2019 Municipal Election Results
The 2019 Municipal Elections in our area saw some of the most competitive races in recent memory. Most notably, the race for Wilmington Mayor which included longtime incumbent Bill Saffo and challenger Devon Scott, concluded with a difference of only 630 votes. The city also saw Kevin Spears take 2nd place in the initial results for City Council, displacing incumbent Paul Lawler, who placed only six votes behind fellow incumbent Neil Anderson.
City of Wilmington
Bill Saffo 51.63%
Devon Scott 47.41%
Margaret Haynes* 16.45%
Kevin Spears 14.33%
Neil Anderson* 13.67%
Paul Lawler* 13.65%
*Incumbent Council Members
Incumbent Mayor Bill Saffo won with 51.63% of the vote; challenger Devon Scott, a political newcomer and arguably Saffo's first serious competitor since he's been in office, won 47.41%.
In an exciting upset, challenger and political activist Kevin Spears wins the second most votes for council, behind Mayor Pro Tempore, Margaret Haynes. That left incumbents Neil Anderson and Paul Lawler within six votes of each other, with Anderson ahead.
Kevin Spears is a lifelong Wilmingtonian and Hoggard High School graduate. After running in the 2016 New Hanover County School Board election, he decided to run for Wilmington City Council in 2019. On his website, Spears cites safe neighborhoods, affordable housing, community equity, and living wages as key issues in his campaign.
What Happens Next:
The remainder of absentee ballots postmarked for November 5th are due to be counted on Thursday, November 14th by the Board of Elections, along with provisional ballots and any write-ins. With the delta being six votes, there is still a possibility that the outcome could change.
Paul Lawler has requested a recount after the final round of provisional and absentee ballots reduced Anderson's lead to only six votes. The recount will occur on Thursday, 11/21,
LeAnn Pierce 53.83%
Tom Elicson 40.05%
Lynn Barbee 32.65%
Jay Healy 28.88%
Steve Shuttleworth* 28.75%
In an historic election for Carolina Beach, the town elected its first female mayor in history, LeAnn Pierce. Pierce served a term as town council member, before deciding to make a run for mayor following incumbent mayor Joe Benson's announcement that he wouldn't be seeking reelection. With her vacant seat and Steve Shuttleworth's up for election, challengers Lynn Barbee and Jay Healy won both seats on council.
Town of Leland
Brenda Bozeman* 77.51%
Shirley Lawler 22.23%
Veronica Carter 36.14%
Bob Campbell* 33.74%
Michael Callahan did not seek reelection, and his seat was won by political newcomer Veronica Carter, a former UN Peacekeeper and longtime environmental activist, who has served on the North Carolina Coastal Federation Board of Directors, the Duke Superfund Advisory Board and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary’s Environmental Justice and Equity Board.
Campaigns this year did so much to energize groups of citizens that may not have otherwise voted, and as a result, turnout in New Hanover County was improved nearly 5% from 14.64% in 2017 to 19.06%. Early vote turnout was improved by nearly 300%, and on October 27th over 300 people participated in Sunday Voting, setting a local record.
This year, the candidates in our area who ran and won (or came close to it) were young, energetic, and people of color. Candidates raised concerns about over development, traffic, green spaces, and economic development, which have at a minimum begun discussions that may never have taken place if not for their candidacy, and for that they should be applauded.