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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)

WAVE Transit Growth is key to Wilmington's Growth, say Three of Five Council Candidates

WHQR News / Data provided by Wave Transit
WAVE Transit Funding

The role of WAVE Transit – the public transportation system – that operates both within and beyond Wilmington City limits -- has evolved into a source of heated debate between the city and the county. 

At last night’s Wilmington City Council Forum, three of the six candidates vying for three open seats on council said they see public transit as more than a social service.   It’s an idea whose time has come, they say, for what is a growing urban area. 


With a public perception of empty buses driving around town, Skip Watkins says further investment by local government is a difficult sell.  The whole system, says Watkins, needs an overhaul.  Incumbent Kevin O’Grady agrees that growth should be driven by demand, but says the focus should be on developing more “choice riders”.

“…the one who’ll ride it because rather than dealing with traffic, they want to sit on the bus and read the paper as they get to work in the morning.  We’re not there yet.  As a City, we’re just not there yet.  But we will be.  We have to change our thinking about it, though.  We have to stop thinking that outside of the city limits somehow it’s rural and doesn’t need public transportation.  I’m sorry – take a ride up Market Street outside of the City and tell me that’s not an urban area.”

Fellow incumbent and Mayor Pro Tem Earl Sheridan agrees that the future of WAVE lies in the hands of choice riders – and that it’s critical from an environmental standpoint as well.  To grow that sector, Sheridan suggests more aggressive advertising. 

“We might want to try to experiment at some point with something like park-and-rides or express lines or something of that nature – to try to appeal to folks who haven’t been riding WAVE Transit.” 

Derek Bickel says public transportation should be accessible to everyone – and the city should not have to foot most of the bill. 

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.