Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Joyce Waddell will replace Malcolm Graham in the N.C. Senate, winning enough votes to avoid a runoff in the five-way race.
Waddell had 42 percent of the vote with all of the district’s precincts reporting, followed by former Charlotte City Council member Nasif Majeed, with 28 percent.
The heavily Democratic district is in east Charlotte. Because no Republican is running, the primary winner will be unopposed in November.
The seat became vacant for the first time in a decade when five-term incumbent Graham decided to run for former Rep. Mel Watt’s 12th congressional District seat.
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Waddell and Majeed, who served on the City Council from 1991 to 1999, were the race’s familiar faces.
Also running were lawyers Morris McAdoo and Matt Newton, who organized efforts to reform a police oversight board, and political newcomer Ty Turner.
A common thread among the campaigns is reaction to last year’s General Assembly, when Republican-led lawmakers passed voter registration laws, cut teaching positions and restricted unemployment benefits. Hundreds of residents were arrested in weekly Moral Monday protests.
Waddell had a 21-year career with CMS and was elected to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board in 2009. She also has served on many community and appointed boards, and emphasized that she’s the only candidate in the race who is currently an elected official.
“I’m hoping that things will turn out in my favor because I’ve worked very hard with a very small team,” she said late Tuesday. “I was very well organized and focused, laid out a plan and stuck to it.”
Waddell emphasized better teacher pay and flexibility in school calendars. She wants to reverse the legislature’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Majeed said North Carolina “devolved from a progressive state to a regressive state” when Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010.
Newton is a criminal defense attorney and organizer of CRB Reform Now, which successfully lobbied for changes to the Citizens Review Board. The police oversight board had never sided with citizens, the Observer has reported.