It’s time we give our families clean drinking water and hold polluters accountable. It’s time we ensure that our young people and our seniors feel safe in their homes and on our streets. And it’s time we ensure a variety of housing options, because that attracts employers to our community, and promotes economic prosperity.
End the Gridlock - Beat the Bottlenecks - Get Wilmington Moving!
The future of our City’s economic prosperity and quality of life are dependent in large part on smart investments that allow us to move quickly, efficiently, and affordably. Unfortunately, Wilmington is choking on traffic. Our roads, bridges, streets, and sidewalks are falling behind in disrepair. And our streets are too often flooded because our storm water drainage systems are not equipped to handle increasingly severe weather events. Our city’s infrastructure is falling woefully behind.
As a former U.S. Air Force air traffic controller, I know the investment in infrastructure needed to move people safely and efficiently. I know it takes teamwork to get big projects done. I know that if we don’t work together to make these investments, then our economy, quality of life, and Wilmington’s future will suffer.
Transportation investments must include a mix of major road, neighborhood street, and sidewalk repair. We must expand transit, bike lanes, and greenways. And we must consider all options to rebuild the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge as soon as possible. We must work with our partners in Brunswick County to ensure that the Cape Fear region gets our fair share of transportation dollars from the state and federal governments. If we work together and end the gridlock, we can beat the bottlenecks. We can preserve our unique sense of place, but also get Wilmington moving again!
Community Safety: We Are All Responsible & Accountable.
Safety and security are a central goal of every community. No matter who you are, where you live, or what your income, every Wilmington resident deserves a neighborhood, public school, and local parks that are safe. We are all responsible for doing our part to build neighborhoods that are safe for everyone.
There is recent good news. Violent crime in 2022 in our city hit a ten-year low. But there is more to do to make sure all neighborhoods, children, and our most vulnerable feel safe across our city.
And there are immediate challenges, as well. North Carolina and Wilmington are suffering from a public health crisis of drug overdoses. In New Hanover County there are three times as many fatal drug overdoses as there are deaths from gunfire. The state says 77% of North Carolina’s overdose deaths are related to fentanyl. Wilmington’s City Council should work closely with New Hanover County’s Commissioners, the local sheriff and police department to do everything we can to stop these lethal drugs from coming into our community and killing people.
Wilmington deserves a police department that is responsibly resourced, appropriately staffed, and fully trained to lead as a 21st-century law enforcement agency that values accountability and transparency and reflects the communities it serves. Officers should prioritize de-escalation, dialogue, and partnering with communities to keep neighborhoods safe.
Wilmington’s police department should have the resources, staffing, and training to be proactive in preventing crime and responsive to the needs and questions of our diverse communities. All communities should feel safe dealing with our police, and our police should feel safe doing their important jobs to help protect our communities.
Wilmington must also develop alternatives to policing. A forward-thinking, 21st-century City should not rely on police to answer all calls for help. Police should work closely with mental health, substance abuse, and homeless services to address the needs of all our citizens.
Clean Water: A Human Right. Our City’s Responsibility.
Whatever your address or income, all Wilmington city residents deserve access to safe, clean, reliable, and affordable drinking water. But corporate industrial polluters continue to contaminate the Cape Fear River--our source of drinking water. This must stop.
Our regional water provider (the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority) has made significant technology investments of over $50M to clean our water from harmful GenX/PFAS contaminants and protect our health from these cancer-causing “forever chemicals.” That technology is working. But who is paying for it? The polluter who caused this problem? Or the public whose health is at stake? So far, the polluter refuses to take responsibility, and the corporation continues to dump GenX/PFAs chemicals in our Cape Fear River.
It is time to stop corporate polluters from pouring toxic, cancer-causing chemicals into the Cape Fear River. It’s time to make polluters pay for the new safety investments water ratepayers have had to make to clean up the polluter’s mess. I will not support appointments to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (our water board) who are not fully committed to exhausting all avenues to make polluters pay - including suing the polluter to reclaim costs for building a $50M water treatment system needed to eliminate these dangerous chemicals from our water.
Growth, Development, and Affordable Housing: We must do better to protect neighborhoods while building opportunities for people to afford a place to live.
Two principles should guide Wilmington’s development and housing policies:
If you work full-time in Wilmington, you should be able to live in Wilmington,
Zoning and development decisions should not destroy the integrity of existing neighborhoods.
A vibrant city must have a mix of housing options for young adults, families, and retirees. But it’s becoming harder and harder for people with average incomes to afford to live in Wilmington. Currently, more than half of New Hanover County renters pay more than 30% of their income toward rent, and 22% of homeowners are paying more than 30% of their income to a mortgage. Wilmington clearly needs more affordable housing.
At the same time, the integrity of existing neighborhoods must be protected. Redevelopment plans must be balanced throughout the city and must plan for traffic, public schools, water, and sewer capacity. Workforce housing should be affordable to Wilmington’s teachers, police, firefighters, and public employees, but cities should not be forced to give up their zoning and density requirements. The City of Wilmington should strenuously oppose SB 317, now in the state legislature, which would give home builders the power to circumvent city zoning requirements if 20% of their homes were dedicated to “workforce housing.”