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article imageMontgomery wins primary as panel investigates campaign talk

By Kelly Fetty     Sep 11, 2013 in Politics
Winston Salem - Winston-Salem City Council candidate Derwin Montgomery swept to victory in yesterday's primary even as a committee investigates allegations of improper campaigning.
Montgomery won Tuesday's Democratic primary race for Winston-Salem's East Ward with over 60 per cent of the vote, according to a report in the Winston-Salem Journal.
But as voters headed to the polls a committee appointed by Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) Chancellor Donald Reaves was investigating allegations that Montgomery violated rules limiting political activity on campus by speaking to a political science class.
Two weeks ago Montgomery gave a campaign talk during an American government class taught by associate professor Larry Little. Afterward, Montgomery offered transportation to the elections office for students who wanted to vote early, and Little permitted those students to leave the class.
Both men admit that the talk and the offer of transportation took place, according to WGHP News.
City council candidates Joycelyn Johnson and Phil Carter said the classroom talk was unfair.
"If this is done for one person, it needs to be done for everybody,” Johnson told the Winston-Salem Journal. “There needs to be equal access for any class. We have not had that opportunity.”
WSSU is part of the University of North Carolina system, whose guidelines state that employees are forbidden to engage in political activity while at work, use state property to support a candidate or imply that the university endorses a particular candidate, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Little denied that the talk broke any rules and offered to stage a debate between Montgomery and the other two Democratic candidates, Joycelyn Johnson and Phil Carter, during the class.
There is no Republican challenger for the seat.
Montgomery first won the seat in 2009 while still a student at WSSU. Little, who served on the city council in 1977, was one of Montgomery's professors and became an advisor to his campaign.
Montgomery's 2009 campaign mobilized the WSSU student vote using Facebook, emails and promotions from student organizations. He also organized a carpool service to take students to the polls.
The strategy worked. Montgomery won an upset victory over 4-term incumbent Joycelyn Johnson.
Montgomery later told the News Argus that he believed 75 per cent of his votes in the 2009 race came from WSSU students.
“This election showed that college students can make a difference,” he said.
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