BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Brunswick County resident Barry Laub is seeking to be elected for a first term on Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO.
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. Questions were delivered to candidates prior to the moratorium being lifted on September 27.
What is your campaign platform?
I am running to end decisions of the current majority of the H2GO board being determined by the position of Leland. I will put the interests of H2GO customers first and get the RO plant completed. I will listen, be flexible, restore the trust and confidence of the H2GO staff and customers.
What makes you qualified to serve as commissioner of a water and sewer utility?
I have vast administrative experience and will depend on qualified and competent experts like executive director Bob Walker for input.
The Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant is under a moratorium for exceeding capacity in 2018. H2GO’s Chappell Loop Road plant has neared capacity for years (but can’t upgrade due to a 2010 court order resulting from Brunswick County’s lawsuit). Which parties, in your opinion, should be held accountable for this scenario?
[No answer provided.]
What lessons should regional leaders learn from this scenario, and what solutions can you bring to the table?
Both parties should be held accountable for the current situation. However, H2GO has the ability to effectively double the capacity in a relatively short time period and without excessive cost. It is at the discretion of Brunswick County that will permit the needed expansion. H2GO is highly capable of operating this plant and the increased capacity is only limited by the court order imposed on H2GO as a result of the lawsuit with Brunswick County.
What would you (or do you) say to customers in the region who are frustrated with their utility providers given the moratorium, lawsuit, and years of political battles over public utilities?
Hopefully, we have learned our lessons that communication, a willingness to cooperate and the elimination of ‘Empire Building’ is the way to proceed. Let H2GO do what it does best and let the other municipalities do what they are capable of.
It’s been a nasty couple of years. Campaign material from both tickets show this race won’t be pretty while both sides defend their position statements and past actions. Can you try to compliment each of your opponents on one topic or issue?
I do not have enough experience with John Bradley to praise him. At the very least, Chairman Gerken is an obedient soldier and demonstrates transparency.
What’s one thing about you that people misunderstand? What would you like voters to understand more clearly about you?
I am from the north which can cause some of the locals to mistrust me. I embrace and respect people individually. I do not play to prejudicial stereotypes and my word is my bond. I am not beholden to any third party and want to be part of making this area a place to be proud to reside in.
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?
In 2017, Belville and the outgoing commissioners took the necessary actions to protect the H2GO assets from destruction. Without these actions, I firmly believe that the majority board would have carried out their desire to have H2GO dissolved.
Do you see any drawbacks to the current settlement proposal, which includes the option to absorb all of Leland’s utilities? Do you see benefits?
It is difficult to comment in that the settlement agreement is still evolving. I do not understand what Leland is actually proposing, as it seems to change daily. I do believe that H2GO should be the operating entity of the RO plant.
Do you have any remaining reservations about working with the Town of Leland, given the town’s past actions to attempt to dissolve the utility and stop the proposed plant?
I have many reservations because there always seems to be a self-serving motive that doesn’t reveal itself until ‘gotcha’ happens.
Do you have any remaining reservations about working with the Town of Belville, given the town’s past actions to attempt to absorb the utility to “save” the proposed plant?
In my opinion, the Town of Belville performed a heroic feat. They came to the table and saved the day for the citizens of this area beyond anything one could have expected. Mayor Allen should receive a medal of honor for his determination. He alone will be seen as responsible for the survival of H2GO.
Anything else you’d like to share with voters?
I love this area as a potential paradise. People are upbeat, friendly and caring. The area is not wanting of anything one may desire. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to once again in my life to make a positive difference for the good of the people.