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Cooper-Suggs nominated for state school board seat

Former state Rep. Linda Cooper-Suggs delivers brief remarks at the Wilson County Democratic Party convention on April 15. Corey Friedman | Times file photo

Gov. Roy Cooper has nominated retired teacher and former state legislator Linda Cooper-Suggs of Wilson to serve on the North Carolina State Board of Education. 

The governor appoints 11 of the board’s 13 voting members, with nominees subject to General Assembly confirmation. Cooper-Suggs would represent the state’s 3rd Education District.

Cooper-Suggs represented N.C. House District 24 from August 2020 through Dec. 31 last year. She initially was appointed to fill the remainder of Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield’s term when the longtime lawmaker retired to accept a salaried post in state government. After winning a full two-year House term in 2020, Cooper-Suggs lost her seat to current Rep. Ken Fontenot, R-Wilson, in November’s general election.

Prior to serving in the General Assembly, Cooper-Suggs chaired the Wilson County Democratic Party. She retired from Wilson County Schools as a National Board-certified teacher, remaining active in public education policy through various advisory committee roles.

The governor’s office announced Cooper-Suggs’ nomination on Thursday. Cooper also nominated John M. Blackburn of Linville to serve as the state board’s 7th Education District representative. 

Eight of the governor’s 11 appointees represent state education districts drawn by the General Assembly. The 3rd District for which Cooper-Suggs was nominated includes Wilson, Nash, Edgecombe, Johnston, Harnett, Lee, Chatham, Wake, Durham, Orange, Person, Granville, Vance and Warren counties.

The current 3rd District representative, Amy White of Garner, said in Thursday’s board meeting that she would resign to focus her attention on a nonprofit children’s ministry where she serves as executive director. Former Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, appointed White to the seat.

State Board of Education members serve staggered eight-year terms. 

In addition to its 13 voting members, which include the lieutenant governor and state treasurer, the board has eight ex-officio members who serve in an advisory role. Wilson County Board of Education Vice Chairman Henry Mercer currently holds the seat reserved for the N.C. School Boards Association’s Raleigh Dingman Award winner. Mercer received the statewide honor in November.