In Wilmington, eight candidates are vying for three open seats on City Council. During this week’s CoastLine Candidate Forum, WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd reports the candidates were asked to explain their best original idea.
Paul Lawler says his background as an accountant would bring more financial efficiency.
Paul Lawler: "Downtown Parking Advisory Committee recognized that the city’s parking marketing money wasn’t being used well and proposed that that be transferred to WDI and DBA. They created the Bring It Downtown campaign, which you’ve all seen. That’s much more impact for an existing expenditure than what we had before. That’s the kind of efficiency we need."
Frank Madonna says his main focus would be on economic development.
Frank Madonna: "The other thing I’m interested in is districts, and that seems to be a dirty word. But I believe that districts are important. There’s a greater appreciation of neighborhood needs when we are in districts. In the eastern part of the city, people feel that they don’t have any representation at all. This area represents a significant amount of tax base. I would think they’d be better served if they had someone representing them."
John Presswood wants passenger rail to connect Wilmington to Raleigh and Charlotte, and commuter rail in the city. Outside of transportation, his big idea is opening an innovation building.
John Presswood: "There’s a lot of small innovation going on, and that’s great, there’s a lot of incubators around town. I just want one central building, high speed internet gigabyte service to provide it to that building. I want it to be upfitted."
Alvin Rogers says his main focus would be traffic control, better streets, and looking out for neighborhoods. He’s particularly concerned with the intersection at Oleander and College Road:
Alvin Rogers: "When they start widening Kerr Avenue to five lanes, it’s going to come down, eventually, to Oleander Drive and dump more traffic. If they do two roads at the same time—College and Kerr together—they can solve both roads problem with one money. It would solve the problem for as long as I’m around."
Neil Anderson says he’s running for reelection to follow through on projects he’s started.
Neil Anderson: "One would be to, couple times a year, take the council meetings out to the residents in their parts of town so they don’t have to venture down here, especially elderly people, other people that don’t have transportation. Two, bring in a consultant to work with the police service to improve customer service, whether it be a routine traffic stop or a highly-charged criminal arrest."
Hollis Briggs, Jr. wants to create more opportunities for youth recreation and help nonviolent offenders find work.
Hollis Briggs, Jr.: "You know, if you don’t have trash service, and there’s trash on the side of the road, it stays there for weeks and weeks at a time. And we’re a tourist city, so we would like to see that trash removed. I’d like to see us create some gentlemen that maybe have some nonviolent offenders and have a trash crew to go by and pick up the trash at residents that don’t have water service so we can make our city better."
Incumbent Margaret Haynes says her first unique idea – removing runoff voting from the city election process – now saves the city eighty thousand dollars every other year.
Margaret Haynes: "And now I’m working on potential new legislation about drones over private property, which seems to be a problem in some of the neighborhoods. So that’s the next thing I’m working on right now.
Deb Hays served on the Steering Committee for the Comprehensive Plan, and she says following through on that is her focus.
Deb Hays: "It is our game plan, our roadmap to move forward, to revise our land development code, to bring in new jobs, to refocus on crime, and to clean up our city overall."