I believe that we must get away from viewing public transit as an additional resource, provided to the community. Public Transit in this country was designed to be a service, just like the Fire and Police Departments. Wilmington has the 2nd highest rate for service in NC of $2.00 for a one way ticket. We must look for a dedicated funding source for public transit in our area. We must also never neglect our core ridership. We need a covering at EVERY bus stop in this city. We need buses to run every 30 minutes. If we need to switch to smaller buses to make this more cost efficient, then we should.
Wilmington is located on a peninsula. We are literally surrounded by water on 3 sides. This became apparent to so many of us during and after Hurricane Florence. As a city we should be working to attract employers that have little to no effect on our local environment. We should be developing a comprehensive plan on how to deal with climate change. We live in “Hurricane Alley” as someone who as lived here my entire life, the hurricanes are a yearly experience for us. We should be planning to mitigate damage, as opposed to simply being responsive after the devastation.
Wilmington is sadly the home of the only successful Coup d’état in US History. At the time, a huge percentage of Wilmington’s wealth was from Black Owned Businesses. This wealth and the very lives of these businessmen and women was stolen from them as they were quite literally massacred in the streets of our city. I am of the belief that the Wilmington City Council should pass targeted economic incentives, property tax increase moratoriums in historically Black neighborhoods, among other programs to develop and support our residents. We can never undo this horrible stain on our city, but we can work to right the wrongs, and to make certain that it never happens again.
Sadly, Wilmington has an exceptionally high number of people still trapped in active addiction. We have tried doing nothing, and throwing people in prison. These do not work. We need a comprehensive plan to address addiction in our area, that takes into consideration that each individual case will be different. As a person in Recovery myself, and as someone who works with other people struggling with addiction. I am very familiar with the issues present in this city and area when it comes to addiction.
As Wilmington continues to grow, we are faced with new sets of problems. We must as a city work to improve not only our traditional infrastructure, ie roads, but to also work to improve broadband access to all of our residents.
It has been the tendency of Council to give tax incentives to large scale corporate employers headquartered somewhere else. They hire many people and it looks great in the headlines. However, I believe that large corporations will never contribute to our local communities the same way that locally owned, small businesses will. COVID has decimated small businesses across our country and I believe that we as a city should be focusing these tax incentives towards smaller, locally owned businesses who continue to build our communities, not simply profit off of them, taking the money somewhere else. Entrepreneurship is a cornerstone of a successful city.
As one of the fastest growing areas in the country, the city of Wilmington will be forced to move towards more of a density-based approach to development. However, I believe that the Council has done a poor job of holding developers accountable to the standards of Affordable Housing and Workforce Housing. We must do better as a city.
One of the most requested items in “Homeless Shelters” are socks. This is not solely to keep people’s feet warm. In the richest country in the history of the world, many of our unsheltered and low income residents are being forced to use socks as a medical device during their menstrual cycle. I believe that there should be menstruation medical products available in the bathrooms of every single city own building. I would also like to partner with our WPD so that they will be carrying these products in their cruisers, as most of our unsheltered and low income neighbors do not have access to a vehicle to drive to get these products. In my opinion, this is not only about health, and safety, but about dignity, and trying to restore a bit of hope.
One of the largest complaints that I hear from our residents regards their feeling that the majority of the resources and attention of this city always goes to our downtown area. This would be a problem that could be solved by having voting districts. Wilmington is the only large city in NC that elects it's council members "At Large", meaning that each one of them represents the entire city. I am in favor of Voting Districts, however I believe that given the current makeup of the council that this is not a realistic option. My proposal is that we establish "Community Groups", giving each community a board that resides within each said community, who are able to hear directly from the residents that live in their neighborhoods about issues and thoughts. My thought is that the city should endevour to bring our communities together, hosting cookouts and civic events in each of our communities so that we as a council can better hear the thoughts of our normal residents, who are just working to get by. I believe that this will increase people's engagement in THEIR Democracy as well as hold the council more to task for more fair representation of the entire city.