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Wilmington mayor and council candidates answer questions from CFCC students

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 10:28 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Election Day is less than two weeks away. Thursday night, Wilmington residents got a chance to hear from candidates who want their votes.

In a forum for mayor and city council candidates held at Cape Fear Community College, students submitted questions through the school’s political science club. CFCC History and Political Science Instructor Nelson Beaulieu hopes hearing from local politicians will inspire his students.

“It’s hard to inspire them,” sail Beaulieu. “I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that they don’t get to see themselves in the political process and I just thought it was important for their voices to be heard and their questions to be answered.”

Beaulieu invited candidates to this annual forum to spark his student’s interest in local politics. He says there are benefits for both his students and those running for office.

“A lot of times they just don’t get to have those conversations with their elected officials and I think there’s a recognition on both sides,” Beaulieu said. “I think that the candidates realize that, ‘Hey, this is an important moment to be able to talk to our students.’”

For the students, the forum is a chance to be a part of the political conversation in their hometown. Laura Wright, president of the CFCC political science club, is getting ready to vote in an election for the first time.

“I have always really been paying attention to what’s going on in, like, the grand scheme of things,” said Wright. “Learning more about what our city council and mayoral people actually do, it has really been enlightening.”

Candidates answered student-submitted questions on a variety of topics ranging from how candidates can help business owners rebound from pandemic struggles to what each of their goals are if elected to a term in office.

“I really like to get involved with, like green stuff, you know. I’m very environmentally conscious, so I’m interested to hear what they have planned for our green spaces as well as just, like, inclusivity with all of our students and just the community,” Wright said.

Some of Beaulieu’s students are not old enough to vote yet, but still attended the forum Thursday and were intrigued by what the candidates had to say.

“I was surprised to see that I’m actually very interested in this,” said CFCC student Nick Speaks. “I mean, it really does directly affect us.”

An interest in local elections is one Beaulieu hopes his students will learn through the opportunity to interact with candidates in Wilmington.

“It’s about community, it’s about our home, our Wilmington family, and I hope that they are inspired to maybe serve themselves one day,” said Beaulieu.

There are three seats up for grabs on Wilmington’s City Council. Clifford Barnett and Charlie Rivernbark are running for re-election.

Mayor Bill Saffo is running for re-election against former mayor Harper Peterson.

Election Day is November 2, 2021. You can find out who is running in your municipality, where you can register to vote, or where you can participate in early voting by clicking here.

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