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Wilmington Mayor Candidate Q&A: Bill Saffo

By Staff Reports, posted Oct 27, 2021
This year’s municipal elections for the city of Wilmington include candidates for city council and mayor.
 
The Wilmington City Council has three open seats with eight candidates running. Those include: Clifford Barnett (current councilman), JB Brookins, Paul Lawler, Charlie Rivenbark (current councilman), Angie Ulmer, Jonathan Uzcategui, Luke Waddell and Philip White.
 
For the mayoral seat, current Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo is seeking another term while Harper Peterson, a former state senator, is also pursuing the mayoral seat.
 
Early voting started on Oct. 14 and Election Day is Nov. 2. To look at sample ballots, check voter registration status, voting options, polling places and more, visit the New Hanover County Board of Elections website.
 
The Greater Wilmington Business Journal sent questions to all city council and mayoral candidates and will be running a different candidate’s responses every day on our website.


Bill Saffo - Wilmington Mayor Candidate


Name: Bill Saffo
Occupation: Broker, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage
Political experience: Wilmington Mayor from 2003 - present
 
GWBJ: What are your top economic development priorities?
Saffo: “There has been 30,000 jobs created in our community in the last 10 years. Jobs create opportunities for people to live and work within the community. Specific to what the city can do is to work with our economic development partners in attracting good paying jobs to this community. For example, the city and New Hanover county have incentivized several companies that have created hundreds of jobs like Verizon Wireless, Castle Branch, PPD, nCino and Live Oak Bank, National Gypsum and Vantaca. In addition, we have worked with the state legislature to continue to support and incentivize our film industry which a record year in Wilmington.
 
GWBJ: If elected, what are two goals you would like to have completed by the end of your term?
Saffo: “My goals are to continue to move the initiatives of the city council forward. Specifically, I would like to see: additional support for our police department who combat crime daily and makes our city safe; implementation of the new land development code which was created with the help of much citizen input and outlines how the city will look in the next 40 years and includes more walkability and protection of our environment including tree canopy; create more affordable housing opportunities by incentivizing and working with private developers; and continue to create jobs and job opportunities for citizens within our community. I also want to continue to support our film grant that has produced hundreds of film related jobs in our community. To accomplish these goals, I will continue to work as a consensus builder to get things done.”
 
GWBJ: How can the community address the issue of a lack of affordable housing?
Saffo: “I have always supported the city’s affordable housing program. Affordable housing is critical in being a great city and this community has been a priority of city councils for many years. I and the council made affordable housing as one of our major priorities and made a historic investment in affordable housing to the tune of $5.2 million in this year’s budget. These funds will support and expand our affordable housing programs including the Home Ownership Pool program and both the Rental Rehabilitation Incentive Loan as well as the rental assistance program. In addition, the city has invested $17.8 million in affordable housing over the last 10 years. I am in support of putting a housing bond up to a vote of the people.”
 
GWBJ: From roads to bridges to more accessibility, what are some of your infrastructure concerns and ways to deal with them?
Saffo: “The city for the first time in 40 years has developed a new Land Development Code for today’s new challenges. It will reduce sprawl by encouraging development of vacant and underutilized properties. Locates residential housing closer to retail, restaurants,and offices lessening the need to drive major corridors. Prioritizes tree preservation and replacement. Encourages on-site storm water management and structured parking in lieu of expansive surface parking. Locates buildings closer to the street, creating a sense of place and improving walkability and connectivity.”
 
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