A longtime Brunswick County education official has been unseated by a former district employee.
In a primary election marked by change on the school board and with county commissioners, Shirley Babson was defeated Tuesday night by fellow Republican Ellen Milligan for the District 4 seat.
It’s a seat Babson has held for a total of 24 years, first serving consecutive two-year terms from 1976-84. She successfully won a bid in 2000 and has remained on the school board since that time. During her tenure, the current vice chairwoman has headed the board seven times and served as second in command six.
But after garnering 64 percent of the Republican vote Tuesday, Milligan will now go on to face Democrat Marty Mentzer in November. Mentzer faced no opposition in the primary.
Though she is a political newcomer, Milligan is no stranger to education, having worked for nearly three decades as a teacher and administator. The last post she held before her retirement was in Brunswick County Schools’ central office as a curriculum specialist.
Another former classroom instructor will vie for the District 1 seat currently held by Bud Thorsen, who did not file for re-election. With 6,990 votes, Brunswick County teacher Ed Lemon narrowly defeated retired professor Gene Steadman Jr. – who received 5,691 votes – and attorney Joe Causey, former legal counsel for the Brunswick County Board of Education. Lemon, a Republican, will not face a Democrat challenger.
Republican incumbent Catherine Cooke held onto her claim to the District 2 seat with approximately 37 percent of the vote. Real estate broker and auctioneer Steve Wray and Christy Faircloth Judah, a retired teacher, received 34 and 29 percent, respectively. Cooke will face off against Democrat Sharon Woodard Crawford to keep her place on the board.
On the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, current member Pat Sykes, too, will remain in the running for the District 3 seat after defeating current Oak Island mayor pro-tem Jim Medlin with 56 percent of the vote. Sykes won’t face any opposition in the general election.
But the District 4 seat will have a new leader come November, with current seat-holder Scott Phillips stepping down and Republican front runner, real estate investor Mike Forte, edging out civil engineer Alan Lewis with 43 percent of the vote. Lewis came in at 40 percent, while a third candidate, small business owner Louie Lewis received approximately 16 percent. Forte will now go up against Democrat and retired social worker Brenda Faye McMillian, who saw an easy primary victory over Holden Beach planning director Timbo Evans with nearly 72 percent of voters casting ballots in her favor.
Click here to view all Brunswick County polling results from Tuesday’s elections.
Hilary Snow is a reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at email@example.com.