Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Teresa Batts looks to retain position as Surf City Mayor

SURF CITY — Teresa Batts is running for Surf City Mayor, hoping to keep the seat she was appointed to following former Mayor Doug Medlin’s retirement.

Batts, Republican, took over as interim mayor in December 2022 after Medlin’s 30-year of leadership came to an end for medical reasons. She has served on the town council for two terms, since 2017.

A real estate broker, Batts is running against one other opponent, Marc Caldwell, for mayor.

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.

Batts’ 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 8 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.

A photo ID uis 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 mayor now?

Teresa Batts (TB): The community is positively impacted by a knowledgeable, connected, and focused mayor. A mayor who knows our town, a mayor who understands local, state, and federal regulations, and a mayor who knows how to protect our town and residents in an emergency. 

Surf City has always been my home. I am passionate about this town, and I believe that I have the skills and experience necessary to lead our town into a bright future. I am a strong listener, and I am committed to working with all members of the community to make Surf City a better place for everyone.

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

TB: 1.) Beach Nourishment — The beach is the town’s top asset and an opportunity to enhance and have long-term maintenance of this asset is of critical importance. I will continue to maintain strong relationships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out the upcoming construction of the Surf City Coastal Storm Risk management project.

2.) Town-wide Resilience — The town has made great strides in understanding vulnerabilities and putting plans in place to address them. Over the last couple of years the town has completed stormwater feasibility studies, applied for, and has been successful at receiving grant funding to address the identified needs. We will be undertaking a stormwater project on S. Shore Drive to help alleviate the flooding in that area and have plans to implement the items documented in the Resilient Coastal Communities Program, which identifies additional stormwater projects throughout the Town. Threats to our coastal environment will continuously need to be addressed. 

3.) Water and Sewer Infrastructure — The demand for new development not just in Surf City but our region continues to put a strain on our infrastructure and we need to keep up with that and make sure plans are in place for the future success of our community. The town is actively increasing our water supply and production levels through state funding and will be adding a parallel water line supplying the island under the intracoastal waterway, also increasing our resilience by having a second course of water distribution.

For sewer, the town has several active projects and has worked to obtain state funding to assist with offsetting the costs of major capital projects, reducing the burden on the rate payer. We strive to balance the growth with all infrastructure needs as well as to reflect the community’s desires as documented in the Town’s recently adopted Comprehensive Plan.

PCD: In the past the town has turned down development applications for lack of sewer capacity. How do you plan to balance needed growth with adequate infrastructure as the town continues to attract more residents?

TB: As noted, the town has plans in place to ensure that adequate water and sewer are in place for current and future development demand. The demand for development in our community helps the Town provide opportunities for current and future residents and visitors. We will continue to faithfully apply our Comprehensive Plan toward new development proposals so that we can achieve the town’s stated goals. 

In addition, the town continues to work closely with our partners and NCDOT to program future roadway infrastructure such as a new road to parallel NC 50 to help alleviate traffic, intersection improvements, and additional bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. 

PCD: The beach town is working through the process of federal beach renourishment. Do you agree with spending the nearly $20 million needed for the project? Do you think a different approach should have been taken?

TB: The beach is the town’s top asset and has planned on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project for numerous years. The initial construction and 50-year renourishment schedule will help ensure protections are in place for years to come. The ability to have a cost share between the state and federal government allows the town to pay pennies on the dollar (17.5 cents per dollar), ultimately saving money on the volume and protection provided with the robust project.

PCD: Surf City is in the midst of updating its zoning ordinances. What changes do you think need to be made, if any, and why?

TB: Surf City is performing a comprehensive review and update of its zoning and other development regulations. The driving force behind development regulation and potential changes will be from the goals, policies and action items contained within the Comprehensive Plan. The town’s desires of maintaining a small-town, family-friendly beach should be reflected in these updates.

PCD: The town is working on an engineering study to address stormwater issues on the island. What do you think should be done to mitigate flooding?

TB: The town has taken a proactive approach to stormwater management and will be looking forward to implementing projects and recommendations that are derived from the town wide study. Projects that help reduce or minimize impacts to people’s daily lives should be a priority and I will help ensure that these are addressed.

PCD: There were unfortunately a few drownings along Surf City’s beaches this past year but no lifeguards. Do you think Surf City should consider funding lifeguards during summer months or other water safety programs to increase protection for beachgoers?

TB: Any time we lose a life due to the ocean it is devastating for our community. The ocean poses hazards and threats that are sometimes unseen or can’t be predicted. The town implemented a dedicated Ocean Rescue program a few years ago and has since developed a strategic plan to chart out achievable outcomes over the next five years. This includes investments into personnel and apparatus to help prevent a tragic drowning. 

Unfortunately, some of these instances have occurred outside of what one would consider normal hours and the prevention of a loss of life would have been difficult regardless of how many assets were available. The town is dedicated to providing a safe beach environment through our Ocean Rescue program through education and intervention.

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