It’s Basnight vs. Burrus for the District 1 Dare Board of Commissioners seat

By on February 21, 2024

(This is the first of three stories about the six candidates in Republican primary contests for the Dare County Board of Commissioners)

Bea Basnight and Michael Burrus

In one of three Republican primary contests for seats on the Dare County Board of Commissioners, Bea Basnight is facing Michael Burrus for an unexpired District 1 seat. Basnight, a former Democrat, is currently on the board after she was selected by the Republican Party’s Executive Committee to fill the seat created by the death of Commissioner Jim Tobin. Burrus has made a previous bid for a board seat, launching an unsuccessful Republican primary challenge to Ervin Bateman in 2022.

Each candidate was asked the same five questions. Their responses are below. The Voice did edit some responses for space.


Please provide us with basic biographical information, including relevant professional experience and public service.

Michael Burrus: I am the youngest of 5 children of Dickie and Conchita Burrus. I was born and raised in Wanchese. My family dates back over 350 years here on the Outer Banks. I earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Mount Olive University. I have worked in the flooring industry in sales and installation most of my adult life. I have also worked many summers in local restaurants. I am a proud constitutional conservative that loves my hometown very much and wants to see it continue to be a wonderful place to live.

Bea Basnight: I have called Dare County home for over 50 years, and my love for Dare County continues to grow. I grew up in Perquimans County and spent each summer during college working as a barefoot co-ed at the Oasis Restaurant. I married a Manteo native, Saint Clair Basnight, Jr., and began my teaching career at Manteo Elementary School where I taught for 35 years. My dedication to helping children, our schools and our community led me to a life of public service.

I received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Elon University and a Master of Arts in Education from East Carolina University. I served 12 years on the Dare County Board of Education, including four years as chair. Among other activities, I have served on the Board of the Roanoke Island Historical Association, the Dare County Library Board and as First Vice-President of the Dare County Arts Council.


What would you cite as your top three priorities for Dare County should you be elected?

Bea Basnight: Every citizen’s needs will be a priority for me, but rising to the top right now is careful planning to sustain growth and balance between a permanent population and a tourist-based population. That planning includes finding affordable housing for Dare County residents, providing emergency services for our population and maintaining our work to sustain the fishing industry. Education is a top priority because our children are our future, and we must prepare them for life.

Michael Burrus: The top three priorities I will have when I am elected are going to be 1. Housing for the workforce. We have to tackle this issue now. It’s gone on long enough. 2. Growing the services and facilities to help the county be ready for future growth. We need new facilities for already existing services and will have to look at services that are going to be offered and what their facilities will look like moving forward. 3. Tackling the overregulation of local industries and helping to provide long term solutions for keeping the inlets open and our local workforce working.


Given what has thus far been widespread community opposition to new housing developments (alternately known as workforce/essential housing), are you confident that significant new projects for this purpose can be built in the county?

Michael Burrus: I have the utmost confidence that we will be able to complete projects sooner rather than later if I am elected. We can’t force the needs of the county on one village or town. We need multiple projects that are smaller in scope at multiple locations. I have a background in the construction trades and understand what it takes and what it cost to bring these types of projects to fruition.

 Bea Basnight:  I am confident that the current Board of Commissioners will continue to search for options to provide housing for the citizens of Dare County. The Housing Task Force provides an opportunity to pave a path for the county and the municipalities to work together to help people find housing that is available and affordable.


Do you believe the current level of tourism in Dare County is sustainable or have we exceeded our ability to reasonably accommodate the number of seasonal visitors who come here?

Bea Basnight: Dare County has a rich history of welcoming all visitors. The influx of dollars from tourism boosts the economy of Dare County, and, without tourists, Dare County’s coffers may suffer. The revenue acquired from tourism outweighs the supplemented services Dare County provides during the tourist season. Imagine what the tax bill would be for the 37,000 permanent residents of Dare County if we did not have tourist dollars. I believe we must sustain the tourist industry to support our schools, our EMS, our retail and restaurant businesses, our fishing industry and our way of life in Dare County.

Michael Burrus: The current rate of tourism is not sustainable. We lack housing for workforce and services. Most of the Outer Banks already operates understaffed. Our healthcare services are lacking and could easily be overwhelmed due to lack of housing for staffing. Restaurants are closing one to two days a week in season because of lack of staff due to unavailable long-term rentals. I know these problems can be rectified moving forward but we are playing from behind right now and it will take great effort to get back to sustainability.


What is the most important difference between you and your opponent in this primary contest?

Bea Basnight: My opponent and I share a true love of Dare County. What sets me apart, I think, is my heart for public service, which has given me a wealth of experience. I have proven to be a consensus builder, a problem solver, and a highly effective leader. The Dare County Republican Party Executive Committee recognized my dedication to the Republican Party and placed their trust in me when they appointed me to fill a vacancy on the Dare County Board of Commissioners. I chose to be a part of the Republican Party to embrace the goals of helping to enact people-friendly policies while maintaining conservative government. With experience comes knowledge, and I pledge to dedicate my knowledge and my time to making life better for every citizen of Dare County.

Michael Burrus: I am a lifelong conservative. My opponent is a lifelong Democrat that recently switched because, in her own words, she thinks you can’t get elected in this county without being a Republican. I won’t force a mask or vaccine on anyone. She already tried when she was the head of the Board of Education. We need true conservative leadership for the existing and oncoming problems, not people that flip parties for their own gain.

SEE ALSO: Overman vs. Creef in primary contest for District 1 seat on Dare Board of Commissioners

Woodard versus Hayman for District 2 Dare Board of Commissioners seat


  • Billnc

    “Constitutional conservative” but thinks government should be involved in affordable housing

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 2:52 pm
  • Taxpayer subsidized housing projects ?

    Both of these “Republicans” seem to be in favor of the proposed taxpayer subsidized housing projects that would be open to anyone from anywhere so long as they are below the income limits. These subsidized housing projects would encourage more people, including non-locals and non-workers, to move to Dare County which would increase the demand for already limited services and just make our local worker housing problems even worse.

    If this is not the position of either of these candidates it would be helpful to have them clearly state their position regarding the proposed taxpayer subsidized housing projects.

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 4:24 pm
  • Wancheser

    Both comments are misinformed. The housing talked about by Burrus is workforce housing not affordable housing. This is for healthcare workers, teachers, first responders and the like that are essential for the area and are currently lacking places to live. He doesn’t want government involvement but it’s happening anyway because the private sector has been slow to provide.

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 6:49 pm
  • Virginia

    Does either candidate believe Joe Biden stole the 2020 presidential election?

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 8:16 pm
  • anyone from anywhere

    There is no such thing as “workforce” housing or “essential” housing. When renting housing it is against the law to discriminate based on location of prior residence, or occupation, or age, or source of income.

    A retired couple moving here from Raleigh in need of health care and other services will have the same legal right to rent these apartments as any local healthcare workers or other “essential” “workforce” locals.

    It would be a good deal for that hypothetical retired couple from Raleigh. They just need to sign-up and get on the list and then get a nice apartment at the beach subsidized by the taxpayers.

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 10:03 pm
  • Banjo

    Hey Mikey- I know that news doesn’t travel fast your way or on your basic cable but this just in- COVID is over.

    Thursday, Feb 22 @ 3:51 pm
  • DontFeedTheRINOS

    One life long Democrat and a newbie. I will take my chances with the newbie. Bea has shown us who she is and it’s far Left.

    Thursday, Feb 22 @ 4:33 pm
  • M

    Banjo, unfortunately liberals ( maybe like yourself) will always try to bring Covid or mandates back. He is saying he will fight against that when it happens. It’s not if but when.

    Friday, Feb 23 @ 5:15 am
  • RicknKDH

    Would the real Republican please stand up?

    Friday, Feb 23 @ 1:15 pm
  • Larry

    Why don’t the restaurants all get together and build/buy housing for their workforce? This is not a government issue, this is up to the employers that need people to pay up or shut down. It’s sad but has anyone ever thought maybe we have to many places slinging fried shrimp baskets to be sustainable? The county commissioners can tackle this issue in a matter of seconds by saying “Sorry not our problem”

    Friday, Feb 23 @ 1:26 pm