Allen Buansi won the Democratic nomination for the North Carolina House of Representatives District 56, based on unofficial primary election results. He will be the district's next representative, as no Republican candidate filed to run.
In a very close race, Buansi defeated Jonah Garson for the nomination. Buansi finished with 7,653 votes on Tuesday night, winning 51.46 percent of the vote. Garson finished with 7,218 votes, or 48.54 percent.
District 56 includes the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area. This election marks the first time the seat has been open in 26 years, as Rep. Verla Insko will retire after 13 terms.
Buansi is a former Chapel Hill Town Council member and currently serves as assistant city attorney for the City of Greensboro.
He also practiced law at and worked as the deputy director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP's executive board.
"We've got a mission," Buansi said at the polling location at East Chapel Hill High School on Tuesday. "This is only one step in that mission. We've got a lot of work to do. The real work begins after, so I'm looking forward to getting the real work started."
Buansi's platform supports public education, affordable health care access and climate justice.
He promised to put effort into climate justice initiatives, whether it's getting more funding for public transit or going low-carbon to get off of fossil fuel dependence.
"Is there a single candidate of either party who could win any primary being contested tonight who has made climate change central to their platform?" Anders Reynolds asked in a tweet. "Yes, Allen Buansi."
Buansi wants to raise teacher pay to be in line with the national average and create a school bond so that all schools are funded at equitable levels. He also wants to prepare, renovate and expand schools according to increasing population sizes.
While at ECHHS on Tuesday, Buansi thanked students for being engaged in the political process and said he hopes they will continue to stay engaged in the general election.
"We need every student on board, we need every student plugged in and engaged," he said. "I would call on all students to do what they can in the democratic process."
Buansi said that civil rights public service has been his calling since he was 13 years old, and he will continue to answer that calling.
"Reading about folks like Thurgood Marshall, former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm, I would continue to be in the service of the vision that I read about – especially in one of the darkest times of our country's history," he said. "They had a very clear vision for a fair, equitable society for everyone in which everyone has the opportunities to succeed and thrive in life. That mission will not change and I will continue to do that.
He added that it was an honor to run against Garson.
Buansi said he is grateful for the ways Garson matured the debate in terms of the climate crisis, education and health care and that he hopes he stays engaged with the community.
"I've just really appreciated every perspective that's on the table," he said. "In other words, this is what democracy is about. It's about competition. It's about making sure that voters have choices and that they can see themselves in those choices."
Garson said his projected loss will not stop him from continuing to work for the community.
"This work has always been my work, and I won't stop," he said. "It's about doing a job, so one way or another, I'm going to do the work that I believe in."
Garson said Buansi was a person of integrity and that he was made for public service and doing good work in the community.
Garson knocked on doors for Buansi's Chapel Hill Town Council campaign in 2017.
"We're both 35 years old, we both love this place and we both love this community," he said. "I think we should be proud of this sort of exercise in democracy that we've had."
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