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.
Luke Waddell – Wilmington City Council
CEO, Cadence Realty Corp.
Freshman political candidate; currently serving on New Hanover County Board of Adjustment
What are your top economic development priorities?
“We are seeing growth in our area of higher-paying jobs in industries like education, health care, research and technology. We should continue to not only cultivate these markets but also market our successes in tandem with other institutions and organizations. By marketing these successes, we will show that we are a community dedicated to the economic success of our region and attract similar companies willing to grow with us.
We also need to continue to grow our film industry – this is not only a great job creator but a unique one to our region. We should work with the county and state to ensure we not only keep the film industry in Wilmington but grow it.
We also need to continue to focus on and support collaborative efforts of our local school systems, Cape Fear Community College, etc. to grow a workforce that will remain in Wilmington.”
If elected, what are two goals you would like to have completed by the end of your term?
“Crime: The recent surge in crime is unacceptable. All Wilmington citizens should feel free and safe. Parents should feel free and safe to take their kids to Long Leaf Park for a baseball game without it being shot up. Students should feel free and safe to go to school without fear of gunfire erupting between classes. This, of course, is not hyperbolic – these are real events that have happened recently. Full support of our law enforcement and first responders is paramount to ensuring the safety of our city.
Growth: It is no secret that Wilmington is growing – with a growth of 20% over the last 10 years and no indication that that trend will be slowing down, it is not a question of do we grow but rather, how can we grow sustainably and responsibly. The updated Land Development Code is a good start that protects trees far more than our previous outdated code – however it is a new document that will require considerable oversight as we continue to shape our community. By promoting adaptive reuse projects that not only provide much-needed housing but also preserve the fabric of our city we can ensure that we are growing both sustainably and responsibly.”
How can the community address the issue of lack of affordable housing?
“Housing affordability is a real issue in the Cape Fear region – half of all households county-wide are cost-burdened, paying 30% or more of their income to housing. This is widely a supply and demand issue due to the continuous growth we have seen over the last 10 years. The new Land Development Code is a good start at combating this issue offering greater density where appropriate to provide not only much-needed housing but also create workforce housing within these new developments. By looking at and promoting successful adaptive reuse and infill development projects we can leverage relationships with local builders and development professionals who have a vested interest in the continued beautification in our community.”
From roads to bridges to more accessible ways for residents to move around, what are some of your infrastructure concerns and ways to deal with them?
“Streets: We need a comprehensive and transparent system of not only improving the city-owned streetscapes but notifying the residents of those streets on when they will be repaved or improved.”