Friday, September 30, 2022

Filing ends for New Hanover municipal elections. There’s 33 candidates for 13 open seats

WILMINGTON — Election season is almost here in New Hanover County as the deadline for candidates to file with the New Hanover County Board of Elections ended at noon Friday. After the filing period ended, 33 candidates had announced their intentions to run for office throughout the four municipalities in the county, Wilmington, Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, and Kure Beach.

While voters can expect to see some familiar names on ballots in November, there will also be newcomers running for the 13 open seats.


The City of Wilmington has three council member seats open this election, with current council members Charlie Rivenbark, Kevin O’Grady, and Earl Sheridan’s terms expiring. Both O’Grady and Rivenbark have filed to retain their seats, Sheridan has not.

While there are only three seats open, the candidate list is cramped with nine candidates vying for a spot on the council. Clifford Barnett, Hollis Briggs Jr., Philip White, Caylan McKay, Deb Hays, Perry Fisher, and James Ray will all run for one of the three positions.

Mayor Bill Saffo will also see his first opponent for his mayoral seat after newcomer Todd Zola announced his intent to run for the position earlier this month.

Wrightsville Beach

For the Town of Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair is the sole candidate on the ballot — ensuring at least two more years of Blair leading the town.

The Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman will see a race for two open seats on the board with Hank Miller and Lisa Weeks seeing their terms expire. Miller has refiled and will be the only incumbent on the ballot. Pat Bradford, Ken Dull, Sounia Chaney, and Pat Prince have all announced they have filed to run for the open seats.

Carolina Beach

Mayor Dan Wilcox of Carolina Beach will run for reelection this November against Joe Benson. Wilcox has served as mayor since 2013; he also served as Mayor Pro Tem as well as city council member.

There are also two seats opening on the Town of Carolina Beach Town Council with LeAnn Pierce and Gary Doetsch’s terms expiring, both incumbents will run for reelection. JoDan Garza and Tammy Hanson, Gary Toppin, and Sarah Friede will run against the incumbents.

Kure Beach

The Town of Kure Beach will see a change in leadership this year as Mayor Emilie Swearingen will not run to maintain her current position, instead, she is running for a commissioner seat.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Bloszinsky and Chris Hald will face off against each other to fill the empty position.

With Bloszinsky running for mayor, his seat on town council will be up for grabs. Current commissioner Jim Dugan’s term also expires this year, he will not be running for reelection.

Five newcomers, Allen Oliver, Lisa Lowery, Dolores Coe, John Ellen, and Jerry Dockery along with Mayor Swearingen, will run for the two open seats for Kure Beach Council.

Authors note: New Hanover County did not have photos of candidates Craig Bloszinsky, Gary Toppin, Sarah Friede, and Joe Benson.

Michael Praats can be contacted via email at

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