WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For the last few weeks we’ve been introducing you to the candidates for Wilmington City Council and mayor. With the election now just days away, we wrap up our candidate profiles with with incumbent Mayor Bill Saffo.
He says he looks forward to continuing to make Wilmington the gem of southeastern North Carolina.
Saffo was born, raised and educated right here in Wilmington.
“Graduated from John T. Hoggard High School and then went on to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Graduated in ’83,” Saffo said.
The real estate broker says he first got involved in city government after concerns grew over a non-existent land use plan.
“I felt that a good, comprehensive plan was needed and was something we should implement as quickly as possible to help eliminate those battles between the city and the development community,” Saffo said. “I think they’re both very important. You have to protect your citizens and your neighborhoods. At the same time you have to have a certain amount of economic development for your communities to grow.”
As a councilman Saffo says he oversaw the implementation on the city’s first land use plan. Fast forward several years and Saffo is now seeking reelection for a second time as Wilmington Mayor.
He says all the years he has served in public office have made him realize what it really takes to be a successful mayor.
“It is very complex,” he said. “When you are running and you are an outsider running for the job you feel like you can come in here and make some very quick decisions. What you realize when you get here is that you have to work with other people. You have to work with fellow council members, you have to work with your city staff, you have to work with the state, you have to work with the federal government and you most of all have to work with the citizens.”
With jobs and the economy major concern for voters even on the municipal level, Saffo says he and the council have worked hard to cut spending.
“Even with these tough economic times, even with a very slow growth rate in our overall economy we have to still be able to provide a level of service that our citizens have come to expect and want,” Saffo said.
Come Election Day Saffo hopes voters will realize what is most important is the future of the city.
“This is not just about me. This is not just about the mayor of the city,” Saffo said. “This is not about I. This is about we. It’s about us working together as a group of elected citizens to do the best for our community and to move our community forward.”