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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Early voting is underway, and Election Day is next week. So WWAY wants you to meet the candidates for Wilmington Mayor.

We sat down with Justin LaNasa, who says it is time for new leadership.

LaNasa was born and raised in York, PA. He served in the Army for three years, and then joined the Coast Guard. LaNasa says in his first month aboard the Diligence in the North Atlantic Ocean, he was part of the rescue mission that later became the basis for the book and movie “The Perfect Storm.”

“We saved six that month, but there was one we couldn’t save,” LaNasa said. “That was the ship the Andrea Gail.”

LaNasa says the Coast Guard brought him to Wilmington in 1991. He later opened his own tattoo studio. LaNasa says his interest in public office has grown since becoming a business owner.

“When I first opened a business in Wilmington it was a little easier for small business to flourish, and ever since then, in the past 16 years, there has been nothing more than regulation regulation, regulation,” he said. “They are hindering businesses from thriving while trying to promote large businesses that keep going out of business.”

LaNasa says local government has forgotten about who it serves. He says it is time voters elect a citizen for mayor and not a politician.

“I feel the people are left out of all decision making,” LaNasa said. “I feel that there are seven individuals in the city that will tell you how they are going to spend your money. Like it or not you have nothing to do or say in that matter and I feel that is very wrong in local government.”

The mayoral hopeful is a familiar face when it comes to elections. LaNasa has run for New Hanover County Commission, Wilmington Mayor and City Council. Though his previous attempts failed, LaNasa is focused on the seat of incumbent Mayor Bill Saffo. While he may have had a better shot getting elected to one of three open city council seats, LaNasa says what the city needs is leadership.

“Mayor is my spot, ’cause I have a dominating voice,” LaNasa said. “I work well with others. I think a lot of those city council members need good leadership, and I don’t believe they have it at this point.

“My main message to the people of Wilmington would be is that I can bridge all walks of life and can communicate with everybody and have their message heard on council and work with council to make a better Wilmington for all citizens not just a select few that have the council’s ear.”

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