Wright vs. House in GOP primary for Dare Board seat

By on February 18, 2020

Paul Wright and Steve House. (Michelle Wagner)

Incumbent Steve House will face Kitty Hawk resident Paul Wright in the upcoming GOP primary race for the Dare County Board of Commissioners District 3 seat — the only primary fight for a commissioner’s seat. And while both candidates share a few priorities – such as addressing the local housing crisis – they differ on a number of issues they would focus on if elected.

Whoever emerges from the March 3 primary will face Democrat Kathy McCullough-Testa during November’s general election in the race for the seat that represents Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and Duck.

House, owner of First Flight Home Service, has more than 30 years of experience in emergency services, is seeking his second term on the board after defeating Democrat Monica Thibodeau in 2016. He lives in Southern Shores with his wife, Cheryl House, who is the Dare County Register of Deeds. House asserts that he is a strong voice for the local fishing community and has worked to defeat or change regulations that negatively impact that industry.

Wright, from Kitty Hawk, is the Outer Banks sales and service rep and technician for Erlich Pest Control. He is also an elected member of the Dare County Soil and Water Conservation District Board. As a self-described recovering alcoholic, Wright says he has dedicated himself to supporting those struggling with substance abuse in the community and would be focused on addiction-related issues if elected.

In an interview with the Voice, House points to his record as commissioner of supporting the commercial fishing industry as one of his strong points, noting that he has signed on to more than a dozen resolutions opposing regulations that damage that industry.

“Our fishermen are suffering and [the industry] is at critical stages,” asserted House.

House said he was part of an effort in 2018 to revive the Dare County Commission for Working Watermen, a group that provides guidance to local officials on issues that involving the fishing industry. He notes that he is an advocate of keeping Dare County’s waterways open and was part of the effort by the Oregon Inlet Task Force to form a public-private partnership to secure $15 million in state monies to build a dredge to keep Oregon and Hatteras inlets clear.

Jetties at Oregon Inlet are another priority for House, who said that the push for those structures has been hit “a brick wall” over the years due to the opposition of environmental groups.

As for the issue of affordable housing which the board of commissioners has identified as a key need in the county, House said that a recent partnership between the county the UNC School of Government to study and identify potential areas for housing is a step in the right direction. “We are now at desperate levels,” he said, adding that employers struggle to recruit potential employees because they can’t find a place to live.

For his part, Wright said one of his greatest concerns as a commissioner would be to address the local opioid crisis. During a Voice interview, he stated that he would like to work to bring a detox treatment facility, if not to Dare County, then at least to the region.

“I’m very passionate about this because I know the struggles that people go through,” Wright said, adding that he personally experienced the impacts of the housing crisis. “Housing prices are only getting higher…How can an official that sits on the board of commissioners know what people are going through and they’re not challenged with these things personally themselves?”

In addition, Wright said he’d like to see Dare County focus more on conservation and the rebuilding of infrastructure by establishing municipal service districts to mitigate flood water.

“What is sad is that we are one of the richest counties in the state of North Carolina, and Currituck County is far more advanced in their conservation and infrastructure practices,” he said. “Until we can invest some money in rebuilding this infrastructure, then we are going to lose what we got.”

As a member of the county conservation board, Wright said that he has helped to return Community Conservation Assistance Programs to the community. And referring to the recent purchase of Pamlico Jack’s by the Outer Banks Tourism Board, Wright asserted: “I believe our money can be better used for the infrastructure of the county and to help [tackle the opioid crisis] more than buying businesses and wasting our money right now on fruitless things like that right there.”

For his part, House said county commissioners have explored the idea of a substance abuse treatment facility in the county or region and said that a certificate of need and sustainability are significant hurdles. He added that the county commissioners were looking to address that issue at their upcoming retreat.


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  • Seal

    What I would like to hear and see is for someone (“House”) to address the issue of how the naming of the new “Oregon Inlet Bridge” was stolen from the people by Marc Basnight political cronies and Justifiable renamed!!!!!!!

    Wednesday, Feb 19 @ 6:11 am
  • Seriously?

    Concern for OI bridge naming origins is a fairly low priority on the Dare county agenda (for me anyway). I suspect I will drive over it regardless of the name. Fiscal prudence and foresight may more determine voting tendencies…

    Wednesday, Feb 19 @ 8:18 pm
  • Nicole

    Seal, with all the issues we have in Dare county the naming of a bridge is your main concern? A lot of people were upset by the naming of the bridge and we all call it the “Oregon Inlet Bridge” anyway and very rarely use its real name. Let’s focus on real issues.

    Thursday, Feb 20 @ 9:41 am
  • Steve

    I was one of the two board members that voted against renaming the bridge. I believe in preserving our history as the reason behind my vote against it. Marc Basnight is a good man and I thought we could honor him in a different way.

    Thursday, Feb 20 @ 10:01 am
  • Seal

    B.S Steve !!!! Like any good politician all of you tend to miss the real issue or cover it up !!!!
    It has nothing to do with renaming the bridge……………
    It has everything to do with ignoring the peoples vote !!!!!!!!
    You know the ones that you work for and are supposed to represent !!!!!
    And the ones that tend to think that we have the memory of a gnat STEVE and will not remember that you ignored us to brown nose and gain some brownie points !!!
    You and your fellow cronies had already well in advance decided to screw us and name the bridge what your little inner circle decided on. after all none of us will remember that will we ??? See you at the POLLS !!!!

    Friday, Feb 21 @ 8:14 am
  • Marie

    Seal, Seriously?
    Steve, as a family member of Two different Fishing Families, we thank you for your support and your help. We also appreciate your volunteer work through CAT5 Jeepers and the Dare County Motorsports Charity Group! It’s people like you who are not only a part of our community but an advocate for those in the community that make all the difference in Dare County! We appreciate all you do for us!

    Saturday, Feb 22 @ 10:17 pm