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Two Brunswick incumbents bow out

Filing to run for political office ended in Brunswick County at noon Friday with just two local incumbents deciding it was time to hang up his hat.

"It's important to have others step forward bringing in new ideas," said school board member Scott Milligan in explaining his decision to retire from political life after six years.

Milligan's 5th District school board seat and N.C. Sen. R.C. Soles' 8th District senate seat are the only among the 21 on the ballot where the incumbents aren't seeking re-election. Soles's district also includes Columbus and Pender counties.

Soles announced his decision not to run in December amid allegations over sexual misconduct and an indictment for felony assault. The assault indictment was cleared Thursday when Soles pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in a plea bargain agreement with the N.C. Attorney General's Office.

Milligan said he never intended his school board tenure to become a career when he was appointed in 2004 to the remaining two years of an unexpired term of a former board member. Now that both of his children have graduated from Brunswick schools, Milligan said it's time for other parents to fill the void.

"If I were to file again, it would be a four-year commitment," he said Friday. "I was not willing to make that commitment."

His absence on the ballot, though, doesn't give anybody an easy run to fill it. Milligan is a Republican and two other GOP standard bearers have filed to duke it out in the May primary. Whoever emerges victorious from that contest will find Democrat challenger Ronnie Jenkins waiting for the race to the November vote.

There are now 62 candidates filed for the 21 seats that will be on Brunswick ballots on primary day, including congressional, General Assembly and county seats up for grabs. Republicans in particular will face a plethora of choices in May, although Democrats will be asked to choose among five candidates seeking to oust U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., assuming he survives his own primary race against three challengers.

In contests closer to home, N.C. Rep. Frank Iler, a Republican, has a primary opponent for the only legislative seat solely devoted to Brunswick County. Democrat Rep. Dewey Hill of Columbus County also has a primary opponent. His district includes five precincts in northwestern Brunswick County.

Iler said he's not surprised by the number of people who have filed to run, although he seemed somewhat taken aback that he has Republican primary opposition. Shallotte attorney Mac Tyson, town attorney for Holden Beach and Navassa and a former Cumberland County commissioner, has filed to unseat Iler. Prior to his appointment last year to fill the unexpired term of former state Rep. Bonner Stiller, Iler was chairman of the Brunswick Republican Party.

Voters will find their only respite on the ballot in the District 13 judgeships. There are three seats open in the nonpartisan contests, all three incumbents have filed for re-election and no one has filed to run against them, according to information from the N.C. State Board of Elections.