Marie Russell of Kitty Hawk needs the signatures of 1,200-plus Dare voters on petitions to appear on the November ballot as an Unaffiliated candidate for the Dare County Board of Education. Ms. Russell seeks to represent the BOE’s District 3, which includes Southern Shores.

Except for candidate selections for the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, the May 17 primary is a Republican affair in Dare County. Many of the winning Republican Party primary candidates for local offices will not have Democratic opposition in November.

“One-stop” early voting for the primary began last Thursday and runs through 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, with next weekend excepted. The closest voting site for registered voters who reside in Southern Shores is Kill Devil Hills Town Hall.

For election information, including the hours of operation for all early-voting polling sites, see https://www.darenc.com/departments/elections/election-information.

Here’s how the primary election shapes up:

Registered Democrats in Dare County—and “Unaffiliated” voters who choose to vote in the Democratic primary—have only two choices on their ballot: They can vote for one person among the 11 candidates running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Richard Burr, who is retiring; and choose between two candidates running for the U.S. House, District 3, for the seat now held by Republican Dr. Greg Murphy.

See the Democratic Party Primary Sample Ballot here: https://www.darenc.com/home/showpublisheddocument/10825/637838236119270000

In contrast, registered Republicans in Dare have a choice of 14 candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate; five candidates for the Republication nomination for the U.S. House, District 3, including the incumbent Dr. Murphy, as well as choices in other statewide and local primary races.

Republicans will decide who represents Dare County in the N.C. House of Representatives and the N.C. Senate. There are no Democratic challengers.

As a result of the legislative redistricting—a legal challenge to which delayed the primary from March to May—Dare County has been split into two newly drawn districts for the N.C. House of Representatives. The dividing line goes through Kill Devil Hills, such that voters who live north of the line are in N.C. House District 1, and voters who live south of the line are in N.C. House District 79. All Dare County voters are in a newly drawn Senate District 1.

Republican incumbent Ed Goodwin of Edenton, who represents voters in the currently drawn District 1, is running unopposed for the new House District 1 seat, which represents northern Dare. Republican incumbent Keith Kidwell, who represents voters in the currently drawn District 79 (Beauford and Craven counties) is running against Ed Hege of New Bern for the new House District 79 seat, which represents southern Dare.

Republican Bobby Hanig, who currently represents all of Dare County in what is now District 6 of the N.C. House, is vying for Senate District 3, which includes Currituck County, but not Dare. Mr. Hanig has no primary election opposition, but he will face a Democratic challenger in November.  

As if these changes were not confusing enough, the redistricting has resulted in two Republican incumbents competing against each other for the newly drawn N.C. Senate District 1 seat. State Senator Norman Sanderson of Minnesott Beach, who currently serves the second Senate district, which includes Carteret, Craven, and Pamlico counties, and State Senator Bob Steinburg of Edenton, who currently serves in District 1, which includes Dare and Currituck, among other counties, will face off in the primary. The winner will have no Democratic opposition in November.

Republicans also will vote upon a N.C. Supreme Court associate justice position; two N.C. Court of Appeals judgeships (the Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court; 15 judges sit on it); and one N.C. district court judgeship (District 1, which includes Dare), which is currently held by Jennifer Bland.

Judge Bland, who was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper when she was a registered Democrat, switched her party affiliation weeks after taking office. She has two Republican Party opponents: B.J. McAvoy and Jeff Moreland. The primary victor will not face opposition in November.

All of the winning primary candidates for the appellate judgeships will have opposition in the general election.  

Republicans will choose between two candidates for the office of at large commissioner on the Dare County Board of Commissioners. Incumbent At Large Commissioner Ervin Bateman, who previously ran as a Democrat and switched parties last year, is running against Republican Mike Burrus. The winner of their race will face Democrat Heather Euler in November.

Republicans will determine the successor of retiring District 1 District Attorney Andrew Womble, choosing between two candidates, Jeff Cruden and Kim Pellini, each of whom currently serves in the DA’s Office. Mr. Womble is running for Dare County Superior Court against incumbent Judge Eula Reid, a Democrat, in November.

See the Republican Party Primary Sample Ballot that includes N.C. House District 1 here: https://www.darenc.com/home/showpublisheddocument/10829/637840632309870000

See the Republican Party Primary Sample Ballot that includes N.C. House District 79 here: https://www.darenc.com/home/showpublisheddocument/10827/637840631925500000

For biographical material about candidates, consult The League of Women Voters’ Vote 411 guide at https://www.vote411.org.


Although not a factor in the May 17 primary, three seats on the seven-member Dare County Board of Education (BOE) are up for election this year, and a Republican has filed for each one. None of these candidates is facing Democratic opposition, but there are two Dare County women who are trying to get on the November ballot as Unaffiliated candidates for two of the open seats.

They are Marie Russell, of Kitty Hawk, who is vying for the BOE’s District 3 seat, which includes Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, and Duck; and Jessica Fearns, of Colington, who is seeking the District 2 seat, which includes Kill Devil Hills, Colington, and Nags Head.

To qualify to have their names appear on the general election ballot, Ms. Russell and Ms. Fearns each must obtain the signatures of 4.0 percent of Dare County’s registered voters on petitions and submit them to the county Board of Elections for validation by noon on May 17.

This percentage computes to about 1,200 ink signatures for each candidate.

Dare County Board of Education elections became partisan in 2018 as the result of legislation ratified by the two houses of the N.C. General Assembly. Because the bill effecting the change was “local”—meaning that it applied to fewer than 15 counties in the state—it did not go to Governor Roy Cooper, who likely would have vetoed it. The bill became law upon ratification.

In order for Unaffiliated candidates to have their names on the ballot in a partisan election, N.C. law requires them to secure nomination by petition. (See N.C. General Statutes sec. 163-122(a)(3).)

If successful, Ms. Russell, who is a substitute teacher and businessperson with three children in the Dare schools, would face Republican Matt Brauer. Ms. Fearns, who is a substitute teacher and real estate agent with one child in the local schools, would face Republican Ron Payne.  (For more information about both candidates, see The Outer Banks Voice, 4/16/22, “Dare Ed Hopefuls Battle for the Ballot,” and the candidates’ Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/MarieforBOE and https://www.facebook.com/jessicafearnsforBOE.)

Margaret Lawler of Southern Shores currently serves as BOE District 3 representative, and Joe Tauber of Kill Devil Hills holds the District 2 seat. Both chose not to seek re-election.

The Beacon supports choice and competition in elections. If you would like to sign the petitions of either candidate or both, you may write to us at ssbeaconeditor@gmail.com and request that someone contact you. Please include your name, address, and mobile phone number.

Your signature on a petition signifies only that you support including the candidate’s name on the November ballot. It is not a vote.

Ms. Russell and Ms. Fearns also will be appearing with their petitions at the following venues in the next week:

Wed., May 4: 7:45 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. at Ashley’s Espresso Parlour, 100 E. Helga St., KDH (at the corner of Helga and U.S. 158).

Wed., May 4: 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Starbucks in the Southern Shores Marketplace.

Sat., May 7: noon to 2 p.m. at the 2022 Artrageous Kids Arts Festival at Dowdy Park in Nags Head. The candidates will be walking around the park.

Ann G. Sjoerdsma, 5/2/22


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