Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Voters unseat veterans with a combined 79 years on board, four newcomers on the way

New Hanover County's all-Republican veteran school board will soon get three new Democrats and one new Republican, marking an all-freshman majority for a historically veteran board.

Based on preliminary election results, the new New Hanover School Board will receive four new board members. (Top row, from left to right) Bill Rivenbark, Jeannette Nichols, Stefanie Adams, Lisa Estep (bottom row) Nelson Beaulieu, Judy Justice and David Wortman. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy New Hanover County Board of Elections and New Hanover Board of Education)
Based on preliminary election results, the new New Hanover School Board will receive four new board members. (Top row, from left to right) Bill Rivenbark, Jeannette Nichols, Stefanie Adams, Lisa Estep (bottom row) Nelson Beaulieu, Judy Justice, and David Wortman. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy New Hanover County Board of Elections and New Hanover Board of Education)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY —Voters’ displeasure with New Hanover County’s old school all-Republican board of education members is clear; Four veteran board members are out, to be replaced by four new faces with no previous political experience.

If preliminary counts hold, Don Hayes, Janice Cavenaugh and Bruce Shell have been unseated in the midterms, with chairman Ed Higgins voted out in the primary.

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Stefanie Adams(D.), Judy Justice(D.), Nelson Beaulieu(D.) and Bill Rivenbark(R.) earned the top four votes in this year’s election, earning the four newcomers seats on the board.

Only one veteran board member, Jeannette Nichols, will remain on the board. Nichols was not up for re-election this cycle but will be in 2020. She has served the board for 18 years.

Higgins, unseated this spring, has served the board for 24 years. Cavenaugh is on her 27th year serving the board, Hayes on his 24th, and Shell is on his fourth year, completing his first term.

Three newcomers will create a political mix on the board, with Rivenbark securing a Republican majority alongside current members Lisa Estep — on her second term –, David Wortman — on his first — and the veteran Nichols.

This drastic shakeup of the all-Republican and majority veteran board comes after a string of controversies. Last year, the board remained silent after hiring a man they were aware made lewd remarks about a sexual assault victim who was forced to transfer schools.

In February, the board delayed a redistricting decision after a series of highly-attended meetings in which parents and community members spoke out against new maps.

For more of Port City Daily’s election coverage, check out where races stand here. Election results are not final until final canvassing is complete sometime later this month.

Author’s note: The combined years of board experience for the four unseated incumbents is 79 years, not 87, as originally reported. This error has been corrected.


Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at johanna@localvoicemedia.com

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