Dems Push Republicans Off Wake County Board of Commissioners

Nov 5, 2014

The four Democratic winners, Matt Calabria, John Burns, Sig Hutchinson, and Jessica Holmes, pose with Congressman David Price
Credit Reema Khrais

After sweeping all four open seats, Democrats now have full control of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

“It looks like we did it. The people of Wake County have chosen to move forward,” said John Burns, a business lawyer from Raleigh. He unseated Coble.

Democrats Matt Calabria, Sig Hutchinson, John Burns and Jessica Holmes each captured about 55 percent of the vote, defeating Commissioners Joe Bryant, Paul Coble, Phil Matthews and Rich Gianni.

Republicans have held a slim 4-3 majority on the board in the last few years, which has led to partisan politics and contentious dynamics. The four Democrats ran on campaigns that promised for less bickering and more cooperation, vowing to invest more in public schools and infrastructure.

“This is the beginning of the end between public bickering between the school board and county commissioners,” said Jessica Holmes, an attorney with the North Carolina Association of Educators, who unseated Gianni.  

Since 2011, when Democrats took back control of the Wake County school board, the two county boards have fought over issues related to funding and control of school buildings.

The Republican incumbents have warned voters that taxes would rise if the Democrats took over the county board.

But the four winners say the public has made it clear that greater investments in schools and infrastructure are needed. In August, Commissioners rejected a proposal to put a local sales tax to help raise teacher salaries on the Nov. 4 ballot

“We’re going to make sure that we provide for our teachers and that we keep our school system competitive,” said Matt Calabria, a business lawyer who defeated the chairman of the board, Matthews.

Democrats are expected to be in the majority until at least 2018.