Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Trudy Solomon runs for Surf City town council

Trudy Solomon has never campaigned before but is seeking one of three seats on the Surf City town council. (Courtesy photo)

SURF CITY — Trudy Solomon is running for a spot on the Surf City Town Council. A children’s ministry director at The Gathering and owner of South Shore Properties, Solomon has never run for a government position before.

When Mayor Teresa Batts was appointed, following Doug Medlin’s retirement, it left a void on council. Solomon applied for the position but lost in a tie-breaking vote. She serves on the town’s beautification and enhancement committee and regularly attends council meetings.

Solomon is campaigning against five candidates, including three incumbents, for three open council 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.

Solomon’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 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 a council position now?

Trudy Solomon (TS): After involving myself in town meetings and events for years, I feel informed and ready to focus on more presssing topics. I have enjoyed the areas where I have served but I want to do more for the future of Surf City. On a personal note, my youngest child is graduating high school, so now I have more time to spend with my “neighbors” and want to represent their ideas and concerns.

I have been successful in many different leadership positions, from large corporations to North Topsail PTA, and more. My goal is to always be honest, reliable and helpful to others. I know I can represent the Surf City residents well.

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

TS: Surf City is where we live, work and play. I’m always going to focus on families and the environmental health of Surf City. It is a challenge to pick three issues, but I often focus on our quality of life here in Surf City. With the growth we are experiencing, we have to look at water/sewer needs, increased traffic, town safety concerns and more.

As a town council member, I would be responsible for working with the appropriate departments at the town, county and state levels to make sure we are proactively providing what our residents need. That means developing plans with public utilities and protecting the condition of our current water/sewer systems as we address the needs for expansion. Meet with NCDOT to assess and address the best ways we can provide safe roads that are accessible for our residential and emergency needs. Work with our fire and police departments to ensure we are continuously prepared for the changing needs of our community with more residents and more tourists. 

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?

TS: I have confidence in our town employees who handle our public utilities. At town meetings, we’ve been regularly updated on the needs to increase our capacity. Our town council needs to address this, developing a plan for expansion that is viable, achievable and financially responsible. This is a big concern and needs to be addressed quickly with our public utilities department.

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?

TS: I’ve been working as a beach coordinator with the Topsail Turtle Project for many years so preserving our natural areas will always be a priority for me. I want our future generations to reap all of the benefits (educationally and recreationally) of our beautiful coastal ecosystem. 

The beach renourishment project has been a work in progress for years and I believe we are finally where we need to be. I was pleased when the Army Corps of Engineers representatives visited and drove on our beaches and they could not drive further north than Surf Condos because the tide did not provide room. They saw firsthand the extreme need we have. And now with our paid parking fees that go directly to beach renourishment, we have a long-term plan to continuously fund this ongoing need. This topic will be part of our town meetings forever, but thankfully we have a plan and it will be executed within the next two years.

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?

TS: I know our ordinances have not been updated for several years, so it’s great to see our planning department taking this on. I’ve personally heard our town planner have pertinent conversations with people outside of the town offices, giving her a broader understanding of things to consider when submitting changes. So again, I have faith in our current town employees to obtain all of knowledge needed to give us solid, forward-thinking ordinances that will serve us well when the next developer has a proposal. I look forward to seeing the new ordinances in writing. 

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?

TS: I was present at the town meeting in September 2022 when WK Dickson presented solutions to our stormwater drainage issues, after assessing about 20 different flood areas in our town. They had different solutions for each area that make a lot of sense. Just last week, work was being done on South Shore Drive to tackle one of the worst areas on the island, which is down the street from where I live. After these repairs, DOT will be resurfacing. This is all great news, along with grant money received for this project, which was also presented at the town meeting. In my opinion, we are doing what we need to be doing to address the stormwater drainage issues.

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?

TS: Any drowning is a sad event in our community. In order to fund a lifeguard program, I would investigate a few things. It would be helpful to have discussions with a town that has chosen to fund lifeguards and understand their reasons and process behind it. Also, we should evaluate the details about the drownings that occurred in Surf City. I know we had a drowning at dawn, so would we have a lifeguard at that hour? Also, another drowning was at the 1700 block of S. Shore, so where do we put lifeguards? In the meantime, while this information is being gathered, I appreciated the report that our SCFD chief gave at one of the town meetings, when he shared there is a program in the works to provide more lifesaving canisters and each public beach access, giving us floatation devices up and down the beach. The SCFD needs to be involved in this conversation since they have the Ocean Rescue program and are consistently working to keep our residents from harm. 

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