Friday, April 12, 2024

2021 Election: Nicholas Newell running for spot on Leland Town Council

Nicholas Newell is running for a seat on Leland Town Council. (Courtesy/Nicholas Newell)

LELAND –– Nicholas Newell is vying for a seat on Leland Town Council. A registered unaffiliated voter, Newell is one of the youngest and few openly LGBTQ candidates to seek office in the Cape Fear region.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in municipal elections, which are nonpartisan, and has dropped its paywall on the profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of the 2021 election year. (Though, your support of local, independent journalism is appreciated through a monthly subscription. Also, consider signing up for Port City Daily’s free newsletter, Wilmington Wire, to get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.)

As a reminder, the early voting period begins Oct. 14, with the registration deadline on Oct. 8. Voters may partake in same-day registration throughout the two-week early voting period, which ends Oct. 30 (check if your registration is active at your current address).

Election Day is Nov. 2.

Newell’s stances on local issues are discussed below. Port City Daily has included all responses in full, and only edited responses for grammatical and spelling errors.

READ MORE: Catch up on all political coverage

Nicholas Newell Unafilliated

  • Education: Graduate of Cape Fear B.L.E.T. (Police Academy)
  • Job title: Self-employed
  • Experience: Founder of nationally recognized Saint Nicholas Christmas Foundation a non profit named after my Christmas Day birthday. Now in its 8th year, I raise funds to buy presents and necessities for assisted living residents without families across 5 counties covering 5,000 square miles of coastal North Carolina. Last year we helped nearly 500 residents raising over $35,000 with the help of exposure from NBC’s Today Show. The foundation also buys teddy bears to donate to NC children’s hospitals and area first responders to have on hand for incidents involving children. I also am on the Architectural Review Committee for Mallory Creek Plantation.
  • Family: Two 4-legged children Archer a Czech Shepherd and Riley a Wolf Hybrid

Port City Daily (PCD): What town services would you like to see introduced, expanded, or revised? 
Nicholas Newell (NN): As a town we should always be looking for ways to improve and exploring new ideas. Some ideas and discussion may end up not being the right fit but others may improve quality of life, efficiency or impact our community in other positive aspects. I would love to see more solicitation from the community on what they would like to see implemented. I’d also like to work with town staff on revising the recycling program to improve on it if possible. Doing things like attracting additional private enterprise that could use our recyclables to make products or to process recyclables locally. Anything to reduce cost, increase sustainability and efficiency. I would like to see our park services expanded and fortunately it’s happening as we speak through grants awarded to the town totaling over $400,000. Conserving land for parks and green space while we still have land to conserve will be integral to quality of life for our residents. I want to add that we are fortunate to have services provided to us that neighboring towns don’t enjoy for instance our garbage pickup being included in our taxes rather than being a separate bill. 

PCD: What’s one decision town council recently got right? What’s one decision they got wrong? 
NN: Standing firm against a toll on the Cape Fear Memorial bridge and speaking out against it during a recent WMPO meeting was the right call. North Carolina does not have a toll on any one bridge in the state today. The Cape Fear Memorial bridge should be paid for and replaced like any other existing infrastructure in our state through NCDOT funds and federal assistance. Our state leaders are failing our community by not prioritizing this critical infrastructure and emergency evacuation route for funding. As for what needs improved I would like to see more sustainability in our future. Some examples would include; requiring pervious substrate to be used for parking lots helping with stormwater management, ordinances to save our centuries old heritage trees which not only provide irreplaceable charm but assist in stormwater management, electrifying our town vehicle fleet which not only helps with environmental sustainability but saves taxpayer dollars and provides our staff and first responders with the safest vehicles ever produced when it comes to crashes. We’re making a 2045 plan but our implementation can begin today.

PCD: How can Leland foster smart growth and development? What specifically should be improved or is already successful in your opinion? 
NN: We are one of the fastest growing towns in the state and one of the fastest growing towns in the country. We should be paving the way and leading by example as to what successful growth should look like. We need traditional ideas, views and insights like those provided from members currently on council. We also need fresh, out of the box thinking. Young energetic minds on council that aren’t afraid to foray into uncharted territory. Our council should be as diverse as the people it represents and as the youngest candidate by nearly a decade I can provide the age diversity we so desperately need. 

PCD: When did you first move to Leland? Do you think there’s a division between so-called “old Leland” and “new Leland” and if so, how would you appeal to both factions?
NN: I moved to Leland in 2018 and have been in the area for years before that. None of us can choose where we are born but we can choose where we live. I bought my first home in Leland in 2018 in Mallory Creek. This year construction was completed on my new home in the back of Mallory Creek. I also own a 3rd property in the neighborhood and just sold an investment property in Mallory Creek as well. I am intertwined in this community as much as where I grew up and this is my home. Any division between old and new Leland is waning if not almost extinct. We all want the same things, the best quality of life, low taxes, and a great future. I can appeal to all factions of Leland because I have a history of helping others. Serving the community by being elected to town council is just one additional way I can help those around me. I am fortunate being self employed that I can change my schedule around to fit the needs of this role which is easily equivalent to holding a part time job if not more. Being young, single and without dependents gives me more time and energy to focus on the town and its needs. We need more youth involved in politics and I would love to be the change I want to see. 

PCD: The utility merger with H2GO arrived after a long and contentious battle. Are you in favor of the merger? Are you concerned about any of the dissent surrounding it, notably by developers, Brunswick County, and a local legislator?
NN: Let the past be the past. It’s easy to create division and point fingers but none of that gets us what we need, clean and safe water. Free from the toxic PFAS introduced by a Fayetteville company’s greed. I am in favor of the merger, without it a large percentage of Leland would be represented by a water utility it has no voice or control of. This merger gives the best deal to Leland residents. Residents or the town need not be concerned by developers who don’t have our interests at heart or reside in town limits. Residents need not be concerned with the county who introduced a deal that benefited them more than it did us. And residents need not be concerned with local legislators based out of the south end of our county who looked to change state law when they didn’t get what they wanted. I want a great life for all those in Leland, those in Brunswick County those in our entire region. We need policies and goals that benefit us all not that slide the scale of success to one end of the spectrum for one demographic of our area. While the RO plant should have been constructed long ago, I am happy that it is scheduled for completion in the coming months. It is our job as leaders to find solutions and to work together despite differences in opinion or views. Anyone who can’t work together for the good of our town has no business leading this community. 

PCD: Are you in favor of the town’s use of financial incentives through the use of taxpayer dollars to offset a developer’s expense to fund on-site infrastructure improvements?
NN: This is a policy that has to be used with great care. Our area is already a very attractive place to build and live. Unfortunately our town boundaries are limited. Much of Leland’s growth and much of our tax base which pays for services we desperately need like road maintenance and first responders comes from this annexation. In some instances these incentives make the difference between a developer annexing into our town and adding to our coffers. These developments if not brought into the town would be a part of Brunswick County and even though they would use and put a strain on our services they wouldn’t be paying for them. Recent incentives by the town should be thought of as an investment. In one example funds were provided to contribute to infrastructure of a small project. That money will be recouped in the first few years of homeownership. After that it will be positive revenue for the town and through economies of scale, will make Leland more prosperous and efficient with our expenses. 

PCD: Finally, what does Leland need? How will you help the town get or achieve it?
NN: Leland needs a council as diverse as the population it represents. It needs young, energetic and passionate leaders who will reach out to leaders across the state to benefit our town. From getting priority for funding with NCDOT to working with towns across the state who went through our growing pains decades ago to learn from their mistakes and implement their successes. We also however need to not be afraid to think out of the box and try new and unconventional ideas that were not available to us years ago. We need to be innovative if we are to succeed in a new era and attract health and positive growth to make this community reach its fullest potential. I am going to help the community achieve this by providing my time, energy and experience to council. Bringing an entirely new diverse viewpoint that when mixed with some traditional voices will elevate us to a whole new level. My name is Nicholas Newell I am the youngest candidate ever to seek office and I look forward to your vote on November 2nd.

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