Bob Lewis and Dan Wilcox faced off in a candidates' forum during the campaign for mayor in Carolina Beach
CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WECT) – The two candidates running for mayor in Carolina Beach both have experience in serving the residents of that oceanside community.
Bob Lewis, the incumbent, was elected to his first term on town council in 2009. He was appointed mayor in 2012, after Ray Rothrock stepped down. Lewis says he moved to Carolina Beach in 2004, after he and his wife bought their first piece of property in town. He says his experience in the corporate world, including areas like sales and marketing, helps when it comes to developing budgets.
Dan Wilcox served one four-year term on town council after being elected in 2007, and ran unsuccessfully when voters elected Rothrock as mayor in 2011. Wilcox has lived in Carolina Beach for more than 20 years, working as a contractor and business consultant. Wilcox has served on several town boards and commissions, including the town's Planning and Zoning Board before being elected to council.
Both men agree on several issues, including improving the town's water quality as a main priority. The current council just embarked on a $13M plan to replace several miles worth of water pipe through town. Both also agree on what they would like to see for the Carolina Beach boardwalk.
"We've really made an investment in the land part of the boardwalk, where the business community is," Lewis said during a candidates' forum at the Senior Resources Center. "This council has gone out and gotten funding, about $1.3M in grants, to take a look at a revitalization of the wooden, historic boardwalk. We think that extension, that change, that dynamic is going to bring a lot more upscale opportunities to the beach."
Wilcox says he brought together a group of volunteers several years ago to begin work on revitalizing the boardwalk area. That effort became known as the "Boardwalk Makeover Group", and he says it proved that an investment of money in the boardwalk will yield a return. "Even our efforts had a dramatic change on the town, on the image of our town," Wilcox said in the forum. "It improved our place as a vacation destination. We brought the families back, when we were told we couldn't get them back."
When asked how they would work with other beach towns to tackle major issues such as renourishment, flood insurance and development, Wilcox lauded previous experience working at similar levels. He mentioned his early plans for what has become "Island Day", which recently celebrated its fourth year on Pleasure Island, as a way of fostering an working relationship with other beach communities. "The idea was to reach out to our sister town of Kure Beach, and form a relationship with them in good times so our departments could work together, our elected officials could work together so in the event of a storm or emergency or on something like inlet dredging we would have a working relationship," Wilcox said.
Lewis said local beach leaders are meeting on a regular basis, and those meetings have increased since he became mayor we are meeting on a regular basis. "It used to be a once a year event," Lewis said. "But now we are meeting two or three times a year and focusing on major issues, which are funding for beach nourishment, what we can do to make an impact on flood insurance."
Early voting in North Carolina begins October 17th, and election day is November 5th.
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