BY JOY CRIST
In this follow-up to our Election Preview, let’s take a closer look at the Dare County Board of Commissioners races, as well as one of the more controversial aspects of the ballot for 2018, the six proposed amendments to the North Carolina constitution.
There are two contested elections for the seven-member Board of Commissioners (BOC) which includes District 1 and the At-Large seat. Like our last blog entry covering several of the stand-out state races, all of the candidate information below is derived from the candidates’ personal websites, interviews, and / or personal statements made in varying mediums throughout their campaigns.
BOC District 1: Jim Tobin versus Rosemarie Doshier
District 1 comprises of Roanoke Island and the Dare County mainland communities of East Lake, Stumpy Point, and Manns Harbor, although every Dare County resident can cast a vote for the future board member in this region, as well as all districts.
Republican Jim Tobin is the incumbent Commissioner for District 1, having been appointed to the seat in 2017 after Margarette Umphlett resigned. Originally born in California, Tobin is the owner and operator of Pirates Cove Yacht Club and Marina, and is also the Chairman of the Dare County's Oregon Inlet Task Force. He has also served as president of the Manteo Rotary Club and Assistant Governor of the Rotary District 7720, Director of the NC Agriculture Foundation and NC Marine Industrial Park Authority, and has been on the Advisory Council for the Monitor Marine Sanctuary and NC Cooperative Extension Advisory.
Democrat Rosemarie Doshier has been a Dare County resident for 45 years, and a local Realtor for 30 years. She has had a lot of community involvement with Dare County Schools as well as Dare County Parks and Rec, created the REALTOR Disaster Relief Committee after Hurricane Emily, and served as Chair of the East Lake Community Center, where she fought to prevent East Lake from losing several houses, two churches, and the community center due to the widening of U.S. Highway 64. Doshier has also been active in local and state issues via the State Employees Association, and is active on local, state and national levels of the REALTORS Association and its societies.
Both candidates have listed stormwater management as top priorities for Dare County in the next several years, and have talked about the importance of addressing the year-round housing crunch as well as the county’s drug epidemic. They are also both firmly opposed to offshore drilling along the coast of North Carolina. A complete interview which touches on the public education system, healthcare services in the county, the economy, and other current issues can be found online at vote411.org.
BOC At-Large Seat: Anne Petera versus Ervin Bateman
The At-Large seat is opening with the retirement of current Commissioner Jack Shea, so the Board of Commissioners will have at least one new member after the November 6 election.
Anne Petera was the Assistant Secretary of U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security from 2006-2009 by appointment of President George W. Bush, and also served as Secretary of the Commonwealth of Virginia and as Director of Administration for the Virginia Attorney General. She also spent 13 years in Commercial Banking and retired to the Outer Banks in 2015. Her local community involvement includes volunteer service at the Beach Food Pantry and Creative Choices Crisis Pregnancy, and serving as a member of the Dare Co. COA Task Force.
Elvin Bateman is a sixth generation Outer Banks resident who is the owner and operator of the Sugar Creek Restaurant, Sugar Shack Seafood Market and Poor Ridge Seafood. Bateman has been a member of the Kitty Hawk Town Council for the past 14 years, and is also one of the co-founders of the Outer Banks Relief Foundation and Outer Banks Sporting Events. His local community involvement also includes serving or working with the Kitty Hawk Recreation Committee, Kitty Hawk Planning Board, Outer Banks Tourism Bureau, Saving Lives Task Force, Dare CASA, Outer Banks Running Club, and Fundraiser for Dare Challenge.
This is an interesting race as the candidates have demonstrably different roots and backgrounds in local and national government. Despite these big differences, however, both candidates have emphasized the importance of fiscal constraint during their campaigns, and have vocally opposed offshore drilling along the North Carolina coastline. In fact, both Petera and Bateman listed offshore drilling as one of the most important issues that the Dare County Commission will need to address in the next two years, with Bateman also noting that protecting the billion dollar tourism industry of the Outer Banks was of top importance as well. A complete interview with both candidates on hot topics for Dare County can be found online at vote411.org.
There are six state constitutional amendments on the ballot this year, which, for the most part, tend to be supported or opposed along party lines. The amendments on the ballot are the following, verbatim, with options to vote “For” or “Against” for each:
1. Constitutional amendment protecting the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife.
2. Constitutional amendment to strengthen protections for victims of crime; to establish certain absolute basic rights for victims; and to ensure the enforcement of these rights.
3. Constitutional amendment to reduce the income tax rate in North Carolina to a maximum allowable rate of seven percent (7%).
4. Constitutional amendment to establish an eight-member Bipartisan Board of Ethics and Elections Enforcement in the Constitution to administer ethics and elections law.
5. Constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification before voting in person.
6. Constitutional amendment to change the process for filling judicial vacancies that occur between judicial elections from a process in which the Governor has sole appointment power to a process in which the people of the State nominate individuals to fill vacancies by way of a commission comprised of appointees made by the judicial, executive, and legislative branches charged with making recommendations to the legislature as to which nominees are deemed qualified; then the legislature will recommend at least two nominees to the Governor via legislative action not subject to gubernatorial veto; and the Governor will appoint judges from among these nominees.
Though all of the amendments have garnered some level of controversy, with some critics citing them as “solutions in search of problems,” it’s arguably the amendment to require voters to show photo identification, and the amendment to change the process of filling judicial vacancies, that have caused the most discussion, state-wide.
Supporters of the photo ID amendment say the measure will curb voter fraud, while opponents say that voter fraud is a rare issue at best, and the amendment will create obstacles for seniors, veterans, young people, and people of different ethnicities.
This is not the first time the idea of enacting a voter ID law has popped up on the state level in recent years. A law was passed in 2013 that required voters to show a photo identification card, but it was eventually overturned in parts by a federal appeals court, which stated that it was enacted "with racially discriminatory intent" in violation of the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.
The current proposed amendment addressing the filling of judicial vacancies has also sparked frustration among opponents who say it’s an effort by a Republican-controlled General Assembly to restrict the governor’s ability to appoint judges when a judicial vacancy occurs, while supporters attest that it would end the practice of patronage judicial appointments.
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on for any of these hot button issues, it’s clear that the 2018 Election is shaping up to be one of the most interesting and potentially influential elections in recent history. And the only way to ensure that you have a say in how our government takes shape in the future is to get out to vote.
Remember, Early Voting is still Ongoing!
One-stop or “early voting” officially began on Wednesday, October 17, and Hatteras Island residents can head to the Fessenden Center Annex, which is on the edge of Buxton Back Road, any time before Election Day to vote during this time period, regardless of their precinct.
The Fessenden Center Annex is open on weekdays for one-stop voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and is also open on several Saturdays or Sundays as November 6 approaches. A complete schedule for early voting can be found here: http://islandfreepress.org/2018Archives/10.17.2018-EarlyVotingBeginsTodayInDareCounty.html, and you can find additional voting information including polling places at the Dare County website at https://www.darenc.com/departments/board-of-elections/voter-information.