Sunday, June 23, 2024

Pender County Primaries 2024: Brent Springer seeks Board of Commissioners District 1 seat

Brent Springer is seeking a seat on the board of commissioners; he currently serves on Pender County Board of Education. (Courtesy BOE)

PENDER COUNTY — 2024 is a presidential election year but also one that impacts numerous local boards —  such as county commissioners and education districts in the tri-county region.

READ MORE: Here is who filed for the 2024 elections

Republican Brent Springer, who currently serves on the Pender County Board of Education, is vying for one of three seats on the Pender County Board of Commissioners. Springer will face off against Republican incumbent Fred McCoy in District 5 in the primary election, to take place March 5.

Springer’s stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

Port City Daily has compiled candidate questionnaires so voters can read up on contenders’ stances before heading to the polls. The paywall is dropped on profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of casting their ballots.

Voters will choose which candidates from their registered party they want to move forward in the formal election — or those who are registered unaffiliated can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in. After the March 5 primaries, Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024; a valid photo ID will be needed to cast a ballot in both. 

Anyone not registered to vote can partake in same-day registration, available throughout the early voting period, Feb. 15 – Mar. 2. Check here to see if your registration is active at your current address.

Early voting in Pender County takes place at four locations: Shiloh Volunteer Fire Department (19170 US Hwy 421, Watha), Pender County Annex Building (15060 US Hwy 17, Hampstead), Pender County NC Coop Extension Auditorium (801 S. Walker St., Burgaw) and Surf City Community Center Gym (201 Community Center Dr.). 

Early voting stops are open Feb. 15-16, 19-23, 26-29 and March 1, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and at 3 p.m. on Feb. 18, 24, and March 2.

Below is a breakdown of dates to expect ahead of the primary election:

  • Jan. 19, 2024: County boards of elections begin mailing absentee ballots to eligible voters who submitted an absentee ballot request form.
  • Feb. 9, 2024: Voter registration deadline (5 p.m.).*
  • Feb. 15, 2024: In-person early voting begins.
  • Feb. 27, 2024: Absentee ballot request deadline (5 p.m.).*
  • March 2, 2024: In-person early voting ends (3 p.m.).
  • March 5, 2024: Primary Election Day.
  • March 5, 2024: Absentee ballot return deadline (7:30 p.m.).*

Springer’s questionnaire is below; all candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. 

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Port City Daily (PCD): Tell us the reason you wanted to run for a commissioner seat.

Brent Springer (BS): I am running for commissioner to protect Pender County’s future by honoring its past. Whether it is our scenic coastline, beautiful farmland, or charming communities, we are blessed beyond measure. Now more than ever, we need a citizen leader who simply understands what makes Pender County home to all of us. I will do whatever it takes to make sure it stays a home for my family, your family, and future generations.

PCD: What is the top priority you’re campaigning on and why?

BS: Safe neighborhoods. I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to crime. There is no excuse for the levels of violent, property, and drug crime in Pender County. Law enforcement and prosecutors will have my full and unwavering support, and I will ensure that they have all the resources they need to keep you safe. The same goes for our first responders and teachers, who are also on the frontlines of public safety.

PCD: What is the current board of commissioners getting right? Wrong?

BS: I want to build on the progress our elected officials have made on creating economic incentives for businesses to bring good jobs to Pender County. However, many decisions by our commissioners have been shortsighted. Our growth is outpacing our infrastructure, and we are years behind with our roads, water, and sewer. I want to see our Board think not just one step ahead but five steps ahead.

PCD: Pender County is growing at a rate of nearly 1.3% annually. How do you plan to keep pace in terms of jobs and housing, while also balancing quality of life for residents? Are there ideas that haven’t yet been considered?

BS: Any growth that happens in our county has to work for those residents who are already here. That starts first and foremost with protecting single-family neighborhoods. I will never sell out the interests of our residents just so a developer can make a quick buck. As a member of the board of education, I have seen firsthand the problems that come with rapid growth, such as overcrowded schools.

PCD: How would you approach environmental concerns regarding new industrial manufacturing businesses in Pender, such as the potential new industrial site in western part of the county?

BS: I support bringing good-paying jobs to Pender County. Industrial parks, as long as they are environmentally responsible and located in an appropriate part of the County away from residential neighborhoods, are an essential part of any balanced community.

PCD: County commissioners recently approved a second flood-related buyout program to assist residents impacted by hurricanes. How would you plan future development to mitigate flood concerns?

BS: We need to maintain strong relationships with state and federal partners to make sure we receive disaster-related funding when needed. Like roads, this is an area where it pays to be proactive. We should do all we can to prevent areas like Hampstead, Surf City, and Rocky Point from bearing the full burden of major flooding. 

PCD: How would you work to mitigate traffic concerns for Pender residents — such as the Malpass Corner and US 421 intersection and the new school site near the intersection of Hwy 210 and NC 17 — as the county rapidly expands?

BG: More often than not, traffic problems are the result of mismanagement or shortsightedness by NCDOT. As a county commissioner, I will advocate assertively to NCDOT and our representatives in Raleigh to ensure that we receive the funding we need to keep traffic under control. Because road construction takes so long, timing is also critical. If the Board of Commissioners is not proactive in addressing traffic issues, we will always be playing catch-up. 

PCD: Do you think the board of education is adequately funded? 

BS: When I joined the board of education, a cafeteria worker in one of our schools had been washing dishes by hand for five years because the school dishwasher was broken. I had to fight hard just to have that dishwasher repaired. How much harder do you think I had to fight to reward our teachers with better pay and repair our deteriorating facilities? Funding the next generation shouldn’t be an afterthought — it should be a priority.

PCD: What do you think of the current tax rates? How will you balance taxes with identifying funding for top-of-mind issues?  

BS: As any good conservative will tell you, taxes are always too high. I am committed to low taxes and responsible budgeting. Our leaders must always remember that every dollar spent is a dollar taken from our residents. Growing the tax base can help keep taxes low, but we can’t allow our residents to foot the bill for growth.

PCD: Did you support the current commissioners’ decision to sell the hospital in Burgaw to Novant? Explain.

BS: No. Like many people in Pender County, I’m frustrated with Novant. But I am more frustrated that our board of commissioners did not negotiate a better deal with Novant. It is imperative that our residents have access to quality healthcare, and our leaders have to leave no stone unturned in selling a key institution in our community like the hospital.

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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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