The House also nominated new members: Kellie Hunt Blue, chairperson of the UNC-Pembroke Board of Trustees and Tony Tata, former Wake County Public School System superintendent and former N.C. secretary of transportation.
The Senate nominated four current board members — W. Marty Kotis, Scott Lampe, Steven Long and Harry Smith Jr.
Other notable Senate nominees include Bob Rucho, a former Republican state senator whose redistricting map was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, and Tom Fetzer, a former mayor of Raleigh and chairperson of the N.C. Republican Party.
A recently-passed law will reduce the number of seats available on the board, increasing competition for each position.
Rep. Graig Meyer, D-Orange, voted for the legislation that shrunk the board.
“President (Margaret) Spellings made a case to me directly that she thought that a 24-member board would be a more effective board for the types of decisions and the speed of decisions that the board needs to make over the next couple years,” he said.
He said the board’s diversity is not necessarily dictated by its size — as seen by the current 32-member board.
“I supported the reduction of size,” he said. “But I will be watching very carefully to see whether the Republicans use their majority power to actually elect a diverse board.”
Blue said she was excited to be nominated and she addressed criticism of board diversity.
“I’m from southeast rural North Carolina, an area that’s not represented currently,” Blue said. “I’m Native American, I’m a female — I think I’m really a diverse piece, so my nomination proves that they’re moving in the right direction with that if that’s a concern for folks.”
Tata said diversity was a primary concern of his while working as superintendent. He said he allotted resources during his tenure to place extra English and math teachers in low-income schools.
“As long as everybody understands the importance of access and diversity and (makes) sure that we have good synchronization between K-12 efforts and the UNC system, then I think we will be fine,” he said.
Ted Shaw, director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights — whose legal representation of clients would be cut by a current BOG proposal — said the board is not apolitical. But he said he is hopeful the board is openminded in its decision-making about the proposal.
The General Assembly also nominated Rob Bryan, Carolyn Lloyd Coward, Leo Daughtry, Sidney Dunston, Kaye Bernard McGarry, Wendy Murphy, Jimmy Tate, Terry Yeargan, Nigel Alston, Frankie Jones Sr., Randall Ramsey and Laura Staton.