NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - It was a full house at the New Hanover County Board of Elections Monday as candidates and their supporters lined up to file paperwork to run in the 2020 general election. The filing period opened at noon on Monday.
Four of the nine candidates who were there when filing began are running for three county commission seats. New Hanover County Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield was the first in line. The Democrat is the only incumbent seeking re-election. Republican Commissioners Pat Kusek and Woody White surprised many when they announced recently that they would not run for office again.
Democrats Leslie Cohen and Steve Miller joined Republican Harry Knight in filing to run for the open commission seats. All of them said the proposed sale or partnership for New Hanover Regional Medical Center is one of the most important county issues prompting them to run.
Cohen previously challenged Representative Holly Grange for a seat in State House in the 2018 election. She said she’d like to improve accessibility and transparency on the New Hanover County Commission by pushing the commissioner meeting time from 4 PM to 6 PM, and having the agenda briefings televised. Miller is a retired Fortune 200 company executive, with a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Georgetown University. In addition to concerns about the hospital sale, he cited non-sustainable development in New Hanover County as a motivator to get into politics. Knight is retired from the nuclear industry and now works in real estate. He says he’d like to see more research before deciding if changing the ownership of the hospital is a good idea.
Barfield said he felt his support was as strong as ever leading into the 2020 race, in large part because of his recent opposition to the proposed sale of the hospital. He expects a crowded field for the open seats.
Representative Deb Butler also filed to run for re-election Monday to the North Carolina House of Representatives. Many supporters in attendance wore “I will not yield" t-shirts, quoting Butler’s outraged comments on the NC House floor that garnered national attention in September. The New Hanover County Democrat vocally opposed the surprise vote to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget. The vote came on a day many Democrats were attending Sept. 11th remembrance ceremonies, giving Republicans the needed supermajority for the override vote that they would not have otherwise had.
Democrat Stephanie Walker filed to run for the school board. Republicans David Wortman, Jeanette Nichols and Lisa Estep are all up for reelection in 2020. The school board has been in the spotlight recently over allegations board members and school administrators mishandled complaints about teachers who have been sexually inappropriate with students. Walker, a political newcomer, said her children have recently graduated from the public school system, and her perspective as a parent rather than a career educator would benefit the board.
Democrat Adam Ericson filed to run for North Carolina House District 20. He moved to Wilmington from Maryland 15 years ago, and works as a teacher and lacrosse coach at New Hanover High School. Erickson said concern that issues like education and the environment are underrepresented in Raleigh prompted him to run for office.
David Perry was one of the few Republican candidates filing for office on Monday. He’s seeking a seat in the North Carolina house, running in the 19th district. In 2018, he sought the same seat as a Libertarian candidate. His platform ranges from eliminating the state income tax to legalizing medical cannabis.
Democrat Clayton Hamerski filed to run for Register of Deeds. He works in real estate, and has been a board member for the local Democratic party.
Candidate filing remains open until noon on Friday, Dec. 20. For a current list of candidates, click here.