Meet Debra Hays, a candidate in the republican primary for a seat on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.

Debra Hays, republican candidate for New Hanover County Commissioner

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A total of 15 candidates are seeking their party’s nomination in the primary elections for three seats on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. Nine candidates are running in the republican primary, and six are running in the democratic primary. The top-3 finishers in each primary will advance to the 2020 General Election in November.

The republican candidates (in alphabetical order) are Debra Hays, Joe Irrera, Harry Knight, John Lyon, Frank Meares, Ricky Meeks, Matt Rhodes, Bill Rivenbark and Skip Watkins.

The democratic candidates (in alphabetical order) are Jonathan Barfield, Jr, Don Betz, Leslie Cohen, Kyle Horton, Steve Miller and Travis Robinson.

All of the candidates agreed to be interviewed at WECT-TV, answering the same questions on a range of issues that includes public transportation, affordable housing, opioid addiction, economic growth, environment and the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Hays, 61, works in the real estate community. When asked what she thinks is the biggest issue facing New Hanover County, Hays agreed the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center is the top of many lists. But she admitted to being greatly concerned about education.

“To me, education is the core, the basis for everything we do,” she said. “Anytime we’re looking to bring people into the area, or anytime we have our current employers wanting to grow, they have to have an educated workforce in whatever field they need. That doesn’t necessarily mean a four-year degree. It could be tech. These are things that are critically important to our area.”

If you would like to hear Debra Hays’ response to questions on specific issues, you can go to the corresponding time in the interview listed below:

00:25 Candidate’s biography

01:20 Why she decided to run for office in 2020

02:05 Why she is best candidate in primary

03:05 What she considers the most important issue in New Hanover County

04:50 What is her vision for the next generation of WAVE Transit or public transportation?

06:05 What steps will she take to foster a better working relationship with city council?

07:25 Where does she stand on the future of New Hanover Regional Medical Center?

09:15 Is there a circumstance where she could support a possible sale of NHRMC?

10:40 What should be done with county-owned area included in Project Grace?

12:10 What will her priorities be when deciding whether to support rezoning requests?

14:30 What role should the county play in addressing the affordable housing issue, and how?

16:15 What does the county need to do to make area more resistant to tropical systems?

17:50 Where should money from opioid lawsuit settlements go to help those battling addiction and needing treatment?

18:45 What types of jobs should be recruited to NHC and best way to do it?

21:20 Are the county and CFPUA doing enough to provide clean water and/or hold polluters accountable?

24:00 Does she think the county is doing enough to protect the tree canopy & greenspace?

24:40 Is there an instance where she could support a property tax increase?

25:25 What other issue of vital importance was not addressed in interview?

Early voting for the March primary elections begins on February 13, 2020. There are five locations in New Hanover County set up as one-stop early voting locations. To find the locations, along with the dates and hours the sites will be open, click here. Election day is March 3, 2020.

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