Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Marlowe Foster runs for a seat on city council

Marlowe Foster is seeking one of three seats on city council. (Courtesy photo)

WILMINGTON — Marlowe Foster, Democrat, is seeking a spot on Wilmington City Council.

He is running against against six other candidates, two of which are incumbents, for three open positions.

A former senior vice president for development at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC, it will be Foster’s first campaign for city council. He moved to Wilmington from Raleigh three years ago with his wife and two children, to be closer to the beach.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, covering issues such as balancing growth and infrastructure, traffic and tourism, parking and climate change impacts.

Foster’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.

To vote early in New Hanover County, visit the Northeast Library (1241 Military Cutoff Road). From Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, voters can also go to CFCC Health Sciences and Learning Center (415 Second St.), Carolina Beach Town Hall (1121 Lake Park Blvd.) and the NHC Senior Center (2222 S. College Road).

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.

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): 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 city council position? 

Marlowe Foster (MF): I was a candidate for North Carolina Labor Commissioner in 2012.  I was the second top vote getter statewide in the Democratic primary.  Ultimately I did not prevail in the Democratic run-off.  

PCD: Why run for city council now? 

MF: With over three decades of experience in the public, non-profit and private sector, I have a demonstrated track record of bringing individuals with diverse backgrounds and perspectives together to solve problems. That is what is needed on Wilmington City Council now.

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

MF: The three issues I am focused on in this campaign are housing affordability, public safety (with an emphasis on juvenile crime and the opioid and fentanyl crisis) and job creation (incubating small and medium sized businesses). As discussed above, my work experience demonstrates a strong track record as a problem solver.  Housing affordability in particular will require the ability to bring a variety of interests to the table to work for the common good of all of Wilmington. I have that ability.

PCD: Growth in the city continues at a rapid pace — 3.92% since the most recent census of 116,146 in 2020, now at 120,695. Jobs and affordable housing continue to be of top importance to keep people here; how as a city council member do you propose fostering a better balance with both? What will you bring to the table that hasn’t been considered yet?

MF: Housing affordability and job creation are both areas of focus for our campaign.  While the city will continue to grow, we must make sure that growth is smart and that we continue to protect our tree canopy. 

On the job-creation front, most people gain their employment from small and medium sized businesses. It is critical that we continue to support small business incubation through organizations like Genesis Block and Channel. 

Having a vibrant business incubation environment is critical for employment opportunities.  

PCD: Homelessness has become a growing concern for many residents and local government officials in recent years. Do you support a housing-first approach? How/why? What else would you support to help the less vulnerable populations of our city? 

MF: My approach to addressing homelessness would be to evaluate the needs of the entire individual. Meaning, what are the underlying issues that are leading to the situation? Do they lack a medical home? Is there a mental health challenge? Is job training required? In order to move someone out of a situation in which they are chronically unhoused, there needs to be a total solution with a variety of wrap-around services. 

PCD: The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is reaching its end-of-life and funding has yet to be allocated toward its replacement. What have officials gotten wrong and right in expediting the process? What would you do that is different? Also, do you support a toll and any of the options on the table for its replacement? Explain. 

MF: One of the most significant issues that we face in the replacement of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is our current lack of influence with the state DOT and their priority setting. We must significantly increase our ability to move our projects to the top of the priority list. That applies not only to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, but state road projects that are within our city limits. In order to complete appropriate due diligence, all options should be under consideration for bridge replacement.

PCD: With sea-level rise continuing to increase and affect low-lying areas, such as downtown Wilmington, flood resilience and preventing natural disaster scenarios is a necessity in a hurricane-prone zone. What more would you suggest is implemented to protect the coastline, including the Cape Fear River banks?

MF: I don’t have any prescriptions for this at the moment and would need to further study the issue before giving specific input.

PCD: Where do you stand on Cape Fear River growth — for instance, extending the Riverwalk under the Isabel Holmes Bridge and redeveloping the industrial area on the northern waterfront? Do you support building on the western banks of the Cape Fear River? Why or why not?

MF: The growth along the Riverfront has been positive and I support the continued advancement of our downtown.

In reference to development along the West Bank, I am extremely cautious, and my hope is that a comprehensive development plan will soon emerge that will protect the natural resources in that area, and prevent recurring flooding.

PCD: Did you support the city’s recent purchase of the Thermo Fisher building in downtown Wilmington? What should be done with the two tracts of land that came with the purchase? Should it benefit taxpayers? 

MF: The acquisition of the Thermo Fisher building is complete and it is important for us to focus on the future. Whether it is leasing the floors that the city isn’t using or the two tracts of land that came with the purchase, our eye should always be on what provides the most benefit to all the citizens of Wilmington. 

That will be my focus.

PCD: Some residents have accused the city council of only representing a select few in the community, rather than the needs of all. Do you agree with this sentiment? Explain. What would you do in a leadership position to represent more equitably?  

MF: City Council members are elected city wide and it is the council’s responsibility to represent all of Wilmington. As a member of Wilmington City Council, I pledge to bring that approach to my work as a council member.  It is the council member’s responsibility to engage all portions of the city to ensure all citizen perspectives are discussed and addressed.


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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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