Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Election 2021: Greg Buscemi is running for Wrightsville Beach Mayor

Greg Buscemi is running for Wrightsville Beach mayor. (Port City Daily/Courtesy photo)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH –– Greg Buscemi is running against Darryl Mills for mayor of Wrightsville Beach.

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.

Buscemi’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

Greg Buscemi — Independent

Education:

  • UNCW, B.S. business administration, B.A. English
  • Wake Forest University School of Law, J.D.

Job title: Attorney (inactive)
Experience: Enough
Family: Dog, Kona

Port City Daily (PCD): What are your top three priorities, if elected?
Greg Buscemi (GB): Firing current Town Manager Tim Owens; firing current Town Attorney Brian Edes; and investigating and disclosing evidence of corruption behind the Town’s contract with Pivot Parking, LLC for the unlawful purpose of managing and operating an unconstitutional on-street paid parking program

PCD: Wrightsville Beach has developed a reputation for being an exclusionary two islands. Do you see that as a fair characterization? What do you think caused that idea to come about?
Greg Buscemi (GB): It is more than fair to say that Wrightsville Beach has enacted exclusionary policies that limit the affordability of access to the beach. Current town officials are not ashamed of this reputation; they are proud of it.

PCD: Is Wrightsville Beach business-friendly? Why or why not?
GB: No, the town is not business-friendly. That characterization is undoubtedly fair because the current administration does not make decisions based on the best interests of the public. Instead, the town has repeatedly and persistently refused to permit new and existing businesses from operating and expanding if the proposed products and services are not aligned with the personal preferences of the current and former board members. Residents and visitors of Wrightsville Beach suffer when town officials enforce policies and practices for the benefit and profit of private interests. This election is an opportunity to hold those “public” servants accountable by removing those who abuse positions of trust from office.

PCD: What is your long-term vision for the parking infrastructure on the beach? Do you foresee a continuing rise in rates?
GB: This question deserves a more detailed discussion due to the complex nature of legal issues and policy considerations surrounding public parking and traffic congestion on Wrightsville Beach. That said, it is important for the public to understand that the question of whether on-street parking is a proper source of revenue is not one of policy or opinion. It is a matter of law.

These topics are more fully outlined in a lawsuit I recently filed in Wake County, challenging the constitutionality of the local acts passed by the General Assembly exempting Wrightsville Beach and a number of other municipalities from the general state laws that otherwise prohibit towns and cities from using proceeds from on-street parking as a general revenue source. Simply put, the town does not own the beach, the ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, or the public roadways. In fact, our state constitution guarantees that the right to safely enjoy and access North Carolina’s public lands, roads, and waterways belongs exclusively to the people. Any laws or policies that abridge or deny these rights violate the constitution and are unenforceable — that is, if the courts are willing to uphold the clear mandates of the law. At the very least, the outcome of the case will help us determine whether the promise of an independent judiciary has survived in North Carolina’s state courts.

Of course, there are a number of additional revenue sources available to generate the public funds needed to provide essential and beneficial government services, but these alternatives are simply ignored by the current administration. Instead, the town relies on its unconstitutional exploitation of public resources in order to keep property taxes low and line the pockets of those who profit from the ever-increasing parking rates and fees that are collected from tens of thousands of Wrightsville Beach residents and visitors each year.

Traffic congestion is an increasingly dangerous problem that threatens the safety and welfare of the residents and visitors, but those dangers are only exacerbated by a parking program designed to maximize revenues by expanding the number of on-street parking spots across the island. The only way to solve the problem is by eliminating the incentive for on-street parking and limiting the number of spaces available to the public. This will force the town to pursue better and legal alternatives such as building parking decks on existing town-owned parking lots or collaborating with the City of Wilmington to provide a modern and efficient trolley system. Unfortunately, the status quo refuses to even consider such options. Something — anything — must be done to fix the traffic problems on Wrightsville Beach. The current administration just isn’t interested.

PCD: With regard to transportation, what are the NCDOT projects, planned and potential, that would be of most concern to you? What sort of long-term transportation improvement projects do you plan to advocate for?
GB: Any projects that fail to address traffic congestion and its threat to public safety will be of most concern.

PCD: Are there new practices you plan to advocate for that would improve Wrightsville Beach’s ability to accommodate the increasing demand of the summer seasons?
GB: Yes.

PCD: What new factors of life — whether it be Covid-19, changing society, technology or something else — have changed life on the beach? How will the beach need to continue to adapt and evolve?
GB: The most pressing and immediate concern that must be addressed is the threat posed by rising sea levels. Global warming is changing the footprint of coastal landscapes and increasing the frequency and impact of severe weather events across the globe. Federal, state, and local officials have a responsibility to treat these dangers as an ongoing threat to public health and adopt serious policies that prioritize risk mitigation and ecological sustainability.


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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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