2021 Election: Darryl Mills running for re-election as Wrightsville Beach Mayor

Wrightsville Beach Mayor Darryl Mills (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wrightsville Beach)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH –– Darryl Mills is running again to be named mayor of Wrightsville Beach. He was elected in 2019 after a long stint on the town’s board of aldermen. His challenger is Greg Buscemi.

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.

Mills’ 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

Darryl Mills — Republican

  • Education:  B.A. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;  J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina
  • Job Title:  Lawyer;  Mayor of Wrightsville Beach, N.C.
  • Experience: Two terms on the Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman;  three terms as Mayor Pro Tem of Wrightsville Beach;  presently serving a Mayor of Wrightsville Beach;  38 years lawyer in private practice
  • Family: Entire family lives in the area, including two children and one grandchild

Port City Daily (PCD): What are your top three priorities, if elected?
Daryll Mills (DM): (i) continue to replace and improve the ageing infrastructure;  (ii) continue to work with county, state and federal agencies and elected officials to continue the beach nourishment program; (iii) continue to examine the operation of the beach, the staff and facilities (such as parking) and consider ways to improve the quality of life at Wrightsville Beach for the residents and the visitors.

PCD: Wrightsville Beach has developed a reputation for being an exclusionary two islands. Do you see that as a fair characterization? What do you think caused that idea to come about?
DM: Anyone who has spent time at Wrightsville Beach will attest to the fact that it clearly is not exclusionary. We have a very diverse group of visitors to the beach on a regular basis. We welcome everyone who will honor and respect each other and our laws and our ordinances. We are a small, family-oriented beach.  So to characterize our beach as exclusionary is a mischaracterization and simply not the truth. I cannot speculate as to the genesis of such an inaccurate and unfair claim.

PCD: Is Wrightsville Beach business-friendly? Why or why not?
DM: There are a number of successful small businesses that operate at Wrightsville Beach. Ultimately, the market determines what businesses will survive and thrive regardless of location. We welcome any business that conforms to the laws and ordinances of the town.

PCD: What is your long-term vision for the parking infrastructure on the beach? Do you foresee a continuing rise in rates?
DM: Parking is one of the issues that we continually monitor and assess as indicated above. While there seems to be an ever-increasing demand for more parking, we are limited geographically and must consider the burden on our staff and resources to meet the demand. There are no plans to increase the parking rates.

PCD: With regard to transportation, what are the NCDOT projects, planned and potential, that would be of most concern to you? What sort of long-term transportation improvement projects do you plan to advocate for?
DM: As hopefully everyone knows the main traffic arteries to and from the beach (such as Causeway Drive, Salisbury Street, Waynick Drive and North and South Lumina Avenue) are state owned. The town does not own those rights-of-way and so the town is limited as to what it can do relative to the upkeep, maintenance and replacement of the streets/roads. That said, we have been requesting that NCDOT undertake to resurface those roads where necessary particularly Causeway Drive. 

Another issue has been the access to and from the Wrightsville Beach Elementary School, specifically the area where Causeway Drive and Coral Drive intersect. While the beach is not ultimately responsible for the traffic and safety issue that has developed, it is a situation that the beach is very concerned about and we have asked the New Hanover Board of Education and the NCDOT, the entities who have the jurisdiction and authority to address the problem, to step up and do so. We have continued to offer whatever assistance that we can provide. 

PCD: Are there new practices you plan to advocate for that would improve Wrightsville Beach’s ability to accommodate the increasing demand of the summer seasons?
DM: I believe that this question has been somewhat addressed by my previous answers above relative to parking and monitoring the operation of the town with an eye to improving operations. We are always considering options and methods to improve (hopefully) the operation of the town while preserving the special character of Wrightsville Beach that we enjoy.

PCD: What new factors of life — whether it be Covid-19, changing society, technology or something else — have changed life on the beach? How will the beach need to continue to adapt and evolve? 
DM: We must always be aware of and take into consideration any major external factors and developments (such as the pandemic).  If anything the pandemic has led to increased traffic to the beach and we must take that into account in budget planning, resource allocation, services and facilities operation and maintenance.  This will continue to be the case for the town moving forward.

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