Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: William Rivenbark seeks a position on Burgaw board of commissioners

BURGAW — William Rivenbark is seeking a seat on the Town of Burgaw Board of Commissioners. He’s never held an elected position before but ran for Pender County commissioner in the early ’80s.

A retired Pender County Schools educator, Rivenbark has lived in Burgaw for 36 years and said he has the time to give back to the town and community using his knowledge to help Burgaw prosper while keeping the “small town charm in check.”

Rivenbark, a Republican, is running against five other candidates — incumbents Williams George III and Vernon Harrell as well as newcomers John Johnson, Michael Pearsall, and Rochelle Whiteside — for three open seats.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, covering issues such as balancing growth and infrastructure, beach nourishment, development and climate change impacts.

Rivenbark’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.

One-stop voting in Pender County will be held at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 801 S. Walker St. in Burgaw from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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

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

Photo ID requirements are required to cast a ballot in 2021; more information can be found on the state board of elections website.

The candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily.

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

William Rivenbark (WR): It was a great time in my life to continue as community servant and share my wisdom and concerns for our town. I have no particular agenda or vendetta with anyone; I know all the current commissioners very well, just felt it was a great opportunity to serve.

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

WR: 1- Parking in our downtown area: Some days with programs being held around the courthouse and on court days, some of our local businesses do not have parking spaces available. Designated parking spaces for them may be one way to solve this, and also look for additional property to have overflow parking.
2- Affordable housing: We have a few homes being built, but I believe we need some apartments, duplexes, etc. for new families to rent that would be more reasonable.
3- Infrastructure: The current infrastructure, especially our sewer and water lines, are outdated and need replacing. I know the current maintenance staff is doing the best they can to keep up, but we need to quit patching and replace with better materials that are available.

PCD: Burgaw is updating its park and recreation master plan. What do you think should be included to expand recreational opportunities for residents and visitors?

WR: Currently our Parks and Recreation Department is doing a great job. I am a
big supporter of recreation for everyone. We are limited in space in some areas, but upgrading and maintaining current fields and parking area would be beneficial.

PCD: Pender County is growing at a rate of nearly 1.3% annually. How do you plan to keep pace in terms of jobs and housing, while also balancing quality of life for residents, especially with the small town feel of Burgaw? Are there ideas that haven’t yet been considered?

WR: Land space is available for additional housing and apartments, etc. but we must make sure that our current infrastructure can handle it. Our local businesses are doing the best they can to continue to operate and provide, while local residents need to support them. This will be an ongoing battle between growth and expansion as well as continue the charm and charisma of Burgaw.

PCD: An increase in inquiries related to short-term rentals (ex. Airbnb / VRBO) in Burgaw has the planning department looking into the possibility of allowing them within town limits. Do you think Burgaw should consider allowing short-term rentals, why or why not? Should they be regulated?

WR: Personally, I do not have a problem with them, but I believe monthly or quarterly inspections may be required to protect the ones that are renting and staying in these homes.

PCD: The Burgaw Fire Department has requested additional funds from commissioners over the years and most recently asked for a 2-cent hike on the fire tax, last increased 10 years ago. While it was not included in this year’s budget, do you support increasing the fire tax to replace aging vehicles and hire more personnel?

WR: Yes, I would support such a tax. The fire department is vital to our safety and well-being in case of emergencies. We are a volunteer department with a few paid personnel. We may need to put a couple more folks on the payroll to take care of needs, such as fire inspections of current buildings, monthly or quarterly inspections of our restaurants, commercial buildings, etc. that the public uses daily. Currently it takes two to three years to get new fire trucks, so we need a plan in place every budget year to provide trucks and equipment that may be needed.

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