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By David Mickey

Three of Hyde County’s five county commissioner positions will be elected on Nov. 8. 

Each of the county’s five townships is represented by a commissioner who resides in that township but is elected countywide to a staggered four-year term. 

Two candidates are vying for the Lake Landing commissioner seat.

Earl Pugh
Earl Pugh

Incumbent Earl D. Pugh, Jr., a Republican and retired farmer, currently serves as the board’s chair.  He was first elected a commissioner in 2012, and previously served on the Hyde County School Board from 1990 to 2002.

He said his focus is on efficiency in government and ensuring a future for the young people of Hyde County.  As a commissioner he recognizes the issues faced by a rural county like Hyde and the unique challenges of providing services to Ocracoke given its remote location away from the mainland and the county seat in Swan Quarter.


Democrat Thomas Midgette of Engelhard is challenging Pugh. 

A retired educator after 30 years in the public schools, Midgette was most recently the Mattamuskeet Elementary School principal for the 2014 to 15 school year. 

“I’m running for county commissioner to give the average citizen a voice and to represent the people of Hyde County who have to go to work every day and are not the top 1 percent,” he said.

Benjamin Simmons III. Photo by P. Vankevich
Benjamin Simmons III. Photo by P. Vankevich

Benjamin Simmons III, a long-time resident of Hyde County and is the incumbent commissioner for Fairfield Township.  A farmer, Simmons first ran for election unopposed in 2014 and is again unopposed for the 2016 election.  His big concern for the county, including Ocracoke, is drainage and having the infrastructure necessary to manage the frequent flooding events that impact the county. 

Tom Pahl. Photo by P. Vankevich
Tom Pahl. Photo by P. Vankevich

After winning the March primary, Democrat Tom Pahl is unopposed to represent the island, and, barring a last-minute write-in campaign, will become the county’s newest commissioner. 

Pahl has lived on Ocracoke for the last 12 years and owns Landmark Building and Design, a construction and historic restoration business. 

In the primary, he stressed the need for teamwork in county government and treating all Hyde County citizens respectfully.  Reaching out to broader community groups for appointments to local boards is a priority.  For Ocracoke specifically, he saw a need for better relationships with the outside agencies that affect the island’s economy and way of life.

The last offices on the ballot are the Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor and the Ocracoke Sanitary District Supervisors. 

The Soil and Water board has five supervisors.  Three are elected and two are appointed by the North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Commission.  The district is responsible for implementing state and federal programs to promote best management practices that protect Hyde County’s soil and water. 

One position is on the ballot with one candidate, incumbent Darren Armstrong, who is the vice-chairman. 

Information about the district’s work can be found at

The Ocracoke Sanitary District was created by authority of the North Carolina Commission for Public Health.  District Supervisors are responsible for providing safe drinking water to the village.  Water is pumped from a 620-foot aquifer beneath the island and treated for distribution to the district’s customers. 

Two positions are on the ballot with two candidates, Regina Boor and Scott Bradley.



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