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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It was a grand old party at the Northeast Library as Republicans studied up on their primary candidates.

The Republican Party is hoping to build off of its success in the 2012 elections in the New Hanover County School Board race with incumbents Ed Higgins, Janice Cavanaugh, and Don Hayes running against Jim Brumit and former county manager Bruce Shell for four vacancies on the Board of Education.

“I am very encouraged by the quality of the candidates,” said Sam Ibrahim. “I am hopeful that they will all win and continue the work that has been done so far.”

The race for two vacant seats on the County Commission is crowded with nine candidates in the running after Dave Conklin decided to withdraw his candidacy.

“They’ve been some difficult times over the last couple of years and I know citizens are looking forward to having five strong people to serve, five people who are focused only on the issues that are important to the county and now the peripheral issues that they’ve had to deal with,” said Carolyn Justice.

Jason Vaughn and Marc Benson will square off in an attempt to become the county’s next sheriff, and each says they would tackle the gang problem in our area from day one in office.

“Gangs and drugs are out of control,” said Jason Vaughn. “Where do we need to get that taken care of? We need to get back into the schools.”

“We’re going to aggressively go after the gang members,” said Marc Benson. “If we have to go sit in front of their house or whatever they may be the gang members need to know that we’re going to be there and we’re going to be checking up on them and they’re going to make sure that they’re not going to commit any more crimes.”

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