BELVILLE — Ryan Merrill is seeking to be elected for a first term on Belville’s Board of Commissioners.
Merrill currently serves on Belville’s ABC Board.
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?
Fiscal responsibility and accountability. Collaboration with other municipalities, authorities, and the county government.
What makes you qualified to serve as a Commissioner?
I have severed on many boards and organizations to include Chair of the Eastern NC Fire and Life Safety Educators Council, District Vice President for the Professional Firefighters and Paramedics of North Carolina, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Gang Task Force Advisory Board, North Carolina Urban Search & Rescue – Technical Adviser Group, and Belville Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.
I have over 27 years of public service. Most of this has been as a firefighter in southeastern NC. Through this work, I have seen the positive and negative effects of political decisions and how they have impacted communities.
What are the top three issues Belville is facing right now and what’s your position on these issues?
Litigations between Belville, Leland, and H2Go. There should be an expedient resolution to this matter which provides for the best interest of the citizens, not the organizations.
Litigation with the Property Developer of the “Downtown” area. I would like to see a summary judgment with the release of the property to a new and responsible developer.
Needs for upgrading and expanding our infrastructure. The town and area continue to grow
above the state and national average. In order to ensure a comfortable and safe environment for our citizens, we must be ahead of the growth with our roads and utilities.
Do you agree with how 2017 Belville Commissioners and outgoing H2GO Commissioners orchestrated the transfer outside of public review or knowledge? Why or why not?
Based on my study and knowledge of the transfer, it does not appear to have violated any laws. With that said, the way in which it transpired produced an image of impurity. The matter could have been conducted in a more open and transparent [way]. Ultimately the decision for transfer appears to have been made with the interests of the Town of Belville and future safety of the citizens as the main catalyst.
Where would you like to see Belville in five years? What features, projects, or plans would you like to see in place at that point?
The downtown area development should be at the forefront of our projects. This would provide an increase job market, attractions, and income base for our citizens.
For continued safety and beautification, I would like to see the continued expansion of sidewalk projects within the town. With the most important project being a way for Belville Elementary School to easily access and utilize the Brunswick Riverwalk Park
Should Belville grow through annexation, or work to support its existing boundaries and residents?
I believe annexation can be a productive action taken by the municipality. I believe the areas that already border the town should be considered for annexation. Especially those areas that don’t contact another municipality. All annexations must follow the North Carolina laws (G.S. 160A – 58.50 through – 58.63)
Are you comfortable with the amount of public funds spent toward paying for the H2GO lawsuit? Do you think it was and has been worth it to spend so much?
I do not believe that it has been a good example of the fiduciary responsibility of either Belville or Leland. Both are smaller municipalities and the money has been a substantial part of their revenue. Responsible communication of the leaders, of all organizations involved, could have led to a compromise that would have benefitted all parties. Due to continued lack of partnership and a continued breakdown of communication, litigation became the only recourse.
What is one action/vote Belville got wrong in 2017-2019?
Inability to effectively collaborate with other area government entities.
What is one action/vote Belville got right in 2017-2019?
Exploration, promotion, planning and realization of multiple DOT projects to increase ease of travel and safety in the area.
Anything else you’d like to share with voters?
Belville is a proud and beautiful town. I wish to keep our town’s attractiveness and small-town atmosphere for future generations.