SOUTHPORT — Southport Mayor Jerry Dove is seeking his third term on the Southport Board of Alderman. Dove was first elected as the city’s mayor in 2015 and has served two subsequent two-year terms.
In 2017, Dove was elected by less than 1% margin, earning 13 more votes than his opponent Joe Pat Hatem. In 2015, Dove beat Hatem by a nearly 7% margin. Hatem is also running for mayor against Dove this year.
Author’s note: Port City Daily’s candidate interviews are largely unedited. Edits have only been made to correct spelling or grammatical errors. Candidates were not given word or character limits to answer each question.
What is your campaign platform?
I will continue to hold this office as a true leader with trust, integrity, responsibility, and honor. My citizens do not deserve less than this. I know what it takes to be committed to my citizens and to the office of Mayor. My number one priority is to always be available with an open mind and heart. I want everyone to enjoy the necessities and conveniences of living in our city without it being a financial hardship. Personally, this position brings me great joy and happiness in being able to serve in the city that I live in and love.
What makes you qualified to serve on the Board of Alderman?
Experience counts! I have served as the Mayor of Southport for two terms. For over 50 years, I have been a public servant with 25 years as a previous city employee of Southport. I retired as the Chief of Police. I know our citizens and city staff, and what their values are. I have been involved with all facets of city and state government including financing/budgeting, project management, planning, and personnel. Our city is financially sound with some of the best staff we have ever employed. The majority of the previous hurricane damages have been completed, with the remaining well underway. We have made substantial progress on all the projects that the Board has implemented. I have the experience, knowledge, and the background to serve my citizens. I am involved with and attend all community functions, volunteer organizations, and governmental services. Once a month, I hold a Mayor’s Day to allow our citizens to voice their concerns. I always attempt to make myself available to my citizens at any time of any day.
What are the top three issues Southport is facing right now and what’s your position on these issues?
- Waterfront stabilization. This is an on-going project. The design has begun and it will be up for bid within the coming year. We must preserve what is special about our city and that is the beauty and uniqueness of our waterfront.
- Improvement of our infrastructure. This includes our wastewater, stormwater, and transportation. This is extremely necessary for the growth that Southport is experiencing. Being a member of the Rural Transportation Advisory Committee allows me the opportunity to work with the DOT to address such issues.
- Managing the increased population growth. Our population has almost doubled within the past 30 years. Expansion of public services, such as fire and police safety, stormwater, and wastewater is necessary for future growth.
Do you feel Southport Board of Alderman followed the proper process in approving the sale of the former waste treatment property? Why or Why not?
Yes, they followed the proper process. They had six meetings with all of them open to the public. The City did its due diligence in regards to this matter. The wastewater plant had been decommissioned for almost 12 years. There had been no offers to purchase until now. The sale will benefit the City. The buyers will provide what the residents of Southport have been asking for. That is a kayak launch and a public access. If we would have kept the property, the cost to decontaminate it would have been a burden on our taxpayers. It would have just continued to be there as it currently is now. Soon, everyone will be able to enjoy this property that is currently contaminated and useless.
Is it appropriate for a City to retroactively amend its Unified Development Ordinance to correct improper Board actions? Why or why not?
There was no improper Board action. The Board removed an antiquated section of our ordinance that most cities removed years ago. The Planning board does not purchase property. This is outlined in the government statues. The Board of Aldermen handled all of the financial assets of the city including the purchase of property or the sale of property. The Planning Board is not vested with this authority. According to law, GS.158.7.1, the city is authorized to make appropriations for economic development.
The City recently opted to take its own path in pursuing sewer treatment, canceling plans to join a planned county expansion. Do you support this move?
Yes, I support this move. We will be able to control our own destiny with regards to having our own facilities. If we stay with the county, we will be at their mercy. It will cost us more money to process 750,000 gallons of waste per day with the county. We can operate our own facility and process more wastewater at a much lower cost.
The police audit revealed evidence mishandling, two top police chiefs taking advantage of the job, and a department at odds with itself. It’s clear Chief Coring has taken big steps to increase transparency and community policing. Do you think enough has been done to address the systematic issues that may have contributed to a messy and unprofessional department? Do you think trust has been healed in the community?
Chief Coring is doing a great job bringing the police department where it once was. He is continuously working to upgrade all facets of our police operations. He is still in the process of hiring new personnel and he has implemented a new process in handling evidence. He has also reimplemented the bicycle patrol program, which we began had when I was Chief of Police. The officers are more community oriented and are highly visible by our citizens. We had one of our best years for Shop With a Cop this past year. I implemented this program when I was Chief to help needy families.
What is one action/vote Southport got wrong in 2017-2019?
Going with the county for wastewater treatment.
What is one action/vote Southport got right in 2017-2019?
Hiring a new city manager and new chief of police.
Anything else you’d like to share with voters?
This beautiful city has been my home for over 30 years and it is where I have raised my family of three generations! I have the experience of being a two-term mayor, along with possessing the passion, loyalty, dedication, trust, honor, and integrity to uphold this honorable position. My citizens don’t deserve less than this. I am here to shine a positive light on our city. I only want the best for our citizens and our future generations. All concerns/issues that come before the Board of Aldermen must be considered as to how the city, as a whole, will be affected. These concerns are thoroughly studied and reviewed for all. Having lived here, owned property, paid taxes, paid utilities, a 26 year retired employee, a veteran, my knowledge of city and state government, and the concerns for my fellow citizens make me the best candidate for Mayor. I give my all to the position of Mayor of Southport so as to represent our great city in the best possible way. I will always be available with an open mind and heart.