Local

It’s the last election-related show we’ll have in 2017.  The day after a small percentage of eligible of voters went to the polls to choose leaders for the boards of towns and cities, we’re taking a look at what happened, what it could say about what’s on voters’ minds, and where we go from here. 

Also on this edition, we spend a great deal of time on why people didn't vote -- with lots of listeners chiming in via email and phone calls. 

Guests:

Vince Winkel / WHQR

The election brought some changes to the beach communities of New Hanover County. 

City of Southport

Note:  The results below are based on unofficial returns.  Votes will be canvassed Friday, November 17th.

Bald Head Island (Village)

Vince Winkel / WHQR

There were some tight races for three spots on the Wilmington City Council last night. However, it was the familiar names that were victorious. 

https://www.h2goonline.com/home

H2GO’s Board of Commissioners, a water and sewer utility in Brunswick County, is likely to change direction on construction of a controversial reverse osmosis plant. 

For the last two years, the two board members who oppose building an RO plant sat in the minority on H2GO’s five-member board.  But with three open seats this year, all it took to change the majority position was for one of three anti-RO candidates to win.  RO-supporter and incumbent Carl Antos lost his seat to RO opponent Bill Beer by 18 votes. 

The City of Wilmington will see Mayor Bill Saffo embark on his sixth term. He defeated challenger Todd Zola with about 85 percent of the vote.

Leland Town Council will continue with its current leadership.  As WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, all the incumbents won reelection.

Pat Batleman was the top vote-getter for Leland Town Council.  Fellow incumbent Bob Corriston came in about four percentage points behind her.  The next vote-getter, Sandra Ford, was a distant third – about ten points behind Corriston. 

Earlier this year, the Town of Leland passed a resolution opposing H2GO’s efforts to build a reverse osmosis plant.  Pat Batleman says the town is very concerned about the management of H2GO. 

Town of Burgaw

In the Town of Burgaw, Pete Cowan won the mayoral seat after Incumbent Eugene Mulligan ran for a Commissioner seat.  Cowan easily held off two challengers with 63% of the vote.  Mulligan did not win a seat on the Board.  Instead, Incumbents Jan Dawson and James Murphy kept their seats on Burgaw’s Board of Commissioners.

Surf City’s Town Council will have Teresa Batts for another term.  Jeremy Shugarts picked up the second open seat. 

RLH

During the last municipal election of 2015, only 10% of voters in New Hanover County showed up.  By Tuesday afternoon, it was too early to tell if the numbers are up, down, or even with the last cycle.  In an unscientific, anecdotal visit with voters at New Hanover County’s Senior Center – one of the polling locations in Wilmington today – I met a handful of committed voters who say they wouldn’t miss an election.

RLH

It would be an easy leap to say that voters in Brunswick County served by the water utility H2GO are turning out at a higher rate.  But an unscientific, anecdotal sweep through the polls doesn’t necessarily bear that out.  While the direction of a $30-plus million reverse osmosis plant could change based on this election outcome – most people that I encountered in Leland today offered more basic reasons for voting.  

Charles says he comes out for every election. 

Tuesday, November 7th is Election Day – which means that people living inside city or town limits have local leaders to choose. 

It’s hard to engage voters in municipal election years.  In New Hanover County, voter turnout  is trending downward.   Since 2011, turnout has dropped from 17% to 10%.  Brunswick and Pender Counties seem to hold steady with just over 20 percent of voters coming to the polls.

But this year, some galvanizing issues have ignited controversy.  Whether it translates to higher voter turnout is yet to be determined.    

Dr. Detlef Knappe, the N.C. State scientist who uncovered GenX and other compounds in the Cape Fear River, is not happy about being pulled into tomorrow’s election for the H2GO board. He explains why he’s upset about three candidates using his name in a political ad. 

On this edition, we meet candidates from Oak Island and Kure Beach – two beach towns in southeastern North Carolina.

On this edition of the CoastLine Candidate Interviews, our focus is largely on Oak Island in Brunswick County.  We meet Kevin Lindsey and John Bach – both running for a seat on Town Council there. 

The Town Council is Oak Island’s governing body consisting of 5 Council Members and the Mayor. This body sets Town policy, enacts ordinances and adopts the annual budget. There are seven people running for two open seats. Oak Island has a population estimated at 7,700 people. In the summer, including day-trippers, that number can hit 50,000. According to the U.S. Census, the town has grown by 13.5 percent since 2010. 

The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are joining forces to consider legal action against those they consider to be responsible for the deadly opioid epidemic facing this region. The North Carolina Department of Health says that opioid deaths have increased 73 percent statewide and doubled in New Hanover County over the last decade. 

The Town of Oak Island, part of Brunswick County, is governed by a Council of five and a mayor. As of 2016, population estimates landed at about 7700 people. According to the U.S. Census, the town has grown by 13.5 percent since 2010. Two people are running for mayor in this year’s election. Kenny Rogers is challenging Mayor Cin Brochure as she seeks her second term. A big issue for Oak Island is erosion.

Debbie Aitken

Lawsuits against Chemours and parent company DuPont are starting to roll in. Leland resident Victoria Carey filed a class action lawsuit against DuPont and Chemours last week after discovering GenX in her water heater. Chemours is the maker of GenX, the contaminant found in the Cape Fear River, which provides the raw water the CFPUA and the Brunswick County Utilities Department uses for drinking water. 

Our focus today is first on Oak Island and then Kure Beach – two beach towns in southeastern North Carolina.  In the Brunswick County Town of Oak Island, six candidates are running for two open seats on council.  Kenny Rogers, whom we will meet today, is challenging Mayor Cin Brochure as she seeks her second term. 

In the two later segments, we’ll meet two people seeking a seat on the Town Council of Kure Beach, located in New Hanover County:  John Ellen and Jerry Dockery.

Segment 1:  Kenny Rogers -- Oak Island Town Council

Our focus here is again on Carolina Beach – the largest beach town in New Hanover County.  At an estimated population of about 6,000,  the town is more than double the size of the county's next largest, Wrightsville Beach.  Median household income is around $60,000 -- higher than nearby Wilmington. 

Two people seeking one of the two open seats on Carolina Beach Town Council are with us today:  Tammy Hanson and LeAnn Pierce.  We will meet them in segments 2 and 3.

The Leland Town Council has four members that serve staggered four-year terms. One of the biggest challenges facing Leland Town Council is dealing with the rapid growth and accompanying infrastructure needs. There are four candidates on the ballot for the two open seats. Bob Corriston is a current Leland Council member seeking his second term, while Joy Cranidiotis is running for the first time. 

The Leland Town Council has four members that serve staggered four-year terms. Arguably, the biggest challenge facing Leland Town Council is dealing with the rapid growth and accompanying infrastructure needs. There are four candidates on the ballot for the two open seats. 

Vince Winkel / WHQR

There are red balloons floating along the Cape Fear River, across from downtown Wilmington. They went up this morning, as a test for a new development. 

Carolina Beach is the largest of the three beach towns in New Hanover County.  At an estimated population of about 6,000 – more than double the size of the next largest, Wrightsville Beach.  Median household income is around 60-thousand – higher than nearby Wilmington. 

The town is governed by a Council made up of four members and a mayor.   Here, we meet two of the five candidates seeking a Council seat in Carolina Beach.  We also meet the man challenging Mayor Dan Wilcox for his seat this year.

New Hanover County is made up of four municipalities:  the City of Wilmington, three beach towns, and some unincorporated areas.  Wrightsville Beach is one of those three beach towns – governed by a Mayor and Board of Aldermen.  The population, according to the U.S.

Two people are hoping to be the next mayor of the City of Southport. In 2010, the City boasted a population of slightly more than 2,800. Today, the Census Bureau estimates that about 3,600 people call Southport home. In 2015, the last municipal election year in North Carolina, Jerry Dove ran against Joe Pat Hatem. Jerry Dove won the seat by 79 votes or a difference of about 7%.  This year it’s a rematch.

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 located outside of these municipal boundaries. Since 2011, the utility has worked towards building its own Reverse Osmosis plant. Constructing a $30-plus million plant is controversial and has its opponents. Three of the candidates oppose the plant.

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 located outside of these municipal boundaries. Since 2011, the utility has worked towards building its own Reverse Osmosis plant. Constructing a $30-plus million plant is controversial with opponents concerned the project is not necessary and would saddle consumers with higher utility rates. Three candidates are in support of the plant.

In the race for Wilmington’s City Council, there are nine people competing for three open seats that carry four-year terms. Two incumbents are seeking re-election. Deb Hays is the current Chair of the City of Wilmington Planning Commission, James Ray is Associate Minister of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in Wilmington, and Perry Fisher ran his own restaurant, Front Street News, before moving to broadcast journalism. 

In the race for Wilmington’s City Council, there are nine people competing for three open seats that carry four-year terms. Two incumbents are seeking re-election. Caylan McKay is an accountant, running for the first time. Philip White is a retail store manager, and Hollis Briggs Jr. ran in 2015 for city council but was not elected. 

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