Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: John Allen seeks a second term with Southport aldermen

John Allen is seeking reelection for his alderman seat in Southport. (Courtesy photo)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Southport Board of Alderman has two seats open, one in ward one and another in ward two. John Allen hopes to secure his second term with the board.

A retired municipal manager and city planner, Allen was elected in 2019. He has 30-plus years experience in economic development, city planning and municipal management in other cities and counties in the state.

“I served as Economic Development director for both the City of Winston-Salem and for Mecklenburg County,” he told PCD. “I also served as the city planner for Southport, and I am a former member of the Southport Planning Board.”

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): What makes you qualified for the alderman position?

John Allen (JA): I have a great deal of experience with municipal government operations, budgeting, contract negotiation, land use and zoning, and strategic planning.

PCD: Why run for the board of aldermen now?

JA: By working together with the citizens and city staff, the current mayor and board of aldermen have undertaken or completed many important initiatives in the past four years:

  • Improving our infrastructure
  • Updating our critical land use and strategic planning documents
  • Shoreline protection
  • Increasing transparency and public engagement
  • Protecting our neighborhoods

In just four years, we have made great progress on resolving issues that were decades in the making. I believe it is vital to continue that progress and finish the important work we have before us.

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

JA: The good news is that our most pressing issue has just now been resolved. An
appropriation from the state budget will allow for a merger of Southport’s water and
sewer distribution system with the county’s. This completes the goal I had when I took office four years ago of regionalizing our utilities. Mayor Hatem and the board have worked diligently to make this possible, and I thank Rep. Charlie Miller and Sen. Bill Rabon for their help.

The top issue we now face is the many pressures that Brunswick County’s explosive population and tourism growth is creating for Southport. Our residents are being negatively impacted by the amount of traffic coming into Southport on a daily basis. At my urging, the board has authorized staff to hire a consultant to create a parking
management plan to begin the process of rationalizing our parking situation in order to reduce congestion and increase resident access to our businesses and attractions.

A second important issue is the need to continue the many important initiatives we have undertaken in the past four years: improving our infrastructure, shoreline protection, revamping our critical land use and strategic planning documents, increasing transparency and public engagement, protecting our neighborhoods, and more. We have 39 major initiatives underway in these areas currently.

A third critical issue is the lack of affordable housing and increasing homelessness in
Southport. Solutions to these issues will require close cooperation with existing
nonprofits, the county, state and others.

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

JA Conditional zoning is an excellent tool that the city can use to work with developers to create workforce housing opportunities. We need to update our unified development ordinance to add conditional zoning and allow us to pursue pursue these opportunities.The city is also working with groups such as Habitat For Humanity to address the need for affordable housing.

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

JA: We need to be compassionate towards the homeless individuals. We must also ensure that our laws are followed by everyone. In the short to medium run, we need to partner with Brunswick County, other municipalities and local nonprofits to create the support infrastructure to move people out of homelessness. For example, there is no homeless shelter in Brunswick County, despite the obvious need.

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?

JA: Southport continues to update our strategic plans, land use plans and building
ordinances in order to address the threats of stronger storms and rising sea levels.

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

JA: Our number-one infrastructure issue is on the verge of being resolved, and hopefully the merger of our water and wastewater distribution system with the County’s will be completed shortly. Beyond that, we are currently planning for the construction of a second electric substation, finalizing construction plans for waterfront stabilization, working on permits for the dredging of the Yacht Basin, completing the replacement of much of our outdated sewer lines, etc.

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

JA: Brunswick County’s explosive population and tourism growth is creating many
pressures for Southport. Our residents are being negatively impacted by the
amount of traffic coming into Southport on a daily basis. At my urging, the board has
authorized staff to hire a consultant to create a Parking Management Plan to begin the process of rationalizing our parking situation in order to reduce congestion and increase resident access to our businesses and attractions.

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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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