BY JOY CRIST
You hear it every election cycle: ?This is going to be one of the most important elections of our lifetime.?
But the reason why this phrase is uttered so often is because – for the present moment in time, at least – it generally happens to be true. How we vote today will obviously determine the shape of our state in the future, and 2018 is an especially powerful and important year, because we?re in one of the most divisive political climates in recent memory. In fact, several candidates we?ve chatted with over the past few months have voiced concerns that voters might not look past the ?R? or the ?D? on the ballot form, and will simply vote along party lines because of this extreme division.
However, our current group of candidates is certainly worth a closer look past party affiliation alone ? a scenario that is common in smaller local elections when the party doesn?t always matter as much as the candidate?s priorities, knowledge of the area, and ambitions.
So below, you?ll find a little info on the current candidates for several of the most competitive races so you can start digging deeper. This election cycle has a long list of interesting races, in fact, so we?ll continue profiling the different candidates in the weeks and days leading up to November 6.
But before we get started, here are the basics when it comes to voting in Dare County this election season.
When and where you can vote
One-stop or ?early voting? officially began on Wednesday, October 17. Hatteras Islanders can head to the Fessenden Center Annex, which is on the edge of Buxton Back Road, any time before Election Day to vote during this time period, regardless of their precinct. (This is a new change in 2018, as previously, the main Fessenden Center served as the one-stop voting site.)
The Fessenden Center Annex is open on weekdays for one-stop voting, generally from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and a complete schedule can be found here: http://islandfreepress.org/2018Archives/10.17.2018-EarlyVotingBeginsTodayInDareCounty.html.
You can still register to vote, too!
If you utilize one-stop voting at the Fessenden Center Annex before the official Election Day, you can also register to vote right before you cast your ballot if you have not already done so. Registration is open to any Dare County resident who?
- Will be 18 years old by Election Day
- Has lived in Dare County for at least 30 days
- Can provide proof of identity and residence
Additional county sites
If you?re up the beach, you can also head to the other two county sites that offer early one-stop voting, which includes:
- Dare County Administration Building located at 954 Marshall C. Collins Drive in Manteo
- Kill Devil Hills Town Hall located at 102 Town Hall Drive in Kill Devil Hills
Remember that on Election Day, you can only vote at your specific precinct. If you?re new to the area, you can find your polling place on the North Carolina Board of Elections website here.
A Look at the State Races
Now that the basics are covered, let?s take a closer look at two of the most talked about races in 2018.
We will continue providing info on all the candidates running for local positions in upcoming blog entries and news stories. (Note that this list does not include uncontested races, such as Walter B. Jones for House of Representatives District 3, or Doug Doughtie for Dare County Sheriff.)
As a disclosure, all of the candidate information below is derived from the candidate?s personal websites, interviews, and personal statements made in varying mediums throughout their campaigns.
NC State Senate District 1: D. Cole Phelps vs. Bob Steinburg
Due to the recently redrawn district maps, (which were court ordered after North Carolina?s congressional district maps were ruled unconstitutional), District 1 is now is the largest district in the state, with a total of 11 counties: Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington.
This is automatically an interesting race because it?s being played out in the state?s now largest district, but also because it features two candidates with similar amounts of government experience, (roughly six years each), but drastically different ages ? Phelps is 29, and Steinburg is 70. The Senate District 1 seat opened up last year when the 2010 legislative district map was redrawn, and incumbent Senator Bill Cook decided to retire after his home county of Beaufort was removed from the former eight-county district.
About Phelps: Phelps is a Washington County native and was the first member of his family to graduate from college. He later became the youngest county commissioner at the time of his election to serve in any of North Carolina?s 100 counties. During his first term of office as Washington County Commissioner, he was selected by his fellow board members to serve as vice chairman and then chairman. He was one of the first commissioners of Washington County to be appointed to serve as an at-large member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, and also served on its Health & Human Services and Public Education steering committees. Currently, he is serving his second term of office as a member of the Washington County Board of Commissioners, and is the founder of the Law Office of D. Cole Phelps, PLLC in Plymouth. During his public service, Phelps established a reputation for being a champion for education ? a top platform and priority that has popped up throughout his campaign.
Organizations that have endorsed Phelps include the North Carolina Association of Educators, NC League of Conservation Voters, North Carolina State AFL-CIO, Northeast North Carolina Progressives, and LaunchProgress. Learn more at https://phelpsforncsenate.com/.
About Steinburg: Steinburg and his wife lived for 28 years in Richmond, V.A. before retiring to Edenton, N.C. more than a decade ago. Steinburg spent a long career working in sales and marketing, primarily for national companies, before retiring and working in the community. Steinburg was elected to the House seat in 2012 that encompasses Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Pasquotank, Perquimans and Tyrrell Counties. He also served four terms as president of Edenton Emergency Aid, a not-for-profit-agency assisting individuals in Chowan County who are experiencing temporary financial hardship. He co-chaired the 2010 Edenton Historical Commission?s Taste of Edenton, which raised funds for the town?s historic preservation initiatives, and is a member of the NRA and Ducks Unlimited. Steinburg is also known for his newspaper column, ?A Conservative?s Viewpoint? and is a lifelong conservative whose top priorities are education and the economy.
Organizations that have endorsed Steinburg include the National Rifle Association and State Employees Association of North Carolina, which both endorsed him in the May GOP primary race. Learn more at https://votebobsteinburg.com/.
NC House of Representatives District 6: Bobby Hanig vs. Tess Judge
Another interesting race in 2018, both Judge and Hanig have stated similar viewpoints on several key issues, including opposition to offshore oil drilling, improving education, and ? refreshingly ? working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
This race is also occurring in a recently redrawn district, which includes Dare, Currituck, Hyde and Pamlico Counties. The contest already made waves earlier in 2018, when Hanig beat the incumbent Beverly Boswell in the 2018 GOP primary in May. Tess Judge also made headlines in 2016, when her husband and longtime Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge passed away in the days before the election, and Tess Judge was selected by the Democratic Party to fill his House of Representatives seat if he won. In a close race, Judge lost the election to Boswell by roughly 1,500 votes.
About Hanig: Hanig has lived in Currituck County for more than 25 years. After serving in the U.S. Army, Hanig moved to the area and serviced rental properties before starting his own pool business and property management business, growing into a company that services roughly 400 properties in the Outer Banks area.
In 2016 he was elected as Currituck County Commissioner and was chosen as Chair, a position he is currently still serving. While on the Commission, Hanig focused on government spending and strengthening the local economy in the county. After finding discrepancies in financial reports, Hanig ordered a financial review of the Currituck school district?s finances to determine if taxpayer money was being spent wisely.
Hanig says that his focus in the House of Representatives would be on working with other conservatives to reduce wasteful government spending, cut the red tape that hurts local businesses, lower taxes, and create jobs in the area. Organizations that have endorsed Hanig include the NRA, North Carolina Right To Life, the NC Police Benevolent Association, the North Carolina Home Builders Association Build PAC and Outer Banks Home Builders Association Build PAC, and Outer Banks Ducks Unlimited. Learn more at https://electbobbyhanig.com/
About Judge: Tess Judge is a businesswoman with a long career in hospitality management, who moved to the Outer Banks area with her husband Warren Judge in 1989. While spending years running successful small businesses, Tess was also active in the local community, and served on the Boards of the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce, Outer Banks Hospital, Outer Banks Relief Foundation, Children and Youth Partnership, Food For Thought, Roanoke Island Historical Association, Vidant Health Foundation, North Carolina Joint Underwriters, and the Outer Banks Hospital Development Council as Chair. In 2011, Tess and her husband, Warren, were named Co-Citizens of the Year by the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce. Organizations that have endorsed Judge include the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEIU Local 2008), the North Carolina Association of Educators, the Sierra Club, and the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters.
Judge says that she will use her extensive experience with area businesses, governments, and community organizations to bring economic development and good-paying jobs to Northeastern North Carolina. She also states that she is well aware of how vital fishing, farming, and tourism are to the local economy, and will be steadfast in protecting the land and water resources that make those industries viable. Learn more at https://www.tessjudge.com/.
Coming up next?
Bear in mind that this is just an overview of the candidates? biographies and platforms, as well as a small sample of the races to watch. We will be covering a number of heated county races, including the contest for the three Dare County Board of Commissioners (BOC) seats, in the immediate future and before Election Day.