Candidates running for Mayor of Oak Island answer questions during a forum hosted by WECT and the League of Women Voters.
OAK ISLAND, NC (WECT) – Voters in Oak Island will have several choices to pick from when they vote for mayor in this election season. Incumbent Betty Wallace is facing two challengers, Charles Warren and Scott Coe.
Wallace ran for the first time in 2009 and won the mayoral race. She runs on a platform of always being accessible, and touts one of her biggest accomplishments as expanding citizen access to government by having council packets available for the public to view online.
Warren has experience holding public office after serving as Brunswick County Commissioner from 2008-2012. He counts one of his biggest achievements on the board as helping to bring a Veterans' clinic to the county after repeated attempts had failed.
Coe has a degree in business and works in the solid waste industry. He says the voices and opinions of residents in Oak Island are not being heard by the current administration.
In a recent candidates forum organized by WECT, the League of Women Voters and the Town of Oak Island, candidates were asked questions submitted by residents and property owners. One of the main issues remains the troubled sewer project started in 2004 that ran nearly $100 million over budget. The candidates were asked if they would support an ordinance mandating tougher rules, regulations and oversight on major projects paid for by taxpayers.
"I would very much support that we have within our rules and procedures or in our ordinances that any project within a certain scope would require a project manager," said Wallace during the forum. "I sincerely believe that within our wastewater project there were a lot of issues that came about through not having an engineer supervisor on the entire project."
Warren said he would require contractors on major projects post a bond to better protect taxpayers. "In case the work was not completed satisfactorily, the council could pull the bond and that would make up the difference, so we are not costing taxpayers any extra money," said Warren during the forum. "With the wastewater project, the burden fell back on the taxpayers, and that was ridiculous because if they would have had a bond it would have picked up where the contractor left off."
Coe says he would agree to bring in outside experts on future projects to protect the town from a similar financial fate. "The oversight on that job (the wastewater project) was terrible," Coe said. "I don't know if it was the inspection process that failed, or who finally signed off on that work. I would like to keep it as town controlled, but we may have to seek the expertise that would come from the state for these jobs."
Several questions during the forum dealt with ways to bring new revenue into the town without raising taxes. One resident sent a question asking if the candidates would support high-rise condos or commercial hotels taller than the current height limit of 41 feet, to add to the tax base. All of the candidates seemed to be in agreement that they would not favor projects of that type on the island, and they would be more in place on the mainland side of the intracoastal waterway.
Click on the video links above to view the entire forum.
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