Voters go to the polls today for primary races for state, local and congressional seats. They also will consider an important constitutional amendment.
A recap of the Observer editorial boards recommendations are listed below. For a full version, and for essays from candidates in council-of-state races where we did not make recommendations, go to www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion.
AMENDMENT ONE (the N.C. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage): Vote AGAINST
North Carolina already bans same-sex marriage by state law so this constitutional change is unnecessary. It is also a flawed and discriminatory amendment that goes further than state law by banning civil unions, potentially endangering health insurance benefits and other benefits for straight and gay couples.
Democratic primary: Walter Dalton
Walter Dalton is the strongest candidate. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2008 after six terms in the state Senate. He was a co-chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and was consistently ranked as one of the most effective members of the Senate by fellow senators, lobbyists and the press.
Republican primary: Pat McCrory
McCrory, the seven-term former Charlotte mayor who narrowly lost to Perdue in 2008, faces five little-known Republicans. He is the most qualified.
Democratic primary: Linda Coleman
Coleman was a Wake County commissioner before being elected to three terms in the N.C. House. She is more experienced than her opponent and speaks articulately about how helping community colleges play a bigger role in preparing the N.C. work force as the economy rebounds.
Republican primary: Dale Folwell
Folwell of Winston-Salem, the state House speaker pro tem, has proven himself an effective legislator adept at seeing problems and crafting solutions. As a one-time forensic accountant, he brings a sharp eye to state government and vows to push for common-sense reform.
U.S. HOUSE, 8th DISTRICT
Democrats: Larry Kissell
Kissell, in his second term, has continued to be in the ideological middle, which fits the demographics of this district.
U.S. HOUSE, 8th DISTRICT
Republicans: Richard Hudson
Hudsons background and experience make him the better choice. The 40-year-old worked in Washington on Robin Hayes staffand has the endorsement of former Gov. Jim Martin.
U.S. HOUSE, 9th DISTRICT
Republicans: Edwin Peacock or Ric Killian
Voters should consider former Charlotte City Council member Edwin Peacock or N.C. Rep. Ric Killian to replace retiring Rep. Sue Myrick. Peacock brings a thoughtful, moderate approach to issues. He seeks to solve problems rather than be paralyzed by partisanship. Killian brings broad experience in public office and the military. A colonel in the Army Reserve who has spent time in Afghanistan, Killian understands security matters.
U.S. HOUSE, 12th DISTRICT
Democrats: Mel Watt
Incumbent Mel Watt has shown commitment to the districts needs. He is smart and hardworking.
Senate 38, Democrats: Joel Ford
Sen. Charlie Dannelly, 87, who is retiring, filed to run again but then withdrew too late to be taken off the ballot. Ford, has Dannellys support and more relevant experience than his opponent and would be the stronger choice.
Senate 38, Republicans: No recommendation
Neither candidate is convincing that he would make an effective legislator.
Senate 41, Republicans: Jeff Tarte
Three-term Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte is the only candidate with elected experience. He has been an effective mayor.
House 92, Republicans: Charles Jeter
Jeter, a Huntersville town commissioner, is a conservative who understands that not all government spending is bad.
House 101, Democrats: Beverly Earle
Earles work on health and human services issues has been effective and her seniority within the Democratic caucus benefits Charlotte and the region.
House 105, Republicans: Ken Gjertsen
Gjertsen served capably for two terms on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.
MECKLENBURG COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
At-large seat, Democrats: Cotham, Gustafson, Fuller
Voters can choose three. Pat Cotham is a Democratic party veteran who combines a passion for serving the disadvantaged with a non-profit business background. Marc Gustafson is an attorney who has a talent for bringing diverse interests together. Trevor Fuller, an attorney, is thoughtful and analytical.
At-large, Republicans: Powers, Peterson, Hobbs
Republican voters also can pick three nominees. The best choices are Wayne Powers, a Charlotte radio talk show host; James Peterson, who works in the financial services industry; and Michael Hobbs, a sales professional .
District 1, Democrats: Leonard Richardson
Richardson is a CMS elementary school teacher who shows a deeper grasp of the boards role in county issues.
District 5, Democrats: Paula Harvey
Paula Harvey is a longtime human resources professional who would bring a bottom line sensibility to budget issues.
District 5, Republicans: Ken Lindholm
Lindholm is a fiscal moderate who says he favors responsible public investments.
District 6, Republicans: Ed Driggs
Ed Driggs, retired from the financial industry, offers an alternative to Bill James, whose tenure has been marked by inflammatory remarks about gays and blacks. Driggs is running as a conservative who will reflect the districts sensibilities without embarrassing it.
DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Moore seat: Roy Wiggins
Tom Moore is not seeking reelection. The top two finishers advance to November. Roy Wiggins is the best choice. He has a 21-year law career as an assistant district attorney and in private practice.
Totten seat: Kary Church Watson
The top two finishers in this race will also face each other in November. Kary Church Watson is the best choice. A family law expert, she has handled high-level, complex cases. She is noted for her appellate work, including on behalf of other firms who seek her out, she says.
Voters should oust Judge John Totten, who has been censured and suspended since being elected in 2008.