Hosmer, Laub come out on top in contentious H2GO commissioner race

Hosmer, Laub come out on top in contentious H2GO commissioner race

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Steve Hosmer and Barry Laub have won the two seats up for grabs on the H2GO Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer.

This change comes in the midst of an ongoing and dramatic lawsuit.

In 2017, the outgoing H2GO Board of Commissioners voted to transfer $56 million of H2GO assets to Belville in a last ditch effort to save the controversial reverse-osmosis plant. Voters, some of whom thought the reverse-osmosis plant was unnecessary and expensive, had voted in a new board of commissioners opposed to the plant. The vote to transfer assets for a mere $10 to Belville came before the new H2GO board had been sworn in.

For the last two years, the Town of Leland and H2GO’s current board have been in a legal battle with Belville to regain control of the assets.

Hosmer and Laub both ran under their grassroots team the ‘Clean Water Group’ hoping to score at least one seat on the board, thereby reversing the power on the board to reflect a majority of commissioners in favor of building a reverse osmosis plant (RO).

H2GO Commissioner Steve Hosmer interview

The current board consists of a 3-2 majority opposing a stand-alone RO plant. They favored a regional reverse osmosis plant built in conjunction with Brunswick County.

Commissioner and Board Chair Jeff Gerken ran with John Bradley, in hopes of keeping the board’s majority against the building the stand-alone plant.

With Hosmer and Laub’s projected win, the board will consist of a 4-1 majority in favor of building an RO plant.

In April 2019, a judge ruled the decision to transfer the assets was unlawful.

The Town of Belville is appealing that decision, hoping to stall the lawsuit long enough to change the momentum of the board in their favor.

After Hosmer and Laub’s projected win, it’s expected Belville will retract its appeal, meaning H2GO’s assets would be transferred back to a board in favor of building a reverse osmosis plant.

“The first thing that’s going to happen is we’re going to take every step we can as fast as we can to get back to building the RO plan that was stopped two years ago. We have the promised cooperation with the Town of Belville who has agreed to return the assets knowing that we will do what Belville wanted done with the assets which is build the RO plant and provide clean aquifer water to our customers,” Hosmer said.

Hosmer also said he hopes to change the tone and nature of H2GO meetings.

“We’ll make sure it’s a different tone for a few reasons,” he said. “One is we respect the customer, we’ve been the customer and we’ve been boxed into the you can talk into the public comments section of the meeting and then you’re done box for two years. We hope we can get out of that box and we hope to develop more conversation with customers."

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