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Cornelius News

Tarte advises ‘bullet vote’ for Stephenson for CMS board

Nov. 3. By Dave Vieser and Dave Yochum. NC Sen. Jeff Tarte last night urged voters to “bullet vote” for Jeremy Stephenson, apparently the only school board candidate to go on record in opposition to busing students in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

On his campaign committee letterhead, Tarte said “it is important for those of us who oppose forced busing to have an advocate and voice on the school board. I am asking you to also cast a single vote only for Jeremy Stephenson.”

Bullet voting theoretically concentrates votes around one or two candidates, while pulling them from others.

The seats of incumbents Ericka Ellis-Stewart, Mary T. McCray and Timothy Morgan are up for grabs in the race. Ellis-Stewart and McCray face challengers Angela Ambroise, Janeen Bryant, Larry Bumgarner, Elyse Dashew, Levester Flowers and Amelia Stinson-Wesley as well as Stephenson.

Incumbent Timothy Morgan did not run for re-election, but endorsed Stephenson as well.

Stephenson has also received official endorsements from current CMS board members Rhonda Lennon, a Cornelius resident, and Paul Bailey, as well as Cornelius Town Commissioners, Woody Washam, Jim Duke and Dave Gilroy.

Lennon said she began a dialogue with Jeremy Stephenson last spring. “I urged him to run because I know he will be an incredible ally to me on the board,” she said, explaining that, as an attorney, Stephenson, works pro bono for The Council for Childrens Rights.

“He has been an outspoken advocate for preserving a neighborhood school plan,” she said.

Voters can select as many as three of the nine at-large candidates running for the CMS school board. Voting for Stephenson alone would lessen the tallies of two other candidates.

Tarte says all the other candidates for the school board have offered mixed answers about busing. He said that proximity to home is one factor that helps increase the effectiveness of the educational experience for children.

“It is imperative that we keep our children from being forced involuntarily to travel hours every day getting to and from school. Because of the tremendous population and associated traffic growth over the past decade in Mecklenburg County busing students to schools significantly outside home school assignment zones is simply not practicable.”

“There are a new group of activists and candidates from Charlotte who would enact an income based busing program sending your children to schools miles away from your home. We tried this experiment years ago. As parents we saw firsthand the failures of that system. For your children and those still to come, let’s focus on making every single school in Mecklenburg County an excellent school” Tarte concluded.

Polls are open Tuesday from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. There are six candidates running for five seats on the Cornelius Town Board. At 7 am, turnout was light in three of four Cornelius precincts: 242, four voters; 202, 12; and 208, 18. Early voting, which ended Saturday, was strong however, with more than 500 people casting their ballots at Town Hall. Their impact on local elections is unclear because residents from anywhere in Mecklenburg County could have voted at any early voting location.