Tuesday, June 28, 2022

2022 Primary Election: Wendy Fletcher-Hardee eyes district 2 seat on Pender County Commission

Wendy Fletcher-Hardee is running for Pender County commissioner, district 2, in the 2022 primary election.

PENDER COUNTY ⁠— Wendy Fletcher-Hardee, Republican, is running for Pender County Commissioner, District 2. Fletcher-Hardee has a background in nursing and is the owner of Atlantic Coast Trucking Inc., Atlantic Mulch and Stone Inc. and Atlantic Truck Brokers Inc.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in local elections in the tri-county region. The paywall is dropped on profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of casting their ballots.

As a reminder, the early voting period runs from Apr. 28 to May 14. The voter registration deadline is Apr. 22. Voters may partake in same-day registration throughout the two-week early voting period (check if your registration is active at your current address).

Primary Election Day is May 17. Voters will choose which candidates from their registered party they want to move forward in the formal election. Those who are registered as unaffiliated can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in.

Fletcher-Hardee’s stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full and the candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. Responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

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PCD: What are the greatest issues the county is facing? How would you work to address it?

Wendy Fletcher-Hardee (WH): Pender County is diverse, rich in agriculture and beautiful beaches. Because of our abundant resources and attractiveness, we are the fifth largest growing county in North Carolina. Growth is the number one issue our county faces. We feel it when we commute on Highway 17 or try to turn into an area business.

We need to work closely with our planning department and board to develop a comprehensive plan for smart growth. We need to make sure we have the infrastructure in place, particularly water and sewer systems to accommodate new development.

PCD: In what ways does Pender County need to manage population growth?

WH: We want to keep Pender County a welcoming place for families, businesses, and commercial development, but we need to make sure we have a plan in place to accommodate growth. When the master plan was laid out, I’m not sure anyone could have anticipated the amount of growth our area has experienced. Working together and collaborating with planning and more collector streets to off load some of congestion on the main artery through Hampstead as well as supply more water access to the southern end (Scott’s Hill).

PCD: How well do you think the county balances development with “livability” (i.e. moderated

traffic, preserved green space, etc.)?

WH: Hats off to the county commissioners and the planning staff for their hard work over the past few years. There’s no doubt Pender County has seen tremendous growth. But there is room for improvement. We need more secondary roads to access retail along Highway 17. The county commissioners just made a land purchase on the west side of the county to develop more green space. There are also plans for a water tower in the southern part of Hampstead/Scott’s Hill. 

PCD: How concerned are you about Pender County’s environmental quality?

WH: Pender County is rich in natural resources. As a conservative candidate, I believe in doing our part to conserve our resources and keep our environment healthy, so our county stays an attractive place to live, work and visit.

As our communities grow, we always need to be mindful of making sure we aren’t damaging our environment, whether it’s through water toxins, air quality, and fires. Being a nurse, I look forward to working with our health department. Our environmental health team works to monitor our environmental quality.

Having water for our growing population is mandatory; not just for people, but for the industries that support the people and growth. Though wells have recently been added to the Highway 17 corridor, more need to be added to the area as well as the elevated water tank. In addition to the wells, a reverse osmosis plant needs to be built and come online in the next five years. 

PCD: How appropriate is the county’s supplemental funding to the school district?

WH: Growth in our area means we have seen our classrooms swell beyond capacity all over Pender County. We need to look at ways to address overcrowding, teacher retention, and make sure money stays in the classroom and with the students. I believe we do this through a strong partnership with the county commissioners and the school board members. 

PCD: What do you think of the current tax rates? How will you balance taxes with identifying funding for top-of-mind issues?

WH: Let’s face it, the pandemic has been a double-edged sword. While we saw great changes come about with schedules, working and schooling go virtual, we also saw a great change through explosive growth in our area.

The other side of that is we have seen rising home prices, higher gas prices and increased grocery bills. The last thing anyone wants to see is an increase in their tax bill. If I am elected, I will do a comprehensive review of each department and evaluate the budget and trim any fat where possible. Exploring new ways to fund projects as well as through public private partnerships, I am confident we can accomplish our priorities.

PCD: How would you rate the current board’s fiscal responsibility? Were there any recent

expenditures you would have voted differently on?

WH: I think the current county commissioners have done a good job with the fiscal responsibility for Pender County. The county has a budget surplus and if anyone can remember our recent disasters, how fortunate we will be if or when the next challenge comes around.

As good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, we will continue to evaluate spending and find ways to save money. I would encourage the county government to reevaluate positions and expenses within the county manager’s office. 

PCD: With the growing population, how do you think the county should maintain or upgrade its infrastructure?

WH: As I previously mentioned, water and roads are paramount to sustaining growth in the county. We need more wells and an elevated water tank. In addition to the wells and tank we need a reverse osmosis plant to be built and come online in the next five years.

We need to continue conversations with the Department of Transportation and state legislators to keep them abreast of the traffic situation. The bypass is coming, but not all the funding is complete and will not take place until the first phase is complete in 2026.

If I am elected, I will work closely with our local and state constituents and feel my experience in construction management can facilitate the progress of current and future projects.

PCD: Is there an additional issue or issues you think need(s) to be addressed during your term, should you win?

WH: My top three issues for Pender County are schools and overcrowding, traffic congestion, and water and natural resources. Should the people elect me, these will be my top priorities.


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