It’s Burrus vs. Bateman for Dare Commissioner’s seat

By on May 11, 2022

Candidates vying in Republican primary for at-large berth

Mike Burrus (left) and Ervin Bateman.

Political newcomer Mike Burrus of Wanchese is challenging incumbent Ervin Bateman of Kitty Hawk for the Dare County Board of Commissioners at-large seat in the upcoming May 17 Republican primary election. Democratic candidate Heather Euler of Buxton will face the winner of that primary in November.

Burrus, 38 and a native of Wanchese, works as a sales representative and installer at LL Flooring in Kill Devil Hills. Bateman, 67 is a sixth generation Outer Banker and the owner of Sugar Creek Restaurant in Nags Head. He is seeking his second term on the board of commissioners.

In separate interviews with the Voice, both candidates discussed some of the local issues facing the county, what they would bring to the position and their priorities, if elected.

Burrus said that if elected, he would make being proactive and accessible a priority, with a focus on long-term planning and representing the entire county, regardless of political affiliation. He said that he’d like to see more proactive solutions to county problems, such as affordable housing, the overregulation of commercial fishing and the badly shoaled Oregon Inlet.

Speaking of the current board of commissioners, he said, “They’ve been reactive for years and they wait until the last minute. We’ve had some of these problems for decades, and then now it’s, ‘We’re going to do something about it because people are going to get mad and vote us out.’”

On the key issue of affordable housing, Burrus said he’d like to see the county pursue a rental program that provides a tax incentive for property owners who provide year-round housing rather than spending money on centrally located housing units to address the problem.

“Affordable housing has been something we’ve needed for twenty years. It’s been talked about time and again, and there’s been zero movement…and then all of the sudden, we’re going to spend money on studies,” he said. “I don’t need a study to tell me that it’s a problem. I don’t need a study to tell me that teachers don’t make enough. I don’t need a study to tell me that our current county employees don’t make enough and that their benefits package is worse now than it was twenty years ago.”

Burrus also said he’d like to see the county reinstate its own home health and hospice operation, which was sold to BrightSpring Health Services for $2.9 million last year.

“I was so disgusted to see them sell that because the price was right…It doesn’t have to be profitable, it’s a service we’re providing for the elderly of this community who are maybe entering the last stages of their time with us and need assistance and not all of them have the insurance that can qualify with a private company,” he said,

Burrus also cited the issue of Bateman changing political parties in 2021. “If his reasoning is something along the lines of, ‘Well, [the Democratic party] no longer represents me’ …when did they change, and what was the change?”

After serving on the Kitty Hawk Town Council for a number of years, Bateman won his bid for the Dare County Board of Commissioners at-large seat in 2018 as a Democrat against Republican challenger Anne Petera.

Bateman said he’s running for re-election because he has more to do as a county commissioner.

“I think I have been very effective in setting goals and then achieving them,” he told the Voice. Among the accomplishments he takes pride in is the expansion of the Dare campus of the College of the Albemarle, progress in bringing affordable housing to the county and the establishment of the Dare Guarantee Scholarship that ensures county high school graduates can attend COA for free.

Bateman, himself a member of the recovery community, also cited his efforts to help that community in Dare County with the establishment of the Dare County Drug Recovery Court and plans to expand Dare Challenge, a local addiction recovery program on Roanoke Island.

As far as commitments to keeping the inlets open, Bateman pointed to current construction of the county’s own dredge, the “Miss Katie,” which is scheduled to arrive here this summer.

“We are keeping taxes down,” Bateman added. “This year [in the proposed 2022-2023 budget], we’ve given raises, we’ve given a five percent COLA [Cost of Living Adjustment] at a time when a lot of people aren’t doing that, so we’re being responsible with the consumer’s money.”

Of his party affiliation change to Republican in 2021, Bateman said, “I didn’t leave [the Democratic party], they left me…their whole agenda I think has switched. I’ve always been a conservative. I’m a business guy.

“Republican, Democrat, I’m still the same guy who fights for everybody. There’s not a more conservative candidate out there now, but there’s also not a candidate who understands more what it’s like to be the small guy.  And I’m fighting every day, not only for social issues, but whatever comes up on my plate.”


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  • surf123

    Same old story every time with politicians. They say what they need to win and then are absorbed into the club, which in this case is the BOC. Throw around some buzzwords and hope you win. That said I am for any politician who is not bound by their political party to vote as a part of their block. That is why the federal government is such a mess and tensions are high.

    As for tax incentives for year round housing you have got to be kidding me. While anecdotal I know several people who in non-boom times, like we are in now, who rented to locals and they all were unmitigated disasters. My 4 bedroom home has a tax bill of just over $2000 a year. Were I to rent it for one week a year I could net that much.

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 11:13 am
  • Dirt

    And the 4th batter is….M.Burrus

    Wednesday, May 11 @ 11:11 pm
  • Commentator

    Burrus actually makes many good points. The failure to address housing until it was at crisis levels has been an unacceptable failure by the commissioners.

    EIrvin is a good man, relatively new to the Board, and is the man for the job. Ervin will have my vote, but other Commissioners should take note of Burrus’s points, and act accordingly, because someone like Burrus will oust them if the status quo of reactionary governing continues.

    Thursday, May 12 @ 8:43 am
  • Michelle T

    Bateman says “We are keeping taxes down”.

    Not true.

    Talk w/ any Avon resident now subject to the unwanted property taxes (imposed on us illegally through the BOC establishment of an Municiple Service District using the voices of non resident property owners) to pay for the Avon beach nourishment to save a few million $ homes of which a large % are now up for sale.

    The poverty level of a large % of Avon residents is real. Look up the % below the poverty line yourself, as it is public information. Doing this to Avon property owners and renters (through trickle down measures) is outright wrong. What they share in the news does not accurately reflect what actually occurred .

    Vote every BOC member out as they all voted for this beach nourishment tax. They knew what they were doing when they illegally considered non residents in the establishment of the MSD

    Saturday, May 14 @ 2:09 pm
  • Vote 1090

    I like Mike Burrus’ idea of a tax credit for long-term rentals instead of giving millions of tax dollars to SAGA. I own a house and rent to to an elderly Dare resident at a highly discounted rate because it’s the right thing to do for the community and I have many neighbors who rent studio apartments and rooms to hard working locals as well.

    Burrus is also correct about Bateman’s poor judgement in the disastrous sale of Dare Home Health and Hospice. Despite the rosy picture painted by the Brightspring head of propaganda at a recent commissioner’s meeting BS is still turning away patients because they do not accept their insurance, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicare Advantage.
    By the way, this is the real report about how things are going with Brightspring:

    I also agree with Burrus about the lack of foresight by the BOC over the last decade. They spend tax money on study after study and nothing happens but a bunch of commissioners patting their own backs and shooting finger guns at their reflections in the mirror. I read through the list of county jobs last week, the salaries listed are a complete embarrassment. The country is trying to nickel and dime hard working employees, unless you’re talking about the county manager, Bobby Outten, who is one of the highest paid managers in the state.

    Michelle, you are right about the tax hike in Avon. I had a conversation with a commissioner last year who told me lowering taxes was a priority and that raising my Avon taxes for beach nourishment doesn’t count because it is a different kind of tax… I guess that’s politician speak for “I think you’re stupid and I don’t care about you.”

    Looking forward to the day we have a commissioner who puts the priorities of county residents over the priorities of NRPO LLCs and large out of state corporations and developers.

    Sunday, May 15 @ 8:21 pm
  • tp

    Dear Mr. Bateman,

    I live in Kitty Hawk and most people around here are saying that you are the man to vote for. I have my doubts. Please answer two yes or no question to help me decide.

    Are any people in the Dare County drug court program being coerced to attend religious exercises?

    You have recently advocated that the county tax payers underwrite, to the tune of 200k, a Christian based rehab center in the county. Does this new center incorporate coercion in any way, including but not limited to ultimatums from the court system? In other words, is it totally, completely and unequivocally voluntary?



    “that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever,”
    Thomas Jefferson

    Monday, May 16 @ 6:20 pm
  • tp

    Dear Mr. Burrus,

    I voted for you and I hope you win. And I hope you take your oath to support the United States Constitution seriously.

    “Religious freedom is America’s most precious possession and must be preserved irrespective of its cost.”

    Preserving the Constitution: The Autobiography of Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr.

    Tuesday, May 17 @ 5:56 pm