Martin intends to let 2010 election results stand

Apr. 01, 2014 @ 09:55 PM

Former Durham Public Schools Board of Education member Steve Martin said Tuesday that he won’t take legal action over the 2010 school board race that he lost in a runoff to Natalie Beyer.

Questions arose this week about whether runoffs should have been held in school board races after 1992.

Durham Board of Elections Director Michael Perry contends that state law and the 1992 document merging the former city and county schools make no provisions for runoffs in school board elections.

If Perry is right, then the results of the 2010 runoff could be invalidated because Martin was top vote-getter in the May election, but lost to Beyer in the June runoff, held because neither candidate received 40 percent of the vote.

“I would do nothing that would harm the work this board has done and the excellent work Natalie [Beyer] has done,” Martin said.

Martin received 36.89 percent of the vote in the May 2010 election and Beyer 33.72 percent of the vote. But in the June runoff, Beyer got 61.29 percent while Martin got just 38.3 percent.

Gerry Cohen, special counsel to the General Assembly who wrote the portion of the school merger agreement dealing with the elections, told The Herald-Sun on Monday, that Martin or any citizen who felt aggrieved by a 4-3 school board in which Beyer voted with the majority would have legal standing in a lawsuit over the runoff that is in question.

But Martin said he doesn’t feel as though he’s been harmed by the outcome of the election.

“I think its’ unfortunate that the reading of the statute has changed,” Martin said.

There was also a runoff in 2008 between board member Leigh Bordley and Jonathan R. Alston, which Bordley won, and a runoff in the Consolidated District B in 1992.

Perry said a citizen inquiry prompted him to look into the runoff issue.

He said Tuesday that he is still waiting to hear from school officials and Durham County’s legal department about their interpretation of the law and merger document, which could determine how the Board of Elections will proceed with the May 6 school board election.

“My priority is going to be the May 6 election going forward and after that we can take a look at past elections,” Perry said.