State Supreme Court suspends all candidate filing

Published 8:46 am Thursday, December 9, 2021

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UPDATED with local filing info

RALEIGH – The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended candidate filing for all offices for the 2022 primary election.

The judicial order also delays filing for rescheduled municipal contests, to include Ahoskie where the November election was pushed back to March due to the town having to redraw boundaries between Ward A and Ward B based on the results of the 2020 U.S. Census that showed a population shift.

The State Supreme Court also pushed the date of the primary and rescheduled municipal elections back more than two months – to Tuesday, May 17, 2022. It had been scheduled for March 8.

The order came after several individuals and voting rights groups challenged the legality of newly drawn congressional and legislative district maps. The plaintiffs say those maps lean heavily towards favoring Republican candidates.

As expected, the Supreme Court’s decision prompted different political viewpoints.

Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), who co-chairs the Senate Elections Committee, said in a press release, “The court didn’t even articulate a legal or factual basis for suspending elections. The Democrats on the Supreme Court want districts that elect more Democrats, so they’re blocking every election in the state until they get their way.”

Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, supported the decision.

“Today’s order by the state Supreme Court restores faith in the rule of law and it is necessary for the Court to rule on the constitutionality of these unfair districts before the next election,” Cooper said in a press release.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore said in a press release, “I am deeply disappointed in the State Supreme Court’s decision to halt and further delay our election process that is already underway.”

Moore continued, “To throw this process into chaos in the middle of filing leaves North Carolinians with uncertainty ahead of the election. Despite this delay, we are confident that we will prevail at trial and our maps will stand.”

The court order read: “In light of the great public interest in the subject matter of these cases, the importance of the issues to the constitutional jurisprudence of this State, and the need for urgency in reaching a final resolution on the merits at the earliest possible opportunity, the Court grants a preliminary injunction and temporarily stays the candidate-filing period for the 2022 elections for all offices until such time as a final judgment on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims, including any appeals, is entered and a remedy, if any is required, has been ordered.”

It further ordered that a trial court will hold proceedings necessary to reach a ruling on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims and to provide a written ruling on or before Tuesday, January 11, 2022. Any party wishing to appeal the trial court’s ruling must file a Notice of Appeal within two business days of the trial court’s ruling, exclusive of weekends and holidays.

Meanwhile, with filling already underway this week across the state, any candidate whose filing has been accepted by the State Board of Elections or any county board of elections, that candidate “will be deemed to have filed for the same office” in the May primary, subject to any court rulings that would impact that candidate’s eligibility, according to the Supreme Court order.

Those candidates would be able to withdraw their candidacy during the new filing period. Any individual who withdraws their candidacy is free to file for any other office for which they are eligible during the reopened filing period.

As of Wednesday evening, more than 1,400 candidates had filed statewide. Included among those filing were the following seeking locally elected positions in the Roanoke-Chowan area:

Bertie County

District 2 Board of Commissioners – Michael White of Merry Hill (Democrat)

District 2 Board of Commissioners – Greg Atkins of Colerain (Democrat)

District 3 Board of Commissioners – Corey Ballance Sr. of Aulander (Democrat)

District 5 Board of Commissioners – Ronald (Ron) Roberson of Windsor (Democrat)

Clerk of Superior Court – Vasti F. James of Windsor (Democrat)

Sheriff – Tyrone M. Ruffin of Aulander (Democrat)

Sheriff – Timothy Hardy of Windsor (Democrat)

Hertford County

District 1 Board of Commissioners – Leroy Douglas II of Woodland (Democrat)

District 2 Board of Commissioners – Andre Lassiter of Ahoskie (Democrat)

Clerk of Superior Court – Shirley Johnson of Murfreesboro (Democrat)

Sheriff – Dexter Hayes of Ahoskie (Democrat)

District 5 NC House of Representatives – Howard Hunter III of Ahoskie (Democrat)

District 5 NC House of Representatives – Donald Kirkland of Ahoskie (Republican)

Ahoskie Town Council (Ward A) – Charles Freeman

Gates County

Board of Commissioners, Gatesville District – Jack Owens (Democrat)

Board of Commissioners, Gates District – Brian Keith Rountree (Democrat)

Board of Commissioners, Eure District – Chris Odom (Republican)

Clerk of Superior Court – Monica Horton-Wiggins of Gatesville (Democrat)

Board of Education (non-partisan seat) – Phil Kiver of Hobbsville

Northampton County

District 4 Board of Commissioners – Melvetta Broadnax Taylor of Seaboard (Democrat)

District 5 Board of Commissioners – Richie Harding of Pleasant Hill (Democrat)

Clerk of Superior Court – Laquitta Green Cooper of Jackson (Democrat)

Sheriff – Jack E. Smith of Gaston (Democrat)

District 27 NC House of Representatives – Michael H. Wray of Gaston (Democrat)

District 27 NC House of Representatives – Wes Tripp of Halifax (Republican)

Board of Education (non-partisan seats) – Lucy M. Edwards of Henrico, and Catherine B. Moody

Board of Education (non-partisan seat; unexpired term) – Franklin D. Williams of Seaboard and Clinton M. Williams of Garysburg.