Candidates for Wilmington City Council, mayor talk growth and housing at forum
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – The New Hanover County NAACP hosted Wilmington City Council candidates Tuesday in a forum before the upcoming municipal elections.
Dozens of neighbors showed up to hear from candidates in the crowded city council race. A lot of the talk tonight focused on growth, poverty and the changes coming to Wilmington for years to come.
Nine people are seeking the three seats up for grabs on the Wilmington City Council.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council, NAACP, Masonic District and Links, key African American groups, hoped to get answers on why each candidate deserves to lead this city.
“I know what developers want. I also know what they are trying to get away with. So I can represent you the residents the best on the council,” incumbent Councilman Kevin O’Grady said, referring to his many years working at a litigator for development companies in Florida.
“I’ll go back to affordable housing. Some people up here will say that’s not a crisis, and maybe it’s not but it’s certainly important to me and it’s number one on my list,” another council incumbent Charlie Rivenbark said.
Topics ranged from living wages to protecting older families or homes in north Wilmington from growth and gentrification. A major issue candidates brought up with that is the heir property situation; when a family members relinquishes ownership of a home to a list of family members and it is near impossible to reach each individual to either construct a sale or renovation of the home.
“I am very interested in seeing that we help the northside with finding those deeds and helping families stay in their homes,” Clifford Barnett, who is running for office, said.
Talk also covered bringing in more small business and handling the growth that estimates more than fifty to sixty thousand people will move to the area over the next twenty years. Candidates James Ray and Philip White also talked the idea of bringing a grocery store or a store with produce to areas like the northside.
“Our economic growth, our development of a healthy senior retirement living, diverse modes of transportation, all of those things will make a great Wilmington,” challenger Hollis Briggs Jr. said.
Crime was not brought up nor the ongoing drug overdose rates in the city or the ongoing issues with Gen-X and other chemicals in the water.
The mayoral forum happened prior to council candidates taking to the mic. But incumbent Mayor Bill Saffo’s opponent Todd Zola refused to come to the forum according to the moderator.
The third seat on council is held by Earl Sheridan. He announced at the beginning of the year he was not seeking re-election.