Bipartisan agreement reached in Wake County Commissioner elections bill

State Rep. Erin Pare (R-Wake)

RALEIGH — A bill filed in mid-February by Rep. Erin Paré (R-Wake) regarding the election of Wake County Board of Commissioners (WBOC) seats has been modified with bipartisan support. 

Currently the seven WBOC members are elected in an at-large, county-wide format that Paré says has resulted in “significant underrepresentation of voters in suburban and rural areas.” 

House Bill 99 seeks to elect WBOC candidates by specified districts. The bill does not alter district lines put into place and approved in 2021 by the seven Democrats currently on the WBOC. 

The modification to the bill adds two at-large seats, bringing the total number of WBOC members to nine. The two additional at-large seats would be the only seats elected countywide. Under the bill, all of the WBOC races would be nonpartisan. 

“Bringing more local representation to the Wake Board of Commissioners has been important to me and to my constituents for a long time,” Paré said in a statement. “I am very pleased that the Wake County Commissioners came to the table and agreed to district based representation. This is the right thing to do for the people.” 

According to Paré’s press release, her original June 2022 legislative proposal and the new compromise version of House Bill 99 will make Wake County’s election process consistent with Mecklenburg, Guilford, Forsyth, and Cumberland counties. 

“Wake County is home to 1.2 million residents and is larger in population than eight states. We all know that elected officials are accountable to the people that elect them to office,” said Paré. “When 55% of the electorate resides in Raleigh and Cary, the more rural communities in Wake do not have the accountability they deserve in their elected officials, and that’s wrong.” 

The Wake legislator added she appreciates “the give and take this compromise required” and looks forward to “effective representation for the Wake County towns and non- incorporated areas going forward.” 

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A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_