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2021 Elections: Town of Leland Council Part II - Candidates Harmati, Holloman, and McHugh

Top Left to Right: Jason Gaver, Nicholas Newell, Allison Dunlap; Bottom Left to Right: Louis Harmati, Bill McHugh, Richard Holloman
Ben Schachtman, Photos provided by candidates
Top Left to Right: Jason Gaver, Nicholas Newell, Allison Dunlap; Bottom Left to Right: Louis Harmati, Bill McHugh, Richard Holloman

The Leland Town Council race has two open seats, with six candidates competing for those spots. Mayor Pro Tem Pat Batleman and Councilor Bob Corriston are not running. WHQR spoke with the candidates about how they view their town — which is one of the fastest-growing municipalities in the state. In Part II, find interviews with Louis Harmati, Bill McHugh, and Richard Holloman.

Note: You can find full interviews with Louis Harmati, Bill McHugh, and Richard Holloman at the end of this article.

Related: Hear from candidates Jason Gaver, Nicholas Newell, Allison Dunlap in Part I

Richard Holloman said one of the reasons he got into the race was his initial disappointment with the town’s property tax increase to .25 cents per $100 home valuation.

“And I looked into it, and I saw that there wasn't an issue there because the four-cent tax increase is totally being sped on public safety. So when you take a penny increase, that's about $363,000, so that's $1.2 million. [They] bought a new fire truck is like a million too, did some renovations to the fire department, added four new police officers. I'm very, very supportive of police, and very, very supportive of public safety in general because they will keep our future safe and protected. And I'm about quality of life, and they help bring that better quality of life,” said Holloman.

Candidate Bill McHugh is a lawyer and said the town is in a special position to direct its growth.

“So every time we're going to greenlight a new development, we need to make sure that our traffic patterns are ready for it, our roads are ready for it, that we've got a plan for what we're going to do with the stormwater, these are the areas where we can't play catch up. Right now we are very close to just becoming a bedroom community for Wilmington. And I think Leland can be so much more with the leverage that our rapid growth gives us we can really control our destiny and become the community we want to while still taking advantage of being in the Wilmington Metropolitan Area,” said McHugh.

And McHugh said he’d like to see changes to the town’s central hub.

“I think we need to do what we can to build up a downtown area to keep those dollars here and to attract them from elsewhere [...] And throughout those parts of old Leland, I don't believe downtown Leland should be on 17, and I think that's something we need to address moving forward,” said McHugh.

The Town of Leland is close to finishing its 2045 Plan. This plan can guide planners, developers, and the council on how the town could grow. Even though the town says employees and consultants with Design Workshop are writing the plan, in candidate Louis Harmati’s view, this isn’t the case.

“But I'm not for superimposing the United Nations plan on the local area and the local town and all that I think that developers and the Leland planning board can develop their own plan. We don't need a United Nations plan to tell us how we're going to do our roads,” said Harmati.

The plan is meant to direct planners and politicians on development decisions, but Harmati said while he supports things like proposed bike and walking paths, he believes the plan is more binding than that.

“Because what happens with the 2045 plan is not only do they implement those things which are fine, but they restrict your right to property use and that means that they restrict how much water you could use, how much electricity you could use, if you can drive your car and how often,” said Harmati.

It’s worth noting that the current draft of Leland’s plan doesn’t cover these issues.

Candidate Richard Holloman said he’s looking forward to the plan’s outline for greenspace and recreation.

“For greenways, parks, they have quite a bit of land over on Kay Todd Road now, but I think it's 40 some acres, which you're going to see. I'm one of the founders known as of the House of Pickleball there, but there's a curling facility that’s going to be beside us, then they’re going to have a disc park beside that, there's going be walkways and greenways and trailways,” said Holloman.

One-stop or early voting is underway until October 30th. Election Day is November 2nd. You can find more information on municipal voting in Brunswick County at brunswickcountync.gov/elections.

Editor's note: Bill McHugh in his interview talks about locating downtown around 'Lanvale Road' — he clarified that meant 'Village Road.'

Interview with Louis Harmati
Interview with Richard Holloman
Interview with Bill McHugh

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR