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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Veronica Carter seeks reelection to Leland council

Veronica Carter is seeking a second term on Leland Town Council. (Courtesy photo)

LELAND — Veronica Carter is seeking another term on the Leland Town Council. Carter is running unopposed; there are two open seats and two candidates.

“When I first decided to run, I believed that my experience, education, and
passion for our community would be an asset to the governing body,” Carter said. “I
have over 40 years of experience successfully managing complex transportation, supply, maintenance, ammunition, and field service operations (and multi-million-dollar budgets) for the military, federal government (as a civilian), and international organizations on four continents.”

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their districts, in this case regarding Leland’s growth, infrastructure and the possibility of a baseball stadium coming to town. Carter’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.

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 council now?

Veronica Carter (VC): I am an incumbent. I believe we still have work to do to make our Town a better place to live.

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

VC: Growth, Infrastructure and Housing. Growth is not necessarily a bad thing. The opposite of growth is a stagnant or dying town. Unfortunately, I’ve seen towns that have fallen victim to stagnation and/or death. The younger people leave, the older
people eventually pass away. What was once a promising, bustling community dies a painful death. I do not want that to happen to Leland.

Our current Council is working together to allow for growth that positions our community for the future. It is sometimes difficult and frustrating to work within the constraints of existing state law, but I believe we are trying to make this a better place for our children and grandchildren to live.

Those same frustrations extend to infrastructure. There are many things regarding roads that are just not within the span of control of local governments. That is not my opinion, but simply state and federal law. However, we must find ways to work within that existing structure to provide the needed infrastructure to keep our communities (our neighbors are included in this process) moving. We will continue to work with the other voting members of the Wilmington Metropolitan Urban Area Planning Organization (WMPO.) Mayor Bozeman has done a great job voicing our concerns and needs on this side of the river, but she is just one of 13 votes regarding prioritization and funding for our major roads and infrastructure.

PCD: What are your views on expanding the town’s corporate limits? Do you think the town should advocate for the state-sanctioned annexation moratorium on the town to be removed?

VC: My personal view on the state law that singled Leland out on annexation is primarily disappointment. I do not understand the rationale. I know that many people believe that this law will stop or slow growth. I do not believe that will be the case. It will simply stop that growth within the Town of Leland. There will still be growth, it will just be outside of our corporate boundaries. The roads that are the responsibility of the town, the parks, and other services that our tax dollars support will be enjoyed by others who do not contribute to their upkeep. That is troubling and perhaps not sustainable as the entire region continues to grow.

PCD: Do you support the buildout of a mixed-use baseball stadium project in Leland? Why or why not? How do you think the project should be financed?

VC: Honestly, I haven’t decided yet. I need more information before I can make an informed decision. I would like to see something other than more houses in that area. I would like to see a walkable downtown area, with shops, restaurants, and entertainment. However, I did not win the Powerball, so I don’t have the power to make that happen.

There are residents who seem to believe that the Town of Leland owns that property. Currently it’s not within the Town of Leland. There are private owners who have legal rights to use their land, within our current state laws. They could submit plans to develop their property under the current zoning with the county. If they meet the zoning and permitting requirements, there is very little the county (or any municipality they might annex into) could do to stop them under North Carolina law. If residents are unhappy with that, then they are unhappy with a state law that is not within the control of any municipality or county to change, amend or ignore.

There have been many interesting suggestions on what should go on the property or where a stadium might be better located. Those discussions would be better directed at the current property owners, not the governing body. We do not own the property. We are in discussions with the property owners and are entertaining a proposal they have made to the Town and Brunswick County. There have been no decisions on how to finance the project, or if we will finance it. As noted at our last Council meeting, we still need to explore what possibilities are available.

PCD: The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is reaching its end-of-life and funding has yet to be allocated toward its replacement. What have officials gotten wrong and right in expediting the process? What would you do that is different? Also, do you support a toll and any of the options on the table for its replacement? Explain.

VC: That is a long difficult question that goes back to how state and federal transportation dollars are prioritized, allocated and funded by state and federal law through the MPO process. No one municipality has the power to expedite the process. The WMPO sends their priorities to the state where it goes through a “ranking” process before it makes (hopefully) the State Transportation Improvement Program or STIP. If it’s not on the STIP, it’s probably not going to happen.

While replacement is certainly a priority for the Town of Leland, we have not always had vocal support from other voting members. I would like to recognize New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield and Wilmington City Councilman Luke Waddell for their vocal support in finding solutions to this problem and supporting Mayor Bozeman.

I do not support a toll. There are no tolls on other projects that have similar price tags to a bridge replacement. The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is a major source of economic development, a priority for the Port of Wilmington and a major hurricane evacuation route. I do not believe our residents who live or work on opposite sides of the river should bear the burden of a new bridge by paying a toll.

PCD: Do you support the recent ordinance change to allow RV parks in special flood hazard zones? Why or why not? Are there regulations that should be changed within the town to protect vulnerable properties?

VC: The change to the ordinance added an extra step to ensure the protection of vulnerable properties. The requirement for “conditional rezoning” requires the Town to look at specific site plans, hold public hearings, and allow the placing of specific
requirements on the plans as a condition of approval.

PCD: Leland ranks as one of the fastest growing municipalities statewide; how should the council approach future development, balancing economics with quality of life?

VC: I believe we are at a point in our development as a town where we need to further our own economic and cultural identity. I think we are growing beyond simply being the little town across the river from Wilmington. We are growing our future. The location of new communities, parks, walkable, bikeable pathways is part of that road forward. Providing a community that is attractive and sustainable to businesses and residents is at times a tough balancing act. But I know we have the right mixture of talent on the council and on staff to make Leland better than we found it.

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