To catch up on Ocracoke news, click here
This is the first of a series of articles the Observer will run about the Nov. 6 general election.
Two of the five Hyde County commissioner seats are up for mid-term election Nov. 6.
Current commissioners Barry Swindell (Currituck Township) and Dick Tunnell (Swan Quarter Township) did not seek reelection.
All registered voters in Hyde County can vote for all commissioner candidates since they represent the county at large. The three candidates responded to our request to share their views with our readers.
Currituck Township candidates:
Ken Collier (R)
Born and raised in Cumberland County near Fayetteville, Collier graduated from high school in 1960. He enlisted in the Army in 1962 and proudly served in Vietnam, Germany and Korea and retired in 1985. He has lived in Hyde County since 1997.
We live in the second largest county in N.C., but we have little or no infrastructure. When the children of Hyde County graduate high school, most leave the county to continue their education. In doing so, most find jobs elsewhere. There are no jobs to entice them to return to Hyde County. Therefore, the county is aging out.
Our county has lost the 911 Emergency System to Dare County. We have no mosquito control (on the mainland) which helps prevent diseases carried by them. It was discontinued because of funds.
If elected, I will work to get these restored and work to attract more infrastructure to Hyde County. At present, Ocracoke is carrying most of the financial load for the entire county.
Michael (Shannon) Swindell, (U), Sladesville
Swindell has lived in Hyde County most of his life. He spent seven years on the northern Outer Banks with his own construction company and worked for two years on Ocracoke while he was with the Sheriff’s Department.
He is a self-employed builder and a beef cattle farmer. He also opened a small coffee shop and owns a shrimp trawler.
Hyde County faces many of the same issues that most rural communities are dealing with–population decline, less local commerce and limited employment opportunities.
As a small business owner in the farming, commercial fishing and building trades, I have a front row seat to the economic realities facing our county. Investment in small businesses that provide goods and services to the county and surrounding areas, such as the tourist population of the Outer Banks, is a start. This business model takes initiative and cooperation, both traits that run deep in the people of Hyde County.
Swan Quarter District candidates:
One write-in candidate is running in this district. See below for explanation.
James “Little Brother” Topping (D)
A lifelong resident of Hyde County, Topping attended O.A. Peay School and graduated from Mattamuskeet High School. He is a retired corrections officer at the Hyde Correctional Institution and prior to that was a home improvement contractor.
As a former county commissioner representing Swan Quarter from 1989 to 1991, I know the duties of a commissioner to make the county a better place for our young and elderly to live and work. Since I served on the board, Hyde County has decreased in population and family businesses. We need to make the mainland a better place to live.
My goal is to find ways to bring more jobs to the county so that we will retain and gain more young people and bring revenue back to the county. Most of our revenue is sent to surrounding counties, which does not help our county flourish the way it should.
I would like to see the 911 call center routed back to Hyde County because that means we will be able to employ more people in Hyde County.
I would like to find ways to help the school system find highly qualified teachers from our county that are willing to stay in our area to make sure our kids are successful in the world outside of academia.
I will work with the islanders in any way I can to help them. I want to represent the entire county, including Ocracoke.
Write-in spots for Hyde County commissioner, nonpartisan seats
For Swan Quarter, James Topping is the only name on the ballot. Below that name is a write-in space.
In North Carolina, to become a certified write-in candidate, a person must must complete a petition process, including obtaining a certain number of signatures.
According to Viola Williams, Hyde County Elections Office director, Chris Williams met that requirement.
In the March primary, Topping defeated Joey Williams as the Democratic nominee for Swan Quarter county commissioner. No other candidates were on the ballot for this seat. Chris Williams is the brother of Joey and is the owner of Chris’s Grocery in Swan Quarter.
The ballot also has write-in spaces for the two nonpartisan offices, the Ocracoke Sanitary District the Soil & Water Conservation District. The Sanitary District, which is the water board, and has three candidates (voters may vote for three) Ronnie T. O’Neal, Flavia Burton and William Caswell, and the Soil & Water Conservation District has two candidates, Daren Hubers and J.W. Spencer. Voters may choose two.
There is no petition process to qualify as a write-in candidate for a nonpartisan election or a municipal election, whether partisan or nonpartisan, and the option to write in a candidate is automatically included on the ballot for these contests.
These are the other local elections:
Board of Education At-Large candidates (vote for two): Lindsey Mooney (D), Myra Chandler (D) and Aleta Cox (R).
Board of Education Ocracoke District (vote for one): Angela Todd (D, incumbent)
Clerk of Superior Court (vote for one): Brandy Pugh (D, incumbent)
Register of Deeds (vote for one): E. Merita Lewis-Spencer (D, incumbent)
Sheriff (vote for one): Larry Weston (U); Carl Guire Cahoon (D, incumbent)