Thursday, July 25, 2024

Candidate filing period for 2019 municipal elections opens today

Candidate filing begins today and ends on July 19 (Port City Daily/File)
Candidate filing begins today and ends on July 19 (Port City Daily/File)

SOUTHEAST N.C. — Summer is in full swing in the Cape Fear region but election season has already begun as filing for municipal elections kicks off.

It’s an odd year (numerically) which means, for the most part, only residents living within city or town limits will be voting come November.

“Filing for municipal candidates begins at noon on Friday, July 5, 2019, and ends at noon on Friday, July 19, 2019. Check with your local board of elections for the filing period of school board or other local offices,” according to the North Carolina Board of Elections.

But just because it’s an odd year doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot at stake, all of the municipalities in New Hanover County and many other towns and cities around the Cape Fear region will have a mayoral election and several council seats up for grabs.

In Wilmington, Mayor Bill Saffo, who has served in some capacity since 2003, will see his seat up for election along with Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes, Councilman Paul Lawler, and Councilman Neil Anderson.

But voter turnout is typically less than stellar when it comes to municipal elections, despite the fact that local policy affects residents directly. In 2017, of the nearly 100,000 eligible voters in Wilmington, only 13,990 made it to the polls, a mere 14.64% turnout.

Municipal elections pale in comparison from the even-numbered year elections. In the 2018 General Election, 89,403 voters in New Hanover County turned out to have their voices heard.

But the fact that municipal elections do not coincide with federal elections is something that the City of Wilmington has tried to preserve. There have been efforts at the state level to make all elections throughout N.C. even year events, but cities, including Wilmington, have pushed back against this.

One claim is that cities should have the right to decide when to have their own elections — a debate with its own merits. But a more common argument for those looking to change election years is that the outcomes of municipal elections would be severely shaken up if voter turnout was closer to 50% compared to the 14%.

Any person who meets the qualifications to run may file for candidacy up until July 19 at noon.

A full guide for candidates can be found online from the state.

Below is a list of municipalities along with their representatives who have seats up for election this year.


The county seat and largest municipality in New Hanover County will see three council members and the mayor’s term expire.

  • Mayor, Bill Saffo
  • Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes
  • Councilman Paul Lawler
  • Councilman Neil Anderson

Carolina Beach

South of Wilmington across Snow’s Cut Bridge is the Town of Carolina Beach. This year two councilmembers and the mayor will have their terms expire. Mayor Joe Benson has already announced he does not intend on running for reelection.

  • Mayor Joe Benson
  • Councilman Steve Shuttleworth
  • Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Bridges

Kure Beach

Even further south on Pleasure Island, Kure Beach has two commission seats and the mayor’s position up for election.

  • Mayor Craig Bloszinsky
  • Commissioner Joseph Whitley
  • Mayor Pro Tem David Heglar

Wrightsville Beach

East of Wilmington and north of Carolina Beach is the coastal town of Wrightsville Beach, three members will be up for reelection this year.

  • Mayor Bill Blair
  • Mayor Pro Tem and Alderman Darryl Millis
  • Alderman Elizabeth King

Town of Leland

Wilmington’s neighbor to the west just across the Cape Fear River has been growing exponentially in the past few years. Three of the five governing leaders have terms expiring in 2019.

  • Mayor Brenda Bozeman
  • Councilman Michael R. Callahan
  • Councilman Bob Campbell


The small town of Belville that neighbors the Town of Leland has several seats on its board including the mayor’s term expiring in 2019.

  • Mayor Mike Allen
  • Commissioner Kent Goodman
  • Commissioner Morgan Mehler
  • Commissioner David Long

Town of Oak Island

Oak Island is located south of Wilmington in Brunswick County on the way to South Carolina, four members of the town’s governing body will have terms expiring in 2019.

  • Mayor Cin Brochure
  • Councilor Sheila Mansfield Bell
  • Councilor Charlie Blalock
  • Councilor Jeff Winecoff


Located in Brunswick County neighboring Oak Island and the Cape Fear River, Southport will also have multiple board member’s with terms expiring. Alderman Todd Coring stepped down this year to become the town’s police chief. Marc Spencer, who lost to Coring in the 2015 election, was appointed as his replacement and will run for election this year.

  • Mayor Jerry Dove
  • Alderman Marc Spencer
  • Alderman Jim Powell
  • Alderman Rick Pukenas

Surf City

One of Pender County’s fastest growing municipalities, this beach town located north of Wilmington has three terms expiring on its town council and the mayor’s seat.

  • Mayor Douglas Medlin
  • Councilman and Mayor Pro Tem William Fowler
  • Councilwoman Nelva Albury
  • Councilman Donald Helms

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