The legislature is in session, and the biggest potential issue for Durham so far is SB369, which was introduced yesterday under the delightfully euphemistic “Sales Tax Fairness Act” title.
Currently, a portion of the state sales tax ($.02 per dollar) is earmarked for “local” spending. Of that, 75% ($.015 per dollar) is allocated directly to the county where the tax was collected, while 25% ($.005) is distributed across the state to counties based on their population.
SB369 aims to change this by treating all $.02 per dollar the same, and allocating it purely per capita with no funds earmarked for the location in which they were raised. This would effectively redistribute money from the cities (who raise much more sales tax revenue per capita) to rural counties. According to WRAL, this will result in a 9% hit to Durham County’s annual revenue.
From what I’ve read so far, this bill has a tough road to hoe due to some potential opposition from the house. Even though the primary goal is to take money away from big cities, it also nails rural tourist destinations like Dare County, so expect some interesting allies on this one.
This potential change follows a hit already poised to take effect in July: last year’s law which removed the ability of cities to collect “privilege license” taxes. According to the Herald, the city is already poised to lose $5.7M due to that legislation.
How will cities make up for the lost revenue? There aren’t many tools at their disposal, so you can probably expect property tax increases to help compensate for these gaps in the future.
Well, this is the day. If you couldn’t get out there for some early voting action, you can still do some regular voting. Use this thing to figure out where to vote.
Here’s something you should know: you can’t use your telephone in the voting booth. If you want to bring a list of endorsements with you, you need to have that printed out on dead trees. Here is a PDF of the endorsement table that will fit on a single sheet of paper if you would like to print it out.
Below is the table itself, for your reference. Have fun!
TLDR: Here is a PDF of the endorsements from major PACs. You can’t use electronic devices while voting, so you might want to have that on paper.
2014 brings changes to early voting: namely, there’s less of it. So all you slackers better get out there soon, or you’ll have to vote on election day itself, and that’s just no fun at all.
The BOE provides a PDF that lists when and where you can get your early vote on, but the most sure fire option is the BOE office at 201 N. Roxboro, which is open every day between now and Saturday, November 1. On weekdays it’ll be open at least from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., but if that doesn’t work for you check out the PDF for weekend and evening hours.
There’s another PDF which gives you a list of candidates. If you’re unsure on whom to vote for, you can just crib off of the endorsements. You can find out what your ballot looks like here.
For your convenience, I have colored Democrats blue and Republicans red. (You may notice that there is no red. That should not really be a surprise).
Some general thoughts on the endorsements: man, it seems like the Friends and the Committee are really slacking lately. The Friends don’t appear to have endorsed anybody outside of the Durham District Court judges, and they haven’t even updated their web site to reflect these endorsements. The Committee? They did at least endorse a full slate, but I can’t actually find their endorsements outside of the Herald either. Their most prominent online presence, which appears to be their Facebook page, hasn’t been updated in months.
I know not everybody uses the Internet, and that the Committee especially does more direct outreach. I get that. But if I can’t google [NAME OF YOUR PAC ENDORSEMENTS 2014] and get back meaningful results, that’s a problem for you.
Kudos to the Indy and Durham Peoples’ Alliance for actually making this easy on me by plainly listing all of your endorsements.
The constitutional amendment is a curiosity; NC is apparently the only state which doesn’t allow defendants to waive their right to a jury trial. Although it saves money by reducing the number of juries, some people (like the Committee) believe this right could be used against uneducated defendants to their disadvantage. It’s unclear whether that’s true, which is why the People’s Alliance took no stance and the Indy supports it.
OK, vote’s on. Have fun kids!
The Durham County Register of Deeds Office issued its first same-sex marriage licenses Monday after a judge’s ruling Friday led Wake County to stay open late that day and issue the first licenses in the state.
Yeah, this isn’t Durham specific, but it’s pretty big news. In light of the 4th Circuit ruling striking down Virginia’s ban on same sex marriages earlier today, Roy Cooper has stated he’ll stop defending NC’s own anti-equality Amendment:
“It’s time to stop making arguments we will lose and instead move forward, knowing that the ultimate resolution will likely come from the United States Supreme Court,” he said.
It will be interesting to see the grandstanding by GOP legislators in response, and whether they pursue any additional retaliation against the AG’s office. Cooper, who is arguably the most prominent Democrat in NC politics (and an incredibly likely candidate for Governor in 2016), has tried very hard up to now to defend the Amendment in about the weakest way possible, a tightrope act which has allowed him to avoid direct confrontation with the legislature (but hasn’t exactly made him many friends on either side of the issue).
Although the legislature and the Governor can’t get rid of Cooper, they have various ways to reduce his headcount and otherwise reduce or obstruct the mission of the attorney general’s office.
One of the more interesting possible outcomes here is the Senate trying to step in to defend the law in lieu of Cooper. Last session the legislature granted itself the power to represent NC in lawsuits, and this is exactly the reason why they did so. Cooper has in the past maintained that the law wouldn’t apply in Constitutional scenarios, but the Senate could try to do just that, and in turn that move would probably itself be challenged in court.
I know you’ve been waiting for my insights on the election, sorry about the delay! I think the big story here is that the Committee on the Affairs of Black People doesn’t seem to be as big a factor as it once was in Durham politics. They went against the People’s Alliance in several cases, and they didn’t win a single one of them.
Turnout was pretty good for a midterm election at around 15%, despite the changes to early voting procedures.
School board (nonpartisan):
- Mike Lee defeated long time incumbent Omega Curtis Parker in District 1. Lee was endorsed by every political group. I guess Parker didn’t make many friends.
- Sendolo Diaminah won in District 2. Diaminah was endorsed by the Indy and the Alliance, and he was outspent by his competitors, but he did a lot of community outreach personally.
- Matt Sears won District 3. Like Sendolo, he was endorsed by the Indy and the Alliance.
- Natalie Beyer ran unopposed in District 4 and defeated “Other”
DA (Democrat, running with no other party in opposition):
Sheriff (Democrat, running with no other party in opposition):
- Mike Andrews, the incumbant (who was appointed after Worth Hill retired in 2011), won handily. Andrews was endorsed by everybody but the Committee.
District Judges (nonpartisan):
- Doretta Walker will face Henry Pruette in the general election. Walker had a large lead in the primary.
- Nancy Gordon will face Fred Battaglia in the general election. The primary was very close, so this will be one to keep an eye on (also, they have split endorsements from the Alliance and Committee)
NC House (Republican):
- Rod Chaney easily defeated his challenger and will face incumbent Graig Meyer in the fall for District 50.
NC Senate (Republican):
- Milton Holmes narrowly won his primary in district 22 and moves on to face incumbent (and former City Councilman) Mike Woodard.
US House (Democrat):
- Incumbent Butterfield easily defeated his sole Democratic challenger in District 1.
- Laura Fjeld (endorsed by the Alliance) defeated Bruce Davis in District 6. Davis was endorsed by both the Indy and the Committee.
- Brenda Cleary readily defeated her sole challenger in the 13th district. Cleary will face incumbent George Holding in the general election.
US House (Republican):
- Arthur Rich narrowly won in District 1.
- Mark Walker and Phil Berger Jr. were the top two candidates in a large District 6 field, and they’ll face off in a runoff in July.
- Unsurprisingly, this will be Tillis vs Hagan.
Just a brief reminder that today is the last day to vote in the primary election. You can find your polling place at the Durham county web site. Polls close at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
The turnout in early voting was low, as is typical for midterm elections, but it doesn’t seem to have been substantially impacted by the shortened early voting schedule.
Below is the list of endorsements, in case you need them. For some reason you are not allowed to use a telephone in the polling place, so you might want to print it out ahead of time if you’d like to refer to it when you vote.
Protip: in NC, Independents can select which party ballot they receive when they arrive at the polls. I won’t tell you Independents how to cast your own votes, but I’ll mention that if you choose the Republican ballot you get the chance to vote in a hotly contested primary race which will determine who runs against Hagan for US Senate this fall.