By 4 PM Tuesday afternoon, Marvin McFadyen, Director of the New Hanover County Board of Elections, predicted voter turnout would reach about 12% of registered voters.
It’s Election Day around the region – and municipal races are being decided in Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover Counties. At Wilmington’s Senior Resource Center, typically one of the busier polling locations, campaign workers reported an increasingly steady stream of voters as the warm, sunny afternoon wore on.
And the issue at the forefront for more than a few voters: the growing violence in Wilmington.
Elections officials say they don’t expect robust voter turnout today because it’s an “off” year in elections parlance – due to the lack of major races. But the voters that did come out today affirm the notion that the smaller contests – such as the Wilmington City Council race – are important.
Joette Smith says while she’d like to see the end of expensive and unnecessary government studies, there’s a deeper issue for her.
"I want peace in Wilmington. I want to live in a peaceful town where the people are happy and safe."
Meade Van Pelt says she came out to support Derek Bickel and Charlie Rivenbark because she knows them personally.
"Public safety is big right now – and that’s one of the things that Derek is focusing on. I like the fact that he has young children. I think it’s important to focus on the children growing up here."
Kevin O’Grady, an incumbent hoping to win a second term on Wilmington’s City Council, says he’s seen a slow but consistent flow since hitting the campaign trail this morning.
"Well, it started at 5 – putting the signs out at the polling places. It’s retail politics. One voter at a time."
Sara Henderson is campaigning for incumbent Charlie Rivenbark, who is seeking his fourth term. Henderson says voter traffic has been higher at the Senior Resource Center – helped a bit, perhaps, by balmy temperatures and sunny skies.
"Come out and join us – and just – whatever – get out and vote."
Polls are open in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties until 7:30 PM.