NCGA Week in Review

September 15, 2017

Pardon Our Dust

We recently launched this new site and are still in the process of updating some of our archived content. Some details of this article may be incomplete, links may be broken, and other elements may not display properly yet. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

This week in NC politics, a House committee looked at the state’s judicialbranch, with the committee chairman hoping to redraw judicial districts,and 2017 municipal elections kicked off with partisan primaries in threecounties.

House Committee Considering Judicial Redistricting

The House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting, chaired by Rep.Justin Burr (R-Stanly), held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday with twopresentations on the state’s court system. In April, Rep. Burr introducedHB 717: Revise Judicial Districts, which overhauls the state’s judicial districts, and Judicialredistricting will likely be in the spotlight when legislators return toRaleigh next month.

During their first meeting the committee focused on the history and currentstructure of the state’s court system. The committee received presentationsfrom James Drennan, a former head of the NC Administrative Office of theCourts (NCAOC) and current professor at the UNC School of Government, andJudge Marion Warren, the current head of the NCAOC.

Professor Drennan’spresentationreviewed the state’s judicial history, focusing on substantial judicialreforms. The last time the state’s judicial system saw serious reform wasfrom 1955 to 1962 when lawmakers passed sweeping reforms to unify thestate’s disjointed court system. Additionally, Drennan discussed theselection of judges and different methods used across the country.Currently, judges in NC are selected through partisan elections, while someother states utilize legislative or executive appointment or merit basedsystems.

Director Warren’spresentationwas focused on the role of the NCAOC in overseeing the state’s system ofjudges, clerks and district attorney offices. The NCAOC providescentralized administrative and operational services for all state courts.

The committee will meet again next Tuesday, September 19 at 1:00 PM.

Municipal Elections Kick-Off with September Primaries

In NC, municipal elections vary based on the charter of each municipality;some municipal officers hold two-year terms, others hold four-year terms.Election methods vary from municipality to municipality, and though mostmunicipalities in the state hold local elections in odd-numbered years,some are held during even-numbered years.State lawgoverns the timing of municipal elections based on election method. Thisweek, partisan primaries were held in three municipalities.

On Tuesday, partisan primaries were held in Charlotte, turnout was around8%. In the Democratic mayoral primary, Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles secured46.15% of the vote to upset incumbent Jennifer Roberts, who received 36.21%of the vote, state Senator Joel Ford was a distant third, followed byLucille Puckett and Constance Partee Johnson. Republican City CouncilmanKenny Smith secured 88.63% of the vote in a three-way primary against GaryDunn and Kimberly Barnette.

Lyles’ victory wassurprisingto many after underperforming against Roberts in bothpollsandfundraisingleading up to the primary. Lyles is a career public servant and in manyways aligns with Mayor Roberts. During her term, Mayor Roberts faced manycontroversial issues; she led the city’s efforts to extend legal protections to the LGBTcommunity, which sparked the passage of HB 2, and faced national scrutinyafter the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott last September.

As one of two Republicans on the Charlotte City Council, Smith, acommercial real estate broker, has built a strongconservative record and was favored to succeed in his primary throughout his campaign.

During the primary campaign cycle, the Charlotte Observer,endorsedboth Lyles and Smith in their respective races, saying the city needs a“steadier hand.”

To read more about the candidates and where they stand on major issues inthe Queen City, follow thislink.

Several City Council seats also had partisan primaries in Charlotte.

Additionally, a Republican mayoral primary was held in the Town of Murphy,where Rick Ramsey secured 90.41% of the vote over his Republican opponentsJeff Crane and Royse Brown. Ramsey will face Democrat Curtis Brown onNovember 7, where there is no incumbent in the race. Also, a Democraticprimary for the Cleveland County Board of Elections secured four nomineesfor the partisan board.

On October 10, municipalities that elect officials through a nonpartisanprimary and election method, such as Asheville, and municipalities thatelect their candidates in a nonpartisan election and runoff method, such asRaleigh, will head to the polls. Municipal elections will wrap up onNovember 7, when municipalities that use partisan or nonpartisan primarymethods hold a general election and runoff elections are held in necessarymunicipalities.

To view all municipal filings and election dates, follow thislink.