Monday, June 17, 2024

Voter Guide: New Hanover County Board of Education will see three new faces this election [Free read]

(Clockwise from top left) Stephanie Kraybill, Hugh McManus, Tony McGhee, Stephanie Walker, Pete Wildeboer, and Chris Meek are all running to serve on the New Hanover County Board of Education. (Port City Daily photo/Courtesy NHCS candidates)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — An entire slate of newcomers is running to earn three open seats on the New Hanover County Board of Education.

In 2018, the school board welcomed three new faces, who collectively unseated a combined 79 years of experience on the board held by longtime members.

Read more: Catch up on PCD’s election coverage, free candidate interviews

After this election, the school board will comprise an entirely new roster. One-term member David Wortman, two-term member Lisa Estep, and five-term member Jeannette Nichols are each not seeking re-election.

The upheaval comes as the district has faced serious accusations of criminal and administrative misconduct in improperly confronting the sexual abuse of students by teachers. Top administration officials are out while the school system aims to reorganize and reorient itself to address systemic issues that allegedly allowed the abuse to continue for years.

Three Republicans (Stephanie Kraybill, Tony McGhee, and Pete Wildeboer) will appear on the ballot alongside three Democratic candidates (Stephanie Walker, Hugh McManus, and Chris Meek).

Voters may choose three out of the six candidates on the ballot.

Port City Daily sent all six candidates a detailed questionnaire and asked them to provide a short-hand answer for each question. A link to the candidates’ full answer to each question is provided with each short-hand answer in the below guide.

At press time, McGhee had not provided responses to the questionnaire. His responses will be updated in this voter guide if and when they are provided.

Early voting is underway. Same-day registration is available during the early voting period, which ends Oct. 31. Election day is Nov. 3. Check your voter registration and county elections office to confirm polling locations, dates, and hours.

Port City Daily emailed all candidates the below questionnaire and will run their responses ahead of the Nov. 3 election. Port City Daily edited responses for spelling and grammatical errors only.

Tip: If viewing on mobile, scroll to the right on each table to view all answers.

NHCS publicly changed its reopening plan three times before settling on a final course of action. How would you grade the current board’s handling of COVID-19?


How concerned are you about the achievement gap for minority students at NHCS?

Extremely concernedExtremely concernedExtremely concernedExtremely concernedExtremely concerned

Do you support higher pay for bus drivers? How else would you address the district’s need for bus drivers?


How familiar are you with the Isaac Bear school facility situation?

Somewhat familiarSomewhat familiarSomewhat familiarSomewhat familiarExtremely familiar

Do you support the district’s current use of school resource officers?

YesYesNoYes & noYes

How comfortable are you with the way the district uses local funds?

Somewhat comfortableNeutralSomewhat uncomfortableSomewhat uncomfortableSomewhat comfortable

In 2018 many board members branded their campaigns on increased transparency and accountability — do you think those goals have been met?

NoNeutralNoNoNo not fully

Has NHCS administration addressed long-standing issues that resulted in an alleged cover-up culture and consistent failure to protect students from pre-identified criminal activity on behalf of staff aggressively enough?

No and yesYes and noNoNoNo

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