction,” says Evans.
Susan has lived in Wake County for over 30 years. She and her husband, Chuck have been married for 23 years and have two children who have graduated from the Wake County Public Schools.
Business Owner and Certified Public Accountant
• CPA with Big Four Public Accounting experience
* Part-owner and officer of a local residential construction and land development
• Held accounting and management positions within various small and medium
sized businesses in the area
• Performed consulting engagements and system audits for non-profit and for-profit
• Accounting Instructor, Wake Technical Community College Extension Program
Dedicated Community Volunteer
• Engaged advocate for Wake County public schools through participation in public comment at Board of Education Meetings
• Treasurer, Poe Elementary School PTSA (1998-2000)
• Team Leader, YMCA “We Build People” Campaign
• Finance Chairman, Treasurer: local Methodist Churches, Home Owners
• Leader, Children’s and Youth Music Ministries • Adult counselor for Youth in her local church
• Active in Social Justice issues within the Methodist church
• The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with Accounting Emphasis
• Graham High School; Alamance County Public Schools, North Carolina