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Municipal Elections Struggle To Engage Voters

Tuesday, November 7th is Election Day – which means that people living inside city or town limits have local leaders to choose. 

It’s hard to engage voters in municipal election years.  In New Hanover County, voter turnout  is trending downward.   Since 2011, turnout has dropped from 17% to 10%.  Brunswick and Pender Counties seem to hold steady with just over 20 percent of voters coming to the polls.

But this year, some galvanizing issues have ignited controversy.  Whether it translates to higher voter turnout is yet to be determined.    

In Leland, Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO is moving forward with a controversial reverse osmosis plant.  The direction of that project could potentially change – depending on who wins seats on the Board of Commissioners. 

In Wilmington, short-term rental policy is a closely-watched and heavily-lobbied topic.  Two City Council incumbents, Kevin O’Grady and Charlie Rivenbark, are hoping for another term in a field of seven other candidates.  An effort calling itself New Voices ILM appears to be pushing the political newcomers – Philip White, Hollis Briggs, James Ray, Deb Hays, Caylan McKay, Clifford Barnett, and Perry Fisher.  The website has posted campaign finance reports for all Wilmington City Council candidates. 

Polls are open today from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM.  To find more on the candidates, check out the CoastLine Candidate Interviews here:  http://whqr.org/election-season-coastline

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 4 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.