Raleigh dad's civics lesson may have won him a Wake school board seat he doesn't want

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Karl Rectanus' spur-of-the-moment dabble into local politics went much further than the Raleigh father of three expected.

Attorneys at the Board of Elections are still debating whether the law permits the school board to fill the late Kathy Hartenstine's seat or whether the seat should be rewarded to the write-in candidate with the most votes. But despite his social media candidacy, Rectanus told ABC11 on Wednesday night, he's not interested.

Rectanus' three daughters were with him the last Friday of early voting, and when they saw the District 7 Wake school board seat with the late Kathy Hartenstine's name still on the ballot, unopposed, versus a line for a write-in candidate, Rectanus had an idea.

"As a father and a former history teacher, we had a civics lesson," he said. "We got a chance to learn what it meant to write in a candidate."

And so he wrote his own name on the ballot then took to Twitter, declaring his write-in candidacy.

He tweeted a platform with qualifications and goals. Rectanus is a proud product of Wake schools and now the founder and CEO of his own educational software firm in Raleigh.

"That was a platform that the girls and I put together because we had talked about what it meant to run for public office," Rectanus said.

And some supporters, at least on Twitter, got behind his candidacy -- even designing a write-in campaign poster for the social media-driven effort

By Election Day, more than 1,400 votes were cast for write-in candidates.

"This got more legs than we expected," Rectanus said. "I was honored and humbled and very surprised."

But things got serious, when the family got word the county elections board was considering which law to apply to the race -- one that allows the school board to fill the seat of a deceased candidate or another that declares the write in-candidate with the most votes, the winner.

Rectanus quickly took to Twitter again, posting an open letter, pulling his hat out of the ring.

"It's Kathy (Hartenstine's) seat, not my seat. And I think it's important to focus on what's best for students, not legal challenges," he said. "If it helped engage people in the importance of down-ballot voting, great, all the better. But we had no expectation that it would get this type of traction."

Meantime, lawyers at the BOE and the Wake school board are still sifting through the legal issues of how to fill Hartenstine's seat with hopes to have that sorted out by Friday when BOW certifies the election.

Rectanus said he has no regrets. His daughters got the civics lesson he wanted them to have. And, a lesson in the power of social media.
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