CoastLine Candidate Forums: Wilmington City Council

Oct 7, 2015

This CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015, featuring candidates for the Wilmington City Council, aired live from WHQR's MC Erny Gallery on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.  This is a sizable race – eight people are competing for three open seats – so we allotted two hours in order to cover a comprehensive range of issues.

The City of Wilmington is governed by a non-partisan Council consisting of a Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem and five Council members.  All members of Council represent the entire City; there are no districts.   Elections are held every two years.  The Mayor serves a two-year term, and Council members serve staggered four-year terms.  This year, the race for Mayor is uncontested, and Bill Saffo will continue in that role for a sixth term. 

Candidates for Wilmington City Council in alphabetical order: 

Neil Anderson, one of two incumbents, has served on City Council for the last four years where he has been a board member of the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the Bellamy Mansion, a member of the Ports and Waterways Committee, and chair of the Legion Stadium Commission.  Neil Anderson was born and raised in High Point and has been a self-employed territory manager in the furniture industry for twenty-five years.  He and his family have lived in Wilmington for the last fourteen. He is a married father of three with children at Forest Hills Elementary, Williston Middle School, and New Hanover High School.  The family is active in First Baptist Church.  

Hollis Briggs, Jr. has worked for the Kellum Law Firm as the regional marketing director and field investigator for the past three years.  He graduated from Hoggard High School in 1975, and relocated to Atlanta.  Since his return to Wilmington in 1999 after the passing of his father, Hollis Briggs, Senior, he’s been a community advocate. Hollis was appointed by Governor Mike Easley as Battleship Commissioner and was reappointed by Governor Bev Perdue.  Mr. Briggs also serves as Chairman of the M.L.K. Celebration Committee.  He is the father of 3 boys and 2 girls.

Margaret Haynes is also one of two incumbents and is the current Mayor Pro-Tem.  She was appointed to the City Council in 2009 and then elected two years later.  She serves as Chair of the Council’s Appointments Committee, is a member of the naming committee, is the council’s representative on Wilmington Downtown, Inc., and is a Thalian Hall Trustee.  Margaret Haynes is a North Carolina native and a retired federal employee, having worked for a member of Congress from Virginia’s Sixth District.  She is a founder of a community bank currently traded on NASDAQ.  She continues to work on her golf game, loves the beach, back-water fishing, and playing bridge.  She is a fairly recent widow and lives with her English Cocker Spaniel, Sweetie.  She has a son and two granddaughters.    

Deb Hays has served as President of the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors® and on the Boards for the North Carolina Association of Realtors® and the National Association of Realtors®.  She is a member of the Steering Committee for Wilmington’s Comprehensive Plan, is Chair of the Wilmington Planning Commission, is on the Airlie Gardens Foundation Board, and is Committee Chair for the North Carolina Azalea Festival.  She recently served as Chair and is a current Commissioner of the Wilmington Housing Authority and Housing Economic Opportunities.  Deb Hays has served on New Hanover County’s Special Board of Equalization and Review and on the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board of Advisors.  She has experience as a Bank Officer, a College Financial Aid Director, and was a long-time employee of IBM.  She has one daughter. 

Paul Lawler, a native North Carolinian, worked for thirty years as a licensed CPA.  During that time, he worked with economic development organizations.  He is the immediate past president of Residents of Old Wilmington (ROW) and has served on the boards of Wilmington Downtown, Inc. and WHQR. He is now a member of the City’s Comprehensive Plan committee.  Paul says he wants to promote a stronger and more diverse local economy.  He is married to Patricia Lawler.

Frank Madonna served three years with the US Navy in Vietnam, and then spent 10 years in the public sector.  He served as Assistant Administrator and Assistant Commissioner for two Municipal Government Agencies in New York City.  He then worked for 25 years in the telecommunications industry in senior executive positions with companies such as MCI and Global Crossing. Since retiring, he has become involved with a number of local organizations including Cape Fear Community College Foundation, Good Shepherd, the Landfall Homeowners’ Association, and the Wounded Warrior Program. Frank is married to his wife of 46 years, Donna Madonna.

John Presswood has been a small business owner and appraiser with Port City Appraisal-Wilmington for 15 years. He is also a real estate broker with Wilkinson and Associates ERA.  His volunteer activities include being a soccer coach, feeding families with Interfaith, and serving as a committee member with Wilmington Downtown Inc. and the Wilmington Board of Adjustment (Zoning Board). He says his main goals are to create access to better paying “high tech jobs,” a better transportation network, and better public safety.

Alvin Rogers is a native of Wilmington. He and his wife Sandy have 3 sons: Brad, Adam, and David. He has worked at Rogers Appliance, Inc. for over 45 years and is now its president. He has served on the city planning commission and the subdivision review board. He also attends and volunteers at Life Community Church. He is interested in improving roads and traffic flow in Wilmington.

This forum will be re-broadcast on 91.3 FM Saturday, October 10th from 1 - 3 PM.

For a schedule of the remaining Candidate Forums, follow this link:

http://whqr.org/topic/2015-election-coverage