Unaffiliated Knightdale candidate accepts Dems' endorsement

aspecht@newsobserver.comSeptember 16, 2013 

— Mike Chalk, an incumbent candidate for Knightdale Town Council, said last week he is OK with receiving an endorsement from the Wake County Democratic Party.

Chalk, who is registered unaffiliated and says he didn’t seek an endorsement from any party, was surprised by the Democratic party’s decision last month to support him. After a reporter broke the news to Chalk that Wake Democrats endorsed him, Chalk said he would consider asking the group to rescind it because “I don’t think party politics should play a role in nonpartisan elections,” he said on Aug. 29.

Before making a decision, Chalk called Dan Blue III, chairman of the Wake Democratic Party. Chalk told Blue he appreciated the endorsement, but wanted to make sure the party didn’t cast him as a Democrat.

“We had a great conversation,” Chalk said. “I told him I appreciate them thinking I was a good choice for Town Council. If they leave me on there (on the Democrats’ endorsement list), I don’t care. I left it up to him (Blue).”

Blue said he understands Chalk’s position. The party likes Chalk, Blue said, so it wouldn’t want to do anything to hurt his re-election changes. But after their talk, Blue expects Wake Democrats to keep Chalk on the group’s endorsement list.

“We’re not going to change anything,” Blue said on Sept. 12. “We’ve endorsed him, not expecting him to turn around and be a Democrat. He knows that now.”

However, it remains unclear whether Chalk’s name will appear on campaign materials or phone messages.

“There has been no decision yet. Our board typically meets monthly and will meet again at the end of this month, but I do not expect any changes,” Blue said.

Wake Democrats endorsed Chalk – along with one other local unaffiliated candidate, Ira Fuller, who is running for reelection to Wendell’s Board of Commissioners – because the two have demonstrated “responsible governance” over the years while supporting efforts for parks and affordable housing, Blue said.

This was the first time the local Democratic Party endorsed either of the incumbent candidates. Fuller, a former Wendell town manager, accepted the Democrats’ endorsement last month. “Anyone running for public office appreciates an endorsement,” Fuller said at the time.

The Knightdale and Wendell elections are nonpartisan. But Democrats and Republicans are backing candidates in both races.

Chalk is one of four candidates vying for three seats on Knightdale Town Council in the Nov.5 election. Charles Bullock and Mark Swan – who are also backed by Wake Democrats – as well as Randy Young, who is registered unaffiliated, round out the field for Knightdale Town Council.

In Wendell, Fuller is running against three other candidates for the town’s board of commissioners: Jon Lutz, who is unaffiliated, incumbent Republican Ginna Gray, who was endorsed by the Wake County Republican Party, and Republican John Boyette, who is not backed by his party.

Donna Williams, chairwoman of the Wake GOP, said her group couldn’t reach Boyette when trying to vet him for an endorsement. Boyette recently said Wake Republicans did, in fact, contact him for an interview – but that he declined.

“I declined their offer – and agree with Mr. Chalk when he said – party politics shouldn’t play a part in non-partisan races,” Boyette said in a Sept. 4 email.


Specht: 919-829-4826

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