Candidates for New Hanover Board of Education speak at town hall forum, answer questions from media and audience

School Board meetings have received lots of attention over the past two years, and residents of New Hanover County asked candidates about their stances.
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 10:45 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - School Board meetings have received lots of attention over the past two years, and residents of New Hanover County asked candidates at a town hall forum in Cape Fear Community College about their stances on important issues.

Candidates have campaigned on topics like ‘critical race theory,’ allegations of the ‘grooming of students,’ banning books and the use of restraint and seclusion rooms.

Four seats are available in the upcoming election, with three incumbents running for re-election: Nelson Beaulieu (Dem), Judy Justice (Dem) and Pete Wildeboer (Rep). The five challengers are Josie Barnhart (Rep), Pat Bradford (Rep), Dorian Cromartie (D), Melissa Mason (Rep) and Veronica McLaurin-Brown (Dem).

Both the Republicans and the Democrats agreed on what needs to happen, but might differ on how to carry out those actions- several of the candidates were in favor of holding the administration of the school system accountable, improving education in the school district.

Many of the candidates also agreed that the current school board is dysfunctional and that the election is an opportunity to bring cohesiveness.

“Five, almost six hours, go to last night’s board meeting, start at the beginning, and go all the way to end.” Pat Bradford said in her closing statement. “It started with an argument before the agenda was approved. It ended with an argument and name-calling after 10:30.” She then read from her notes several of the insults that she said were used during last night’s Board of Education meeting.

Dr. Charles Faust, superintendent of New Hanover County Schools, was also a topic of criticism from the candidates, following hundreds of people signing a petition to remove him from office after he blamed teachers low-performing schools and said they were using a “bless your heart” curriculum.

One candidate went as so far as to say that if she was elected, she would try to have him fired.

The forum was livestreamed by WECT, and can be seen below.

Two additional forums will be hosted by the media consortium: the four candidates running for New Hanover County Commission seats on October 12 and the eight candidates seeking House and Senate legislative seats representing New Hanover and Brunswick counties on October 19. Both will be livestreamed on WECT.com.