At first glance, it looks as though early voting in New Hanover County is up slightly in the first twelve days compared to the last municipal election. As of October 29th, 2019, 18% more people voted compared to 2017. This does not necessarily mean that voter turnout as a whole will be higher in 2019; that remains to be seen.
But we can examine which issues are driving voters to the polls, why municipal elections often turn out the fewest voters, and how the tone of the campaigns differs at the local level from years past.
In the Cape Fear region, municipal elections are non-partisan races.
This year, one Surf City candidate, Jeremy Shugarts, is facing six felony charges for election law violations; his opponent, Mayor Doug Medlin, watched as his adult son was accused of creating a fake campaign website to attack his father’s challenger.
In Oak Island, a mayoral candidate has voted not in Oak Island – or anywhere in Brunswick County over the last decade. Ken Thomas, as reported by Port City Daily, has voted in Columbus County – where he also has a residence.
In that same municipality, according to Port City Daily, Mayor Cin Brochure is avoiding questions about her adult son’s plea of "no contest" on child porn charges. She also declined WHQR's invitation to appear on the CoastLine Candidate Interviews to answer questions about her campaign for re-election.
In the Southport race, Board of Aldermen candidate Eric King scheduled an interview with WHQR for October 18th. He did not cancel the interview or show up for the appointment.
In Wilmington, six-term Mayor Bill Saffo, faces a challenge from political newcomer Devon Scott.
In Brunswick County, two municipalities are fighting over the future of H2G0, a water and sewer utility – as voters decide on the next board members of that utility. This election could change the trajectory of H2G0.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5th. It’s an elections round-up today – where we look at the issues and the candidates.
Nadine Gibson, Assistant Professor, Department of Public and International Affairs, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Benjamin Schachtman, Managing Editor, Port City Daily