There are two open seats on the board of Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2G0. That’s the water and sewer utility in Brunswick County whose customer base is mostly Leland residents – one municipality within the county. H2G0 does not however, serve Brunswick Forest and Windsor Park, but it does serve Belville, parts of Navassa, and some unincorporated areas of Northern Brunswick County.
As it has been for at least the last two election cycles, this is a hotly-contested and controversial race. Documenting the history of H2G0 and its controversies is beyond the scope of today’s candidate interviews.
What you do need to know is that Leland, Belville, and H2G0, are working towards an interlocal agreement after the Town of Leland filed suit against the Town of Belville in 2017. Leland officials brought legal action after the outgoing H2G0 board decided to transfer its assets to Belville before the incoming, newly-elected board could be seated. The move was ostensibly to keep H2G0’s plans for a reverse osmosis water treatment plant on track and out of the control of the new board that would bring a majority opposing it.
The RO plant has been the source of great controversy in Brunswick County – both before and after news of GenX in the water supply broke in 2017. H2G0 has worked towards creating an independent water source since about 2012.
Depending on who wins the two open seats, the overarching goals of the board, which include the RO plant, could change.
There are four candidates for those two seats; we’ll meet each of the four one-on-one. The only incumbent running is Jeff Gerken as Trudy Trombley did not file for re-election.
John Bradley spent most of his career in IBM’s Office Product’s Division in Lexington, KY, doing software, mechanical and electrical design for typewriters and printers. He managed three different design areas. After the division was sold and became Lexmark, he continued similar work until his retirement in 2001. At that point, he says he bought a sailboat and spent seven years on it – wintering in the Caribbean and spending hurricane season between the Chesapeake Bay area and Maine.
Jeff Gerken moved to Leland with his wife in 2013 and works as a substitute teacher in New Hanover County schools, mostly in math and science classes. He’s twice taught chemistry full-time when vacancies occurred mid-school-year. He ran for the H2G0 Board in 2015 and won the most votes of the five candidates. He is currently chairman of the H2G0 board and is seeking a second four-year term.
Steve Hosmer identifies himself as a graduate mechanical engineer. He worked as a design engineer and as a sales engineer before moving into sales. He currently has two U.S. patents in his name. He later formed his own consulting company to help smaller companies using Client Relationship Management software. He and his wife moved to Brunswick County 2-1/2 years ago, just before the StarNews broke the story of GenX in the water supply.
Barry Laub says he pioneered Special Education for the City of New York – training teachers and principals, and initiating new programs. He’s also been a CEO and a Business and Life Coach. He is a motivational speaker, author, and environmentalist and says he’s served on the board of Earthsave Long Island. He is also a Certified Financial Planner.
Barry Laub took issue with questions we asked during the interview about statements on a blog that appears to be produced by Barry Laub and the "Clean Water Team". He sent this statement:
"The "blog" post is dated July 29, 2019. As of April 30th, 2019, Steve Hosmer and myself ceased direct involvement with the Clean Water Team and had no participation with their blog. Why my name is mentioned as a contributor is baffling to me. Even the bio under my name is taken from an old Linkedin [sic] profile when I was doing business in NY. Very curious? [sic] Why no mention as an advocate for clean water if I was to put up a bio as a contributor? I am perplexed as to how my name was used as a contributor to this blog!"
Editor's Note: This post has been corrected to accurately describe the service area of H2G0. The original text incorrectly stated that H2G0 does not serve Belville.