Republican incumbent Skip Watkins is running for a second term on the Board of Commissioners in New Hanover County. He’s in the race for the two seats with Democratic Incumbent Rob Zapple, also a Board member of WHQR, and two challengers: Democrat Julia Olson-Boseman and Republican Eric Lytle.
Skip Watkins teaches economics classes for the University of Mount Olive at the Wilmington campus and serves on the Executive Board and as Fair Manager for the Cape Fear Fair and Expo.
He says his first four years allowed him to help cut the tax rate, begin to address the opioid crisis, and recognize the importance of planning for nuisance flooding. He’s also proud, he says, of the increase in funding for public schools.
But it’s systematic stormwater management that he says will mitigate flooding in the county. Residents within city limits, whether Wilmington or the beach towns, already pay for that as part of their water utility bill.
"In the unincorporated areas, if you and I are neighbors, and we have a drainage ditch between us, we’re responsible for the maintenance of that. I have initiated, a little over a year ago, a stormwater program within the county. We’re going through engineering. We’re in Phase 2 now, and we’re hoping to implement it so that people in the unincorporated area, with a small fee, will never have to worry about cleaning out their own ditches anymore."
Watkins says after his second term, he’ll likely run for a third. But county residents won’t see signs for a fourth.
"I’m 60 years old. At the end of a third term, I’ll be 72. Sooner or later, you got to go home."