Wilmington city council election could bring new faces and new ideas
The list of candidates vying for three seats on Wilmington city council includes a range of political newcomers and longtime politicians.
Newly elected council members will face decisions on a range of issues, including investments in affordable housing, street rehabilitation, public safety and community building, among others.
Who is elected to the seven-member city council has the potential to change the way the council approaches the various issues facing Wilmington. With three council seats and the mayor’s office due for re-election on Nov. 2, Wilmington city council could see four new faces.
Candidates for the board include incumbents Clifford Barnett Sr. and Charlie Rivenbark.
Former city councilor Paul Lawler is also a candidate. Lawler narrowly lost his re-election for a second term in 2019 to current board member Neil Anderson. Philip White is running for a board seat again after putting his hat on in the ring in 2017, but was not elected.
Newcomers Luke Waddell, Jonathan Uzcategui, JB Bookins and Angie Ulmer are also running for board seats.
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However, many of the issues that city council will face will be initiatives that current council members are already working on.
Wilmington’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year reflects the goals toward which the council, and by extension the City of Wilmington, are working, according to Jerod Patterson, director of communications for the City of Wilmington.
The budget was intended to prioritize affordable housing with an investment of more than $ 5 million, which funded a program that helps Wilmington residents buy homes and another program that encourages the rehabilitation of rental housing.
The Workforce Housing Advisory Committee, a joint group between the City of Wilmington and the County of New Hanover, has released recommendations to bring more affordable housing to the area. Those elected in November will play a role in how the board acts on these recommendations.
Other priority areas in the budget include advancing transportation-related capital improvement projects, which include improving roads and sidewalks, the railway realignment project, and improving street rehabilitation. .
The work of the council will be a continuation of the efforts already underway. For example, Wilmington City Council recently approved about $ 6 million to improve over 150 miles of roads.
Other areas of investment include ensuring the city has access to sufficient funding in times of emergencies, such as hurricanes, and investing in community building and public safety.
Priority projects for the city include development of the northern portion of downtown Wilmington, including the area near the recently opened Riverfront Park, work on improvements to the five-year capital plan, accelerating projects for transport and park obligations; and the implementation of the new land use code, which was released earlier this year. It was the first time in about 40 years that the code had undergone a complete overhaul.
Other priority infrastructure projects include resurfacing neighborhood streets, improving stormwater drainage, and repairs and upgrades to the Riverwalk.
Rail realignment, affordable housing and the Rise Together initiative also remain city-wide priorities, according to a presentation given to candidates by City Manager Tony Caudle during an orientation for city council candidates.
Although Wilmington City Council is a non-partisan governing body, all candidates are affiliated with the Democratic or Republican Party. Four Democrats and four Republicans are in the running. The two mayoral candidates are also Democrats.
The New Hanover County Democratic Party and the New Hanover County Republican Party both tried to involve and educate voters about the election by organizing campaign presentations at events and canvassing in neighborhoods. .
Maintaining individual liberty and building relationships with other levels of government is a key platform for Republican candidates for city council, said Wayne Gibson, executive director of the New Hanover County Republican Party.
The key issues for Democratic candidates in the city council race are affordable housing, jobs, wages and sustainable growth, said Andre Brown, president of the New Hanover County Democratic Party.
“One thing I think everyone wants to know, from the party itself and the candidates, is how are we going to improve their lives?” Brown said.
Wilmington City Council members will receive a stipend of $ 14,490 in the next fiscal year.
New Hanover County voters have three options to vote in this year’s municipal election. Residents can vote before polling day by sending a mail ballot or voting during the one-stop or early voting period, which begins October 14 and ends October 30.
Voters can also vote on polling day, which is November 2.
Journalist Emma Dill can be reached at 910-343-2096 or firstname.lastname@example.org.