CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — One politically active organization put out a message loud and clear on social media: Beware of who you are voting for. 

“Candidates make decisions that are strategic,” said Rob Taber, vice president for policy outreach at Carolina Forward. “They figure out ways to present themselves to the public in the most palatable format especially if they want to win.” 

The independent nonpartisan organization says this is why they did the deep dive on the CMS Unity ticket in Mecklenburg County. You don’t need to declare a party to run for a Board of Education seat, but some people listed on the candidate’s campaign finance forms are connected to prominent Republicans. 

“We’re just asking for honesty,” added Taber. 

For one position, treasurer, Joe Patton and Colin McMichael have history working on Republican campaigns. 

McMichael was the treasurer for U.S. Sen. Ted Budd’s campaign, according to the Federal Election Commission. 

On North Carolina Election Commission campaign forms, McMichael is the assistant treasurer for CMS candidate Annette Albright. 

Patton is listed as treasurer for all three candidates: Annette Albright, Claire Covington and Michael Johnson Jr.

While both men can represent any party, many of the candidates Joe Patton works with are Republican. Even in Moore County, he is associated with Republican candidates, as this form from the Moore County Board of Election shows. Patton is the treasurer for City of Vass Mayor candidate, Angela Vacek. 

The goal by Carolina Forward is to prevent party-switching like earlier this year when Tricia Cotham made the move from Democrat to the GOP. 

But the group is only pointing out information; voters still need to make the decision. 

“Encouraging people to look closely at the candidates, know who’s on your ballot so you can be ready to vote the whole ballot,” adds Taber. “This is part of being a citizen in a democracy.” 

Johnson issued this statement to Queen City News: 

“Carolina Forward is a far-left group who clearly does not want to see change and reform at CMS. The organization appears to only want to maintain the status quo. I, along with Annette Albright and Claire Covington, are seeking to bring changes and reforms that will ensure success to every student and provide safe learning environments for all students and teachers across Charlotte-Mecklenburg County.” 

Once again Carolina Forward claims to be a nonpartisan organization.