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WHQR is your source for the 2015 Municipal Elections in the Cape Fear Region. We are bringing you the CoastLine Candidate Forums live from the MC Erny Gallery each Wednesday at noon from September 16th to October 28th as well as candidate profiles and general election coverage.Here's how you can participate:1. Be part of the live studio audience. Arrive at WHQR's MC Erny Gallery between 11:30 AM and 11:55 AM on the Wednesday of your municipality's race so you can settle before our hard start time of noon.As part of the audience, you'll have the opportunity to ask a question of the candidates.2. Send your question at any time to coastline@whqr.org. Just make sure it fits these basic guidelines: It's applicable to all the candidates in that race.It's in the form of a question.It fits within a 30-second time frame.We reserve the right to edit questions for broadcast standards and brevity.3. Tweet us during the live broadcast (12-1PM on Wednesdays) at coastlinehqr or email us during the broadcast at coastline@whqr.org.4. Stream the live radio signal from your computer. Just click the "Listen Live" button in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. It’s your town. Make your voice heard. THE 2015 COASTLINE CANDIDATE FORUM SCHEDULE:September 16, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Kure Beach Mayor & Town CouncilSeptember 23, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Oak Island MayorSeptember 30, 12:00pm-2:00pm — Oak Island Town CouncilOctober 7, 12:00pm-2:00pm — Wilmington City CouncilOctober 14, 12:00pm-2:00pm — Carolina Beach Town CouncilOctober 21, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Carolina Beach MayorOctober 28, 12:00pm-1:00pm — Leland Mayor & Town CouncilVoter Information:For more information about the 2015 election, voter registration, and polling places in your area visit the Board of Elections website for New Hanover County & Brunswick County.

Wilmington City Council Candidates Weigh In On Transportation & The Budget

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR
Wilmington City Council candidates and moderator Jon Evans at the Residents of Old Wilmington (ROW) & Downtown Business Alliance Candidate Forum

This November, voters will choose from eight candidates to fill three open seats on Wilmington City Council. At the candidate forum hosted by Residents of Old Wilmington and the Downtown Business Alliance, the candidates discussed local transportation issues.   

Alvin Rogers has served on the Wilmington Planning Commission. He remembers when Oleander Drive was just a two lane road, and he thinks transportation has become a problem throughout Wilmington. 

Alvin Rogers: "Independence does need to be extended. As far as elevated over Market Street, I think that has potential. They had talked about an elevated roadway down through there, and I have problems with it, but with the problems we have on Market Street, I think the overpass would be good."

John Presswood, a real estate agent, serves on the City’s Board of Adjustment. He supports the extension of Independence Blvd, with an overpass running above Market Street.

John Presswood: "The reason why I do is because the state’s willing to pay for it. If the city has to pay for a road similar to that, then it may not get done for another 20 or 30 years, and I think we need to complete the road. It’s 1.7 miles from the Covil Avenue section to basically connect Independence Blvd to Martin Luther King. It needs to be connected. We need to get traffic moving through here. I don't think tourists are going to stop coming here, and I don't want them to, so we need to make this smooth. We need to have another North-South directional road."

Paul Lawler is an accountant who serves on the City's Comprehensive Plan committee.

Paul Lawler: "I do not support that superstructure on Covil Avenue. This gets back to the question of how we treat our neighborhoods. Expanding that would divide that neighborhood. I lived in Chicago for a while, and I was not too far from the Kennedy Expressway. Even though that was open, you could walk under it, it divided the two sides. They were very separate neighborhoods on either side of that expressway. Putting this big road there would divide that neighborhood. We don’t need that. I think there’s much better uses for that 150 million dollars."  

Margaret Haynes was first appointed to Wilmington City Council in 2009. She now serves as Mayor Pro-Tem and says the best hope of relieving traffic congestion is moving the rail line.

Margaret Haynes: "Maybe if, down the road, in a few years, we could get the train moved, that train track moved to 421, which would not be going through any residential areas, it would be going through an industrial area, that might help significantly with the truck traffic coming out of the Port." 

Deb Hays is a Wilmington Housing Authority Commissioner. She currently serves on the Steering Committee for the City of Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.

Deb Hays: "It’s about connectivity. It's about walkability. It’s about, it's about livability and making our seniors and all of our residents able to function. One of those ideas was taking the old rail line that goes around the city, that will turn that into a trolley line and also have some green space."

Frank Madonna, a Navy veteran, retired to Wilmington after working in the telecommunications industry. He responds to a question from a concerned citizen:

Citizen: "How are we going to handle the already congested roads that we have currently?"

Frank Madonna: "I have no idea."

Jon Evans: "Thank you."

Frank Madonna: "Actually, that’s one of the reasons why I’m running. You know, there a number of projects that are in front of the council and that have been approved by the council that really make me scratch my head. One of them is Middle Sound Loop and 17, where there’s a five minute delay on the light there now and now we’re going to put another big shopping center in there." 

Current councilmember Neil Anderson, who is also running, was absent from the forum. 


At a recent candidate forum hosted by Residents of Old Wilmington and the Downtown Business Alliance, one council hopeful proposed changes to the city’s budget.   

Listen to the audio version here.

Hollis Briggs, Jr. is the regional marketing director and field investigator for the Kellum Law Firm. He also serves on the Battleship Commission and Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee. He says less city funding should go towards the Wilmington Police Department. Instead of targeting gang violence, he proposes reallocating the money for recreational activities and centers. 

Hollis Briggs, Jr.: "I think that we are not spending the money properly on our children, and we’re preparing them for prison, rather than preparing them for some recreation activities. So we’re a little low on that." 

Briggs says he also wants the city to focus more funds toward bringing industry to Wilmington.  He says high tech jobs are good, but industry will serve the city better.