Each week, staff at Carolina Journal looks back at the week in N.C. politics and chooses what we think are some interesting, relevant stories you may have missed. Here’s a week in review:
Confederate poll: The latest Elon University poll found 65% of North Carolinians think Confederate monuments should stay on public property, such as courthouses and parks. Thirty-five percent of respondents say the monuments should be removed. The poll found strong support for housing the monuments in museums, with 65% supporting the idea, while 72% supported adding plaques providing historical context to the monuments. Elon University surveyed 1,467 North Carolina residents Nov. 4-6 using an online opt-in sample marketplace. The credibility interval is plus or minus 2.8%.
School construction grants: State Superintendent Mark Johnson announced Nov. 20 that six counties would receive $73 million in grants for school construction needs. Camden, Graham, Hertford, Northampton, Rutherford, and Wilson counties will receive the grants from the Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund. “These grants will help address our state’s need to replace old, outdated schools with better learning environments,” Johnson said in a news release. Over the past three years the fund has granted a total of $242 million dollars to local school districts, paying for 22 new schools and buildings, as well as the replacement of 32 schools.
Clean energy champions: Sen. Rick Horner, R-Nash, and Rep. Larry Strickland, R-Johnston, can add Clean Energy Champions to their resumes. The two lawmakers were given the award Nov. 12 at the fifth annual Celebration of Clean Energy Champions Luncheon in Greensboro. Conservatives for Clean Energy and Chambers for Innovation & Clean Energy sponsored the event. “Sen. Rick Horner and Rep. Larry Strickland fought to increase market competition in North Carolina’s monopoly-controlled electricity market,” Laurie Barnhart, CCE’s N.C. director, said in a news release.
Rights restoration legal challenge: A coalition of civil rights groups filed a lawsuit in an attempt to restore the voting rights of 70,000 North Carolinians previously convicted of felonies. The Community Success Initiative, Justice Served NC, and the N.C. chapter of the NAACP filed suit Nov. 20 in Wake County Superior Court. The lawsuit argues the state is unconstitutionally preventing ex-convicts from voting. “The importance of the right to vote cannot be overstated — quite simply, the vote is our voice in our own lives,” Diana Powell, executive director of Justice Served, said in a news release. “It gives us a say over the direction of our elected officials and the policies that govern our daily experience.”
Malone announcement: Chris Malone, a former Wake County representative, is considering a run for state superintendent. Malone served three terms in the House and was a former member of the Wake County School Board. “North Carolina’s future depends on providing children with the best possible education,” Malone said in a news release. “I am considering running in order to put my whole heart behind helping all children from every background receive a world class education.”
Rural Leadership award: Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten is the first recipient of the N.C. Rural Leadership award. Gov. Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Agriculture Secretary Steve Troxler gave Wooten the award Nov. 20 at the Executive Mansion. “Larry Wooten has been a tireless advocate for North Carolina farmers and rural communities, and I thank him for his many years of outstanding service to our state,” Cooper said in a news release. Wooten will retire from his position at the end of the year.
Gunn retirement: Sen. Rick Gunn, R-Alamance, won’t seek re-election. Gunn, the Senate majority whip, has served five terms in the Senate. A news release from the office of Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, says Gunn is leaving to pursue a joint business venture with his two sons. “Serving the people of Alamance and Guilford counties has been a tremendous honor, but it’s time for me to focus more on my family and my business,” Gunn said during the Alamance Chamber of Commerce Community Leaders Retreat, per the N.C. Insider.