There’s still a week left before the filing deadline for candidates to run in the 2024 election cycle expires, but some interesting storylines have already emerged—including the retirement of several Dare County incumbents and the certainty that the county’s state senator will change.
One of the bigger headlines so far is that Danny Couch, the District 4 Hatteras representative on the Dare County Board of Commissioners, will not be seeking another term after serving several terms as a commissioner and two terms before that on the Dare County Board of Education.
In an interview with the Voice, Couch indicated that representing the District 4 seat is “a challenging task” because of significant distinctions among the communities on Hatteras. He also called his decision “liberating in the sense that the only thing I’ve done with my fishing pole [in the past few years] is move it from one corner of the garage to the other.”
Couch is the sole Democrat on the seven-member Dare County Board of Commissioners, but with his decision, another Democrat, Aida Havel of Salvo has filed to run for the seat. On the Republican side in District 4, School Committee Member Mary Ellon Ballance has officially filed to run for that Hatteras commissioner’s seat after announcing her intentions to seek that post. And the info from the NC State Board of Elections shows that Republican Kenny Brite, of Avon, is the only candidate thus far to have filed to run for Ballance’s board of education seat.
Speaking of the Dare County School Committee, the other incumbent who has confirmed that he is not seeking re-election is Carl Woody, the Republican representing District 1 on the ed board. Thus far, one Republican newcomer has filed to run for that seat next year, Justin Bateman of Wanchese.
To connect the dots a bit, back in 2020 Woody defeated veteran Democratic incumbent Bea Basnight for that school committee seat in the first campaign after state legislation turned those elections into partisan races. Just this week, on Dec. 4, the Dare County Board of Commissioners appointed Basnight, who is now a Republican, to fill a vacancy on that board created when Commissioner Jim Tobin passed away on Oct. 18.
Basnight has already filed to run for her newly acquired District 1 seat on the board in the 2024 election cycle and it looks like she will face a primary challenge from Mike Burrus of Wanchese, who has also filed to run. Last year, Burrus lost his bid to unseat incumbent Ervin Bateman on the board of commissioners.
If you’re still following along, here’s a rundown of some of the other candidates who have thus far filed for local 2024 races.
Incumbent Republican and Vice-chair of the Dare County Board of Commissioners Wally Overman has filed to run again in District 1 and will face a primary challenge from Carson Creef, of Wanchese, who has also filed to run from that district.
In District 2, incumbent Republican and Board Chair Bob Woodard has filed for re-election and he will be challenged by Kill Devil Hills Democrat Katie Morgan, who has also filed to run for that seat.
In District 3, incumbent Republican Steve House is the only candidate to have filed so far.
On the school committee side, incumbent Republican David Twiddy is the only candidate so far to have filed to run for that body’s at-large seat next year.
As far as Dare County’s State House contingent goes, it looks like there will be at least a general election battle for the District 79 NC House seat—which covers the southern part of Dare County—currently held by Republican Keith Kidwell. Kidwell, of Chocowinity, has filed to run as has a Democrat in that district, Mary Beedle of Washington.
In NC House District 1, which covers the rest of Dare County, incumbent Republican Edward Goodwin of Edenton is the only candidate to have thus far filed to seek the seat in 2024.
Finally, some redrawing of district lines means that Dare County residents will be getting a new state senator with the county moved out of the district now represented by incumbent Republican Norman Sanderson. As of now, the one candidate who has filed to run for the remade NC Senate District 1 seat is incumbent Republican Bobby Hanig, of Powells Point, who currently represents Senate District 3.
Hanig is not a stranger to Dare County, having represented it in the NC House after ousting incumbent and former Dare County Commissioner Beverly Boswell in the 2018 primary and Tess Judge in the general election.