Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Darryl Mills seeks third term as Wrightsville Beach mayor

Wrightsville Beach Mayor Darryl Mills seek re-election to his position for his third term. (Courtesy photo)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Darryl Mills is seeking reelection as mayor of Wrightsville Beach, a position he’s held since 2019. Prior to that, Mills was on the board of aldermen for eight years.

A lawyer, Mills is the incumbent running against Henry Temple for the mayor position.

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.

Mills’ 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): Why run for mayor now?

Darryl Mills (DM): I am running again because I believe that with my experience and knowledge of town issues that I am the best candidate for mayor. Moreover, there are several critical ongoing matters that need to be successfully finalized and my continued involvement will be critical.

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

DM: Three important issues: first, sand on the beach. I have worked closely with our local, state and federal officials to arrange for beach nourishment to begin in November after the normally scheduled beach nourishment event for Wrightsville Beach was skipped by the present administration in Washington, DC.

My testimony in Washington before the Congressional Committee with jurisdiction was integral to our being granted the exemption so that we can get the sand in November. I continue to work Congressman Rouzer relative to legislation for a more permanent solution. My relationship with Rep. Rouzer was critical to this endeavor. 

A second issue, a more reliable and stable source of water for the town, is being pursued with ongoing talks with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. Our town wells, our historical source, can no longer handle the demand for acceptable drinking water. This is a complicated, very involved process, but we have made significant progress. To that end, my relationships with our state representative and state senator along with other elected officials in Raleigh were instrumental in arranging for $25,000,000 to be appropriated for this purpose in the latest state budget. Without these funds the financial demand on the residents would be enormous and possibly not feasible.  

A third issue is the ongoing parking and traffic situation at the beach. As a public beach we have to balance the needs of the town residents and the public at large. We are working on integrating some new technologies and alternatives to the present arrangement to hopefully alleviate the ongoing crush that occurs between mid-May and mid-September.

PCD: Where do you see the balance of accommodating tourists and other locals outside WB and ensuring WB residents’ concerns are addressed?

DM: Protecting the residents has always been a priority for me and the board of aldermen. That has manifested in no tax increases since I was first elected and in fully supporting our police and other first responders, exploring answers to the ongoing traffic concerns in addition to pursuing the answer to the water challenge.  That said, we have to balance the needs of visitors/tourists and residents as we are a public beach and we rely on state and federal funding for various matters including but not limited to beach nourishment. Also, our local businesses need the visitors and tourists as well. I constantly work on maintaining that balance.

PCD: What is your long-term vision for parking and transportation on Wrightsville Beach? How would you approach a rate increase? How will you tackle reducing traffic on the island or addressing infrastructure needs?

DM: My long-term vision is to rearrange and relocate a number of parking spaces as well as consider reducing the number of parking spaces where possible and as the technology and other options are developed. The plans through NCDOT and the MPO that include bike and pedestrian lanes will necessarily involve some parking spaces being eliminated as well. Parking is a substantial portion of our town budget so we must be prudent in how manage any major changes. As we explore possibly reducing parking then alternative ways to replace that revenue must found and developed.

PCD: Do you support public transit adding routes to Wrightsville Beach? Why or why not?

DM: I do not support bringing public transportation to the beach. The residents and taxpayers are overwhelmingly against it. Having buses regularly on our streets will only exacerbate traffic issues. Moreover, there is a safety issue arising from the situation when sudden storms and changes in the weather occur and quick evacuation is necessary and prudent. That would be severely impacted if not rendered impossible with public transportation.

PCD: Wrightsville Beach has run into various roadblocks with its beach renourishment, causing the 2022 cycle to be significantly delayed and the beach to erode. What is your plan to ensure the beach stays nourished and avoid future delays?

DM: As stated previously, I have a very good working relationship with Congressman Rouzer and Sen. Ted Budd as well and we are working on legislation in both houses of Congress to make sure that Wrightsville Beach is not put in the position of missing future beach nourishment events. I worked with local and state officials for an alternative to federal funding over the last couple of years and had a tentative plan substantially formulated that thankfully we did not need to pursue thanks to the exemption that we procured.

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

DM: We are constantly looking for ways to improve and protect our infrastructure as well private and public properties at the beach. Again, we must recognize that as a public beach we must maintain a balance between residents and visitors to insure state and federal funding continues in addition to town expenditures.

PCD: Do you support the town merging with CFPUA for its water supply and associated costs, more than $20 million estimated, to upgrade its system? How should positions in the town’s public works department be handled if the town does consolidate its water system?

DM: Yes, as related above I do support associating with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority relative to the town’s water and sewer service and I am actively involved in pursuing this goal. My relationship with county and Authority officials is integral to accomplishing this goal for the benefit of Wrightsville Beach. The town would continue to have public works needs and thus public works employees. But clearly restructuring the Public Works Department would be necessary should a merger occur.

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