Finally in Office

Finally, June Atkinson is drawing a paycheck from the state. It took nine months of legal wrangling before Atkinson won the nation's last unresolved statewide election from November 2004. That was followed by the first legislative vote of its kind in nearly 200 years to confirm that she is North Carolina's new superintendent of public instruction. Normally, Atkinson would have spent time between the November election and taking office in January to ease into the role. Instead, Republican opponent Bill Fletcher challenged the outcome. While Atkinson won by more than eight-thousand votes, Fletcher contested eleven-thousand votes cast in the wrong precincts. Interim superintendents filled in during the conflict, which went through state and district courts, the U-S Department of Justice and the state legislature. Last week, the General Assembly fulfilled a rarely exercised constitutional duty to decide contested statewide races and chose Atkinson.