GenX, opioid addiction, short-term rentals among issues raised at candidates' forum

GenX, opioid addiction, short-term rentals among issues raised at candidates' forum

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Issues related to downtown Wilmington were discussed Thursday night in a candidates' forum at the Hannah Block USO Building. The Residents of Old Wilmington organized the forum, which has become an annual event ahead of municipal elections.

Members of the ROW group developed the list of questions directed to the candidates.

They touched on issues such as the GenX water investigation, short-term rentals in the Downtown Historic District from services like VRBO and AirBnB, the proposed "Project Grace" to redevelop a block of county-owned land that includes the Downtown Library, downtown parking and public transportation.

Mayor Bill Saffo took part in the forum, but his challenger for re-election, Todd Zola, did not attend.

Eight of the nine candidates running for city council showed up. Incumbents Kevin O'Grady and Charlie Rivenbark are seeking re-election to third terms on the City Council. Another incumbent, Earl Sheridan, is not running for another term.

Challengers Clifford Barnett, Hollis Briggs, Deb Hays, Caylan McKay, Perry Fisher and James Ray attended the forum, while Philip White was absent. WECT asked some of the challengers what issues they are hearing about from residents during this campaign.

"Transportation, the idea of infrastructure and what we're going to do with our roads and what we're going to do with all of the growth in the city," said Barnett. "The other thing I've been hearing people talk about is affordable housing for working families."

"There's a variety of concerns, obviously traffic and congestion," Hays said. "A lot of people feel like there's just growth everywhere and there is no plan. Certainly the water. Safety is always one. I'm a little surprised this year, I'm not hearing jobs as much as I have, which I thought was unusual."

Municipal Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.

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