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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As November nears, candidates for elected office are trying to make their voices and viewpoints heard. A debate forum was held Wednesday night at UNCW that helped candidates in New Hanover County do just that.

You’ve probably noticed the signs popping up all over the cape fear area, a signal that campaigns are heating up.

From unemployment, to baseball, to the Titan Air Quality permit, three Democrats and six Republican candidates for the New Hanover County Commission each answered a variety of questions on different topics.

“I cannot and will not support an industry that comes into our town and brings one part per billion of mercury and adds it to our water and or our air,” said Democrat candidate Robert Zapple when asked about Titan’s Air Quality Permit.

Beth Dawson, a Republican, is the only female candidate in the bunch.

“We have not had a woman county commissioner, elected in New Hanover County for eight years,” Dawson said.

Fellow Republican candidate Derrick Hickey currently serves on the county’s board of education and is also an orthopedic surgeon in Wilmington. He feels his medical background gives him a unique perspective on dealing with the board of health in making financial decisions.

“Ultimately it’s the elected officials’ responsibility to gather all the facts, ask the pertinent questions and ultimately make the decisions,” Hickey said.

Both Democrat and Republican candidates for the New Hanover County board of education also participated in the debate forum. Early voting for the 2012 primaries will start April 19th and will run through May 5th.

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