Saturday, July 13, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Barry Laub seeks another term on H2GO board of commissioners

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Current vice chair of Brunswick County H2GO’s board of commissioners Barry Laub is looking to retain his position.

Laub is running for reelection against two other candidates — incumbent Steve Hosmer and Joann Levitan — for two open positions. H2GO, a sanitary district created by the North Carolina Public Health Commission, serves 16,500 water customers and 18,000 sewer customers in Belville, Leland, Navassa, and unincorporated areas of northeastern Brunswick County.

Laub helped bring H2GO’s reverse osmosis plant online, which now distributes PFAS-free water to customers.

“This was the campaign promise I ran on four years ago,” he said. “Promises were made and the promises were kept.”

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their districts, in this case, PFAS, customer growth and keeping rates from rising. Laub’s answers are included in full; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity. 

The paywall has been dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots can be requested through Oct. 31 and must be returned Nov. 7 (or post-marked as such).
  • Registration to vote will be open until Oct. 13; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration will be available only during one-stop early voting.
  • Early voting begins Oct. 19 and remains open through Nov. 4 (3 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 7, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In Brunswick County, voters can cast ballots early at the Brunswick County Cooperative Extension (in lieu of the Board of Elections) at 25 Referendum Drive, Building N, in Bolivia.

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their registration cards, verified here.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

Port City Daily (PCD): Why run for the board now?

Barry Laub (BL): I bring a diverse set of business competencies, along with three-and-one-half years as an H2GO board commissioner performing in the role of vice chair, which in sum is invaluable experience to make me an effective Sanitary District Supervisor.

My four-year term is coming to completion. I wish to continue as a commissioner and complete the projects the board is working on. I would like to continue serving the H2GO customer base.

PCD: Name three issues you think are most affecting H2GO currently and describe how you would work toward tackling them.

BL: The most pressing needs of the district are multi-faceted:

  • We need to plan and implement utility expansions to serve the rapidly growing customer base. H2GO is a community partner with Belville, Leland, Navassa, and Brunswick County. 
  • We need to be proactive in these efforts and work with our community partners to comprehensively develop utility master plans to accommodate future growth without compromise to existing customers. 
  • We need to build upon the recent RO water treatment plant success and develop resilient operations to ensure uninterrupted water and sewer services during extreme weather events and to protect critical infrastructure from a host of potential security threats.

PCD: The board has said it would not increase its rates following the construction of its $42-million reverse osmosis plant. Do you agree with this approach and how do you plan to sustain that?

BL: I agree with this approach to keep costs down for our customer base, as our coverage area continues to grow. The growth is offsetting any need to raise rates.

PCD: Do you support legislation that would divide the board into electoral districts for better representation? Why or why not?

BL: I support this legislation. We as a board have been exploring this issue for some time now. It allows communities to feel that they are being better represented and creates diversity.

PCD: How do you plan to expand your customer base with a growing population and still retain capacity to support everyone?

BL: When we built the plant, we made sure that there were enough aquifer wells to deliver all the water that was needed to deliver now and into the future based on expert analysis of the growing demand.

PCD: What can the board do to continue advocacy for clean water protection from PFAS and holding polluters accountable? What more, if anything, can H2GO do to support these efforts on a local level?

BL: This is exactly why we went with reverse osmosis technology. This system removes all contaminants, regardless of the source. Our legislative efforts and legal team are regularly addressing this issue.

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