Voters made sweeping changes in Tuesday’s municipal elections – the incumbent mayor and three incumbent aldermen in Southport were swept from the board, and at Oak Island incumbent Mayor Cin Brochure was upset by newcomer Ken Thomas.

Southport sweep

Dr. Joe Pat Hatem defeated two-term incumbent Jerry Dove in the race for mayor of Southport.

It was yet another rematch between Dove and challenger Hatem, who have faced each other in three elections since 2015. Both years it was a close election, with Hatem losing by 13 votes in the 2017 race. This year, Hatem won with approximately 63% of the votes, 1,061 to 616 unofficially.

“I think the difference this time was if you were at the polls, it was a large turnout. You could tell,” Hatem said Tuesday night. “And secondly, the town was ready for change; everywhere we campaigned, that was the common theme.”

There are also three new Southport aldermen: for aldermen in Ward 2, Lowe Davis and John Allen defeated the two incumbents Rick Pukenas and Jim Powell. Long-time alderman Nelson Adams, seeking a return to the board, received the third-highest number of votes but fell short, with Eric King behind him.

Unofficial vote totals were: Davis 930, Allen 661, Adams 427, King 391, Pukenas 351 and Powell 251.

In Ward 1, Tom Lombardi won over David Miller and incumbent Robert Tucker. (Tucker withdrew from the race once it was too late to remove his name from the ballot but announced days before polling he was in the running again.)

Vote totals for Ward 1 were: Lombardi 805, Miller 659 and Tucker 128. Lombardi, Allen and Davis will serve four-year terms.

“I think that we can do an awful lot to improve the transparency,” Davis said Tuesday night. “I know the new mayor has some great ideas.”

Hatem said one of his top priorities is “bringing

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openness and credibility to the decision-making process of the Board of Aldermen.” He plans to allow up to five minutes per speaker for public comments.

Throughout the race, Dove and Hatem have agreed on similar broad issues such as protecting the waterfront and addressing infrastructure, but differed in the handling of aldermen meetings and the city’s recent decision to build its own sewer plant.

Another one of their differentiations was their resumes: Dove ran on the campaign, “Experience Counts,” often noting his 25 years as a Southport city employee. Hatem’s slogan was a “Better Way Forward,” and he spoke of how his 30-plus year career as an emergency room physician demonstrated how he would tackle city issues.

“I want to bring the town together,” said Hatem. “We want to make progress, we want to move forward, we want to bring gentleness, we want to preserve this quaint village while moving it to the 21st century.”

Seats held by aldermen Marc Spencer, Karen Mosteller and Lora Sharkey are not up for election until 2021.

Oak Island upset

Political newcomer Ken Thomas upset incumbent Oak Island Mayor Cin Brochure in Tuesday’s election. The other Oak Island incumbents – Charlie Blalock, Jeff Winecoff and Sheila Bell – were re-elected.

Unofficial results were unclear at press time, but Brochure conceded to Thomas by a margin of 1,123 to 1,237. Unofficial totals put Charlie Blalock with 1,361 votes; Sheila Bell with 1,354 and Jeff Winecoff at 1,463.

Former council member Dara Royal garnered 1,244 votes; while Mike Defeo got 1,084 and Niki Cutler scored 908.

Thomas said he would work hard for the community.

“I am extremely happy to see so many people agree that we need changes here in Oak Island, Thomas stated. “With my leadership, we as a council will work hard for each and every member of our beach community. From fixing the budget to repairing our roads to increasing the transparency from Town Hall, we have a huge job to do the next two years.”

Thomas thanked his supporters and asked them to help make Oak Island a friendly beach.

Bald Head Island

Michael Brown took 100 votes, followed by Peter Quinn with 97 and Kit Adcock polled 82. They all took three council seats. Other candidates Dan McConnell polled 74.; Joe Brawner had 65 votes and John Fisher had 40.

Caswell Beach

Mayor Deborah Ahlers and incumbent commissioners Dan O’Neill, Martyn Clarke and Ken Hudson were unopposed.

St. James

Incumbents Jean Toner garnered 441 votes and Lynn Dutney polled 446. Toner is the incumbent mayor; however, the town council – not the voters – selects the mayor.

Early voting in South Brunswick ranged from ho-hum to enthusiastic.

One-stop early voting, mail-in early ballots and curbside assistance for handicap voters was 40-percent for Bald Head Island (a three-hour commute to the polling place). Seven-percent of Southport’s voters cast ballots early, while 5-percent of the Oak Island electorate voted early. Two-percent of Boiling Spring Lakes voters cast early ballots.

Dosher Hospital trustees

Incumbents Debbie Wood and Robert Howard won re-election to the Dosher Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees. They will be joined by newcomer Jwantana Gardner Frink.

Those were the tree top vote-getters Tuesday in a four-way race for three open seats. They will serve six-year terms. Joe Agovino, who was attempting a return to the board, finished fourth.

Vote totals were unofficially: Wood 2,957, Howard 2,381, Frink 2,326 and Agovino 2,183.

Frink will fill the seat held by longtime trustee Sherri Marshall, who chose not to seek re-election. Agovino, who served on the board for ten years previously, was attempting a comeback.

Linda Pukenas was unopposed on Tuesday’s ballot for her unexpired seat on the board. She was appointed to the seat held by Jim White, who resigned in 2018. Her seat will also be up for election to a full six-year term in 2021.

Boiling Spring Lakes

Boiling Spring Lakes Mayor Craig Caster has been re-elected for a fourth term.

By a margin of 61 votes, the incumbent mayor retained his seat for another two years, totaling 405 votes.

Caster has served as mayor for six years. Before that, he was a commissioner for two terms, a total of eight years. In 2017, he ran unopposed, but this year, he faced two challengers.

Eric Maynes received 344 votes and Tim Fullmer had 213.

Caster has campaigned on promises of continued road paving, improvements to ditches and stormwater runoff, and advancing the commercial district along N.C. Highway 87. He often cited his work in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

Newcomers Teagan Perry Hall and Tom Guzulaitis will take the two open seats on the city’s board of commissioners. Hall was the top vote-getter with 561 votes. Guzulaitis received the next highest amount, 473 votes, defeating incumbent Dana Witt, who received 382 votes.

Hall and Guzulaitis will serve four-year terms.

Candidates Ernie Siriani and Phil Casper fell behind Witt with 247 and 148 votes respectively.

Seats held by commissioners Guy Auger and Steven Barger are not up for election until 2021.

Early voting

Early voting in South Brunswick ranged from ho-hum to enthusiastic.

One-stop early voting, mail-in early ballots and curbside assistance for handicap voters was 40-percent for Bald Head Island (a three-hour commute to the polling place). Seven-percent of Southport’s voters cast ballots early, while 5-percent of the Oak Island electorate voted early. Two-percent of Boiling Spring Lakes voters cast early ballots.

Election results compiled by Alexandria Sands, Lee Hinnant, Morgan Harper and Terry Pope.