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CoastLine Candidate Interviews: NC Senate District 9

Katelyn Freund

Editor's Note: Ethan Bickley (L) has endorsed Senator Michael Lee (R), as reported by WECT

On this edition, the focus is North Carolina Senate District 9, which includes most of New Hanover County.  Not part of District 9 is the largely Democratic, African-American neighborhood in downtown Wilmington that, as described in detail during our Senate District 8 edition, is 2.6% of New Hanover County voters. 

In 2014, Republican Incumbent Michael Lee beat his Democratic challenger by nearly 11 percentage points.  That was after getting the appointment months earlier when Thom Goolsby resigned.  In 2016, Michael Lee beat his Democratic challenger, Andrew Barnhill, by an even wider margin:  nearly 15 percentage points.

This year, Lee faces two challengers on the November ballot:  Democratic nominee Harper Peterson and Libertarian candidate Ethan Bickley.  We meet them in alphabetical order.


Ethan Bickley works in sales and marketing for a tech start-up.  Before that, he served in the military and worked private security.  He earned his MBA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington last May.

Listen to Ethan Bickley here.

Republican Senator Michael Lee was appointed to the post in the summer of 2014 after Thom Goolsby resigned.  That fall, he won the election.  Two years later, he easily won his bid for a second term.  Senator Lee co-chairs the Senate Education/Higher Education and Senate Appropriations on Education/Higher Education committees.  Other committees on which he’s served include:  Commerce, Insurance, Transportation Oversight, Judiciary, and State and Local Government.

Listen to Senator Michael Lee here.

Harper Peterson worked as an English teacher in Thailand before moving to New Hanover County in the 1970s.  Over the decades since, he and his wife have built several local businesses.  In the mid-90s, he served on Wilmington’s City Council.  In 2001, he was elected Mayor and served one term.

Harper Peterson is a founding member of Cape Fear River Watch and Clean Cape Fear, he established the Northside Plan, the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Mayor’s Task Force on Disabilities, the Mayor’s Task Force on the Arts, and he served on the NC General Assembly’s Wilmington 1898 Race Riot Commission for five years. 

Listen to Harper Peterson here.

Candidates for NC Senate District 9:

Ethan Bickley, Libertarian

Senator Michael Lee, Republican

Harper Peterson, Democrat