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2022 North Carolina Primary: Breaking down legislative, municipal, local races

WUNC Graphic
Elizabeth Baier

WUNC has all the coverage you need this election season. Be sure to check out our Races To Watch stories for everything you need to know about candidates in statewide, congressional, legislative and municipal elections. Subscribe to WUNC's Politics Podcast, and follow reporters Rusty Jacobs and Jeff Tiberii on Twitter.

While much of the attention in this election cycle in North Carolina is on the state's open U.S. Senate seat and a few high-profile Congressional races, there are also a few races of note at the hyperlocal level, where voters will elect new representatives to the state legislature, new mayors and new sheriffs.

We highlight a handful of those races here.

State Senate - District 19

There is perhaps no more notable legislative Democratic primary than the one playing out in Cumberland County.

There, two-term incumbent Kirk deViere — a center-left state senator — faces a challenge from Val Applewhite, a former Fayetteville City Council member. deViere found himself in a contested primary after he was considered as not being loyal enough to Gov. Roy Cooper. The Democratic Governor has long sought the expansion of Medicaid, which to date has not happened. deViere has, on occasion, been a crossover vote for some Republican backed policies, and was a vocal supporter of the state budget — which received bipartisan approval — last fall. This all helped to contribute to Cooper publicly endorsing the challenger, Applewhite.

The belief among Cooper and some of his closest advisers that deViere is too friendly with Republicans, and is not in line with Democratic priorities. The Republican side of this race includes Air Force veteran Dennis Britt and former state Senator Wesley Meredith.

State Senate - District 47

Because of redistricting, this Republican primary race will see a pair of incumbents face-off. Deanna Ballard has represented District 45 since 2016, while Ralph Hise — the co-chairman of the Senate Redistricting and Elections Committee — has represented District 47 since 2011.

Currently, there are no Democratic candidates running in this district, so — barring something wild — the winner of this primary will have a state senate seat in 2023.

Charlotte Mayor

Vi Lyles
Skip Foreman
AP Photo
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles is seeking a third term in office.

Vi Lyles is seeking a third term as the mayor of the Queen City, but faces a trio of challengers in the Democratic primary: Tigress Sydney Acute McDaniel, Tae McKenzie, and Lucille Puckett.

Both McDaniel and Puckett have previously run for mayor, while McKenzie is a model and activist.

This race was originally scheduled for 2021, but was pushed to 2022 — like several other municipal elections — due to redistricting delays.

Charlotte hasn’t had a Republican mayor since Pat McCrory, who served from 1995 to 2009, but two Republicans are on the ballot in Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao and Mohamed Moustafa.

Elizabeth City Mayor; Pasquotank County Sheriff, DA

Elizabeth City’s municipal elections are non-partisan, but voters in the city will elect its next mayor on May 17, the same day as Republican and Democratic primaries across the state. There is increased interest in this race because it’s been about a year since the city was thrust into the national spotlight, when Pasquotank County Sheriff Deputies shot and killed an unarmed Black man, Andrew Brown Jr.

The city’s current mayor, Bettie Parker, said in November that she would not seek re-election to a third term because of her husband’s health.

A billboard for Andrew Brown Jr is seen in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, April 11, 2022.
Allison Joyce
A billboard for Andrew Brown Jr. is seen in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, April 11, 2022.

Seeking the open seat are three candidates: Christina Williams, Jeannie Young and Kirk Rivers. Williams is the founder of the conservative Pasquotank Political Action Committee and is running on a “restore law and order” platform. Young is a First Ward Councilor, and Rivers is a former councilor whose brother leads the Pasquotank NAACP.

Voters in the area will also elect members to the Elizabeth City council, and a new commissioner and sheriff for Pasquotank County. Tommy Wooten is seeking re-election for Sheriff. Andrew Womble, the Pasquotank County district attorney who did not press charges against deputies who killed Brown, is running for superior court judge in the seven-county judicial district that includes Elizabeth City.

Wake County Sheriff

Democrat Gerald Baker is seeking re-election, but his road to another term is a crowded one. Nine other candidates have filed to challenge Baker, including six other Democrats and three Republicans.

One of the Republicans seeking the office is 76-year-old Donnie Harrison, who held the office from 2002 to 2018, when he was unseated by Baker. During his time in office, Baker has faced criticism, highlighted by 2020 protests in Raleigh where police officers and sheriff’s deputies deployed tear gas and less-lethal bullets.

Five different employees have also pursued lawsuits against Baker. Harrison’s time in office was not immune to criticism either. Opponents zeroed in on his participation in the 287(g) program and his cooperation with ICE.

Jeff Tiberii covers politics for WUNC. Before that, he served as the station's Greensboro Bureau Chief.
Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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