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WHQR will host and broadcast four candidate forums as part of the 2012 Election Season in the MC Erny Gallery, 254 N. Front Street, #300.Each forum will feature two local journalists asking prepared questions during the first half of the event. The second portion will be dedicated to questions from voters. A live studio audience will be invited to ask questions during this segment. We'll also use questions sent in from listeners.If you have a question for the candidates, please email us (newsdirector@whqr.org) or submit via Twitter with the #whqrforums hash tag and tell us which slate of candidates you'd like to address. We reserve the right to edit the questions for clarity, brevity, and objectivity. Each question must be addressed to all candidates in a particular race. If you can't attend the live event, Tweet along while you tune in or listen or watch the webcast online at 7 PM each night to hear the candidates! (WWAY will also broadcast the forums live on Time Warner Cable. RTV is channel 106, on ATMC, channel 903, on Charter Cable, channel 145 and over-the-air at 3.2.)Tuesday, Oct. 2, 7 PM- New Hanover County CommissionersJonathan Barfield (Current Vice Chairman)Beth DawsonRobert MurrayDr. Derrick HickeyWoody WhiteRob Zapple Thursday, Oct. 4, 7 PM- NC House District 18Representative Susi Hamilton (D)Louis Harmati (R) Monday, Oct. 8, 7 PM - NC Senate District 9Senator Thom Goolsby (R)Deb Butler (D) Thursday, Oct. 18, 7 PM - NC House District 19 & NC House District 20 NC House District 19Ted Davis, Jr. (Current NHC Commission Chair)Emilie Swearingen (Current Kure Beach Councilwoman)NC House District 20Rick Catlin (Current NHC Commissioner) (R)Tom Gale (D)

Carolina Beach Candidates Explore the Meaning of Beach Renourishment Funding "Outside the Box"

Town of Carolina Beach
Lifeguard Stand near Carolina Beach Dunes

With federal dollars scarcer than ever, beach town leaders are looking for new and creative ways to fund beach renourishment projects. 

During WHQR’s Forum last night, six of the seven hopefuls competing for seats on Carolina Beach Town Council explored how to raise money to put sand on the beach.    And while the approaches varied slightly,  all six agreed on one thing:  it’s the biggest challenge facing the coastal municipality.

Carolina Beach is the first beach town in the state to face the fallout from the expiration of a 50-year funding agreement with the Federal Government.   Current Carolina Beach Mayor Bob Lewis says the Water Resource Development Act, in its existing version, could offer a 15-year extension of that agreement.  But it has yet to pass, and even if it does, it would only green-light the possibility of federal dollars.  It wouldn’t actually appropriate any. 

“Are there other methods – and the other method might be -- can we get a sales tax?  Can we get something specifically just for beach nourishment from the state?  Can they allow us just to get a direct type of contribution?  And that’s what we’re looking for.”

After Tom Bridges suggested setting aside a portion of the revenue from Freeman Park permits, LeAnn Pierce, who owns a hotel in the beach town, argued Freeman Park is hardly a reliable revenue stream – considering it could be decimated by a hurricane.

“I personally would like to see it more funded through a primary line item in our budget.  And we’ve definitely got to work with our local and state representatives to continue to have them advocate for us on that level.”

Jody Smith points to increasing tourism during so-called “shoulder seasons” – the period following the peak – in order to increase Room Occupancy Tax funds. 

Dan Wilcox, challenging Incumbent Bob Lewis for Mayor, has served on the Ports, Waterways, and Beach Commission.  He says there is no really good answer, but state legislators play a key role – particularly since they change every two years. 

You’ll hear more from the candidates later in the week as Election Season continues… including those from Kure Beach.

And don’t miss tonight’s Wilmington City Council Candidates Forum.  WWAY TV 3 and WHQR will carry the live broadcast at 7 PM. 

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.