WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - Two candidates faced off in a campaign to replace current Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair, who after six years as the mayor announced this summer he would not run for re-election.
Darryl Mills, who has served on the board of alderman since 2011 and is the current mayor pro tem, brought in just over twice as many votes as political newcomer Greg Buscemi, according to preliminary election results.
Mills said his top priority will be to fix the town’s water and sewer infrastructure — a costly and time-consuming process the mayor-elect said has been in the works for a few years now.
“A lot of folks on the beach have lived with what we would consider sub-par water and sewer service because of the age of the water and sewer lines and it’s our job to get that up to par and that’s what we’re doing,” Mills said.
Buscemi, 31, who is a graduate of UNCW and runs a law firm in Wrightsville Beach, said he filed to run against Mills on the final day of registration when he realized no one else had signed up to run.
Despite his loss, Buscemi said he feels fortunate for the opportunity.
“I’ll be here in two years and I’m not going anywhere so you should still keep up over the next two years," Buscemi said. "I’ll be going to all the meetings. I’ll be making all my concerns more vocal at this point because there’s a lot of stuff that’s been swept under the rug recently and I think if more people were aware of that maybe it would’ve turned out a little bit differently this time.”
In October, Buscemi filed a challenge to Mayor Blair’s voter registration, claiming Blair, along with his family do not reside along Lumina Avenue in Wrightsville Beach, where the Blairs are registered to vote.
“The fact that he’s been mayor for this long all while living across the drawbridge is appalling to me, and I’m not going to let him stick around as an illegitimate public official when he [has] no right to serve in such an influential position,” Buscemi said.
The New Hanover County Board of Elections voted Monday to deny Buscemi’s challenge.
Blair was first elected to mayor in 2013 and is currently serving out his third two-year term.
Buscemi has also publicly challenged Mills’ registered address in Wrightsville Beach, however, he said he did not file a challenge with the board of elections because he believes Mills resides at a different address, which is still in the municipality.
Jeff DeGroote and Zeke Partin both ran unopposed for the two open seats on the board of alderman. DeGroote owns South End Surf Shop in Wrightsville Beach and most recently served on the town’s planning board. Partin also served on the planning board and is currently the New Hanover County ABC Board Chair.