Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Election 2017: Wilmington City Council candidate Philip White

Philip White
Philip White

Editors note: Port City Daily reached out to all nine Wilmington City Council candidates for responses to the same eight questions. A full list of the candidates, with links, is available at the end of this article.

With all the growth happening in the City of Wilmington and the announcement of new major developments, what do you think is the best way to accommodate the new residents, without paving over every bit of green space in the city?

I believe that the over-development in Wilmington has become a burden on the area, and while we are thankful that people want to move here, we must draw a line in sand.  We have displaced long time residents, and destroyed historic neighborhoods, in favor of cookie-cutter buildings and over-priced luxury condos.  This must stop.  Otherwise, we risk losing the irreplaceable natural beauty as well as the vibrant history of Wilmington which is what originally brought us all here in the first place.

How can the City of Wilmington help alleviate traffic concerns, specifically on major roadways that are already overburdened?

As we have limited land resources, we must apply a two prong system to alleviate traffic problems in Wilmington.  One, we will have to widen our roads, looking at the new traffic flow patterns that are created and then work to address any problems that may arise.

Secondly, we have to transition to the “Choice Model” for WAVE Transit.  This has been talked about for some time, but little to no action has been taken.  To accomplish this, we must change our pickups from, on average, once an hour; to every 15 minutes.  Which means that we will have to purchase additional buses, as well as improve the layout of our stop locations.  As someone who owns a car, am I going to stand in the rain, at a bus stop with no protection from the elements, for over an hour, because the bus came earlier than scheduled? Obviously not, I am going to get into my car and drive to work.  We have the opportunity to greatly improve our public transit system for all of our residents and to alleviate a substantial amount of traffic from our roadways, the question is, will we do it, or simply talk about it.

What are your goals you hope to achieve if elected to office?

My biggest goal as a member of the Wilmington City Council will be to foster an open door policy for Wilmingtonians.  My primary reason for running is because I constantly hear and personally feel that our current City Council has little to no concern for the thoughts of their constituency, that our views and opinions more than often, fall on deaf ears.  Chatting with residents while at my job, over a cup of coffee, or even by getting a booth at our various festivals for residents to simply sit down and have a discussion with a council member about the issues that they are facing, are things that I currently do and plan on doing.

Who you choose to have a conversation with forms your viewpoint on the current state of things.  I enjoy listening to people with issues and problems, that cannot afford to form a 501c to have their issues addressed.  That is who I am and it is who I enjoy learning from.  That is my number one priority.  These issues can range from potholes to the opioid epidemic.  I am always open for a conversation and suggestions about how to solve the issues that we all face.

What are your three biggest concerns with the City of Wilmington, and how do you plan to address them?

My biggest concerns with the City of Wilmington are the opioid epidemic, over-development and the influx of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.  As I realize that your readers’ time is valuable, and two of these concerns are addressed in other responses, I will simply explain my approach to stem the tide of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Wilmington.  As a city, every time that we have a huge festival or large business conference, we see an increase in arrests for prostitution.  These groups, of largely women are not coming to the beach for a vacation.  We arrest them, but do very little to the “Johns” who pay for their services.  We must increase arrests and prosecution of these men, as well as the horrible men and women, whom in many cases, hold these women as hostages or slaves.  It is very common for pimps or madams, to hold their girls, with a “leash,” whether this leash takes the form of addiction, the threat of death or physical violence, or the threat of public humiliation, we must as a community work to remove these women from these situations.  We must also put together a task force to approach each case on an individual basis.  These women, and occasionally men, need a hand when getting their lives back together. If we choose to continue to turn a blind eye to this problem, our communities and society will be far worse off for it.  These are our daughters and sisters and they need our help.  I understand that we do not hear about this much in the news, or from other candidates.  That is because it is uncomfortable to speak about. I can guarantee that I am the only candidate who has the words, “human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” in any of their responses.  The truth is, I am not here to blow smoke, I am here to try and help all of our communities and our residents in any way possible.  It isn’t always going to be pretty, and I can guarantee that everyone is not going to agree with me, all of the time.  But, I can promise you, that I will be honest with you, and I will do my absolute best, to solve any issues that comes before me.

What is your opinion on the opioid epidemic? How can city leaders not only address the issue (because it has been talked about at length) but take some sort of action against the crisis?

My focus when addressing the opioid epidemic is to bring recovering addicts into the conversation.  One unique problem with this epidemic is that it affects every demographic, every socioeconomic group, at every education level.  We must stop telling these people what will work for them, and ask them what has worked.  Their advice and input is absolutely invaluable and is currently not being used as an asset.  When speaking with recovering addicts, this is a common complaint.  While medical expertise is invaluable, we cannot rely on that alone.  We must also modify the treatment model that we are using.  Currently, we are approaching the opiod and heroin issues using the old model, which commonly involved a homeless person in an alleyway.  This is simply not the reality of the opioid epidemic. Not to say that this doesn’t happen, but in this case you are just as likely to see a mother living in Landfall with this addiction as you are to see an economically disadvantaged individual with the same problem.  I will never claim to have all of the answers, nor have I ever struggled with this problem, but what I can do, is listen to those that have fought this battle, as well as those that are currently fighting.  We have a unique opportunity in Wilmington to not only help our friends and families through this rough period of their lives, but to give them back a little hope and some dignity.

What do you do professionally, would there be any conflict of interest with you serving the City of Wilmington?

I am a manager as well as former business analyst with the company Mattress Firm.  I am in no way involved in real estate or development.  I do not see any possible conflict of interest, real or perceived, with my occupation.

What previous experience do you have in serving the public if any?

I have served on the New Hanover County Long Term Healthcare CAC for roughly the past two years.

Given the concerns with GenX, do you think it is time to reevaluate how the CFPUA Board is appointed?  

I fully understand the fiscal reasoning for the creation of the CFPUA, but I fully believe that it is time that we restructure the CFPUA.  Currently, there is only one person on the board, to my knowledge, who has a past working to provide clean drinking water.  The rest of the board has gone the way of managing a corporation. This is not appropriate for an entity who’s sole role is to supply water to our residents. We need more people on the board, who have the education and the experience that pertains specifically to water, not business school graduates.  I also do not understand why there is no system of checks and balances. The CFPUA will argue that they are accountable to the public, but this has been proven not to be the case.  In short, the entire CFPUA needs restructuring.

You can find the full list of Wilmington City Council candidate interview below:

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