On reported strong voter turnout, Wrightsville Beach Aldermen Henry “Hank” Miller, III won re-election on Tuesday while town planning board chair Ken Dull won the second of two seats up for election.
Miller won 466 votes, while Dull captured 456 through early voting and ballots cast today at the Fran Russ Recreation Center. Publisher Pat Bradford took 186 votes, while former legislative aide Pat Prince won 148 votes and realtor Sounia Nejad Chaney won 98 votes. Also on the ballot was Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair, who ran unopposed. Dull captures the seat vacated by Aldermen Lisa Weeks, who did not run for re-election and said she had encouraged Dull to run for the seat.
Candidates at the polling location at the town’s municipal complex today reported strong turnout for the five-candidate race. Compared with 2015, where no candidates were challenged thus resulting in turnout of less than 250, at least 679 voters cast ballots in the Wrightsville Beach precinct this year.
For Dull, who has several years experience as an appointee on boards in New Hanover County, Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, the campaign was his first for public office, adding that he enjoyed the experience of running for office.
“I got to know a lot of folks that I didn’t know,” Dull said. “It’s helped give me a well-rounded view of what’s happening on the beach.”
Both Dull and Miller said that the voters they spoke with generally supported the direction of the town, but wanted attention paid to a few key issues facing the board.
“We’ve done a good job on taxes, we’re always going to do that,” Miller said. “People were pretty happy with what the present board has done and I was running to continue that work.”
One issue that the newly elected board members will face will be how to improve the town’s aging water and sewer system. Another will be to secure sustainable funding for beach renourishment projects.
Dull, the president of McKinley Building Corporation, said several voters said they believed his background in engineering would help when it came to finding solutions on the town’s aging system.
“They said they believe that drinking water is so important and that I had the best experience to help in that direction,” Dull said.
All candidates said they saw strong turnout at the polling location. Even Blair, running unopposed, spent much of the day at the polling location with the other candidates.
“I met a lot of people I had never met before,” Blair said. I think whether opposed or not, you owe it to the constituents to present yourself so they know who you are.”
The turnout was similar to the last competitive cycle for the board of aldermen in 2013, where 675 voters came out. Miller captured 396 votes and Weeks earned 373 votes to earn seats on the board. However, the 2013 cycle was also much closer, as candidates Bill Sisson and Andy Hall were within 110 votes of Miller.