Monday, February 26, 2024

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Filing season to open Mon. – unless court challenges slow the process

The starting gates for next year’s general election are primed to open early next week when Alamance County’s elections office expects to kick off the candidate registration period for most of the offices that will appear on the ballot in 2024.

This 10-day period is presently set to begin at 12:00 noon on Monday, December 4 and wrap up at the same time on Friday, December 15. During this stretch, would-be office seekers will have an opportunity to sign up for a variety of state, local, and federal offices that will be up for grabs in November of 2024.

Among the positions subject to this filing period is the seat that serves North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, which has been reapportioned to include Alamance County in the redistricting plan that the General Assembly signed off on earlier this month. This district is currently represented by Republican Richard Hudson of Southern Pines.

Also in contention next year will be the representation of North Carolina’s 25th state senate district, which remained relatively unchanged after the latest round of redistricting. This seat, which is currently held by Republican Amy Scott Galey, serves an area that encompasses all of Alamance County and a portion of Randolph.

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The boundary lines have been noticeably scrambled for the two state house districts that comprise Alamance County. Even so, the two areas have preserved enough of their previous compositions to retain their incumbent representatives. Republicans Steve Ross, who represents the state’s 63rd house district, and Dennis Riddell, who represents the 64th, are up for reelection in 2024 along with the rest of North Carolina’s state house.

Another set of closely watched contests in next year’s election concerns the four of the five district court judgeships that serve Alamance County. These seats include the two judgeships held by incumbent Democrats Katie Overby and Larry Brown. A third seat that will appear on the ballot was originally secured by Republican Rick Champion in 2020, while the fourth is a newly-added position that the General Assembly authorized in the state’s current annual budget.

Champion, who is currently still listed as one of the county’s three judicial incumbents, has nevertheless announced that he’ll give up this seat on the district court bench to become Alamance County’s first public defender. In the meantime, North Carolina’s Democratic Governor Roy Cooper is expected to appoint a replacement to serve out Champion’s unexpired term from a list of five nominees that attorneys from the local bar association will select at a special-called meeting on December 1. This meeting coincides with the date when Champion is slated to begin his new job as the county’s public defender.

At the local level, next year’s elections will feature a trio of seats on Alamance County’s five-member board of commissioners. These three positions are currently held by incumbent Republicans John Paisley, Jr., Bill Lashley, and Pam Thompson, who were originally elected to the county’s governing board in 2020.

This month’s filing period will also feature four putatively nonpartisan positions on the Alamance-Burlington school board. Three of the seats are presently held by Sandy Ellington Graves, Ryan Bowden, and Donna Davis Westbrooks. The fourth, which had previously belonged to former school board member Patsy Simpson, became vacant when Simpson relocated to Virginia. Since her departure, the school board’s remaining members have tapped Seneca Rogers, the first runner up from the school board race in 2022 to fill out the remainder of Simpson’s unexpired term.

At the moment, the local elections office expects to begin signing up candidates for all of these offices at high noon on Monday, December 4. This schedule may nevertheless be subject to change due to ongoing litigation over the state’s voting districts.

Two years ago, when a similar legal battle raged through the state’s court system, candidate registration occurred in fits and starts over the course of two days in December of 2021, as different court rulings gave state elections officials conflicting instructions on whether the filing period should be suspended. The state supreme court ultimately ended this back and forth when it resolved to halt candidate registration altogether. The court eventually allowed the period to resume two months later for an abbreviated period of eight days, setting the stage for the 2022 party primaries, which were likewise delayed from their original date.

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