The election season in Dare County is in full swing now with candidates’ signs dotting front yards and street rights-of-way, invitations to fundraising meet-’n’-greets arriving in the mail, and absentee voters receiving their ballots.

If you have not yet registered to vote in Dare County, and qualify by age and residency to do so, you have until Oct. 12—25 days before the election—to sign up. Early voting for the Nov. 6 general election starts Oct. 17. (More about “one-stop” absentee voting, at the end of this blog. Note: There will be no early voting at the Pitts Center.)

Each of the 120 N.C. House of Representatives seats and 50 N.C. Senate seats is up for grabs in November. Members of the N.C. General Assembly, which is the collective name for the House and Senate, serve two-year terms. Dare County has one of each.

North Carolina has been and continues to be a red-hot political battleground because of the “supermajority” in the General Assembly that enables Republicans to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes and because of racial gerrymandering of U.S. congressional districts.


If Democrats gain either four House seats or six Senate seats, they will break the supermajority that Republicans currently have. I oppose a supermajority in a state legislature by any party—unless it truly represents party affiliation statewide, and then I’m moving—but The Beacon is not going to evaluate the candidates’ qualifications or make political endorsements. I simply urge voters to become informed.

In Senate district one, which includes Dare County, Democrat D. Cole Phelps is running against Republican Bob Steinburg to succeed Republican Bill Cook, who decided not to run for re-election. Mr. Steinburg currently represents House district one in the General Assembly. Dare County is in House district six.*

Running to succeed Representative Beverly Boswell in House district six are Democrat Tess Judge and Republican Bobby Hanig. Ms. Boswell was defeated earlier this year in the Republican primary. She ran against Ms. Judge’s late husband, Warren, a longtime Dare County commissioner, in 2016. Mr. Judge died three days before the election.


In late August, a federal district court ruled that North Carolina had unconstitutionally gerrymandered by race two of the state’s 13 U.S. congressional districts. This decision had nothing to do with state legislative districts, only federal districts, and will have no effect on the November election. (This is not the first time the N.C. General Assembly has engaged in unlawful racial gerrymandering.)

Dare County is in U.S. congressional district three, where, unfortunately, incumbent Congressman Walter B. Jones, who was first elected in 1994, is running unopposed. I say unfortunately because I believe the voters of northeastern North Carolina are ill-served by a one-party system. We deserve a choice, even if Mr. Jones, who faced a tough challenge in the Republican primary, wins in a landslide, as he usually has.

Ten of North Carolina’s 13 U.S. Congressional representatives are Republicans. Both of its U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis—neither of whom is up for re-election—are Republicans.


Mark your calendars for Sunday, Oct. 14, when the Dare County League of Women Voters will host an afternoon of candidate forums at Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head. In detailing below the LWV’s itinerary that day, I provide the party affiliations of the candidates because they are printed on the ballot, which I have seen, not because the candidates are necessarily seeking partisan offices.

According to the LWV’s online calendar, the itinerary for this free educational event will be:

From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.:  Candidates for Dare County Board of Commissioners   

There are two contested races for seats on the seven-member Dare County Board of Commissioners: Republican Anne P. Petera is running against Democrat Ervin Bateman for the at-large seat held by retiring Commissioner Jack Shea, a Repubican and Southern Shores resident; and Democrat Rosemarie Doshier is challenging incumbent Commissioner Jim Tobin, a Republican, for the district one seat. District one covers Roanoke Island and the Dare County mainland.

Incumbent Commissioner Rob Ross, a Republican, is running unopposed in district two, which includes Nags Head, Colington, and Kill Devil Hills. Southern Shores is in district three with Kitty Hawk and Duck. Steve House, a Republican elected in 2016, represents our district.

Each of the commissioners’ terms is for four years.

From 2:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.: Candidates for N.C. Senate and House

The candidates for the N.C. General Assembly will reportedly “make presentations and be available to the audience.” They will not be participating in a traditional question-and-answer forum. All of the other candidates on the League’s program will respond to audience questions.

From 3 p.m. to 4:15 p.m.: Candidates for the Dare County Board of Education

Democrat Jen Alexander is challenging Republican incumbent Joe Tauber in BOE district two (NH, Colington, KDH), and Democrat Margaret Lawler, a Southern Shores resident, is running unopposed in district three (TOSS, KH, Duck). Ms. Lawler is vice-chairperson of the Board.

From 4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Other Dare County Candidates

Current Register of Deeds Vanzolla McMurran, a Democrat, faces a challenge from Republican Cheryl House; and Republicans Dean Martin Tolson and J.D. (Doug) Doughtie are running unopposed for their respective offices of Clerk of the Dare County Superior Court and Dare County Sheriff.

All of the Dare County Superior and District Court judges whose four-year terms are expiring are running unopposed. They include:

Superior Court: J.C. Cole, Democrat; and Jerry R. Tillett, Republican

District Court: Robert Parks Trivette, Democrat; Eula E. Reid, Democrat; and Meader Harriss, Republican.

Incumbent District Attorney R. Andrew Womble, a Republican, is also running unopposed.

If you have any interest in becoming a soil and water conservation district supervisor, you may well win office by asking your family and friends to write in your name on the ballot. Two such supervisor positions are up for election, and each will be decided by write-in voting.

Voters also will be electing a N.C. Supreme Court justice and three justices on the N.C. Court of Appeals, which is the intermediate appellate court in the state. (The superior and district courts that I mention above are trial courts.) Because most voters don’t know anything about these candidates when they cast their ballots, I will give you a rundown about all of them in a separate blog.


Listed at the end of the election ballot, after the candidates’ names, are six proposed amendments to the N.C. Constitution, which you are asked to vote “for” or “against.” These referenda include the following:

INCOME TAX CAP: An amendment to reduce the income tax rate in North Carolina to a maximum allowable rate of seven percent (7%). The current rate is 10 percent (10%).

VOTER PHOTO ID: An amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.

RIGHT TO HUNT: An amendment to protect the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.

VICTIMS’ RIGHTS: An amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime; to establish certain basic rights for victims; and to ensure the enforcement of these rights.

JUDICIAL VACANCIES: An amendment to change the process for filling judicial vacancies that occur between judicial elections from a process in which the Governor has sole appointment power to a process in which the people of North Carolina nominate individuals to fill vacancies by way of a commission comprised of appointees made by the judicial, executive, and legislative branches charged with making recommendations to the legislature as to which nominees are deemed qualified; then the legislature will recommend at least two nominees to the Governor via legislative action, not subject to gubernatorial veto; and the Governor will appoint judges from among these nominees.

(I will take up this amendment and the photo ID amendment when I look at the candidates for the N.C. Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.)

BOARD OF ETHICS: An amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law.

You may read about the League of Women Voters’ positions on the six amendments here: http://www.lwvdarenc.org/files/LWVNC-2018-Amendments-Positions2.pdf.


And finally . . . early, aka one-stop, voting begins Wed., Oct. 17, and will continue through Sat., Nov. 3, except for Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 27, when the polls will be closed. With the exception of Sun., Oct. 28 (noon to 4 p.m.) and Sat., Nov. 3 (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.), the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Polling stations are as follows:

DARE COUNTY ADMIN. BLDG., 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo

KDH TOWN HALL, 102 Town Hall Drive, KDH



*Explaining my asterisk above: District one in the N.C. Senate includes Dare, Beaufort, Camden, Currituck, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, and Perquimans counties. District six in the N.C. House of Representatives encompasses Dare, Beaufort, Hyde, and Washington counties. Camden, Currituck, Pasquotank, and Perquimans counties are in House district one, which Mr. Steinburg currently represents, along with Chowan and Tyrell counties.

I undoubtedly will repeat some of the information in this blog before the Nov. 6 election, especially with the Southern Shores Town Council taking a hiatus in October. Please check back for new and repeated details.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 9/26/18

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