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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Will Knecht, New Hanover County GOP chair, is our guest, plus a sensitive story on WPD's racist cops

On this episode, we welcome our first guest, Will Knecht, chairman of New Hanover County's Republican Party. We'll ask him about his party's strong showing in the 2022 election, and how he handles divergent, and sometimes extreme, views within the party. Plus: a story over two years in the making, featuring disturbing audio of three racist officers fired from the Wilmington Police Department.

In this week's election, New Hanover County Republican candidates swept the Board of Education race, cemented a majority* on the Board of Commissioners, and held onto several key incumbencies — including the hard-fought, multi-million-dollar race for State Senate District 7.

County GOP Chair Will Knecht joins us on the podcast to talk about that win, some of the tensions that drove people to the polls, and what's next.

And just a note, while Knecht is our inaugural guest, he'll be far from our last — we hope to have many more voices on the podcast, with a diverse range of viewpoints. Interested? Let us know at bschachtman@whqr.org or michael.praats@wect.com.

Also, we lay out some of the back story for a major story coming from WECT, revealing never-before-public audio that led to the firing of three WPD officers who made staggeringly racist statements. We'll add a link to the story here when it goes live, but our conversation hopefully frames how and why the story is being released.

Related: Racist rants released of former WPD officers recorded on police cam

*Technically, Republicans gained a majority on the Board of Commissioners when Chair Julia Olson-Boseman changed parties to join the GOP after her loss in the primary made her a lame duck. The GOP's repudiation of her switch made the majority politically unpalatable — hardly something the party trumpeted.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.