Topsail Beach residents will have two mayoral candidates on the ballot next week: incumbent Howard Braxton and Commissioner Buck Taylor.
WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports both candidates agree that protecting the town’s natural resources with a long-term beach renourishment plan is crucial for attracting tourists, but they suggest different strategies for growing the town’s central business district.
Taylor says that, if elected, he would seek advice from other beach towns that have attracted entrepreneurs despite pricey real estate and an income stream that dries up when tourist season ends.
“The first thing we ought to do is cast a very wide net and ask, ‘Who else has had some problems with a business district like we do?’ Let’s see what they’ve done. Maybe they’ve given tax incentives for new businesses or low interest loans.”
Incumbent Mayor Howard Braxton says he specifically wants Topsail Beach to offer more family-friendly activities without losing its small-town appeal.
“We have to provide some type of entertainment and activities for our tourists. And we’re looking at that right now—what can we do to keep our tourists coming? We are a family beach, and we don’t want to get to be a big beach.”
Braxton cites the historic assembly building, used for event rentals, and the town’s Missiles and More Museum as examples of the types of new attractions the town should pursue.
No matter who is elected, making town government more transparent than in the past will be a priority.
Braxton says that transparency has been a problem for Topsail Beach when some past decisions were made without community input or awareness. He says one solution is providing more opportunities for an open dialogue.
“We could have more open meetings and more workshops. We can have more meetings where we can involve the public. They can express their ideas as to what we should be doing and the direction we should go.”
Commissioner Buck Taylor says that online video streaming of town meetings has helped with transparency concerns and another change is in the works.
“I think we do a good job. We could do a better job and we’re starting to do that right now in terms of publishing the agenda, and not only the agenda, but all the supporting documents that go into the packet that each commissioner receives. Those will be available online.”
Taylor says that Topsail Beach residents can pick up those information packets at town hall but posting them online is the next step.