WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Three Democratic candidates running for the District 20 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives shared many of the same views during a forum Wednesday in the WECT Studios. John Bauer, Leslie Cohen and Gary Shipman answered questions submitted by members of the League of Women.Voters of the Lower Cape Fear on issues including school safety, the opioid epidemic, drilling off the North Carolina coast for oil and gas, and immigration.
Bauer is the former Director of Public Utilities for the City of Wilmington, former Pender County Manager and interim City Manager in Southport. Cohen has owned and operated small businesses in suburban Atlanta, including a commercial graphics firm, and moved to Wilmington in 2013. Shipman has owned his own law firm in Wilmington since 1982, and served as former chairman of the New Hanover County Democratic Party.
During the discussion related to the current investigation into Chemours discharging GenX and other unregulated compounds into the Cape Fear River, all three candidates said the state must get tough against the company and the industry.
"As the governor proposed just yesterday, we need to appropriate money to the Division of Environmental Quality, so that they can get to the bottom of this problem," said Shipman, adding that Chemours must provide the details on the molecular components of Genx.
"We need to speak to who pays for this," Bauer said. "That needs to be the industry. The industry needs to pay for the sampling and the testing so that it's not put on the backs of the ratepayers and the taxpayers." He also said that independent analysis of the test results needs to be done as part of determining what to do about the problem.
Cohen said the state needs to pull Chemours' permits, adding the company has shown it cannot be trusted to stop discharging GenX and other chemicals into the water supply. "We need industry to prove that what they are discharging is safe before we allow it in our drinking water," she said. "Until we do that, we are going to be facing these problems over and over and over again."
The winner of the May primary will go on to face incumbent Rep. Holly Grange in the General Election on November 6.
Early voting for the May primary elections in North Carolina will begin Thursday, April 19, and ends on Saturday, May 5. To find the dates, times and locations in your county, click here or visit the politics page on WECT.com.