By Peter Vankevich
Hyde County elections on Ocracoke’s ballot Nov. 4, will take a second seat to many important state-wide ones. The reason? Little to no competition.
County commissioners up for reelection–Benjamin Simmons (Fairfield Township), Barry Swindell (Currituck) and Dick Tunnell (Swan Quarter)–are unopposed, as are the current Ocracoke Sanitary Commissioners, Flavia Burton, William Caswell and Ronnie T. O’Neal.
For the Hyde County Sheriff race, McGuire Cahoon, who beat Shannon Swindell in the May primary, has an unaffiliated challenger, Tim Weston. There has not been much evidence of a campaign by Weston.
The Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor position has two candidates, Daren Hubers and J.W. Spencer, both incumbents, and the ballot permits two votes. Spencer currently serves as the chairman.
The highest profile election is for the U.S. Senate seat.
Incumbent Kay Hagan (D) is running against Thom Tillis (R), and Sean Haugh (L). Since party control of the Senate will be close, the North Carolina race has drawn national attention and may become the most expensive race in Senate history with more than $100 million projected to be spent.
Although the libertarian candidate, Haugh, is not expected to win, he could draw enough votes from the other two candidates to have an impact on the decision.
Since the Hagan and Tillis campaigns have plenty of money it’s hard to avoid their increasingly negative political ads on television and via the U.S. Postal Service.
Walter Jones (R), who staved off a Tea Party challenge in the May primary and Marshall Adame (D) face off for the Congressional House Seat (District 3), of which Ocracoke is a part.
Ocracoke voters also should pay close attention to the two State Assembly races.
Bill Cook (R- Chocowinity) and Stan M. White (D-Mann’s Harbor) are vying to represent Ocracoke (District 1) in the State Senate, and Paul Tine (D-Kitty Hawk) and Mattie Lawson (R-Kill Devil Hills) for the NC House of Representatives District 6. Both of these are rematches of very close primary races.
White was appointed in 2011 to represent Senate District 1 following the mid-term resignation of Sen. Marc Basnight. White lost the 2012 election by 21 votes out of more than 87,000 cast. Tine beat Lawson by only one percent in the last election.
Anyone interested in doing due diligence before deciding on the best candidates will need plenty of time to sift through not only the above candidates but also the 10 nonpartisan judicial races on the ballot. For example, for one of the State of Appeals judgeships, there are 19 candidates.
There is also a constitutional amendment that would permit a criminal defendant to waive a jury trial in cases that the state is not seeking the death penalty.
The N.C. State Board of Elections recently sent a general election guide to all residential customers, and to further help voters with decisions, the Observer is providing web links to several nonpartisan resources.
Hyde County Elections Office http://www.hydecountync.gov/departments/elections_office.php
NC State Board of Elections:
2014 N.C. Voter Guide
The League of Women Voters of North Carolina
Judicial Races :
North Carolina Bar Association