NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Matt Rhodes joins a crowded field hoping to win a seat on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.
Three seats are up for election in 2020, two of the seats are uncontested as current commissioners Woody White and Patricia Kusek have both announced they will not seek reelection; Commissioner Jonathan Barfield has filed to run for reelection.
Rhodes is a lifelong New Hanover County resident; his mother is from Goldsboro and his father, a World War II veteran and later a Wilmington-based attorney, is from Sneads Ferry. Rhodes is a small business owner with a wife and two children, a son and a daughter.
Rhodes said he felt the major issues for the county were — first — the pros and cons of a potential sale of the hospital, followed by infrastructure and financial responsibility.
“The hospital is the biggest issue and it’s a non-partisan issue,” Rhodes said. “No matter if its the emergency room, or you’re going to give birth, or to get a procedure done, they don’t ask you if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or an independent.”
Rhodes said he felt that those concerned that a sale of the hospital would drive costs up and quality down “made a pretty good, legitimate case.” At the same time, he was considering the argument that if the hospital is going to be sold, selling it from a position of financial strength would be important. Rhodes that he was also concerned about the impact on the hospital’s 7,000 employees and their contribution to the community and local economy.
Rhodes said he would also push for both short-term and long-term action on traffic.
“There’s a lot of concern about the development — and I’ll say in some ways growth is good, but getting from point A to point B can be very difficult, we need a long term plan, but also short term issues we can deal with,” Rhodes said.
Lastly, Rhodes said he wanted to focus on fiscal responsibility and paying down county debt, saying he felt sometimes elected officials “forget that it’s not their money their spending.”