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Republican candidates for NHC commissioner address county issues in forum at CFCC

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 11:29 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Republican candidates for New Hanover County commissioner addressed questions from political science students at Cape Fear Community College.

The issues ranged from helping the county’s homeless population, to the opioid epidemic to protecting the county’s beaches.

“Simply put, if there are not forums like this, there is no sense of community,” said CFCC student James Nicholas.

Many students said their biggest concern is how these candidates would address the county’s lack of affordable housing — a very real problem for soon-to-be graduates who say they can’t find places to live within their price range.

“It’s hard for me right now as well to work and the fact that I have to go to school and help my mother pay for the house as well,” Nicholas said.

“People in my generation are concerned about what’s going to happen to change this situation,” CFCC student Jakob Lowe said.

Some candidates commented on the problem.

“We’re out of balance with our infrastructure in our area,” candidate Tom Toby said.

“That demand isn’t going to change. we live in the greatest county in the country,” candidate Harry Knight said.

While others had thoughts on possible solutions.

“I think we need to attract better paying jobs for our citizens so they can afford to pay what the housing project or what the housing rates are charging,” candidate LeAnn Pierce said.

“Work a collaborative with private and public so, with the builders, to ensure that they can go ahead and develop homes that are affordable for the citizens of New Hanover County,” candidate Joe Irrera said.

By raising the issue here, students let potential commissioners know they want affordable housing to be a priority if they are elected.

I think that’s a big issue that was addressed today and I’m glad all of the candidates all had a say in it; it gives us hope that it will get done,” Nicholas said.

Another popular topic among students was the opioid epidemic — many of them said it hits close to home as they know people who might be battling addiction.

“You target the network, and that’s what I think we need to do is fund our law enforcement to take out those networks, take out those financiers, take out all of those people running those drugs into our county. If you take out those networks you will see a decrease overall in New Hanover County,” Irrera said.

Democratic candidates will speak next Tuesday, April 19, from 11 a.m. to noon. Forums are free and open to the public at CFCC’s Union Station. WECT’s Jon Evans will be moderating.

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