Local

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners has a new chair:  Beth Dawson takes the helm after a narrow three-to-two vote at Monday's meeting. 

Skip Watkins nominated Woody White for Chair; White seconded the motion. 

Jonathan Barfield nominated Beth Dawson – as he promised publicly that he would a year ago.  This was widely expected after Dawson helped Barfield to the Chairmanship in a three-to-two vote last year.   The local Republican Party blasted Dawson last December for that move.

New Hanover County

This week, New Hanover County Chair Jonathan Barfield attended a national roundtable to address issues for communities of color.  The event was sponsored by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which conducts research and suggests policy solutions to create equal opportunities for all Americans, regardless of race.

Cape Fear Museum

For All The World to See is currently on display at the Cape Fear Museum.  The nationally touring exhibit examines how the media impacted the Civil Rights movement.  But how is media — including social media — impacting race relations today? 

Open Blue

The United Nations Climate Change Summit is underway in Paris, and for the first time in years, world leaders are hopeful a global agreement is possible.  Without organized cooperation, NASA scientists say the Earth will see an escalation of catastrophic weather events – such as longer and more intense heat waves, more severe storms, flooding, sea level rise… the list goes on – impacting everything from human health to food production. 

North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE)

Today, December 1st, was the opening day of the candidate filing period for North Carolina’s 2016 elections.  Candidates have three weeks to register, with filing closing on December 21st. 

In order to make the most of the presidential primary, which is expected to draw out voters, lawmakers moved the primaries for federal, state, and local elections in North Carolina from May to March 15th.  And that means filing has been moved forward too.  Here’s New Hanover County Board of Elections Director Derek Bowens:

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR

The day after Thanksgiving, shoppers come out in droves for Black Friday, a sales event for big box retail stores.  And that following Monday, e-commerce stores try to draw customers in with deals online.  Nestled between the two lies Small Business Saturday, and hundreds of local shops will participate. 

Good Shepherd Center

Most Americans look forward to a feast on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s a day of gratitude, time with family, and let’s be honest – unbridled consumption.  But for more than half a million people, the question of what to cook for the big dinner is overshadowed by much more basic concerns:  where to spend the night, how to stay warm, where to find food – any food.

Plan New Hanover County / http://planningdevelopment.nhcgov.com/plan-nhc/plannhc/overview/

To tackle the divide between high home prices and low wages, regional business leaders suggest increasing incomes through targeted economic development.  But at a recent roundtable discussion, local government representatives came at it from a different angle: lowering housing costs.

The heads of Wilmington City Council and the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners agree that partnerships between local government and developers are part of the solution to the region’s lack of affordable housing.  Here’s Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo:

Flickr Creative Commons -- https://www.flickr.com/photos/11032456@N08/

At a recent roundtable focused on the lack of affordable housing in the Cape Fear region, local representatives suggested ways of lowering the high cost of housing.  But some business leaders proposed a different route: raising incomes to meet housing prices.

UNC Pembroke

Local entrepreneurs have a new option for assistance growing from an idea into a viable business.  The University of North Carolina at Pembroke will soon cut the ribbon on a brand new facility for start-ups.

Eno Publishers

The recently-published anthology, 27 Views of Wilmington: The Port City in Prose and Poetry, compiles literary pieces from 27 accomplished, local writers – in addition to an introduction by Celia Rivenbark.   It’s produced by Eno Publishers -- a very small non-profit that puts out about two books a year.  27 Views of Wilmington is the last in the 27 Views series, which now has eight different editions, spotlighting Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Ashevil

New Hanover County Commissioners have rejected a proposed limit on travel expenses for Board Members. 

At Monday's regular meeting, Commissioner Woody White suggested travel decisions be shaped by the answers to three questions.

"Is the travel, whether it’s by a commissioner or particularly by employees or department heads and so forth, is it necessary for licensing and certification?  Secondly, is the topic of the conference relevant to an issue we’re addressing?"

City of Wilmington

In the Cape Fear region, there’s a large and growing gap between high home prices and low wages.  At a recent roundtable, regional government and business leaders discussed this disparity.  Who is affected by the lack of housing affordability?  And how does it affect the community at large?

City of Wilmington

In New Hanover and Pender counties, almost 40% of homeowners are cost burdened, meaning they spend over a third of their income on housing. That’s not even factoring in renters, who are about half of the local population. This lack of affordable options leads to housing instability, which hits those who’ve already had a hard knock—like imprisonment and illness—especially hard. 

Cucalorus Connect is an important new element in this year's Cucalorus Film Festival slate.  It's an offering that organizers hope will support the synthesis of arts and business -- to empower entrepreneurs, introduce them to artists, and possibly even connect investors with start-ups. 

On this edition of CoastLine, we explore how the confluence of artists and businesspeople might change Cucalorus and whether, by association, it could change the Wilmington area. 

An alternate funding option for smaller filmmakers will soon be a reality in North Carolina.  Cucalorus, in partnership with the North Carolina Film Office, is announcing a new film incentive for projects with budgets under a quarter of a million dollars.

Once the popular tax-rebate form of the film incentive expired in North Carolina and legislators replaced it with a grant fund, film production in the state dropped significantly.  With those big-budget films and longer-running television series also went the support structure for smaller projects.  

http://www.wilmingtonnc.gov/

Over five thousand New Hanover County residents are in need of affordable housing assistance. This week, community leaders came together to discuss solutions at the Mayor’s Roundtable on Housing Affordability.

The roundtable’s panelists agree that a major barrier to bringing more affordable housing to Wilmington is the stigma surrounding the term, which many citizens equate with public housing.

New Hanover County Chairman Jonathan Barfield, Jr. says people need to be educated about what affordable housing really means: 

Municipal elections across North Carolina have concluded; the results are in. 

Wilmington City Council welcomes back its two incumbents – Margaret Haynes and Neil Anderson.  Paul Lawler was the third-highest vote-getter – winning the seat Laura Padgett vacated after more than two decades on Council.  The window between Paul Lawler and fourth placer-Deb Hays wasn’t huge:  88 votes. 

Brunswick County

The Village of Bald Head Island, with a year-round population of less than 170 people, has approved a $10 million bond for a broadband network.  But barely.  The “yes” vote squeaked through by four votes – not unusual, though, in a small municipality.

Village residents will see a new slate of council members.  The two incumbents running for reelection, Gene Douglas and Bob Helgesen, lost their seats to top vote-getters Kit Adcock, John May, and John Pitera. 

Town of Kure Beach

Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox will keep his seat for another term.  Challenger Bob Lewis lost to Wilcox by 276 votes.  On the Town Council, incumbent Steve Shuttleworth also kept his seat and won the most votes of all seven candidates competing for two seats.  Tom Bridges won the second open seat by a wide margin.  The third-place vote-getter, Tammy Hanson, came in a distant third – losing to Bridges by 319 votes.  That’s a percentage difference of almost 12 points.

Pender County Board of Elections; Wikimedia Commons; Robeson County Board of Elections

PENDER COUNTY

In Pender County, the Town of Burgaw voted Wilfred (Red) Robbins, Vernon Harrell, and Bill George III onto its Board for 2016. 

Surf City’s unopposed Mayor Zander Guy will serve another term.  Top vote-getters for the three open Council seats are Buddy Fowler, Donald Ray Helms, and Nelva Albury. 

Neighboring Topsail Beach re-elected Howard Braxton as Mayor – by a roughly 30% margin.  Steve Smith and Linda Stipe won the two seats on Topsail’s Board of Commissioners.

ONSLOW COUNTY

In Brunswick County, the Town of Oak Island will see some new faces on Council.  The Brunswick County beach town has a new mayor – and two new council members. 

Cin Brochure, the current Director of Tourism for the City of Southport, will serve as the new Mayor of Oak Island.  Three-term mayor Betty Wallace decided not to seek another term.   

The Town of Leland saw a major upset on Election Day.  One polarizing issue --  how to plan for the Town’s future water supply – could have been a factor. 

Mayor Brenda Bozeman handily kept her seat winning 81% of the vote to challenger Glenn Thearling’s 19%.

North Carolina State Board of Elections

After yesterday’s elections, incumbents Margaret Haynes and Neil Anderson have secured their seats on Wilmington City Council for another term. But the open seat—left by exiting Laura Padgett—is still somewhat in the air. 

With over 22% of the total votes, Margaret Haynes was the first clear winner as the results rolled in late yesterday. Neil Anderson is set to return to City Council with just 17%. Currently, the third highest vote getter is Paul Lawler, but Deb Hays trails him by just 88 votes.

Rainy Election Day May Deter Potential Voters

Nov 3, 2015
https://www.flickr.com/photos/lindyloo86/

The National Weather Service is calling for steady rain throughout Election Day. Election officials speculate this may decrease voter participation in the 2015 municipal elections. 

Judge Bill Roesink oversaw voting at the New Hanover County Senior Center. Based on what he’s seen at the polls today, he says the rain might be deterring voters:

Judge Bill Roesink: “It’s been slower than normal because of the type of election it is—it’s the city election—and because of the weather. So, it’s down from what it normally would be.”

Rachel Lewis Hilburn

A steady rain fell throughout the day in Brunswick County as a thin but constant stream of voters trickled through Belville Elementary School  -- picking leaders for Belville, Leland, and the Board of the local water authority, H2GO. 

Turnout is famously low when it’s only a municipal race on the ballot.  The Leland and Belville voters who braved the weather today generally didn’t have a lot to say about why they came out – but what they did say was pointed: 

Here’s Leland resident Bonnie Laserna:

Polls are open on Election Day from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM.  Because it’s an odd year and only municipal races are on the ballot, elections officials expect turnout to be lower than in years that include state and federal elections. 

Early voter turnout for this year’s municipal elections in New Hanover County lands at about 1.6% of eligible voters.  That may sound miniscule, but New Hanover County Elections Director Derek Bowens says it’s right on target -- compared with numbers from 2013.  That year, about 1,000 people or 1.1% of eligible voters cast their ballots early. 

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR

This coming Tuesday, Leland citizens will cast their votes for the municipal election.  Three candidates are vying for two open seats on Town Council, and Glen Thearling is challenging incumbent Brenda Bozeman for the mayoral seat. During this week’s CoastLine Forum, the candidates focused on addressing issues stemming from the town’s rapid growth.

Leland residents get their water through H2GO, an independent governmental entity separate from Brunswick County’s Public Utility – which sells water to H2GO.  And now H2GO is deciding whether to build its own reverse osmosis plant. 

While water authority officials study the question, a citizen-led group, Stop H2GO, has sprung up in opposition to that project -- creating a StopH2GO website and putting forth two candidates for H2GO's Board of Commissioners.  

Isabelle Shepherd / Rachel Lewis Hilburn

The Town of Leland is governed by a Council consisting of a Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem and three other Council members.  Elections are held every two years.  The Mayor serves a two-year term; Council members serve staggered four-year terms. 

The two candidates for Mayor of Leland in alphabetical order: 

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