Last day to register to vote in March primary

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The New Hanover County Board of Elections was busy Thursday afternoon as people registered to vote before Friday's deadline. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
The New Hanover County Board of Elections was busy Thursday afternoon as people registered to vote before Friday’s deadline. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

Friday is the last day to register to vote or change party affiliation in North Carolina for the state’s March 15 primary election.

The dates may have crept up on people, as they are earlier than usual. Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly voted to consolidate the state’s two primary elections (one in March for local elections and one in May for state and national offices). This was done to cut back on costs, take advantage of the higher number of voters who turn out for presidential primaries and make the state a bigger player on the national scene. Parties had often already chosen their presidential candidates before North Carolina voters headed to the polls in May.

In New Hanover County, there is a crowded field of GOP candidates running for three county commissioner seats. Incumbents Beth Dawson (the current chair of the board) and Woody White are up against five others. The candidates include current Cape Fear Public Utilities Authority board chairwoman Patricia Kusek and vice-chair Jim Brumit, who along with White have formed the “Conservative Leadership Team” that created a video response to Dawson’s State of the County address earlier this month. The other three Republican candidates are former Board of Education member Derrick Hickey, local real estate appraiser Campbell Dodd, and Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees member John Babb.

There will be no Democratic primary for county commissioners, as just three people filed for candidacy. Incumbent and current board vice-chair Jonathan Barfield, former county commissioner and state senator Julia Boseman and newcomer Nelson Beaulieu will all move on to the general election in November.

In the race for the New Hanover County Board of Education, ballots are full on both sides for the three open seats. Four Republicans, including incumbents Jeannette Nichols and Lisa Estep, are running, and five Democrats will be vying to get their name on the November ballot. A seat is being vacated by Tammy Covil, who is running to replace North Carolina House District 20 Rep. Rick Catlin, who is stepping down from his office to focus on his family and local business. Covil’s competition in that race is local Realtor and Army veteran Holly Grange, who currently sits on the North Carolina Ports Authority board of directors.

The other New Hanover County office on the ballot for the March primary is for the register of deeds. Incumbent Tammy Beasley is being challenged by Peter McClain, a local real estate agent.

In Brunswick County, there will be primaries for two board of commissioners seats. District 3 incumbent Pat Sykes, a Republican, is being challenged by Oak Island Town Council member Jim Medlin. The District 4 seat is being vacated by current chairman Scott Phillips. Three Republicans and two Democrats are vying to get their names on the November general election ballot for that position.

There are also GOP primaries set for three Brunswick County School Board seats. Current chairman Bud Thorsen, who represents District 1, did not file for re-election, and three Republicans are vying to replace him: Ed Lemon, Gene Steadman Jr. and Joey Causey. No Democratic candidates filed for that district.

Republican incumbents for Districts 2 and 4, Catherine Cooke and Shirley Babson, respectively, are both facing March challengers. Cooke’s competitors are Christy Judah and Steve Wray. Ellen Milligan is challenging Babson, the board’s current vice-chair, for her seat. The winners of both those races will face Democratic challengers in November.

The ballot for the N.C. House District 17 seat, which represents much of Brunswick County, mirrors that of the 2014 Republican primary election. Incumbent Frank Iler is once again being challenged by Marion Davis.

There are also several races for state offices (including governor and lt. governor), U.S. congressional seats and for the presidential nomination. A full list of candidates on the primary ballots can be found here for New Hanover County and here for Brunswick County.

To register to vote in New Hanover County, go to the board of elections website or visit the office, located at 230 Government Center Dr. Suite #38 in Wilmington. Brunswick County residents can print out an application online or visit the county’s elections office at 75 Stamp Act Dr. NE, Building H, in Bolivia.

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