Four Democrats battle for three spots on New Hanover Co. Commission


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In the race for New Hanover County Commission, six of ten candidates, Three from each party, will move on from the primary to November’s general election.

On the Democratic side, incumbent Jonathan Barfield faces three men who hope to hold political office for the first time.

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Barfield is seeking a second term on the commission. Moving forward he considers jobs and economic development two top issues he would tackle.

“We’ve got to find a way to attract more jobs to our community,” Barfield said. “There are a lot of folks in our county who need jobs, jobs that will pay them a living wage to take care of their families. We’ve got to find way to recruit other companies here like a PPD, tech companies, some of your green jobs.”

That’s something candidate Rob Zapple firmly believes in. As a small business owner, and someone who works closely with several non-profits, he’s aware of what’s happening in the economy.

“The unemployment rate at 9.8 (percent) is too high, and more important, even the underemployment rate that no one is even talking about,” Zapple said. “Attacking those, creating a stronger and broader job base here will solve so many of our problems and push New Hanover County forward into our future. We can do it here in New Hanover County.”

Candidate Robert Murray believes people who currently hold jobs serving the community should be paid accordingly.

“Some of four fire services haven’t had raises in three years,” he said. “We’re losing a lot of experienced firemen and law enforcement that go to other cities because they can get a better pay.”

With the potential for Wilmington and New Hanover County to work together on the proposed baseball stadium, each candidate discussed where they stand on the issue.

“We look at I-40 coming in. I know there was a senator named Jesse Helms who fought I-40 coming here. Imagine our community without I-40. I believe as leaders we need to be visionary and look at our organization; not where it is right now, but where we can be 15-30 years down the road,” Barfield said.

Zapple said, “Private investment is the way to go with it. I’m keenly interested in it. I would like county commissioners to talk with the city and work together in an organized group in an organized matter, and then pull in those other regions that will be affected.”

“I don’t believe public money should go into building a stadium,” Murray said.

The fourth Democrat running for county commission Stephen Vosnock did not want to be interviewed.