Ballots fill up in March primary for New Hanover County seats

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Port City Daily file photo.
Port City Daily file photo.

With just a few days left in the candidate filing period for the March primary election, some familiar names have once again put themselves on the ballot.

There will be a full race for the Republicans running for New Hanover County Commissioners seats, as incumbent Woody White announced Thursday he will be seeking re-election.

“Elected officials must always keep their promises,” White said in his announcement on social media. “I am proud to have always done so and will continue keeping the promises I make if I am fortunate enough to be elected to my second term as County Commissioner.”

White, who has served as a commissioner since 2012 and was chair from 2012 – 2014, announced last month that he would not be running for U.S. Congress against current District 7 representative and fellow Republican David Rouzer.

White’s candidacy brings the the number of Republicans vying for county board to four going into the final weekend before the filing period ends. Also running on the GOP ticket are fellow incumbent Beth Dawson (who this week was elected the board’s first female chair in over 30 years), current Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Board Chairwoman Patricia Kusek, and local real estate appraiser Campbell Dodd.

On the other side of the ticket, another familiar name is back on the ballot. Julia Boseman, a local attorney who served in the North Carolina State Senate from 2004 – 2011, has also filed her candidacy for the county board. When Boseman defeated White, the incumbent at the time, for the senate seat in 2004, she became the first openly gay member of the state legislature. Prior to that, Boseman also served as a New Hanover County Commissioner from 2000 – 2004.

Newcomer Nelson Beaulieu, a Cape Fear Community College instructor, is also running as a Democrat, joining incumbent and current board Vice-Chair Jonathan Barfield, Jr., who filed his candidacy earlier this month.

The race for open seats on the county’s Board of Education is equally crowded. Incumbent Lisa Estep, a Republican finishing her first term on the board, also announced in a statement this week that she is seeking re-election.

“It is important to encourage and enable all of our children of all abilities to perform to their maximum potential in order to achieve their goals and their dreams,” said Estep, whose five children all attended or currently attend New Hanover County public schools.

Current vice-chair Jeannette Nichols is already on the GOP ballot to defend her seat, along with Frank Meares, who is currently the elected supervisor of the New Hanover County Soil and Water Conservation District. Fellow Republican Tammy Covil announced in November that she would not be seeking re-election to the education board in order to run for the state House of Representatives seat being vacated by Rick Catlin, leaving her seat up for grabs.

There is also one new candidate on the Democrat side, Emma Saunders. Saunders, a retired career educator who worked in the New Hanover County Schools system, previously ran for the Board of Education in 2014 but lost. She joins four other Democrats on the primary ballot: Sandra Leigh, Kevin Spears, Chris Meek and James Jamison, Jr. Meek, also an area teacher, ran unsuccessfully for the board on the same slate as Saunders in 2014.

There are three open seats each on both the county commissioners board and the board of education in this cycle, meaning the top three vote-getters in the March primary from each party move on to the general election in November. The candidate filing period ends Monday, December 21.