Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Brunswick County Primaries 2024: Frank Williams re-runs for District 5 commissioner seat

Republican Frank Williams — currently serving the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners — is hoping to keep his seat in District 5 in Brunswick County. (Courtesy photo)

BRUNSWICK 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 Frank Williams — currently serving the board of commissioners, formerly as the chair from 2016 to 2020 — is hoping to keep his seat. The Leland resident will face off against Republican Eric Tammaru in District 5 in the primary election, to take place March 5.

Williams’ 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; 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 voter registration is active at your current address.

Early voting in Brunswick County takes place at five locations: the Cooperative Extension at the Government center (25 Referendum Dr. in Bolivia), Leland Cultural Arts Center (1212 Magnolia Village Way), Brunswick Center at Southport (1513 N. Howe St.), Brunswick Center at Shallotte (3620 Express Dr.) and Sunset Beach Community Center (200 Station Trail).

Early voting at the Cooperative Extension is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 15-16, 19-23, and 26-Mar. 1, and on Mar. 2, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The other locations are open: 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 15-16, 19-23, 26-Mar. 1, and on Saturday, Feb. 17 and 24, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Mar. 2, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. The locations open one Sunday, Feb. 18, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.  

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.).*

Williams’ 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.

Frank Williams (FW): God has given us the privilege of living in the greatest nation on earth, and we have a stewardship responsibility to preserve our nation and leave it better than we found it. For me, that starts right here at home in Brunswick County. With the ongoing craziness in Washington, we must elect common-sense conservative leaders at the County level who have the knowledge and skills to do the job and who will put Brunswick County first. 

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

FW: Brunswick County is one of the most fiscally well-managed counties in the State. We cut $16 million in requested spending to lower the tax rate from .485 to .342 in the current budget. We have the lowest taxes in the region and the fifth lowest tax rate in the state. We’ve consistently supported law enforcement, and we’ve built a healthy rainy-day fund in preparation for the next hurricane or other emergency.  

PCD: Wrong?

FW: We need to do a better job of updating and maintaining our critical long-range plans. For example, when I recently advocated to update our emergency operations, it was many years out of date. 

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

FW: My top priorities are: (1) Fiscal responsibility, including keeping our taxes as low as possible, minimizing government debt, and maintaining a healthy rainy-day fund; (2) Keeping our communities safe by supporting law enforcement; (3) Improving infrastructure to accommodate our growth; (4) Economic growth and job creation; and (5) Increasing storm preparedness.

PCD: A North Carolina Board of Transportation official and WMPO member indicated state legislators would consider discretionary funding for the replacement of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge if local stakeholders at least considered a toll. Do you agree with this and would you support a toll? Explain. 

FW: No one wants a toll, myself included, and tolling the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge should be a last resort. The WMPO has already submitted the bridge replacement as a project without tolling, and I would like to see that as the eventual outcome.  However, NCDOT officials have suggested adding a second project submission that includes a toll to see how it scores in NCDOT’s prioritization process, with no obligation to construct the bridge with a toll. While a toll should be a last resort, I have no objection to honoring that request.

PCD: Though Brunswick County commissioners pulled financial support for carrying the debt of a potential Leland baseball stadium, do you support it coming to the county? Explain. [Ed. note: The questionnaires were sent two weeks before Leland announced it would not pursue the baseball stadium for now, indicating it would still be on the table in the future.]

FW: In addition to the County withdrawing from the stadium process months ago, the Town of Leland and REV Entertainment recently issued a joint announcement putting the project on hold. Given that announcement, this is a moot issue.

PCD: Should Brunswick County leaders be doing more to ensure residents are being provided PFAS-free water and Chemours is held accountable? What exactly?

BC: We have a lawsuit pending against Chemours to address this very issue. 

PCD: The Northwest Water Treatment Plant’s low-pressure reverse osmosis facility has faced repeated delays, slowing residents’ access to clean drinking water. How would you ensure the timely completion of this project

FW: To say that we are frustrated by these delays would be an understatement. Our staff and attorneys are working diligently with the contractors to push this project to completion as quickly as possible, without compromising the quality or safety of the project.

PCD: Do you think the board of education is adequately funded? Where might it be lacking and how do you think the commissioners should address this shortage?

FW: The board of commissioners has a funding agreement with the board of education that is the envy of many other counties in North Carolina. I support maintaining the current funding agreement while continuing to work with the Board of Education to plan for future school capital and construction needs. 

PCD: Development is booming in Brunswick County — for example, more than 3,700 units cumulatively were proposed for the southern part of the county in November. How do you think officials should balance this unprecedented growth, while maintaining quality of life and upkeep of infrastructure — roads and particularly utilities, such as Brunswick County Public Utilities?

FW: We currently have over $566 million in water infrastructure projects underway or planned, along with over $636 million in sewer infrastructure projects. Our water and sewer systems are well-maintained, and we are continuing to expand to meet the needs that come with growth. Additionally, developers are building much of the water and sewer infrastructure required for their projects, and then deeding it to the county.

While counties in North Carolina do not build or maintain roads under state law, I personally pushed for NCDOT to develop a county-wide comprehensive transportation plan for Brunswick County; that plan is nearing completion now. Additionally, as chair of the Rural Planning Organization, we prioritized several of the largest projects funded and currently underway in Brunswick County, including the Highway 211 widening project. 

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

FW: We cut $16 million in requested expenses to lower the tax rate from 0.485 to 0.342 in in the current budget, and we now have the fifth lowest tax rate out of 100 counties in North Carolina. One of my goals is to continue keeping our tax rate as low as possible while focusing on our core and state-mandated responsibilities. 

[Ed. note: The questionnaire has been updated to reflect Williams’ answer on Leland’s baseball stadium; it was not originally answered upon receipt.]

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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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