WILMINGTON –– Luke Waddell is running for one of three seats open on Wilmington City Council in the 2021 election.
Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate running in municipal elections, which are nonpartisan, and has dropped its paywall on the profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of the 2021 election year. (Though, your support of local, independent journalism is appreciated through a monthly subscription. Also, consider signing up for Port City Daily’s free newsletter, Wilmington Wire, to get the headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.)
As a reminder, the early voting period begins Oct. 14, with the registration deadline on Oct. 8. Voters may partake in same-day registration throughout the two-week early voting period, which ends Oct. 30 (check if your registration is active at your current address).
Election Day is Nov. 2.
Waddell’s stances on local issues are discussed below. Port City Daily has included all responses in full, and only edited responses for grammatical and spelling errors.
READ MORE: Catch up on all political coverage
RELATED: Luke Waddell eyes city council seat
Luke Waddell — Republican
- Education: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, The Citadel
- Job title: CEO, Cadence Realty Corp.
- Family: Wife Amanda and a Golden Retriever, Moultrie
Port City Daily (PCD): What is your top priority, if elected a seat on council? How will you address it?
Luke Waddell (LW): The recent surge in crime is unacceptable. All Wilmington citizens should feel free and safe. Parents should feel free and safe to take their kids to Long Leaf Park for a baseball game without it being shot up. Students should feel free and safe to go to school without fear of gunfire erupting between classes. This, of course, is not hyperbolic — these are real events that have happened recently.
Full support of our law enforcement and first responders is paramount to ensuring the safety of our city.
PCD: What do you believe is the solution to the affordable housing crisis? Are you supportive of a housing bond? Why or why not?
LW: Housing affordability is a real issue in the Cape Fear region — half of all households county wide are cost burdened, paying 30% or more of their income to housing. This is widely a supply-and-demand issue due to the continuous growth we have seen over the last 10 years. The new land development code is a good start at combating this issue, offering greater density to provide not only much-needed housing but also creating workforce housing within these new developments.
PCD: What about other infrastructure in our city: What needs the most attention in your opinion and how would you address it?
LW: Streets. We need a comprehensive and transparent system of not only improving the city owned streetscapes but notifying the residents of those streets on when they will be repaved or improved.
PCD: What kind of environmental protections would you like to see the city focus on and how?
LW: Wilmington instituted its Clean Energy Policy Task Force, [which] studies sustainable strategies and advises council on implementing a clean energy policy with achievable 2035 and 2050 goals. I would continue to encourage converting to LED lighting in city facilities and streetlights to enhance our sustainability, while also reducing energy costs to the city. Beyond that, I would continue to advocate improvement in our stormwater ordinance as we continue to grow.
Opposition to off-shore drilling is also crucial in maintaining one of our greatest assets, our coastline.
PCD: Do you think enough is being done to confront gang violence? What else should be done?
LW: Once again, this is a primary priority. We have to ensure all of our citizens are living in a safe community. Full support of our law enforcement and first responders is paramount to ensuring the safety of our city. The only proven method of combating the rise in gang violence is a well-supported law enforcement and steady commitment to prosecuting the violent offenders. Restoring order to our great city will require a comprehensive plan to go after the gangs.
PCD: Residents often raise concerns about clear-cutting and overdevelopment. What is your response when hearing this sentiment? How should the city respond to these complaints?
LW: It is no secret that Wilmington is growing — with a growth of 20% over the last 10 years and no indication that that trend will be slowing down, it is not a question of do we grow, but, rather, how can we grow sustainably and responsibly? The updated land development code is a good start that protects trees far more than our previous outdated code; however, it is a new document that will require considerable oversight as we continue to shape our community. By promoting adaptive reuse projects that not only provide much needed housing but also preserve the fabric of our city, we can ensure that we are growing both sustainably and responsibly.
PCD: Is our city prepared for the influx of growth that’s being predicted over the next 20 years? What are the top priorities you think must be addressed to prepare for the population increase?
LW: As we continue to grow, it becomes increasingly vital to elect leadership in our city that can communicate our needs not only with the county but with the state, namely NCDOT. By electing leadership that can communicate these needs, we can ensure that we receive the necessary infrastructure improvements to our roadways, highways and bridges that will be needed over the next 20-plus years.
PCD: How would you rate Wilmington’s job market? What can the city do to create more sustainable jobs?
LW: We are seeing growth in our area of higher paying jobs in industries like education, health care, research and technology. We should continue to not only cultivate these markets but also market our successes in tandem with other institutions and organizations. By marketing these successes we will show that we are a community dedicated to the economic success of our region and attract similar companies willing to grow with us.
We also need to continue to grow our film industry. This is not only a great job creator but a unique one to our region. We should work with county and state to ensure we not only keep the film industry in Wilmington but grow it.
We also need to continue to focus on and support collaborative efforts of our local school systems, CFCC, etc. to grow a workforce that will remain in Wilmington.
PCD: Would you approve an ordinance establishing a social district in downtown Wilmington? Why or why not? What provisions would you advocate for within the district?
LW: As long as the social district was well thought-out, had overwhelming approval from the citizens of Wilmington, and did not include any increase in taxes on the citizens of Wilmington, I would be in favor.
PCD: What changes, if any, would you make to the city’s current spending strategy for its $26 million in American Rescue Plan funds? Is there an initiative you would like to see funded? If so, which expenditure would you cut in its place?
LW: The rent payment and utility payment assistance plans brought forth from the ARP funds are going to those who most need them. I would advocate that the use of these funds continue to only be distributed to those citizens most in need of these funds.
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