Wilmington mayor, council candidates face off in public forum


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The candidates for Wilmington Mayor and City Council got the chance to have their voices heard Monday night on key issues affecting the Port City.

It was a packed house at the Hannah Block Historic USO Community Arts Center, and everyone seemed to agree that it was a good opportunity for the public to get acquainted with each candidate.

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Bill Saffo, who has been the Mayor of Wilmington since 2006, answered questions alongside newcomer and challenger Devon Scott. The crowd also got to hear from eight candidates for city council, three of those running for re-election.

“I think it’s important the citizens understand exactly what their city government is doing and what we have been doing for the last couple of years in regards to transportation bonds and parks bonds, and what we are doing about the improvement to our road systems, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence,” Mayor Saffo said.

The candidates answered questions on a variety of issues, such as the now halted Cape Fear Crossing Project.

“Every study said we’ve got to have it, it’s got 66,000 cars per day,” Mayor Saffo said.

Affordable housing was also brought up.

“We need to figure out ways to protect neighborhoods and communities by giving the individuals within communities a chance to buy into these projects,” Scott said. “And again, those things exist, those policies exist.”

Candidates were also asked about job growth, public transportation, GenX, and more.

“I would say if you don’t vote, this is the election to do so,” Scott said. “We’re at an inflection point in Wilmington. We’re growing, we have a limit to what we can do, and right now is the opportunity to make a change that’s going to decide the future of the city for the next 50 years.”

One local business owner came out to ask the candidates what they plan to do about panhandlers harassing shoppers in downtown Wilmington. While she says she didn’t get a very clear answer, she thought the forum was positive overall.

“I would love to come to one of these every week. It was very informative, it was great to get everybody’s perspective and hear about all of the things going on,” said Lindsay Forry, who owns Camillions Boutique in downtown Wilmington.

If you’d like to learn more about the candidates for mayor and city council, there will be another event Monday October 21 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Cape Fear Room of the downtown library.