For the Wake County Board of Commissioners: Hutchinson and Killingsworth

“In District 1 covering northeastern Wake County, we strongly recommend incumbent commissioner Sig Hutchinson.”

As growth challenges Wake County to keep up its services and maintain its quality of life, the county is fortunate to have a progressive Board of Commissioners. The all-Democratic, seven-member board is willing to take the difficult steps of raising taxes and issuing bonds to support public schools, transportation, affordable housing, parks and open space.

The March 3 Democratic primary will not upset that pattern as four progressive candidates compete for two seats. Commissioners represent districts, but they are elected countywide. In one primary race, the choice is clear: keep the incumbent. In the other, two capable and well-prepared candidates are competing to fill an open seat.

In District 1 covering northeastern Wake County, we strongly recommend incumbent commissioner Sig Hutchinson. In District 3, covering Cary, Apex and Morrisville, we recommend Audra Killingsworth, though Maria Cervania also would serve the county well.

Hutchinson, 67, once taught a Dale Carnegie course and he clearly knows how to win friends and influence people. He is an affable but determined office holder best known for his advocacy for Wake County’s remarkable network of greenways. Elected to the board in 2014, Hutchinson has also supported expanding mass transit and affordable housing. Now he wants to help inmates with re-entry to society and improve mental health care in Wake County

Despite his enjoyment of greenways and cycling, Hutchinson describes himself as something of physical klutz, but an adroit leader. He says, “I’m terrible at everything — I have no hand-eye coordination — but there’s one thing I’m good at: getting things done.”

Hutchinson’s record lives up to that claim, though he did have a political stumble recently. He returned $20,600 in campaign donations connected to a business executive who gave inflated educational qualifications and work experience to the board of commissioners prior to being appointed to the Wake Tech Board of Trustees. “It’s a lot of money, but a small price to pay to ensure that your integrity is intact,” Hutchinson told the editorial board.

Hutchinson is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Jeremiah Pierce. It’s a repeat of their 2018 primary match, which Hutchinson won easily with 62 percent of the vote. Price, 34, strongly supports more funding for public schools, while Hutchinson has opposed granting the school board all the additional funding it has requested. Nonetheless, Hutchinson has backed tax hikes to increase school funding.

In District 3, Audra Killingsworth is ready to step up from her post on the Apex Town Council to help guide the county. Killingsworth, who has three children in Wake County public schools, supports more school funding. She also wants the county to accelerate its efforts to create more affordable housing. “We can’t keep leaving it to the free market because the free market is how we got in this situation in the first place,” she told the editorial board.

Killingsworth, 36, an occupational therapist who grew up in rural poverty in Louisiana, wants the county to provide well-funded social services for the needy. She said her early years “made me appreciative of the situations people can find themselves in. There are times when you need support form outside sources.”

Also running in District 3 is Maria Cervania, a former executive board member of the Wake County Democratic Party. Cervania, 52, would like the county to offer a master land use plan and build a light rail system.

Cervania also wants county government to reach out to residents and encourage citizen comment and involvement as the county grows. “My passion is getting people engaged to vote,” she told the editorial board.

Read the story at News & Observer.