CoastLine Candidate Interviews: Local Poli-Sci, Leland, and H2GO

Oct 6, 2017

On this edition of the CoastLine Candidate Interviews, we meet one candidate for Leland’s Town Council and one for Board of Commissioners of Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO. 

But first, we take a closer look at municipal elections with a political scientist.   

Segment 1:  Aaron King, Assistant Professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs at the University of North Carolina Wilmington

RLH:  Some of your areas of expertise include American Political Institutions and Political Parties.  We are smack in the middle of the 2017 municipal election season, and for many people, I think, it doesn’t really feel like an election – even though most people – those within an incorporated municipality – have people to choose for their local town boards and city councils. 

Why so little engagement relative to other elections? 

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Segment 2:  Bob Corriston, Leland Town Council

The Town of Leland is enjoying a period of explosive growth – which means town leaders must meet the need for infrastructure improvement while planning for the future when the data lags behind the reality.  There are five candidates on the ballot for Leland’s Town Council – not including the two candidates for Mayor.  Of those five, one person, Shirley Lawler, says she is not actively pursuing her campaign.  Two of the remaining four are incumbents seeking re-election, and two are challengers.  We met the two challengers and one incumbent on the September 27, 2017 edition.  Today, we meet the other. 

Leland Town Council members serve staggered, four-year terms.

Bob Corriston had a career as a salesman of office supplies.  He’s also owned an office supply business.  He is a current Leland Council member seeking his second term, and he is the town’s liaison for Economic Development and the Leland Infrastructure Committee.  In the past, he’s served on the Town’s Planning Board and was a liaison for the Parks and Recreation Department.  Before that, he served as President of the Gardenwood Homeowners Association in Brunswick Forest.  He’s been a County Committeeman for the Town of Nutley and Hasbrouck Heights in New Jersey.   He is also a Member of the American Legion and Knights of Columbus.

Segment 3:  Bill Beer - H2GO Board of Commissioners

Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO, popularly known as H2GO, is a water and sewer utility in Brunswick County that serves the northeast portion of the County including Leland, Belville, parts of Navassa, and some customers outside of these municipal boundaries.  In total, that equates to slightly more than 10,000 water customers and nearly 6,000 sewer customers.

Utility officials say they expect their customer base to double within the next 25 years.  H2GO currently buys finished water from Brunswick County Public Utilities.  And since 2011, H2GO has worked towards building its own Reverse Osmosis plant.  Constructing a $30 million plant is controversial – with opponents concerned the project is not necessary and would saddle consumers with higher utility rates.  Supporters say – especially in light of the recent discovery of decades-long contamination in the local drinking water supply, having an independent source of clean water is critical. 

H2GO is governed by a five-member board of commissioners who serve staggered, four-year terms.  There are three open seats this year.  Two incumbents are seeking re-election. 

Bill Beer has been a resident of Leland for five years.  Before moving to Brunswick County, he spent nearly 39 years with Betz Labs and GE Water in water treatment.  During that time, he says he managed global technology development.   Bill Beer served as Chairman for the Water Treatment Committee International Water Conference and also the Cooling Technology Institute.  He says he holds a number of water treatment patents and has published technical papers in professional journals.