by Bob Geary
Rosa Gill, a 10-year veteran of the Wake Board of Education and its current chair, was chosen tonight to fill the state House seat in District 33. The House seat was vacated when Dan Blue was chosen to replace the late Sen. Vernon Malone in Senate District 14. Both districts are based in Southeast Raleigh and are predominantly Democratic and African-American.
Gill was picked by Democratic party officials over Bernard Allen II, whose father held this House seat until his death. The vote was close: Gill won with 21 votes to Allen's 17 on the third ballot. On the first two ballots, Gill led but fell just short of a majority, 19-17, with a third candidate, Abeni El-Amin, getting the other two -- one of which was her own as a precinct chair in the district.
Wake Democratic Chair Jack Nichols said he's been asked by the Governor's office to hand deliver a letter with Gill's appointment tomorrow morning. With the votes on the state budget in the offing, House Democrats and Gov. Bev Perdue obviously want Blue's replacement on hand as quickly as possible. By law, Perdue has seven days to fill the seat but is obligated to accept the party's choice.
Gill said she doesn't know who'll fill her vacancy on the school board. The other eight school board members will make the choice, but it must be someone who lives in Gill's Southeast Raleigh board district. And presumably, since Gill is the only African-American member of the school board, they will be looking for a person of color to replace her. Gill's seat is not up for re-election this fall, but four other seats on the board will be contested, with the board's pro-diversity policies -- supported by Gill and all four incumbents whose terms are expiring -- in the balance.
Kevin Hill is vice chair of the school board and will take over the gavel when Gill's resignation is official. Hill, also part of the current 8-1 majority in favor of diversity in school assignments, isn't up for re-election until 2011.