07/30/04 — Superintendent runoff will cost county $20,000

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Superintendent runoff will cost county $20,000

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on July 30, 2004 2:01 PM

The Wayne County Board of Elections will need to scramble to hold an Aug. 17 primary for two state candidates.

Although a formal announcement had not been made as of this morning, the State Board of Elections is preparing to call a statewide second Democratic primary for schools superintendent between June Atkinson and Marshall Stewart.

The official totals in the July 20 primary had Stewart with 135,348 votes, or 35 percent of vote; Mrs. Atkinson, 132,041 votes or 34 percent; and J.B. Buxton with 117,274 votes, 31 percent. Mrs. Atkinson requested the runoff before the deadline Thursday.

Although second primaries are also needed in some legislative districts, the superintendent runoff will be the only race before Wayne County voters.

Turnout will likely be low. Only 13 percent of county voters took part in the first primary and fewer would be expected with a two-candidate, low-profile race. Only Democrats and unaffiliated voters will be eligible to vote.

But Wayne County will need to go through all the procedures of a regular election, albeit on a shortened schedule. Ballots will need to be ordered, one or more one-stop polling places will need to scheduled, and all 30 polling places will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17.

The second primary is expected to cost the county around $20,000.

Holding the primary won't be difficult, Elections Director Gary Sims said, but it is a distraction with the general elections looming. The Board of Elections anticipates a heavy turnout for the Nov. 2 election, with presidential, gubernatorial, state and county races on the ballot. Districting will mean the local board will need to prepare 24 different ballot styles.

The second primary "simply puts us a month behind," he said.

Both Democratic candidates for superintendent live in Raleigh.

June S. Atkinson has 33 years of experience as a teacher and school administrator, including work for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. More information is available at www.june4schools.com.

Marshall Stewart is a former classroom teacher who later was the state director of agriculture education. Go to www.stewartforstudents.org for more information.

Whoever wins the runoff will face Republican Bill Fletcher, a Cary businessman. He is an 11-year member of the Wake County Board of Education. Read more about him at www.billfletcher.com.