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CoastLine Candidate Interviews: Mayor Of Carolina Beach

Carolina Beach is the largest of the three beach towns in New Hanover County.  At a population of about 6,300, it’s around three times the size of the county’s next largest, Wrightsville Beach and 95% white, according to the U.S. Census.  Median household income is $62,000 a year – higher than nearby Wilmington. 

The town is governed by a Council made up of four members and a mayor.  This year, four people are competing to be the next Mayor of Carolina Beach.  We’ll meet them on this edition.

In the 2017 election, political newcomer Joe Benson beat the incumbent, Mayor Dan Wilcox.  Two years later, Benson is not running for a second term. 

Candidates in order of appearance:  

  • Tom Elicson has worked as a nuclear engineer at ERIN Engineering. He has served in the commercial nuclear industry for about 30 years. He is a member of the Island Men’s charity organization and co-chaired the Town’s Operations Advisory Committee. He's now President of a local nonprofit. Before his time in Carolina Beach, he served as a City Council Member in Hudson, Ohio where he co-founded the Hudson Economic Growth Board. He is married and has one daughter. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on Carolina Beach Town Council in 2015.
    Listen to the interview with Tom Elicson here.
  • LeAnn Pierce first won a seat in 2013 and served as Mayor Pro Tem throughout that first term. She was re-elected in 2017 and although she has two years left in her second term, she's decided to seek the office of mayor. She was born and raised in rural Pender County. She’s held a North Carolina Real Estate license for 14 years and lived in Carolina Beach for nearly 30 years. For most of that time – two-and-a-half decades – she’s owned the Drifter’s Reef Hotel.
    Listen to the interview with LeAnn Pierce here.
  • T.D. Scaringi has worked in Hollywood as a Grip and Key Grip for more than 40 years. He retired from the film business in 2018. That move came after moving to Carolina Beach in 2012 to work on the film We Are The Millers. He is a member of Federal Point Historic Preservation Society, has been married for over 26 years and has two sons.
    Listen to the interview with T.D. Scaringi here.
  • Dorrene Stanley has lived in Carolina Beach for 3 ½ years. She spent the last couple of decades working in Public Safety – including, she says, as a firefighter, lieutenant, captain, and instructor. She's also worked for 911 Communications and the North Carolina State Highway Patrol as a communications specialist. 
    Listen to Dorrene Stanley's interview here.

Editor's Note:  The budget numbers provided by the Finance Director of Carolina Beach for the Lake Dredge project are as follows:

Original Lake Dredge Budget Engineering $ 100,000 Capital Over $10,000 $ 2,100,000 Contingeny $ 220,000 Total Budget $ 2,420,000 Spent to date $ 1,677,178 Balance $ 742,822 Available Revenue Bond Funds Unused Bond Funds $ 954,369 Lake Dredge Balance $ 742,822 Available Funds $ 1,697,191


Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.