Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Rebecca Kelley is running for Southport alderman seat

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Southport Board of Alderman has two seats open, one in ward one and another in ward two. Rebecca Azzato Kelley hopes to secure a seat in ward two.

The registered Republican is running against three others for the non-partisan position. It’s not Kelley’s first entrance into the political campaign field; she ran for mayor in 2021 and received a third of the votes against the incumbent.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, in this case infrastructure, homelessness, and housing; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity. 

The paywall has been dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots can be requested through Oct. 31 and must be returned Nov. 7 (or post-marked as such).
  • Registration to vote will be open until Oct. 13; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration will be available only during one-stop early voting.
  • Early voting begins Oct. 19 and remains open through Nov. 4 (3 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 7, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

In Brunswick County, voters can cast ballots early at the Brunswick County Cooperative Extension (in lieu of the Board of Elections) at 25 Referendum Drive, Building N, in Bolivia.

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their registration cards, verified here. To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

A photo ID is required to cast a ballot in 2023; more information can be found on the state board of elections website.

The candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily.

Port City Daily (PCD): Why run for the board of alderman now?

Rebecca Kelley (RK): I have stayed involved in the Southport City government activities. I have been an outspoken member of the No High Density Southport Group. I am passionate about my hometown and we are at a crossroads as we watch the building boom in our area. 

As I watched our current aldermen literally fall asleep at the table and yell at the Southport citizens, it became clear that we need new representation. I decided to run because planning for just the next few years isn’t enough. 

I am raising my young children in Southport and we need to make sure our elected officials are looking at the next 50 years and what we need to do to protect our city for the future.

PCD: Name three issues you think are most affecting the city currently and describe how you would work toward tackling them.

RK: a) We need a vision plan for Southport — a plan that guides the look and feel of our city through the next 50 years. Our CAMA Land Use Plan and UDO reference what we can’t do, but have no say in what we want to move toward. We need a vision so we can move toward a common goal.

b) Our infrastructure needs to be addressed. As we continue to drop powerlines underground, we need to make sure we are having conversations with the other utility companies that might be able to piggyback on construction that is already going to be happening. 

We had an opportunity when Howe Street was dug up a couple of years go to drop power lines, and run natural gas and high-speed fiber internet through town before filling in the hole and repaved. We need to make sure we are communicating with all the stakeholders, and sometimes when you ask for help, they are willing to work with us to find solutions.

c) Communication with our local and state legislators and other municipalities is so important to make sure we aren’t missing opportunities. Regular calls/texts with stakeholders will ensure Southport is included in future decisions for not only funding but also other plans for our area.

PCD: Do you think the city should make efforts to provide a wider range of housing options in Southport, including affordable housing? How so?

RK: a) Southport real estate is very expensive compared to some other areas in Brunswick County. I think there is an opportunity for a public/private partnership to encourage affordable housing in the county that will be easily accessible in the City of Southport.

PCD: Homelessness has come up as a major focus for citizens and leaders of Southport. How do you think the city should respond to homelessness? 

RK: Homelessness is not criminal. We need to enforce ordinances that prevent people from moving into our parks. Our city is so small and we don’t have the resources to help many of the homeless, but there are larger municipalities that have resources in place. We need to communicate with those municipalities that have the resources to help these individuals and help them get to areas where they can be helped.

PCD: As evidence shows, climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of storms and hurricanes, along with sea level rise. What should the city do to protect residents, property and infrastructure?

RK: a) Southport is in a unique area where we have experienced the results of super tides for decades. I remember working at the Yacht Basin as a teenager in knee-deep water as people continued to wade through the water to eat.  

b) The waterfront stabilization that Southport has received funding for is a great first step to protect our waterfront.

c) Southport needs to make sure we are protecting our tree canopy as trees do an amazing job of preventing both erosion and using water that comes down during rain to assist in flood prevention.  

d) As we continue to see development in the area, we need to make sure we are enforcing green space requirements and don’t give additional density allowances that will potentially add to erosion and take away more of our natural barriers.

PCD: How should Southport address its infrastructure needs in the face of aging utilities and the county’s growth?

RK: a) Southport is taking steps to turn our aging sewer to Brunswick County.

b) As we continue to drop powerlines underground, we need to make sure we are having conversations with the other utility companies that might be able to piggyback on construction that is already going to be happening.

PCD: Brunswick County is the fastest growing in the state; how should Southport’s leadership approach future development, balancing economics with quality of life?

RK: Southport must participate in county and state conversations. We have to be active in the larger community or we will be left out of the discussion and become an afterthought as our county continues to grow. 

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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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