Five things you need to know to vote in November
Tuesday’s midterm elections could be among the more consequential for North Carolina voters in recent years, as Republicans try to hold on to a majority in the U.S. House and supermajority in the N.C. House and Senate. Voters also will decide on six NC constitutional amendments, judicial seats and local races.
The Observer editorial board has interviewed candidates and researched races before offering endorsements on the Mecklenburg ballot. Here’s a recap of how we see contested races:
US House District 9
Democrats are targeting this district as an important piece of retaking a US House majority. Democrat Dan McCready would bring character, intelligence and moderate policy positions that better reflect all of this district. Republican Mark Harris is deeply ensconced in the far right of his party, and his rejection of science and his views on women would translate into misguided public policy. We recommend McCready.
US House District 12
Democrat Alma Adams, who seeks a third term, has dispelled concerns about her knowledge of and attentiveness to Charlotte following her move from Greensboro.
NC House 88
Democrat Mary Belk has been unusually impactful as a freshman lawmaker, especially one in the minority party, and she’s working toward important bipartisan legislation on opioids.
NC House 92
Democrat Chaz Beasley, while not as effective, has fought for his district’s interests on tolls and has views that align with his left-leaning constituents.
NC House 98
Republican incumbent John Bradford has been inconsistent on tolls and was a co-sponsor of HB2, which did great damage to Charlotte and his state. We recommend Democrat Christy Clark, a Huntersville paralegal, who is a moderate, business-friendly Democrat and knows the General Assembly from her work with gun violence prevention groups.
NC House 99
Nasif Majeed, a Democrat, has remained active in local government and his diverse community after eight years on the Charlotte City Council.
NC House 100
Democratic Rep. John Autry has continued to be a strong liberal voice in this comfortably Democratic district.
NC House 101
Democrat Carolyn Logan, NC’s first black female Highway Patrol trooper, has won the endorsement of retiring Democratic Rep. Beverly Earle in this liberal district.
NC House 102
Eight-term incumbent Becky Carney, a Democrat, continues to be a strong representative who has the respect of lawmakers from both parties.
NC House 103
Democrat Rachel Hunt would bring thoughtful, measured representation to this south Mecklenburg district, unlike the recent combative posture of Republican incumbent Bill Brawley, who has unnecessarily stoked a fight between Charlotte’s suburbs and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
NC House 104
Charlotte attorney Brandon Lofton, a Democrat, would bring a smart voice on urban issues to Raleigh.
NC House 105
Incumbent Republican Scott Stone is a reliable low-tax conservative who best represents the voters and businesses in this south Charlotte district.
NC House 106
Three-term incumbent Democrat Carla Cunningham has struggled to make an impact but is attentive to important issues surrounding mental health and poverty.
NC Senate 37
Democrat Jeff Jackson has been an energetic, forceful and reasoned voice against some of the NC GOP’s excesses.
NC Senate 38
Colleagues describe assistant public defender Mujtaba Mohammed, a Democrat who beat incumbent Joel Ford in the primary, as effective and dedicated.
NC Senate 39
We disagree with Republican Sen. Dan Bishop on most every policy stance he has taken, including his lead sponsorship of HB2, and we’re troubled by his investment in a website that was home to hate speech. We respect Democrat Chad Stachowicz’s moderate policy views, but we are concerned by his lack of judgment in a 2008 DWI and and his comments on drinking since. We do not endorse either candidate.
NC Senate 40
Voters in this heavily Democratic district can choose either Democrat Sen. Joyce Waddell, who has accomplished little but is reliably liberal, or Republican Bobbie Shields, who would bring experience and knowledge but largely conservative views.
NC Senate 41
Democrat Natasha Marcus demonstrates a deep understanding of issues facing the state and of effective policy solutions. Incumbent Jeff Tarte, who flipped on the I-77 tolls issue, portrays himself as a moderate Republican but isn’t.
NC Amendment — Judicial vacancies
This constitutional amendment would strip the governor’s power to fill vacant judicial seats. It’s a GOP power grab, and five former governors and six former NC Supreme Court justices oppose it. So do we.
NC Amendment — Board of Elections
This amendment eviscerates the governor’s power to appoint people to the state elections board. It also would create gridlock by having the board be comprised of four members of each party. Voters should reject it.
NC Amendment — Voter ID
This amendment gives the legislature a blank slate to craft a new voter ID law. Lawmakers shouldn’t get that kind of free pass, and voter ID laws disenfranchise voters while addressing a problem that’s exceedingly rare. Voter should reject it.
NC Amendment — Income tax cap
This amendment would forbid NC lawmakers from raising the state income tax to higher than 7 percent, which would unnecessarily handcuff future legislators in the face of economic unknowns. Voters should say no.
NC Amendment — Victims’ rights
This amendment would give victims and their families more rights at court proceedings and more information about the accused’s status after conviction. But the amendment is dotted with imprecise language that could need tweaking. It should be a bill in the legislature, not an amendment that can’t be changed.
NC Amendment — Hunting and fishing
This amendment, which preserves the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife in North Carolina, is symbolic. It would affect no state or local laws. It’s a ploy to bring more Republicans to the polls, but there’s no harm in voting yes.
Mecklenburg Commissioners at-large
Voters can choose up to three candidates. Democrat Pat Cotham remains one of Mecklenburg’s most active, important and independent elected officials. Democrat Trevor Fuller is respected by commissioners on both sides of the aisle for the knowledge and reason he brings to issues. We recommend those two.
Commissioners District 1
Voters in this diverse North Mecklenburg district face a difficult choice between incumbent Republican Jim Puckett and Democrat Elaine Powell. We give a slight nod to Puckett, who is a fierce defender of his district and important watchdog on the board.
Commissioners District 5
Republican Matthew Ridenhour continues to be a strong representative who works hard for his constituents, thoughtfully approaches issues and largely avoids board rancor.
Commissioners District 6
Democrat Susan McDowell would best represent the views of a district that’s becoming more diverse. She also would not embarrass the county, as incumbent Republican Bill James regularly does with bigoted and racist remarks.
Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor
Voters can select two. Nancy Carter and Barbara Bleiweis bring vast experience and impressive vision to this board that addresses stormwater issues.
NC Supreme Court
Democrat Anita Earls, a Williams College and Yale Law graduate, has a sharp legal mind and has been a forceful advocate for decades. We think she has the potential to be an outstanding justice.
Court of Appeals 1
John Arrowood, a Democrat from Charlotte, would bring significant relevant experience. He has twice been appointed to the appeals court and has authored close to 200 opinions and dissents.
Court of Appeals 2
Toby Hampson, a Democrat, has dedicated his career to practicing in the Court of Appeals and NC Supreme Court, and he is certified by the state bar as a specialist in appellate practice.
Court of Appeals 3
Republican Chuck Kitchen has practiced law for 38 years, including 30 as a county attorney in Alamance and Durham, giving him experience in a wide range of cases.
Mecklenburg District Court
Mecklenburg voters will elect four judges in contested races.
Eight-year incumbent District Court Judge Donald Cureton, a Democrat, is widely regarded as one of the county’s most qualified judges.
Sean Smith, a Republican family court judge, is also an eight-year incumbent, knows the law well and is demanding of those before him.
Democrat Alicia Brooks, a judge since 2014, is widely respected in the Mecklenburg courthouse as competent and well-rounded.
Democrat Karen McCallum, a senior prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office, has a firm grasp of the law and how to run an efficient courtroom.
Mecklenburg Superior Court
Democrat Reggie Knight has the most courtroom experience, by far the most experience in Superior Court, and has been named to the capital defenders list, a select group of lawyers qualified to represent first-degree murder defendants who can’t afford their own attorney.
Voters can approve $50 million for investments in affordable housing, $118 million for streets, bridges, sidewalks and the like, and $55 million for neighborhood projects. We’re troubled that the Charlotte City Council has not to this point adequately helped the city’s poorest with affordable housing, but voters should vote yes for all three bonds — and hold the city accountable on affordable housing.
A note to our readers
The Charlotte Observer continues to invest in local journalism with our candidate endorsements. The Observer’s editorial board spent dozens of hours interviewing and researching candidates to that we could provide informed analysis of the people who want to represent you.
Local journalism has value, and it requires resources. To support our work, please consider subscribing.