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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Candidates Answer Questions From Surfrider Foundation

Candidates Answer Questions From Surfrider Foundation

The following questions were posed by the Surfrider Foundation, Cape Fear Chapter, to candidates seeking election as Mayor and Town Council in the upcoming November 5th Election. Candidates responses to each question are consolidated and presented to help inform readers.

 

  1. Do you support or oppose Titan America's plan to open a cement plant on the NE Cape Fear River?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor - Incumbent

I oppose the construction of the Titan Plant. I think the increase in jobs is a good thing for the region but the negative impact that this plant will have on our water table, our wildlife, our waterways and the increase of mercury in the air and the other pollutants that this plant will cause does not make it worth the damage to our environment.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

I generally place a high value on individual property rights and the rights of people to do with their property as is allowed by law. However, like many others, I feel the threat that Titan poses to our air quality and downstream waters, as well as our critical aquifers, is of great concern, and I am not in favor of Titan or any project or company that would pose such a harmful threat to our quality of life, let alone our drinking water supply.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen - Incumbent

I only know what I have read in the Star News about Titan America’s plan so I would need to study the facts more thoroughly if I actually had a vote on their plan. However, from what I have read, I would oppose their plan to open a cement plant on the NE Cape Fear River. I would be very concerned about the effects on the waterways and ground water in Carolina Beach since we are down river from the proposed plant.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen - Incumbent

I am in strong opposition of the Titan cement plant coming to our area. This type of industry will bring too much air and water pollution to an already fragile environment whose economy depends too much on the health of our coastal habitats.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

I do not support the construction of Titan America's plant on the NE Cape Fear River. It would replace Ideal Cement plant which did similar work.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

I am not in support of Titan America's proposed plant. I am concerned about the emissions of this facility and the possible impact to the health and well being of surrounding residents. I am also concerned about the impact to the Northeast Cape Fear River. I understand the value of creating jobs and the increased tax revenues that it would bring but I would have to be convinced that it would not create a health risk to consider it.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I oppose Titan America's plan to open a cement plant. I do not believe that the minimal amount of jobs created are the worth the negative impact a facility of this nature would cause to our environment.

  1. Do you support or oppose the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean region to seismic air-gun testing for the exploration of off-shore oil & gas?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor - Incumbent

I oppose opening up the Mid-Atlantic Region to air gun testing for the seismic air gun for exploration of offshore gas or oil. I think any offshore gas or oil exploration along the Carolina Coast would potentially seriously damage our environment especially our fishing and tourism industries and negatively affect North Carolina resident’s quality of life with little or no benefit to our local economy.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

As with any emerging technology or process, it’s important to know the details before forming a decision. I am attending a seminar on this very subject shortly, and I am also in the process of reviewing other materials on the effects of seismic air-gun testing in our oceans. Once I have had a chance to review all the detailed information, I will be able to better answer this question. However, on the basis of information available today, I am against any process that knowingly harms marine life, especially whales and dolphins, and our critical fish habitats.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen - Incumbent

I oppose the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean region to seismic air-gun testing for the exploration of off-shore oil and gas. Since I oppose offshore oil and gas production off the coast of NC, there is no purpose for allowing anyone to explore the location of off-shore gas and oil.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen - Incumbent

I am in opposition to offshore exploration and production of oil and gas. I believe a more efficient source of energy would be utilizing wind energy.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

I will be attending a meeting in Kure Beach on Sept. 24th @6:00 pm to learn more about the environmental impact of seismic testing for exploration of off shore oil and gas. Until I have heard both sides of this issues I can not make a decision.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

I am not in support of seismic air-gun testing. The effects of seismic shooting effect fish within an 18 mile range. The research that I have read shows damage to sensory hair cells of fish ears. Impaired hearing in fish leaves them vulnerable to their environment. I plan to attend the meeting at Kure Beach this month to learn more about this.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I oppose the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean region to seismic air-gun testing.

 

  1. Do you support or oppose offshore oil & gas production off the coast of NC?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor - Incumbent

see #2 above

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

I am not totally opposed to offshore oil & gas production. However, I am extremely concerned about any adverse affects such activities could have on our environment and marine life, let alone our beaches, wetlands and tourism industry. The environmental impact the recent Gulf spills have shown to have is unacceptable, especially if it were to happen near, or on, our beaches and wetlands, let alone the impact on our regional seafood industries. While I would heavily scrutinize any proposals for such activities to insure that they include any new safety measures that could avoid incidents we have witnessed, I would not shut the door permanently on every possible new technology.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen- Incumbent

I oppose offshore oil and gas production off the coast of NC because of the possibility of environment damage similar to the gulf coast disaster.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen - Incumbent

I am in opposition to offshore exploration and production of oil and gas. I believe a more efficient source of energy would be utilizing wind energy.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

It depends on the impact of their exploration methods, safety concerns of their operations and finally the depth at which they will be working. The deeper the requirement for drilling the more hazardous the impact to the environment. I would need to know these issues before taking a position.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

I am not in support of offshore oil and gas production. Although I see the possibility for jobs and economic income, I also see the possible environmental damage an oil spill could cause. Not only could this effect the health and safety of our marine environment, it would also effect other industries such as fishing and tourism. I certainly am not an expert but until more studies can be done, I cannot support this.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I oppose offshore oil and gas production off of the NC coast.  I understand the possibility that wells off of our coast would not have to be as deep thus reducing the risk of a spill. However, I believe that any offshore drilling off of our coast could possibly have an adverse effect on our shoreline, water quality and fishing industry.

 

  1. Do you support or oppose lifting the moratorium on Hydraulic Fracking in NC?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor - Incumbent

I oppose the lifting of the band of the moratorium on Hydraulic Fracking.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

Once again, I believe strongly that the appropriate use of personal property, as long as it is within the current laws, should be acceptable. However, as with Titan, the uncertainty surrounding the chemical components used and their potential impact on human health of the fracking process, as well as other unintended health and environmental consequences that could occur when the drilling process has not been done to a high enough standard, is not acceptable. If it exposes our citizens and our environment to potential harm or health hazards, then it is not acceptable to me. In addition, the recent suggestion that Fracking waste material be re-injected into deep wells in the coastal regions of North Carolina is unacceptable, and as an elected official, or citizen, I would fight to block that from ever happening here.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen - Incumbent

I absolutely oppose the lifting of the moratorium on hydraulic fracking in NC. I do not believe that fracking can be done without a negative effect on our environment.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen - Incumbent

I am opposed to lifting the moratorium on fracking in NC. Again, our coastal environment is already too fragile and the risk outweighs the reward.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

I do oppose Hydraulic Fracking in N.C.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

I am not in support of lifting the moratorium on fracking in NC. Again, until more studies can be done to determine its effects on ground water, I cannot support this.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

 

  1. As an elected leader, what are some of your ideas for improving stormwater management?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor

As an elected official I have worked with our operations staff and our management team implementing additional storm water collection and identifying the major contributors to storm water impacts on our environment. As a town we need to identify all the major storm water retention ponds and ensure that all owners keep them free of debris on a consistent basis. I would also have the town assign our operations department to schedule inspections of those business owners who house contaminates on properties to make sure these are disposed of properly. Additionally we need to remove old non-running vehicles and equipment on residential lots which may contain oil or contaminates.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

Storm water management in a coastal town, where much of our land mass is below sea level and prone to flooding, remains a substantial challenge to all of us. In past years, Carolina and Kure Beach have been in the forefront of trying to deal with this critical environmental issue, and while Kure Beach successfully uses a dune filtration process created by NC State University, our problem is more extensive in that we don’t have the ability, given current technologies, to affordably divert the storm water flow away from our harbor. The ultimate solution requires extensive investigation and a substantial investment by our town to try and overcome the harmful effects of polluted stormwaters draining into our waterways or beaches. While I served on P&Z and worked closely with the Harbor Commission initiatives, I made it one of our priorities to see our town commit to a more focused attempt to deal with this issue and to go even further in continuing to implement and improve upon current regulations. I would also suggest we work closely with other coastal communities in finding affordable solutions, and I stress affordable, and I would actively support a additional commitments to storm water programs that have proven to work successfully in mitigating or reducing adverse affects.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen

First of all, I know that I am not an expert in the area of stormwater management. The town of Carolina Beach has an excellent stormwater management department. They have used creative solutions such as special sponges to help capture pollutants in our stormwater before it enters the marina waters. However, I would like to see a more extensive use of rain collection systems on town buildings. The collected water could be used for irrigation and even toilet flushing's.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen

When managing stormwater it is important to make sure our drainage ditches and outflow pipes are up to date and able to manage the amount of development that is happening. I know it is impossible to force the use more environmentally friendly lawn fertilizers and pest control measures but I believe that raising awareness about alternative options is a big step in managing the water that runs off and into our ocean. As a former marine chemist I worked in the field studying harmful algal blooms or "red tides." It is nearly impossible to deny the facts when it comes to seeing an increase in toxic blooms in areas where higher concentrations of fertilizer runoff and into the ocean. Managing stormwater runoff is just as important as managing what is running off.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

This is an issue I would have to rely on environmental regulations on and follow the guide lines that are currently in place.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

Some ideas would be to allow less impervious surfaces and have more vegetation. I would like to see filtration systems explored and more underground storm water retention on new home construction. I would consult our experts on this issue.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I believe in incorporating more "green infrastructure" techniques, infiltration practices, promoting public education and participation, continue to improve methods for construction site run off, enforce illegal discharges into the soil and sewer and offer household waste and pollutant collection.

 

  1. Do you support or oppose efforts to reduce single-use plastics? As an elected official what steps would you support or oppose, a check out register Plastic Bag Ban, Fee, or Bag Return Incentive?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor

I would support the reduction of plastic bags within our community and would help in the effort to “ban the bag” promoting the effort at all of our retail locations in our town.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

I support efforts to reduce, or even eliminate, single-use plastics and I would like to work towards the elimination of the use of plastic bags altogether. However, I also feel we need to start with an public option program and educational process, and over time, advance from an “optional” choice to a “for charge” program for plastic bags, to eventually the complete elimination of plastic. However, like many things, we not only need the public’s cooperation with these issues, we need their understanding. So let us work to find a staged program that addresses this problem immediately.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen - Incumbent

I do support efforts to reduce single-use plastics. I would work with the Chamber of Commerce to solicit ideas from area businesses. I am sure that we can develop a plan that will reduce the use of plastic bags without negatively affected the economic welfare of our businesses.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen- Incumbent

Yes, I wholeheartedly support efforts to "ban the bag!" I know a big change like this will be met with resistance but I am fully in favor of taking the necessary "baby steps" to get to the ultimate goal of banning single use plastics like the grocery shopping bags.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

I do support eliminating all plastic where feasible.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

I support the effort to reduce single-use plastic. I believe one of the best ways to reduce the use of plastic is education especially with our youth. I am a member of a local group called Island Women. We are currently working on a reusable bag project to promote in our community. I would continue to support these efforts.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I support efforts to reduce single-use plastics. While an all out ban on plastic bags would be a major accomplishment, I feel that it would create a a financial burden on most local businesses that would be hard to recover.  I feel that educating the residents and visitors would be the the most effective route while having less of an impact on our business community.  Local businesses could play a vital role in this education process.

 

  1. Do you support or oppose policy to allow the use of more hardened structures (terminal groins, jetties, seawalls, etc) to stabilize beach erosion and inlet stabilization?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor - Incumbent

I would oppose the use of jetties, terminal groins or sea walls because the research does not support the need for these man made solutions in trying to save our natural beaches. Even where terminal groins are implemented beach erosion still occurs and it dramatically changes the movement of sand nearest to the groin.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

I have attended most of the regional seminars on terminal groins, and other hardened structures, and if anything is clear, it is the divide among both experts and scientist on their effectiveness in protecting beach erosion, and their secondary impacts. There seems to be evidence that some areas can benefit from hardened structures, and some would not. What everyone does seem to agree on is that before hardened structures should be considered for any location, that a long list of scientific studies, surveys and tests be performed to determine suitability. As I understand it our area is not under consideration for hardened structures, and likely would not meet the threshold requirements. So, I am generally open minded to the use of hardened structures if all required tests, surveys and studies are conducted, and if there is a robust and open public process where all the citizens can participate in the final decisions and outcome.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen - Incumbent

I oppose the policy to allow the use of more hardened structures to stabilize beach erosion and inlet stabilization. I prefer that the State allow one or two such structures in order to study their effectiveness in stabilizing beach erosion and inlet stabilization.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen - Incumbent

I do not support increasing the usage permits in NC for hardened structures. I understand that in some instances beach communities have become dependent upon them. However, great damage can be done to downstream beaches. Careful consideration must be taken when considering this as an option.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

I have always viewed the use of groins a means to restrict the migration of beach sand and support the use if made fron large rock. The Corp of Engineers attempted a groin on the south end of Freeman Park made of heavy pilings and timbers which lasted only a season. If large rock groin was constructed those lasted for years on CB and were covered up by the first beach nourishment. So I do support hardened structure if constructed correctly.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

I can support the use of terminal groins, jetties, and seawalls to stabilize beach erosion and inlet stability on a case by case basis. I understand that there are pros and cons to this but we are constantly being faced with funding issues such as inlet dredging and beach re-nourishment. I do believe these options should be used as a last resort.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I oppose policy to allow the use of more hardened structures. With renourishment being a continual financial obligation to Coastal communities, I understand why some would not oppose this policy. I feel that while an increase in hardened structures might decrease erosion and provide inlet stabilization in one area, it would cause an increase in erosion in other areas. Thus, not solving our problem of erosion.

 

  1. Do you support or oppose the regulation of smoking on publicly held land including parks and beaches?

 

Bob Lewis; Mayor - Incumbent

I support and have voted on council to ban smoking our beaches and would support the same on public property such as parks.

Dan Wilcox; Mayor

As a non-smoker, I support limiting public exposure to second hand smoke, and more importantly, in dealing strongly with the issue of smoker’s littering our beaches, parks and roadways . However, I also support the right for people to smoke in open public areas where approved. As an elected official, I would actively endorse extensive public educational programs, signage, enforcement of existing littering laws, and aggressive expansion of public awareness programs to address our littering issues. But I do not support an all out ban on smoking in our public parks and beaches, or in other outdoor areas, as long as people are considerate of others nearby.

Tom Bridges; Councilmen - Incumbent

I support the regulation of smoking on publicly held land including parks and beaches. As a non-smoker, I do not enjoy cigarette smoke on the beach or anywhere else. However, I am concerned about our ability to enforce a smoking ban on the beaches and in parks. We should never have a rule that we cannot enforce. We already have difficulty in enforcing our current rules although I believe that we can improve on that performance.

Jody Smith; Councilwomen - Incumbent

I would support trying to regulate smoking in public places like beaches and parks mainly because of the issue of cigarette butt litter. This is an example of an opportunity to raise awareness for better management protocol in an effort to eliminate cigarette butt litter. I would first encourage more effective measures for enforcing litter laws and issuing fines to those that disobey before moving to extreme measures like trying to ban smoking entirely.

Gary Doetch; Councilmen

I support a ban on smoking in enclosed structures but not outside. My problem with smoking is the litter and that can be controled by enforcement. My position on many of these issues would have to wait until I have been educated on both sides of these issues. There are many differing opinions from professionals that would require more study on my part to determine support or opposition to some of these issues. Sorry but this is the best I can offer at this time.

LeAnn Pierce; Councilwomen

While I am a non smoker and loathe cigarette butts that people leave behind in many places including my business which I have to sweep up constantly, I cannot support the ban on smoking in open places. I do support the ban on smoking in all other enclosed facilities. Although I don't personally like it, I have to consider the rights and freedom of smokers. I would like to see more enforcement of the litter issue and education to the public. I would like to research the idea of putting cigarette butt "pouches" at beach accesses to give away to smokers going on the beach.

Mike Worley; Councilmen

I see this issue being not only about air pollution, but that of litter. Since smoking is not banned in NC, I feel that a local ban without a statewide ban already in place could cause a negative impact on our tourism industry. Littering however is illegal and I feel that until a statewide ban on smoking is in place, we should heavily enforce the littering aspect. In this situation, I feel that the best education program is a good enforcement program.