WILMINGTON — Mack Coyle is running for election to Wilmington City Council. All of the council seats are ‘at-large,’ and represent all areas of the city.
Note: Candidate interviews are published largely without editing (besides minor typographical corrections) and without limits on length. All council candidates received the same questions, which appear in bold with answers in italics below.
Affordable housing — One of the most common concerns we hear from readers
is the need for affordable housing. Is the city doing enough to address the issue?
If not, what specific plans would you suggest?
Affordable housing is often discussed in terms of forcing developers to set aside a certain number of housing units that will fall in the low or lowest category of the pricing spectrum. But it is also often used as a euphemism for workforce housing-which is essentially a term that describes housing for the people whom do the majority of actual labor- i.e. construction, restaurant, retail. I don’t believe we can force the developers to build our way out of this- the solution is to raise wages – dramatically. This can be done in a variety of ways at the local policy level, and the city already is engaged in this strategy. I would encourage and continue this policy.
Mass transportation — WAVE is in financial crisis and, by some accounts, fails to
adequately connect low-income areas with workplaces efficiently (sometimes
called a ‘last mile’ problem). Some have suggested cutting back services, others
have called for more local support for WAVE. Where do you stand, and what
would you like to see public transportation look like in the Wilmington area?
I believe we must continue to support WAVE- and continue to develop the WAVE system into a regional network and partner with other communities. Cost cutting measures should include things like a shift to lower operating cost equipment like electric buses, smaller carriages, and integrating PV electricity generation into the built environment, i.e. transit centers, WAVE building, fueling stations and bus centers. Ultimately we must be pushing for more service not less, the way we increase ridership is to make using it viable for the entire community-eliminate the last mile.
Employment — What are your thoughts on Wilmington’s job scene? Are you satisfied with the way incentives have been used in the past? What other specific plans would you suggest to bring jobs to the area — and what kinds of jobs would you like to see here?
We need to be focused on diversifying the economy-focused on high skill high wage jobs that are associated with the PV (solar power) economy. This Is not just panels on your roof, this is battery storage, bi-directional inverters, smart switching gear- this is happening at an incredible pace all over the world, we are witnessing the energy transition right now from the sidelines. We need the city to advocate for these changes by installing micro-grid systems throughout the city-owned and controlled facilities- including large PV farms on brownfield and underutilized spaces. We need to be involved in this transition, leading it, and that will attract the high tech innovators and manufacturing that you hear all of the other candidates mouthing platitudes about. That is why we will open The Office Of Energy Transition.
Additionally, I have as part of my platform of policy and actions to include the leadership that the city will open two new city offices: The Office Of Industrial Poisoning — which will provide facility, funding, and a nexus for our community to support and use to focus our response to DuPont and the corrupt CFPUA and NC DEQ. This facility will be a job creator, and by becoming a center of excellence in the High Techworld of water and product testing we will again attract the high skill and high wage jobs needed to sustain economic growth that is not tied to overdevelopment and tourism.
The second office we will open is The Office Of Cannabis Truth and Reconciliation- this office will provide funding, facility, and connecting tissue for our community to study the history of Cannabis, why it was prohibited, and what the return of Cannabis means to NC and to Wilmington. The jobs associated with Cannabis production and processing are in advanced sciences, chemistry, engineering, medicines, and foods as medicines. Cannabis building materials, Cannabis health foods, Cannabis medicines, Cannabis-derived Graphene products, Cannabis flowers for CBD, CBG, THC – we are uniquely poised to be the leader in these fields here in Wilmington – and this will be a TRILLION dollar worldwide market in 10-15 years. We should build those industries and bring that wealth here for our community.
Downtown — Wilmington has paid special attention to its downtown area in terms of incentives, police presence, marketing, and other services (including those provided by WDI). What are your thoughts on the current state of downtown? Are there any specific changes you’d like to see in the downtown area?
I believe we should continue to support the downtown revitalization, and in our historic district we should develop with a special emphasis on addressing the history of enslavement and the purpose of slavery: stealing from people. This legacy thievery represents our community to the world- we at the city level need to focus on concrete reparations and righting of injustices in our community; i.e. repay the victims of the 1989 Mass Murder and Coup De’Etat; i.e. the original owners of the land that is now Hugh MacCrae park, and other real property that was stolen, these injustices should be addressed by the City Council.
Development — There’s been a lot of discussion about how development has taken place in Wilmington. Are you satisfied with that process? Is there anything about it you’d like to change?
Yes –– I would like to see changes to slow the unchecked sprawl and deforestation. These are county-wide issues and many of these policies are created and directed at the County Commission —- we need to replace the three corrupt commissioners [Patricia] Kusek, [Woody] White, and [Julia Olson] Boseman, this is particularly important as they intend to sell the hospital, and are openly hostile to anyone but the wealthy in our community, as can be noted by public comments from them and their termination of the county support of WAVE.
Green space / trees — Every city approaches its green spaces and urban canopy differently. What are your thoughts on Wilmington’s approach? What changes, if any, would you make?
We need to protect and enhance our urban forest canopy, the city has many good policies- and I would support and expand these with three ideas: 1) A urban canopy and tree registry that recognizes the very real value this part of our community fabric represents 2) hire and engage with economic counsel to study, analyze, and communicate to the city residents the value of our urban forest and canopy. What we measure, value, and discuss becomes what we will protect and defend. 3) Establish a department in the city to grow and distribute trees of all variety to our citizens at low or no cost- including fruit and nut trees, with an emphasis on native species.
Environmental concerns — Could Wilmington do more to address environmental
concerns? If so, what, specifically, would you suggest?
Yes, we can and will — we need our own laboratory, our own staff, and our own Office Of Industrial Poisoning. The crimes DuPont has committed against our citizens must be recognized and DuPont must be shut down and must be brought to justice. But our city Office Of Industrial Poisoning will be able to address other environmental impacts, including the 1,4 Dioxane crisis unfolding right now. The Office of Industrial Poisoning will provide direct ROI, and be an economic engine as we seek to understand, communicate, and engage with other communities in mutual aid- we will demonstrate leadership and excellence in promoting ecology, which will promote Wilmington, NC as a center of excellence in science and technology.
Opioid epidemic –– What are your thoughts on the city’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis? Anything specific you would change, encourage, avoid?
We must end the Drug War and end the stigma of drug dependency and addiction. The
Office of Cannabis Truth and Reconciliation will provide an accurate and historical understanding of what has happened in our country. The Drug War is a racist policy born out of the suppression of Cannabis. When we confront the ‘state lie’ around Cannabis we will strike at the heart of the hypocrisy and profiteering that drives the “opioid crisis”.
Jim Crow-era monuments – The two ‘Confederate monuments’ in downtown Wilmington — erected in 1911 and 1924 — have been a source of controversy. Do you have any specific ideas on how to address these monuments?
They should be removed, and the City should immediately challenge the state law
prohibiting our community from taking this action.
Transparency –– Do you think the city and its leaders conduct business transparently? If not, what concerns do you have?
No, I do not — we have seen that the county skirts our state sunshine laws governing the peoples business, and my own experience with the city and CFPUA – wherein they refused to provide public records in a timely manner or at all, the CFPUA refused to allow me to tour the Sweeney plant, they entrapped me and filed a false complaint against me –– the CFPUA senior staff directed, under false pretenses, the Sherriff’s office to engage in retaliation against me, culminating in the FBI visiting my home and scaring my family- which had the result of almost ending my marriage. I shared the video evidence and proof of these criminal actions with the City Council (including Margaret Haynes, Neil Anderson, and Paul Lawlor) –– no one ever took these allegations seriously, no one ever communicated with me in any way about these allegations of Federal Crimes. Instead, the City Council, the CFPUA board, and the County Commissioners tacitly supported and approved this type of petty conspiracy against me — and probably countless others. I am
running to hold all of these malefactors to account.
Law enforcement — Are you satisfied with the approach that Chief Ralph Evangelous and the Wilmington Police Department is taking in providing law enforcement for the city? Are there specific aspects you’d like to encourage or change?
Yes –– I have never met Chief Evangelous, so I do not know him personally, but I believe from his public statements and advocacy for our community that he is an even-keeled and respectful person, who has brought our police force into the 21st century with honor, integrity, and professionalism. I am advocating for a Civilian Police Conduct Review board, to be comprised of community leaders from youth advocacy organizations and civil rights activists.
City management –– Are you satisfied with the approach the City Manager Sterling Cheatham is taking in providing leadership for city staff? Are there specific aspects you’d like to encourage or change?
Yes —– I appreciate the professionalism and integrity that Mr. Cheatham and the staff bring to our city government and community. I look forward to representing our city at council and working with the staff to bring my ideas and initiatives to the fullest potential.
Experience and conflict(s) of interest – What experience do you have that you
think would be beneficial for a city leader? Do you have any conflicts of interest
that might cause you to recuse yourself from city business?
I am an ecologist, a professional construction worker, inventor, small business owner, and a father to two wonderful children attending public schools in the city, my wide experience
level and engagement across many economic and social sectors will bring more
balance to council. No, I have no conflicts of interest, and would not need to
recuse myself from any city business.
Other thoughts – Anything else you’d like to add that hasn’t been covered?
Please visit my Facebook page: The Committee To Elect Mack Coyle, there you will find the videos of my interactions with the CFPUA staff, the NH Sherriff and FBI – and more information about my allegations of entrapment and deprivation of civil rights under the color of law.