Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Lowe Davis campaigns to retain Southport alderman seat

There are six candidates running overall for Southport’s Board of Aldermen, with four in ward two, including Lowe Davis who wants to retain her seat. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHPORT — Southport Board of Alderman has two seats open and Lowe Davis is campaigning to secure another term with the board.

There are six candidates running overall, with four in ward two, which Davis represents. The Episcopalian priest — formerly a corporate CEO, university professor, and nationally syndicated columnist — won her first term in 2019.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, in this case infrastructure, homelessness, and housing; 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.

A photo ID is required to cast a ballot in 2023; 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 the board of alderman now?

Lowe Davis (LD): I ran in 2019 against five other candidates for a four-year term on the Southport Board of Aldermen, and I won. Now, I am seeking re-election.

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

LD: Southport aldermen and city staff are working toward solving many critical problems, and we have much-needed projects underway or soon to be started, including the upcoming comprehensive land use plan and a top-to-bottom update of the unified development ordinance (UDO). I have been actively engaged in working on the issues, and I have solid knowledge of (a.) what we need to do and (b.) what we can do at the city, county, and state level.

LD: The top issue is excessive development, and it is the source of most of our other crucial issues, including  traffic, infrastructure, downtown parking, drainage, utility rates and improvements, historic preservation, and the environment. The way to control development density is not via conditional zoning. Instead of CZ, we need to:

  • A) Resist demands to re-zone properties
  • B) Change the UDO to require more open space in subdivisions
  • C) require that initial site plans include more details and information
  • D) Raise development fees to the maximum

Controlling erosion and flooding are also urgent. The city is working with a consultant to create an anti-erosion shoreline infrastructure. To tackle flooding, we are mapping and improving our storm the system. Since flooding is made worse by poor drainage planning in new developments, changes to the UDO are needed.

PCD: Do you think the city should make efforts to provide a wider range of housing options in Southport, including affordable housing? How so?

LD: For years, Southport has had three affordable apartments complex within the city limits — and they are always full, with long waiting lists. Also, a neighborhood in the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction has about 75 lots zoned for manufactured homes (often referred to as trailers), but many have long-time occupants and very little turnover.

At the other end of the spectrum, Southport has many upper-price-range homes, plus short-term rentals, meaning that affordable homes are seldom available. Adding to the problem, Southport’s remaining undeveloped land tends to be too high priced to attract creators of affordable housing.

The reality is that Southport cannot do it alone. The best chance of success would be to form a coalition with our neighboring cities who share the problem and work with county leaders to identify, zone and encourage builders to construct apartments and homes that lower income people and families can truly afford.

PCD: Homelessness has come up as a major focus for citizens and leaders of Southport. How do you think the city should respond to homelessness? 

LD: The need for homeless shelters, both temporary and longer-term is obvious in the region. The city does not have the resources to build shelters, and neither do Oak Island, Supply, Bolivia, Supply and Shallotte. The county does not have a shelter so a coalition of affected cities should be formed to incentivize the county.

PCD: As evidence shows, climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of storms and hurricanes, along with sea level rise. What should the city do to protect residents, property and infrastructure?

LD: The city is in the process of creating a resilient shoreline protection project that will continue to be effective well into the future, despite storms and rising sea level. The city’s excellent police and fire departments and city staff have developed detailed disaster response plans and have widely publicized them in the city. They also have conducted town hall sessions to instruct residents and business operators about preparedness. These efforts cost money, and as an Aalderman, I am and will be committed to making the funds available.

PCD: How should Southport address its infrastructure needs in the face of aging utilities and the county’s growth?

LD: Southport already has put in progress projects to repair, replace, upgrade our sewer and water system projects, and we are burying electric power lines.

PCD: Brunswick County is the fastest growing in the state; how should Southport’s leadership approach future development, balancing economics with quality of life?

LD: Southport can manage growth by discouraging it. We are beyond the tipping point and have become victims of our own success. We must discourage excessive density by refusing to approve developers’ rezoning requests and by making changes to our UDO to require more open space and smaller building footprints.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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