Wilmington City Council

Despite the fact that presidential election years turn out the highest numbers of voters, municipal elections have the most direct impact on quality of life.  This fact is pretty widely accepted.  But even the most educated and engaged among us – most notably a political scientist at an esteemed local university – even they are unlikely to know the people who are running for Wilmington’s City Council.

The City of Wilmington is home to more than 117-thousand people.   That’s growth of about 11,000 people since the last census in 2010.  73% of the population identifies as white, less than 20% is African-American, and 6% is Latino or Hispanic.

Vince Winkel / WHQR

The Wilmington City Council approved the 2017-18 budget Tuesday. The $217 million fiscal year budget includes a small property tax decrease. Before tackling the budget, the council heard from several speakers on the topic of GenX, which is why close to 200 people crowded into council chambers. 

Vince Winkel / WHQR

The politics of budgeting for city and county government in the Cape Fear region may have some clashing priorities. 

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.

Wikimedia Commons

In Wilmington, eight candidates are vying for three open seats on City Council. During this week’s CoastLine Candidate Forum, WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd reports the candidates were asked to explain their best original idea.   

Paul Lawler says his background as an accountant would bring more financial efficiency.

This CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015, featuring candidates for the Wilmington City Council, aired live from WHQR's MC Erny Gallery on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.  This is a sizable race – eight people are competing for three open seats – so we allotted two hours in order to cover a comprehensive range of issues.

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR

This November, voters will choose from eight candidates to fill three open seats on Wilmington City Council. At the candidate forum hosted by Residents of Old Wilmington and the Downtown Business Alliance, the candidates discussed local transportation issues.   

Alvin Rogers has served on the Wilmington Planning Commission. He remembers when Oleander Drive was just a two lane road, and he thinks transportation has become a problem throughout Wilmington. 

City of Wilmington

Laura Padgett is poised to leave behind more than 20 years of public service.  She was first elected to Council in 1993. After five terms, she has decided against seeking a sixth and will step down at the end of the year.

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR

In a unanimous decision, the Wilmington City Council passed a resolution opposing oil drilling off the North Carolina coast. Advocates on both sides focused on the economic pros and cons of drilling’s precursor seismic testing. 

 

Before making their decision, City Council heard arguments from both sides of the offshore drilling debate. Lindsey Deignan of the SurfRider Foundation spoke against seismic testing and offshore drilling. Deignan says the entire coastal economy is at stake: 

City of Wilmington

Laura Padgett has served on the Wilmington City Council for over twenty years.  But Padgett, the longest-serving member of the council, will not seek a sixth term. 

Laura Padgett was first elected to the Wilmington City Council in 1993.  During her tenure, she focused largely on historic preservation and transportation issues.  And in 2006, Padgett was instrumental in the passing of the Parks & Green Space Bond.  In addition to her role on the council, she serves on the Metropolitan Planning Organization and Wave Transit Board.

City of Wilmington

At the most recent meeting, Wilmington City Council reviewed three downtown houses in violation of the minimum housing code. That's the first set of homes to come before the council since changes were made last summer to speed up the process of addressing dilapidated buildings.

Tri-County Economic Alliance In The Works

Aug 26, 2014
Isabelle Shepherd

It has oft been said that a rising tide lifts all boats. The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are banding together to create a marketing alliance between Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover counties. 

Isabelle Shepherd

Wilmington city planners are hoping to encourage redevelopment with the expansion of urban mixed-use zoning, which mandates a blend of the commercial and residential. But since Wilmington is mostly built out, redevelopment will always be in someone’s backyard. 

Can Parks Drive Regional Economic Development?

Feb 27, 2014

As New Hanover County launches its comprehensive plan to accommodate the region’s projected growth, leaders are looking into the future of open spaces and parks. Tuesday night, the Cape Fear Economic Development Council, or CFEDC, assembled a panel of green space proponents from the county--as well as from the City of Wilmington--to discuss ideas for new and improved public spaces.

The City of Wilmington is working with the police to tackle one ongoing problem: speeding in residential areas. City officials are launching a pilot program, based on data they’ve been gathering using hidden radar devices that track vehicular speed within select neighborhoods. WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports that by the end of this month, the city plans to mail these residents details on speeding patterns along their own streets.

Gun Violence Prevention: A Community Affair

Nov 15, 2013

Because Wilmington’s recent spate of gun violence has residents from every walk of life concerned, City Councilman and UNCW political science professor Earl Sheridan corralled some university colleagues for a community panel event.  WHQR’s Katie O’Reilly reports that Wednesday night’s discussion often landed on another local hot button: public education.

Courtesy City of Wilmington

In yesterday’s municipal elections, Wilmington’s three incumbent city council candidates kept their seats, beating out three challengers. Kevin O’Grady, Charlie Rivenbark and Earl Sheridan will all begin new four-year terms. Mayor Bill Saffo, who ran unopposed, will also continue to serve the city for another two-year term.

Courtesy City of Wilmington

In yesterday’s municipal elections, Wilmington’s three incumbent city council candidates kept their seats, beating out three challengers. Kevin O’Grady, Charlie Rivenbark and Earl Sheridan will all begin new four-year terms. Mayor Bill Saffo, who ran unopposed, will also continue to serve the city for another two-year term.

Last night’s race was a close one. It wasn’t until close to ten o’clock last night that incumbent Earl Sheridan, a political science professor at UNCW, pulled slightly ahead of Skip Watkins, a local financial advisor.

Kevin O'Grady: Wilmington City Councilman, 2013-2017

Nov 6, 2013
Courtesy City of Wilmington

In yesterday’s municipal elections, Wilmington’s three incumbent city council candidates kept their seats, beating out three challengers. Kevin O’Grady, Charlie Rivenbark and Earl Sheridan will all begin new four-year terms. Mayor Bill Saffo, who ran unopposed, will also continue to serve the city for another two-year term.

It was by a margin of mere percentage points, but O’Grady held a steady lead last night while results trickled in.

Courtesy City of Wilmington

In yesterday’s municipal elections, Wilmington’s three incumbent city council candidates kept their seats, beating out three challengers. Kevin O’Grady, Charlie Rivenbark and Earl Sheridan will all begin new four-year terms. Mayor Bill Saffo, who ran unopposed, will also continue to serve the city for another two-year term.

By 4 PM Tuesday afternoon, Marvin McFadyen, Director of the New Hanover County Board of Elections, predicted voter turnout would reach about 12% of registered voters. 

Derek Bickel is one of six candidates hoping to win one of three seats this November on Wilmington’s City Council. 

Six Wilmingtonians are running for three open spots on their city’s council. And curbing Wilmington’s highly publicized crime rate is a top priority for each. The hopefuls agree that higher police officer pay would fortify intervention efforts; however, they have disparate ideas when it comes to preventing the root causes of crime. The value of youth-oriented social services is the source of greatest contention.

During the seventies and eighties, Felix Cooper served as New Hanover County’s finance manager and later, its county manager. Following those sixteen years of local service, a subsequent stint as city manager of Key West in Florida, and several years of retirement, the Democrat is throwing his hat in the ring again.  This time, he’s vying for a seat on Wilmington’s City Council. And, Cooper is a major proponent of increased synergy between the city council and the county commission.

City of Wilmington

Earl Sheridan is the current Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Wilmington, and he’s running for a third term on City Council.

Skip Watkins says he’s dreamed of serving in public office his whole life. A father, financial advisor and longtime volunteer with the Cape Fear Festival and Expo and the Azalea Festival, Watkins cites frustration over Wilmington City Council’s recent efforts to acquire a minor-league baseball stadium as the catalyst that ultimately spurred him to run for a seat on the Council. If elected, Skip Watkins hopes to provide the City with a dose of what he describes as “fiscal guidance.”

City of Wilmington

Charlie Rivenbark is running for a fourth term on the Wilmington City Council. 

City of Wilmington

Four years ago, Kevin O’Grady, a retired lawyer and then president of Residents of Old Wilmington, decided to bring some of his neighborhood association’s priorities into the limelight by running for City Council. Since then, the incumbent Democrat says he’s accomplished what he set out to do—enhance public safety, historic preservation, and forestation initiatives throughout downtown Wilmington. But O’Grady, who’s up for reelection, has a host of related civic projects he hopes to see through during a second term.

As City of Wilmington officials prepare the budget for the next fiscal year, nonprofits and arts organizations are working hard to make their case for the well-documented link between economic development and the arts. 

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