Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Brunswick County Primaries 2024: Jwantana Frink runs for District 3 commissioner seat

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 Jwantana Gardner Frink is running for one of three seats on the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners. She will face off against Republican Pat Sykes in District 3 in the primary election, to take place March 5. Frink’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 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.).*

Frink’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.

Jwantana Frink (JF): At an early age, helping others has always been part of my childhood. It has evolved from the appointment to serve as Brunswick Community College trustee and the vote of confidence from  the citizens of Southport as Alderman and Smithfield Township currently on Dosher Memorial Hospital board of Trustee. The experience has cultivated numerous community relationships throughout Brunswick County. So much more to be done, serving Brunswick County has been a joy and challenge at times. Serving our communities will only ensure Brunswick County remains a great place to raise a family and build a business. A servant’s heart enables me to lead in a manner that will prioritize the needs of our citizens. 

PCD: What are your top priorities?

JF: No matter what capacity you are in, the top priority should be (1) Fiscal responsibility (2) Keep the vision set on the future, our children. Without youth there is no future, making sure we give our youth opportunities to become productive citizens; educate them in Brunswick County and retain as many as possible; this includes taking care of our seniors (3) responsible growth means that we balance infrastructure needs with pro- economic growth and  continue to push work-force trades in schools and community colleges. 

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

JF: Right: Brunswick County is one of the top five in growth in North Carolina. Having one of the lowest tax rates in the region is great and my experience as commissioner I have applauded the county for establishing their Triple A bond rating. 

Keeping our communities safe by taking care of those who take care of Brunswick County; Sheriffs Office, Fire Departments and our county employees.

Wrong: With growth comes challenges and work-force housing is a problem throughout North Carolina, especially here in Brunswick County. I’ve been involved in many discussions about this issue. We have the right people at the table and are pushing for more private partnerships. This is a regional issue not just Brunswick.

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

JF: Listening to the commissioners during the budget workshops, expenses were cut to arrive at the current rate. Yes, some will argue that property evaluations are high in some areas. We still maintain one of the lowest tax rates in the region. 

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, such as roads and particularly utilities, such as Brunswick County Public Utilities?

JF: As community leaders, we can continue to advocate to NCDOT to alleviate traffic by funding Brunswick Couty transportation priorities, continue to expand water and sewer systems, involving a broader base of community stakeholders in development ordinance review and most important to improve housing affordability by encouraging diverse housing options. 

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

JF: While attending the county commissioners budget workshops last month, the county is pushing through the process to make sure PFSA-free water and Chemours are held accountable. 

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?

JF: Again, the Brunswick County budget workshops were so helpful to understand the current situations throughout the county. The Northwest Water Treatment project is a beast of a project. After listening to the public utilities department report, staff, and attorneys. I have the utmost confidence the project will be completed as soon as possible. 

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.

JF: This is what I know, we need to visit all options by continuing with our due diligence process.  The bridge is so vital to the community, no one likes tolls including myself. Infrastructure is expensive.

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: Leland announced last month, it was tabling the baseball stadium at the moment.]

JF: The county has opted to withdraw from the discussion, and by attending via zoom the Town of Leland’s meeting I learned the project was put on hold with much push back from citizens. I can imagine the commissioners taking everything into consideration before opting out. I can only think there were 105 million reasons to say no at the time.

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?

JF: I understand that the commissioners have a funding contract with the board of education. One of my top priorities are the children of Brunswick County, not limited to the teachers, teacher’s aide, bus drivers, facility maintenance etc. The Board of Education have my full support when it comes to the needs of our children and staff.

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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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