Several major issues facing New Hanover County were posed to the six candidates running for county commissioner last night. WHQR’s Sara Wood reports candidates spoke their minds about the upcoming baseball stadium referendum facing all city residents, but only half of the county.
Candidates discussed where they stood on the city’s $37 million stadium bond referendum. The current commission’s was absent from the negotiating table between the city, Mandalay Sports and the Atlanta Braves. Democrat Robert Murray says even though he doesn’t agree with a publicly-funded stadium, the county should still be active in the talks.
“We should be involved into it because it’s going to affect our area and it’s going to affect the county. Not just the city, it’s going to affect the county. It’s going to affect us by traffic, it’s going to affect us on our roads and on our traffic problems. We should be in on the talks."
Republican Woody White says he doesn’t support the referendum because county government can’t be all things to all people. He says it’s responsibility is to get the basics right.
“You have to go more than a month without seeing a water spill in Hewlett’s Creek, without seeing a main break downtown. When our water lines are 113 years old, as they are in the city of Wilmington, that’s what we need to spending our money on. We’ve issued enough General Obligation Debt in this county over the last 12 years.”
Democrat Rob Zapple applauded city council’s efforts and says the stadium has the potential to serve as an economic engine for three counties. But he says the unfortunate thing is that half the county won’t get a say in the matter because the referendum is only for city residents.
“The strange thing is, or the disappointing thing is that if this were to move ahead, if were to be a success for us, those half of the county residents will benefit for it, simply from the sales tax alone. There’s a fairness issue here.”
Voters will decide if they want to pay for stadium construction and land acquisition on the November ballot.