Keith Sutton, vice chairman of the Wake County Board of Education, has jumped into the race to replace Mark Johnson as superintendent of public instruction.
Sutton, a Democrat, announced plans to enter the race last week during an appearance on “Education Matters,” a weekly talk show hosted by Keith Poston, president and executive director of Public School Forum NC.
Sutton became the third Democrat to announce plans to run for the seat that’s up for grabs next year.
The other two are James Barrett, a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education and Michael Maher, assistant dean of professional education at N.C. State University.
Johnson, a Republican, hasn’t said whether he plans to seek reelection.
Sutton is probably the better known of the three Democrats.
Sutton’s been a fixture on the state’s largest school board for more than a decade and is a former board chairman.
He’s also been active in state politics, the state NAACP, Triangle Urban League.
Sutton, founder of FocusedED LLC, an education consulting firm, told Poston that his service on the Wake school board has prepared him well for the role of state superintendent.
“I have the experience,” Sutton said. “I have the commitment. I have the leadership to lead this state and put us back on a plan of trajectory where North Carolina is seen as the best state in the country for education.”
Barrett was the first to announce plans to run for superintendent.
And like Sutton, he touts his experience as a school board member.
Here’s what he had to say on his website, Barrett for Schools:
“I’ve been on the school board in Chapel Hill-Carrboro for 8 years (2 as chair), leading changes to focus on equity in everything we do, provide transparency in our budgets, and promote the professionalism of teachers as key to successful schools. In my day job, I lead large IT projects and manage large staffs and processes. I don’t believe education (nor government) needs to run like a business, but I know how to lead people, work systems, and prioritize investments to achieve better results for students, teachers, parents, and our state.”
Maher issued this statement after announcing his candidacy:
“It is time to renew our commitment to public schools in our state,” Maher said. We have a longstanding tradition of providing a quality education. Unfortunately, some politicians in our state legislature have retreated from that commitment and our schools are paying a heavy price. We are in the midst of a critical teacher shortage, we ask those who choose to teach to do more with less, and we lack a coordinated effort to systematically address our most pressing challenges. Public schools represent our shared commitment to the children of North Carolina, we have an obligation to them. As the Superintendent of Public Instruction, I will be a tenacious advocate for public education in North Carolina. ”