Davis, Swearingen diverge on energy policy, toll roads

Oct 19, 2012

During last night’s State House District 19 Candidate Forum at WHQR, Republican Candidate and Incumbent Ted Davis and Democratic Candidate Emilie Swearingen agreed on a handful of issues. 

As WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, the starkest dissension showed up in their views on alternative energy and how to improve traffic in the region. 

Representative Ted Davis and Emilie Swearingen both support film incentives.  They both say the proposed rate hike on homeowners’ insurance is patently unfair to coastal residents.  And they both agree that a local county commission should be able to oust a commissioner who is no longer effective -- for reasons other than a felony conviction.  That was a reference to current New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger – although he was never mentioned by name. 

When it comes to energy policy, however, Swearingen and Davis couldn’t be farther apart.  Alternative sources of energy such wind and solar are the future, says Swearingen. 

“Unfortunately, we have not put our research dollars into alternative energy sources like we have oil and coal and nuclear.  I am very, very much in favor of looking toward wind energy off our coast… I am opposed to offshore drilling.  I am opposed to fracking.”

Davis says fracking should be permitted in order to harvest clean, economical natural gas -- as long as regulations are in place to protect the environment.  Offshore wind energy will be so expensive, says Davis, that it won’t benefit anyone except the energy producers. 

“Mainly because of the fact it’s going to be very expensive to build the wind machines themselves.  You’re also going to have private industry that are going to be doing that.  So when they generate that electricity, they’re going to be selling to the electrical companies which means the electrical companies will then sell it to you and I and it’s going to be at an increased cost because they have to cover that expense of having produced that electricity offshore.” 

And then there was the divergence on how to deal with traffic problems – in light of an unannounced bridge closure several weeks ago that created record-breaking gridlock on both sides of the river. 

Here’s Ted Davis: 

“As much as I dislike the possibility of a toll road, it is something we have to look at as far as building a new bridge – which is getting more and more expensive.” 

Swearingen says the legislature needs to stop raiding Department of Transportation funds. 

"I grew up in Virginia.  And I know the nightmare that toll roads can create – which is bad for energy consumption – not to mention just patience of drivers… I cannot see taxing our people again for a toll road.  We need to figure out something else to do.”