BEAUFORT — Filing for 2021 municipal elections in Carteret County closes at noon Friday, and though the election isn’t until November, officials have planning well underway.
As of close of business Tuesday, 42 candidates have filed for 36 open seats spread across the county’s 11 towns. During Wednesday’s County Board of Elections meeting, Director Caitlin Sabadish said they expect a bit of a last-minute flurry ahead of Friday’s filing deadline.
Potential candidates must visit the BOE office at 1702 Live Oak St. in Beaufort by noon Friday to file. The fee for all seats if $5. All races are nonpartisan, and there are no primary contests.
The deadline to withdraw from a race was Tuesday, though no one did.
The 2021 municipal elections are set for Tuesday, Nov. 2, but the elections staff is already well into planning.
Also Wednesday, the BOE turned down a staff suggestion to reduce one-stop early voting sites to two, citing drive times for those in the farthest reaches of the county.
“I feel we have an obligation to make it as easy for the voters as we can and encourage voting,” Vice Chairperson Jeanette Deese said, noting she harbored mixed feelings about closing one-stop sites voters are accustomed to visiting.
Staff had suggested just two voting sites – open Thursday, Oct. 14 to Saturday, Oct. 30 – to reduce costs and the need for poll workers due to historically low turnout for municipal elections.
While the board conceded turnout was low, all five members spoke in favor of opening three early voting sites as usual for municipal elections in Carteret County.
“I know the numbers don’t seem to warrant a third site, but we have to think about the people in that vicinity and I don’t know if that isn’t pulling the rug out from under some of those people,” Chariperson Susie Cuthrell said.
The board has yet to adopt its one-stop plan as required by the state, but with Wednesday’s direction, the office is likely to open sites at Fort Benjamin Park Recreation Center in Newport, Western Park Community Center in Cedar Point and its own office in Beaufort.
Similarly, the board considered suggestions for temporary precinct changes for this fall’s municipal election at Wednesday’s meeting. Such voter transfers are common during municipal elections, when only those within incorporated town limits can cast a ballot.
After discussion, the board tentatively agreed to several changes. Those include sending eligible voters from the North River precinct, which votes at East Carteret High School, and those from the Beaufort No. 2 precinct, which votes at the Carteret County Schools administration building, all to vote at the Beaufort No. 1 precinct, which casts ballots at the Boys and Girls Club on Mulberry Street in Beaufort. Staff also proposed sending eligible voters from the Newport No. 2 precinct, which votes at Holly Springs Free Will Baptist Church, to Newport No. 1, located at St. James United Methodist Church.
Finally, the board is looking to close the Wildwood precinct, which votes at Fort Benjamin, for election day. Voters in Wildwood eligible to vote in Newport’s elections will go to Newport No. 1, while those eligible to vote in Morehead City’s elections would cast a ballot at Morehead City No. 4, which is Open Door Baptist Church.
Like the one-stop plan, the board has yet to make a final decision on the precinct transfers. Action on both is set for a BOE meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17.
Following is the list of filed candidates in the 2021 municipal election, as of close of business Tuesday. The symbol (i) denotes an incumbent candidate.
Atlantic Beach Mayor, one seat:
- A.B. (Trace) Cooper III (i)
Atlantic Beach Town Council, five seats:
- Danny Navey (i)
- Joseph (Joey) Starling
- Austin Waters (i)
- Joey Dean
Beaufort Mayor, one seat:
- Sharon Harker
- John Mattson
Beaufort Board of Commissioners, two seats:
- Melvin Cooper
- Charles Steven McDonald (i)
- Bucky Oliver
Bogue Mayor, one seat:
- Robert O’Chat (i)
Bogue Town Council, two seats:
- Charles A Wilton (i)
- David Padgett (i)
Cape Carteret Board of Commissioners, three seats:
- Steve Martin (i)
- David Monroe
- Charlie Morgan
- John P. Ritchie
- Cameron Watts
- Sarah Wax
Cedar Point Board of Commissioners, three seats:
- John Nash (i)
- Joshua Reilly
- Pamela Castellano (i)
Emerald Isle Mayor, one seat:
- Jason Holland
Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners, three seats:
- Candace Dooley (i)
- Travis Speight
- Mark Taylor (i)
- Jamie L. Vogel
Indian Beach Board of Commissioners, three seats:
- Randall T. Bentley
Morehead City Mayor, one seat:
- Jerry Jones (i)
Morehead City Council, two seats
- George W. Ballou (i)
- Kerri McCann (i)
Newport Mayor, one seat:
- Dennis R. Barber (i)
Newport Town Council, two seats
- Rhonda Shinn (i)
Peletier Board of Commissioners, three seats:
- Tim Quinn
- Dan Taylor (i)
- Steven Overby
- Alice Holmes Dunn (i)
Pine Knoll Shores Mayor, one seat:
- John R. Brodman (i)
Pine Knoll Shores Board of Commissioners, three seats:
- Larry Corsello (i)
- Alicia Kramer Durham (i)
- Bill Knecht (i)
Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:37 a.m. Monday, July 19, 2021, to reflect that there are three seats open this election cycle on the Emerald Isle Board of Commissioners, not two as previously reported by the BOE.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.