Saturday, February 4, 2023

Voter Guide 2021: Wilmington City Council and mayoral candidates

City Council approved changes to the city's policy regarding paid time off if the city closes due to natural disasters (Port City Daily photo / File)
Municipal elections are underway with early voting, with election day drawing near on Tuesday, Nov. 2. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — Over the last few months, Port City Daily has been publishing individual candidate interviews so readers know where they stand on local issues facing the greater Cape Fear region.

Most Wilmington City Council candidates responded to PCD’s request to address items of interest, from increased and projected growth, to gang violence and environmental concerns, among other topics. Below, readers will find all interviews in one place to refer to ahead of going to the polls on election day, Tuesday, Nov. 2.

2021’s Wilmington City Council election will have three seats open: Charlie Rivenbark, Clifford Barnett and Kevin O’Grady — only the former two are running for re-election.

The mayoral race has incumbent Bill Saffo seeking another term against former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson.

In the last municipal election in 2019, election day voter turnout outnumbered early voting by a 3:1 ratio, with
29,209 votes cast on election day for Wilmington City Council — not including the mayoral race — vs. 10,455 cast in the early voting period. Municipal elections are nonpartisan, and though they traditionally garner less interest compared to even-numbered election years, they can be more impactful to the immediate and local decisions made in one’s home region.

Early voting closes Saturday, Oct. 30. There is not a voter ID requirement to cast a ballot, but before heading to the polls Tuesday, readers should run down the voter checklist to:

  • Determine if you’re registered to vote at your current address.
  • Find out if voter registration is inactive or not current. Only registered voters can vote on Nov. 2 and voter registration is allowed up to 25 days ahead of an election. Early voting allows everyone to vote, regardless of registration.
  • Check out a sample ballot ahead of time (after searching and finding your name, scroll halfway down the page to access your sample ballot).

Other questions and answers can be found on the N.C. State Board of Elections page.

Port City Daily dropped the paywall on the below interviews to help voters make informed decisions ahead of the 2021 election year. Still, we appreciate your support of local, independent journalism, which can be accessed through a monthly subscription. Sign up for Port City Daily’s free newsletter, Wilmington Wire, here to receive the daily headlines in your inbox every morning.

All candidates’ responses are printed in full and only edited for grammatical and spelling errors.

Wilmington Mayoral Candidates

Harper Peterson

Bill Saffo

Wilmington City Council Candidates

Clifford Barnett

JB Brookins

JB Brookins did not respond to Port City Daily’s numerous requests to answer the questionnaire.

Paul Lawler

Charlie Rivenbark

Angelica Ulmer

Jonathan Uzcategui

Luke Waddell

Phillip White

Have tips or comments? Email

Shea Carver
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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