Primary 2020: Smart Growth, Infrastructure Key For NHC Commission Republican Candidates

Feb 24, 2020

In the race for the New Hanover County Commission, John Lyons, Ricky Meeks and Harry Knight are three of the nine Republicans in the running. The top three vote getters in the primary will move on to the November Election.   

Ricky Meeks uses public transportation – WAVE Transit – and its future is important to him. He also believes the County can do a better job in its overall planning.

“So my top priority is a smart planning and growth for the County. And the biggest problem that we have for our future is our schools and just day-to-day planning and traffic and, and also long range planning for housing. I think that, you know, we all know that there have been problems in the past, with affordable housing. And also better roads and also better schools for the future. And I just think, if I was a candidate – a winner – for County Board of Commissioner, my top priority would be smart roads and planning for the long range growth.”

Harry Knight is a West Virginia native who has been in Wilmington for 20 years. He worked in the nuclear industry with the U.S. Navy before retiring.

“Our top priority in new Hanover County in the moment is getting our infrastructure up to speed with the development that's already occurred. Over the next 20 years or so, we're expecting about a 50% increase in population. So there will be needed responsible development that needs to happen in order to keep housing affordable and our infrastructure needs to not only get caught up, but keep up with that. What most people probably don't recognize in New Hanover County is a lot of those infrastructure, roads in this particular case, that funding comes from the state, not from the County, about 80% of it. So there's about $2 billion that's allocated to New Hanover County for those kinds of infrastructure needs.”

Knight says he has the political skills to get those funds to where they need to go – New Hanover County.

John Lyon has served on the Wilmington Business Development board, and is also a board member of the UNCW Cameron School of Business.

“I'm really running on a twofold platform. One top issue that I see for the community is the proper planning and managing of our growth going forward. Growth is coming whether we want it or not. And we have to make sure that we have built into all of our County plans all the necessary items, training from schools, the roads to infrastructure, like a power, water, sewer, fiber, whatever the case may be. Our population today is between 200,000 and 300,000, and it's probably going to be growing by half of that in the next 10 to 20 years. And so we have to have County commissioners and County staff that are planning now for that expansion. And the other thing I'm running on is for school conservatism. I want to make sure that our available tax dollars are being spent wisely.”

He says it’s not the County’s money, but the people's money, and it needs to be managed wisely.

Vince Winkel, WHQR News.