Saturday, July 13, 2024

Municipal Elections 2023: Deb LeCompte looks to retain CB council seat

CAROLINA BEACH — Deb LeCompte is seeking reelection for a seat on Carolina Beach Town Council. She was appointed to fill the vacant council seat left when Carolina Beach Mayor Lynn Barbee was elected to his role in 2021. LaCompte ran for city council that year but was beat out by Mike Hoffer by 18 votes.

Running unaffiliated, LeCompte is retired after owning her own small business, Sunrise Express Laundry, for 20 years.

This year LaCompte is up against two other candidates — Jay Healy and Danny McLaughlin — for two open seats.

PCD asked candidates to address issues pertinent to their municipalities, covering issues such as balancing growth and infrastructure, traffic and tourism, parking and climate change impacts.

LeCompte’s answers are included in full; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

The paywall has been dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots can be requested through Oct. 31 and must be returned Nov. 7 (or post-marked as such).
  • Registration to vote will be open until Oct. 13; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration will be available only during one-stop early voting.
  • Early voting begins Oct. 19 and remains open through Nov. 4 (3 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 7, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

To vote early in New Hanover County, visit the Northeast Library (1241 Military Cutoff Road). From Oct. 28 to Nov. 4, voters can also go to CFCC Health Sciences and Learning Center (415 Second St.), Carolina Beach Town Hall (1121 Lake Park Blvd.) and the NHC Senior Center (2222 S. College Road).

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their voter registration card, or verified here.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

Port City Daily (PCD): Have you ever run for a government position before? If so, give us details: What, when, where, outcome? If not, what makes you qualified for a town council position?

Deb LeCompte (DL): I am currently serving as a Town Council Member after being appointed to fill the seat vacated by Lynn Barbee when he was elected Mayor in 2021. I ran for Carolina Beach Town Council in 2021 and fell short by a dozen votes.

PCD: Why run for town council now?

DL: As a current Town Council Member, I am exceptionally pleased with the accomplishments we have made as a town over the last two years and there is more work to be done.

We have developed a strategic plan, as well as an infrastructure plan. There are several projects that are underway and others that will be starting soon. I want to see these projects through to completion.

PCD: Name three issues you think are most affecting the town currently and describe how you would work toward tackling them.

DL: Updating and upgrading our infrastructure is my number one priority because this is simply a matter of public health and safety. We now have a plan in place and will continue to move forward.

Continuing to build public trust in our town’s governance. We are making great strides in the right direction by implementing quarterly open houses and adding additional public hearings for our annual budget season. One of my ideas is to add an annual State of Town address to be given by our Town Manager.

As a vacation destination, our town is not unique in the fact that we have a shortage of workforce housing. We must have an open dialogue with our county partners and develop a viable plan for bringing workforce housing and reliable public transportation to the southern end of New Hanover County.P

PCD: Where do you see the balance of accommodating tourists and other locals outside Carolina Beach and ensuring island residents’ concerns are addressed? 

DL: We must nurture a vibrant economy, an exceptional quality of life for our residents, and a strong sense of community pride. By partnering with our Island’s Chamber of Commerce to attract sustainable businesses that will cater to both residents and visitors we remain a great place to live, work and raise a family while continuing to be a year-round family vacation destination.

PCD: What is your long-term vision for parking and transportation on Carolina Beach? How would you approach a rate increase? How will you tackle reducing traffic on the island or addressing infrastructure needs?

DL: My long-term vision for parking and transportation is that we continue to implement our master bike and pedestrian plan while continuing to explore and develop a viable multimodal transportation plan. Rate increases would have to be properly discussed with public input and vetted data to support any proposed increases.

The only way we reduce traffic is to encourage residents and visitors to limit their use of motor vehicles once here by giving them safe and convenient alternatives like walking, biking, or public transportation. Public infrastructure to support more parking is not viable and would only create more congestion.

PCD: Off-island residents have asked for a parking pass option, which the town agreed to allowing a seven-day pass for $100 last year. Do you support offering off-island residents season passes instead of in seven-day increments? Why or why not?

DL: No, I do not support non-resident passes. Non-resident passes are not sustainable due to the limited number of public parking spaces. Our residents who have invested in Carolina Beach should not have to compete for parking with non-residents who do not pay taxes to support the services provided by our town.

PCD: What is your long-term vision for development in Carolina Beach? Are there any types, residential or otherwise, you think will not fit in Carolina Beach? 

DL: We recently went through the arduous process of updating and adopting our Land Use Plan. That is our overriding guide. Our Table of Permitted Uses indicates what is allowable by right. Each project must be considered on its own merits and how it benefits the town and residents.

PCD: As evidence shows, climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of storms and hurricanes, along with sea level rise, what should the town do to protect residents, property and infrastructure?

DL: It is very important that we maintain open dialogue while continuing to build upon our relationships with our county, state, and federal partners to insure funding sources and continual Coastal Storm Damage Reduction (Beach Renourishment). Our beach and dune system are crucial for the protection of residents, property, and infrastructure.

PCD: With a $70-million wish list of projects, do you support having to impose annual rate increases on utilities for residents to pay for future infrastructure needs?

DL: I do not consider it a “wish list” but a critical list of projects to insure our sustainability. Our utilities operate as an Enterprise Fund which means it cannot be subsidized with property taxes or other forms of revenue. Unfortunately, rate increases are necessary for upgrades and updates to our water and sewer. It is an investment in our future. As residents, we are not the customer, we are the investors in our future.

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