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Democratic New Hanover County Commission candidates answer community questions at CFCC forum

Students question NHC Commission candidates at forum
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 3:16 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Democratic candidates for New Hanover County commissioner took part in a forum at Cape Fear Community College Tuesday, four weeks ahead of this year’s primary elections.

Commissioners Julia Olson-Boseman and Rob Zapple are running for re-election, and Travis Robinson is running for his first term as commissioner. Robinson unsuccessfully ran for the office in 2020.

At the forum, candidates answered questions submitted by Cape Fear Community College students covering issues impacting everyone in New Hanover County. These issues included candidate’s thoughts on how the money from the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center should be spent and how to help the county’s homeless population, including those dealing with drug addiction.

The sale of the hospital became official over a year ago, with over $1.2 billion being placed in an endowment to improve the county for years to come. Those funds have not been distributed yet as the endowment board decides how to best spend that money right now.

“I, like everyone else, will look to see where those first disbursements go and then, as the money builds, they can do tremendous things not only in New Hanover County but our entire region so I have great hope for it,” Zapple said. He was the lone commissioner to vote against the sale of the hospital.

Boseman said she would like to see the money go toward lowering costs for taxpayers within the county.

“I absolutely would like to see some of that $300 million go to lower the taxes, to put more money in people’s pockets,” Boseman said. “Right now, we have a budget presented to us to decrease taxes a little over a penny. I’d like to see a five cent decrease back to revenue neutral.”

Robinson said he wants to see the funds distributed to help the community and lessen the burden on taxpayers.

“The Attorney General stepped in and there’s some accountability and some transparency with the groups out there to be able to dispense the money and use it for a specific purpose and use it to help supplement the budget to fund things that we don’t have to put on the backs or burdens of the taxpayers,” said Robinson.

The candidates also spoke about what they believe is the biggest challenge facing the county right now, with an emphasis on managing growth and education.

“To do a reasonable development,” Robinson said. “Either put taller buildings on the land that we have or put a higher volume of apartments on a certain amount of acreage so that you can have developers get incentives or grants and be able to offer apartments for a certain amount of money.”

“Land-use issues and how we create more density so that we can handle the 100,000 people that they are predicting coming in the next 15 to 20 years in New Hanover county,” said Zapple.

“Education is just everything to me and I think you’ve seen in the past year two years, the commissioners and I felt like we’ve had to do the school board’s job.” said Boseman. “We had to say teacher pay goes number one. This was not their idea, this is something that we saw, that we knew needed to be done.”

Republican candidates for the New Hanover County Commission answered questions in a forum last week. You can click here to read about that forum.

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