A crowded field of Carolina Beach council candidates offers views on the issues

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Seven candidates are running for two open seats in a crowded race for Carolina Beach town council.

There is one incumbent, licensed Realtor and business owner Steve Shuttleworth, and two others who have previously served on council: retired educator Tom Bridges and retired veteran and computer programmer Lonnie Lashley. Tammy Hanson, also a Realtor and small business owner, currently serves on the town’s planning and zoning committee. Patrick Boykin, who worked for IBM as well as a commercial real estate appraiser during his career, Tom Elicson, a nuclear engineer, and T.D. Scaringi, who works as a key grip in the film industry, are also running for Carolina Beach Town Council.

Here are some brief candidate statements on some of the town’s issues.

The candidates for Carolina Beach Town Council speak in front of residents at a forum Monday night. Photo by Hannah Leyva.
The candidates for Carolina Beach Town Council spoke in front of residents at a recent forum. Photo by Hannah Leyva.

Do you support a multi-use path on Lake Park Boulevard from Snow’s Cut bridge to the main beach strand?

Boykin: “Yes, I would support that … [but] pedestrian safety is of utmost importance, especially on a busy highway such as that. As people get more inclined to exercise, I think we need to have a bike path that people can use and to feel comfortable that they’re not going to be hit.”

Bridges: “I think going down Lake Park might be a little difficult … I don’t know where the bike path would actually fit except in the road, and that’s not the safest place for it to be. I would think it would be much easier to go down Dow Road.”

Elicson: “In general, I support connectivity around the time for pedestrians and bike traffic. The safest thing to do is to move people off Lake Park Boulevard.”

Hanson: “I definitely feel the need for more bike paths and more sidewalks, however, Lake Park Boulevard – I think we’ve already had a bad experience with the road diet trying to put bike paths on Lake Park Boulevard. If we’re going to pursue a project like this, I very strongly disagree that it needs to be on Lake Park Boulevard.”

Lashley: “Certainly a bike path on Lake Park Boulevard is hazardous.”

Shuttleworth: “I support the island greenway plan. The island greenway plan has multiple components to it.”

Scaringi: “I think you’re putting those people in harm’s way. I don’t think the road is wide enough. I don’t know how that would work practically. I’m not even happy with the Cape Fear multi-use path.”

Do you support extending the boardwalk?

Boykin: “I have no problem up through the property at the Hampton Inn. Anything beyond that, I think that I would have to be convinced that there’s a good business case for it, a good, sound movement forward from the residents that they’re in favor of it.”

Bridges: “I would like to make sure that we do listen to all the residents. I think they do need to be heard. I think the boardwalk’s a great thing.”

Elicson: “I think the boardwalk is a great addition to the town. I think it’s something we can all be proud of. I do have concerns going any farther than [the new Hampton Inn being built] into an area that’s really primarily residential.”

Hanson: “I actually am in favor of extending the boardwalk and I agree with the original plan … I think it would be a huge asset to revitalizing our central business district, including our marina area.”

Lashley: “I’m against extending it past the Hampton Inn. I think the northern end of the Hampton Inn is as far as we want to go. I’m not for putting this up in front of private property.”

Shuttleworth: “I’m in favor of the boardwalk extension. I’m in favor of it because it’s part of the original program that we put together. We already have grant money … to do the whole project. It is a commercial district. It is not private property, it is public trust property.”

Scaringi: “I don’t think the boardwalk should go past the Hampton Inn. I think it’s a financial thing. I think the people who stand to make money are in support of it.  Town council, in whatever they do, should be very transparent.”

Are you in favor of the town’s current tax structure?

Boykin: “I think the economy is rebounding some. I would hope that we could continue the revenue neutral and not have to have a tax increase.”

Bridges: “I’m not in favor of adding any more taxes. I think we can keep our taxes at a level where they are now.”

Elicson: “We do not need to be raising any taxes.”

Hanson: “I believe we are probably okay at this point … It looks like we’re in a fairly good position right now and I don’t see a need to mess with that.”

Lashley: “The tax structure is fine. In fact in 2012, we lowered the taxes. What we need to do is find different streams to take care of our expenses. What you have to be on council is be creative with these things.”

Shuttleworth: “There is room to come in under revenue neutral in our current budget. We cannot reduce the taxes because the county penalizes in their distribution of sales taxes.”

Scaringi: “I have no problem paying the property taxes the way they are.”

How do you think beach nourishment and dredging should be funded?

Boykin: “I think this money needs to come more from the room occupancy tax. I think we need to look at all avenues that we can approach – state funds, federal funds, whatever – and even solicit private funds … I think we need to exercise all the options that are on the table.”

Bridges: “We are in the forefront of trying to determine how other beaches are going to react … we have to be real creative. I have time to go lobby in the state, lobby in the federal [government], wherever I need to go and be a pain to them.”

Elicson: “If you’re looking at long-term funding, I think you really are going to need federal help and state help … we need to go back and continue to negotiate with the state and federal government to try and secure funds.”

Hanson: “I’m a big advocate that our beaches are not just our beaches, our beaches are public beaches … We definitely have got to look for long-term support from the federal government.”

Lashley: “What we need to do is get in an agreement or partnership with the federal government. We need to get extended funding from the federal government for beach renourishment and inlet dredging.”

Shuttleworth: “Beach nourishment is a complicated issue … We’re working on a commitment from the state of North Carolina to match-grant money that comes in other than federal dollars. Historically the state matches federal dollars and only federal dollars … we’re asking them to match any dollars.”

Scaringi: “We need to actively pursue the Army Corps of Engineers and federal money for beach nourishment. I don’t think it’s too far out of line to ask neighboring counties for money.”

Do you support offshore drilling and seismic testing?

Boykin: “I’m opposed to offshore drilling and to seismic testing. I think we’ve got to be diligent about our efforts to reduce our dependency on oil and gas. I think it’s going to take a massive effort to do this.”

Bridges: “No, I don’t support either one of those. I don’t think it’s good for our area, and it’s not going to help us economically.”

Elicson: “I think the benefits from offshore drilling are miniscule compared to what we’re getting. I’m against offshore drilling. It would not be a responsible energy development in my opinion.”

Hanson: “I’m adamantly opposed to offshore drilling. We have an absolutely beautiful island. I see no reason to take the chance of anything going wrong. We’re also in an area where there are other clean energy options that can be explored and need to be explored.”

Lashley: “I oppose both issues. It’s no benefit to our town in the long range.”

Shuttleworth: “I’m opposed to offshore drilling … [but] it’s a federal issue. We need to take the issue to the federal level.”

Scaringi: “We should get away from fossil fuels. Look at the Gulf of Mexico when something went wrong.”