Elections 2019

Hannah Breisinger


 Wilmington’s City Council has a new addition. Kevin Spears was sworn in December 3, 2019, alongside Neil Anderson, Mayor Bill Saffo, and Mayor Pro Tem Margaret Haynes. 

WHQR

Voters turned out in larger numbers for this year’s municipal elections.  Brunswick County saw a 2% increase compared to 2017.  In Pender County, turnout ticked up about a point and a half, and in New Hanover County, 19% of registered voters cast a ballot.   That’s the biggest jump – nearly four-and-a-half points compared to 2017. 

Joe Pat Hatem

The City of Southport saw all its incumbents thrown out.  The same two mayoral candidates faced off for the third consecutive time – which turned out to be the charm for Challenger Joe Pat Hatem.  He unseated Mayor Jerry Dove by a very large margin – taking 63% of the vote. 

Brenda Bozeman

Brenda Bozeman has served as the Mayor of Leland for eight years – which means she’s served four terms.  Here's a look at what her fifth term could mean for Leland.

Voters across the Cape Fear region who live in cities, towns, and villages elected their leaders November 5, 2019.

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H2G0 could be back on track for its own reverse osmosis water treatment plant.  Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2G0, the utility that serves just over eleven-thousand people in Brunswick County, is embroiled in a legal battle over its assets and direction.  

contributed photo

This year’s election is the closest race Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo has seen in his 12 years at the helm of city government.  It's the first serious challenge since 2007 to a Mayor now embarking upon his seventh term. 

Doug Medlin

The Town of Burgaw had three open seats on its Board; all three incumbents won re-election:  Vernon Harrell, Red Robbins, and Bill George, will serve another four years. 

In the Town of Surf City, which stretches into Onslow County, the fiercely-fought battle between long-time incumbent Mayor Doug Medlin and current City Council Member Jeremy Shugarts ended with Mayor Medlin easily winning the seat again  with 67% of the vote.

RLH / WHQR

Tuesday is Election Day for most municipalities in North Carolina.  And the prevailing sense among poll workers and voters is that more people are turning out to vote in municipal elections than in years past. 

Courtesy Tom Arthur

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. 

Greg Buscemi

Greg Buscemi is hoping to be the next Mayor of Wrightsville Beach.  He’s a practicing lawyer, loves the beach, and says the current Board of Aldermen is not doing enough to communicate with its citizens.  

Jeremy Shugarts is a member of Surf City’s Town Council with two years left in his term.  But he’s running for mayor this year, partly, he says, because the Mayor controls the agenda.

Shugarts agrees with Surf City’s current strategy of keeping zoning ordinances strict on the beach while letting commercial development blossom on the mainland. But, he says, local government isn’t listening as well as it should to constituents.  One way to solve that:  create more citizen advisory committees – in addition to the existing six. 


Incumbent Buddy Fowler has served on the Surf City Town Council since 2004, and has been in public service for most of his life. He’s running again, and he wants to continue to work on current council projects. 

The City of Wilmington boasts a population of around 122,600 people.   That’s a U.S. Census Bureau estimate for 2018.  But the largest municipality in New Hanover County is still expected to grow over the next quarter century, and planning officials project a population spike of about 57,000 more people by 2040.  That’s only 21 years out.   In New Hanover County, the current population is 237,689.  By 2038 – 315,475.  That’s county growth of about 33%. 

WHQR / Katelyn Freund

Southport is a waterfront city at the confluence of the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean in Brunswick County.  

John Allen

Southport has grown by 25% in the last eight years to nearly four-thousand people.  That’s according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The City is governed by a six-member Board of Aldermen divided into two wards.  John Allen, a candidate for one of two open seats in Ward Two, says he wants to heal the mistrust between citizens and local government.


Rick Pukenas is running for another term on Southport Board of Alderman Ward 2. He owns a bed and breakfast, and a tour company. He wants a seat so he can continue working on current city projects -- and his focus isn’t just on the immediate future:


Lowe Davis is one of six candidates running for Southport Board of Alderman Ward 2. She has experience as a journalist, a business executive, and as an Episcopal priest -- but she never pictured herself becoming involved in politics. Now, she’s changed her mind. 

Town of Oak Island

Oak Island Town Council member Jeff Winecoff is seeking a third term. He tells WHQR he wants to see the town’s general fund debt paid off completely – and he hopes to find grant money for a renovation of the Town’s recreation center. 


Dara Royal is one of six candidates on the ballot for Oak Island Town Council. Her family first bought property in the town in the late 1950s, when she was just two years old. And just as Oak Island isn’t new to her -- neither is a seat on council.

contributed photo

Surf City is a beach town in Pender and Onslow Counties with a population of slightly more than three-thousand people.  Mayor Doug Medlin grew up on Topsail Island, raised his kids there, and now they’re raising their children in town.   


Niki Cutler is one of six candidates on the ballot for Oak Island Town Council. She’s a musician and piano teacher, and in 2014, established a town service to address the issue of overflowing trash carts. She’s running because she thinks the current council’s priorities are in the wrong place. 

Katelyn Freund / WHQR

There are two open seats on the board of Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2G0.  That’s the water and sewer utility in Brunswick County whose customer base is mostly Leland residents – one municipality within the county.  H2G0 does not however, serve Brunswick Forest and Windsor Park, but it does serve Belville, parts of Navassa, and some unincorporated areas of Northern Brunswick County.


Kathleen Sumner is running for Surf City Town Council. Aside from a career in law, she’s a former surfer and lifeguard, and spends her free time scuba diving and cleaning up the beaches. This experience motivates her to not only make sure local beaches are safe for swimmers, but also safe from future storms.

Bob Campbell

Leland is the most populated municipality in Brunswick County.  If Bob Campbell wins a second term on its Town Council, he says he’ll work to create more affordable housing.  


Rick Paxton is a newcomer to the Leland Town Council race. He’s an adjunct professor at Campbell University, a U.S. military veteran, and teaches concealed carry classes. He wants to see Leland’s economic growth benefit its citizens, and not impact their wallets. 

Lynn Barbee / 2019

Lynn Barbee wants a seat on Carolina Beach Town Council.  He’s lived in the town most of his life, and he figures that gives him a good understanding of the tension between old-timers and newcomers.  


Steve Shuttleworth is the only incumbent running for Carolina Beach Town Council. He’s a land developer and real estate broker, and has served on council since 2011. He wants to continue prioritizing business and tourism, as well as the interests of local residents.

In Carolina Beach, Debi DiNatale is running for Town Council. It’s her first run ever for public office. The owner of the Carolina Beach Inn says hospitality is critical to the town’s economy, and public safety is also high on her list.

Jay Healy is running for a seat on Carolina Beach Town Council. His biggest concern? Finding a qualified town manager. With such a large budget, he says hiring the right person will save the town a lot of money. His other main priority is saving the town’s character.

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