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Brunswick County BOE candidates Steven Barger, Vickie Smith, and Catherine Cooke move forward to the general

Steven Barger, Vickie Smith; Catherine Cooke's image via the candidate's Facebook page

In the GOP primary, three districts for the Brunswick County Board of Education were contested. One incumbent moves forward to face a Democratic challenger in the general election — winners in the other two races are set to sail through the general without opponents.

Current Brunswick County School Board Chair Steven Barger defeated Shirley Babson, a longtime school board member who lost her 2016 and 2020 re-election bids. Babson said that she wanted to return to politics to fight 'woke' indoctrination in the schools.

Barger said he wants the General Assembly to pay teachers more.

“But I think even more than that, raises only benefit people on Friday when they get paid. But what keeps them there Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of the following week in between those paychecks? I'm telling you, we need to advocate for more money for them. But I also want to advocate to improve that whole environment, those working conditions for them, because that's what's going to keep them there in between the paychecks,” Barger said.

In District 4, Barger will face challenger Democrat Janis Simmons in the fall.

However, school board Districts 1 and 2 have no Democratic opponents. That means Catherine Cooke, a former board member, and Vickie Smith, a newcomer, who both emerged victorious in their primary races all but have those seats clinched.

Cooke beat out recently deceased board member David Robinson and newcomer Dr. Rick Hessman. (Cooke declined an interview with WHQR during the campaign.)

Smith won over Dr. Lavar Marlow.

Vote tallies will be finalized at the county canvass on Friday, March 15. Find more of WHQR’s election reporting here.

Results as of March 6, 2024. Canvass is Friday, March 15, 2024 when results are official.
Results as of March 6, 2023

Prior reporting

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR