Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Heather Allen seeks a seat on Surf City Town Council

SURF CITY — Heather Allen is joining the race to gain a seat on Surf City Town Council. It’s here first time running for a government position.

There are three available seats on the council this fall and Allen is up against six other candidates — incumbents William (Buddy) Fowler, Donald Helms and John Koloski, along with newcomers Cheryl Hunter, Alicia Hawley and Trudy Solomon.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, covering issues such as balancing growth and infrastructure, beach nourishment, development and climate change impacts.

Allen’s answers are included in full; 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.

One-stop voting in Pender County will be held at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, 801 S. Walker St. in Burgaw from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their voter registration card, or verified here.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

Photo ID requirements are required to cast a ballot in 2021; 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): Have you ever run for a government position before? If so, give us details: What, when, where, outcome? If not, what makes you qualified for a town council position?

Heather Allen (HA): I have never run for local office, so I will be coming in to Town Council with fresh eyes. I believe what makes a person qualified for running for local office is being an involved citizen who wants to make a positive influence in the community. My previous work with the District Attorney’s Office as a Victim’s Advocate and my persistent nature are strengths I will be bringing to Surf City. I am also a small business owner and would want to make sure other business owners in Surf City feel like their concerns are being heard.

PCD: Why run for council now?

HA: There’s no better time than the present! I have also seen with my own eyes how bad local policies can quickly change a small, clean, safe beach town. I am motivated to keep Surf City a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

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

HA: We are building too fast. Our infrastructure, especially our schools and roads cannot keep up. As council members we should be listening to the school board when they tell us classrooms are becoming overcrowded.

I think we have a lack of youth activities in Surf City and it would be a top priority of mine to pilot a junior lifeguard/waterman program where kids would be taught how to respect the ocean, watch for riptides, stay in shape in the summer, and more.

I also feel that residents who want to stay informed and speak at Town Hall meetings are unable to do so due to the meetings being held at 4:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. I would make it a priority to move the time to 5:30 p.m. so more voices could be heard. 

PCD: In the past the town has turned down development applications for lack of sewer capacity. How do you plan to balance needed growth with adequate infrastructure as the town continues to attract more residents?

HA: No answer provided.

PCD: The beach town is working through the process of federal beach renourishment. Do you agree with spending the nearly $20 million needed for the project? Do you think a different approach should have been taken?

HA: I have made it abundantly clear how I feel about paid beach parking (100% of the profits goes towards beach renourishment). If it were solely up to me, I would abolish the entire beach paid parking system.

I don’t think it is right to force “certain” Surf City residents to pay their government to enjoy their local beach. Surf City has been established for almost 75 years and never needed to charge people before. Local government in Surf City has already increased the price and extended the timeframe to pay, at a time where everything in life costs more. Not to mention we have people who come out to volunteer to clean Surf City’s beach with Coastal Cleanup of Topsail and get ticketed (not a great way to incentivize volunteering in our city).

I have been working hard to at least get these volunteers free parking passes while they are picking up trash off of Surf City’s sand. Some of my own family members do not own “smartphones” and would have an extremely hard time paying to park.

More residents do not know where 100% of the funds go, than residents who do know. I am not the only resident who registered their plates and still received a ticket and had to take time out of my day to clear up the mistake. That being said, when a name storm comes in, the federal government steps in to pay for renourishment.

North Topsail and Topsail Beach have stepped away from the $50 million project. I believe there must be a cheaper way to renourish Surf City. Also, Surf City has recently secured $24,200,000 in state budget funds. Perhaps this can help with beach renourishment. 

PCD: Surf City is in the midst of updating its zoning ordinances. What changes do you think need to be made, if any, and why?

HA: No answer provided.

PCD: The town is working on an engineering study to address stormwater issues on the island. What do you think should be done to mitigate flooding?

HA: No answer provided.

PCD: There were unfortunately a few drownings along Surf City’s beaches this past year but no lifeguards. Do you think Surf City should consider funding lifeguards during summer months or other – water safety programs to increase protection for beachgoers?

HA: Absolutely, and I think we should expand on that idea and bring a junior lifeguard/waterman program to our town. I have spoken on many occasions with our local firefighters and they have relayed the message that if Surf City were to hire just three temporary lifeguards (lifeguards who are there to watch the water-not police what is in people’s cups), then a huge burden would be lifted off of firefighters during the summer. Because I feel there is a lack of youth activities, I know a junior lifeguard/waterman program would be extremely well-received and the city could use those funds to pay for temporary lifeguards. 

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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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