SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - There are 10 people in the running to replace former Representative Susi Hamilton in the North Carolina House. Hamilton, a Wilmington Democrat, was sworn in to Governor Roy Cooper's cabinet last week after being chosen to serve as Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources.
At the time she was picked, she had just begun serving her 4th term representing the 18th district in the NC House. That district covers parts of New Hanover and Brunswick Counties.
A House District 18 Executive Committee has been formed to choose Hamilton's replacement. According to spokesperson Richard Poole, the following people have asked to be considered for Hamilton's seat:
New Hanover County
- Jan Brewington – previously ran for New Hanover County School Board and served as president of Williston Middle School PTA. She is a Wilmington realtor.
- William Dawson Gage – son of Hannah Gage, the former chair of the UNC Board of Governors.
- Deb Butler – Wilmington attorney and community activist. She has previously run for public office, including a run in 2012 for NC Senate against incumbent Thom Goolsby. She is openly gay, and Equality NC has endorsed her for the open NC House seat.
- Andrew Barnhill – ran in 2016 against Senator Michael Lee. He has a Masters in Divinity from Duke University and a law degree from UNC.
- Kojo Nantambu – former head of the Charlotte chapter of the NAACP. Civil rights activist who was raised in Wilmington and bussed to a predominately white high school in his youth.
- Deborah Maxwell – New Hanover County NAACP president. Works as a public health social worker in Brunswick County.
- Judy Justice – Newcomer to Wilmington and former Democratic Party Chair in Dare County, NC. She previously ran to represent the 6th District in the NC House.
- Harper Peterson – local business owner and former mayor of Wilmington.
- James Knox – Mayor of Northwest who formerly ran against Representative Frank Iler for a seat in the NC House.
- Brenda McMillan – retired social worker who previously ran for Brunswick County Commission.
At a forum Monday night, candidates had the chance to weigh in on issues facing North Carolinians. Many spoke about House Bill 2, expanding healthcare and the need to improve education across the state.
Each candidate was given one minute to answer questions in front of a standing-room only crowd.
There was no debate and audience members were not allowed to ask questions.
Poole considered the forum a success.
"It makes me proud as can be," Poole said. "We've got a lot of very capable people. It's a very diverse group. They're all speaking with passion. I thought they all presented themselves well. The Democratic Party is here to get things done, and I think we showed that tonight."
The House District 18 Executive Committee members are Millie Elledge and Earla Hope of New Hanover County, and Charles Carroll and Carl Parker of Brunswick County. Their voting power is determined by population in their counties, with the New Hanover County delegates' votes being weighted approximately 60/40 compared to the Brunswick County delegates.
The committee will meet again on Wednesday night to officially vote on Hamilton's replacement. That meeting will take place at Leland Town Hall at 7 o'clock. Members of the public who are Democrats are welcome to attend that meeting.