Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Leland Mayor Brenda Bozeman, running unopposed, eyes fourth term

Brenda Bozeman is running for Leland mayor. (Courtesy photo)

LELAND — Brenda Bozeman is running unopposed to retain her position as mayor of Leland. Bozeman has three decades of experience in area government.

A lifelong resident, Bozeman carries 30 years experience through various committees and council before becoming mayor. She has held the position for 12 years and is a member of the Metro Mayors Association, as well as chairman of State Mayors Association for the NC League of Municipalities.

“Among my favorite activities is to host our popular ‘Leland You Don’t Know’ tours, which are constantly in demand,” she said. “I pride myself in knowing a good deal about the history of the town, and I am very familiar with the goings-on in the county, Wilmington and New Hanover County.” 

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their districts, in this case regarding Leland’s growth, infrastructure and the possibility of a baseball stadium coming to town. Bozeman’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.

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 rerun for mayor now?

BB: This year I am in an uncontested contest. I am running again because the future of Leland is near and dear to my heart, and as we grow into a true powerhouse in Brunswick County and in the state, I want to continue to help the town achieve its best potential in these all important formative years for the benefit of our citizens who call it home.  

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

BB: Managing our growth in the best ways possible is certainly at the top of the list,  followed by maintaining our fiscal stability and, of course, doing whatever possible to grow and improve our infrastructure.

Our tool for planning for growth is our 2045 Master Plan.  

Fiscal responsibility — what does that mean? Well, for Leland, we pride ourselves in having some very talented accounting professionals on our team. While we have had some criticism for our latest property tax rate — something I personally did not want to approve due to the current economic landscape of high inflation, gas prices, interest rates, and more — overriding factors competed, including maintaining a healthy general fund to protect the town in emergencies.  

With regard to infrastructure, primarily roads, as mayor and member of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO), I can say that we are working on ideas to improve Leland’s transportation future.  

PCD: What are your views on expanding the town’s corporate limits? Do you think the town should advocate for the state-sanctioned annexation moratorium on the town to be removed?

BB: I must emphasize it is critical to grow and expand our tax base to provide and maintain the infrastructure to support this region’s population growth. We are working with NC Senator Bill Rabon to make that happen. It is in everyone’s best interests — not just the Town of Leland.

PCD: Do you support the buildout of a mixed-use baseball stadium project in Leland? Why or why not? How do you think the project should be financed?

BB: The council just received the Baker-Tilly study for review and evaluation of a potential baseball stadium. To be clear, it will not be the only report and information needed to make a fully informed decision.

There is much that is still unknown and uncertain about the viability of the stadium, the location, and the development being proposed. In my opinion, it is too premature to take a position of support one way or another. We are approaching the analysis of this concept methodically and with caution.  

This project would be transformational for the town and region, but we must be certain that we have all necessary components and commitments confirmed before considering such a substantial investment. So we will continue to investigate this opportunity and present more information and details over the following few months and into next Spring. A final decision will not occur until all this information is made available and is carefully analyzed with a fine-tooth comb.

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.

BB: The replacement of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is currently in the hands of State transportation officials as the funding for this important project will need to come from the State and NCDOT and from grants. This is because, until recently, regional transportation officials neglected to add the project to the State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) years ago in favor of putting all their eggs in the Cape Fear Skyway/Crossing basket. As a result, the replacement was omitted from the data driven process for scoring and prioritizing statewide transportation needs.

You have seen newspaper reports that quote NCDOT officials as saying, “the replacement has not scored high enough.” This assertion drives me crazy, quite frankly. I have insisted that of all our local projects on the STIP, the missing bridge replacement is the most important and urgent priority due to many critical safety and economic factors other projects do not possess. Continued “study” and delay is not justifiable.

A toll bridge is absolutely the worst option when you consider the economic harm it will do to our region.

PCD: Do you support the recent ordinance change to allow RV parks in special flood hazard zones? Why or why not? Are there regulations that should be changed within the town to protect vulnerable properties?

BB: Site plans for the RV park must meet certain criteria to adhere to existing laws regulating flood hazard zones. I support the RV park as long as there is strict adherence to meeting those regulations.

PCD: Leland ranks as one of the fastest growing municipalities statewide; how should the council approach future development, balancing economics with quality of life?

BB: We remain steadfast in sticking to our 2045 Master Plan for growth. The main goal of that plan is to ensure we balance economics with quality of life.  Nothing will stop the growth in this region, but by using that important tool, we can maintain that balance. 

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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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