Candidates file on July 5

by Cole Dittmer and Sam Wilson
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

With the candidate filing window for the town of Wrightsville Beach and city of Wilmington opening from July 5-19, elected officials and citizens have begun to announce their intentions for soon-to-be open seats. 

In the town of Wrightsville Beach three elected offices will be up for grabs including two seats on the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen occupied by Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson and Susan Collins, as well as the office of Mayor. Two-term Wrightsville Beach Mayor David Cignotti announced his decision not to run for re-election on April 20. 

Bill Blair, former alderman and planning board member, announced to Lumina News on Tuesday, July 2 that he would run for mayor in the Nov. 5 election. 

“I thought about it and I have had a fair amount of folks encourage me to do it,” Blair said. “There are some things on the beach I would like to have a shot at working on, like a long-term solution to beach renourishment, and trying to get a grip on the new federal flood insurance rates and how the town of Wrightsville Beach can attack that.” 

Another potential candidate for mayor is current Mayor Pro Tem Bill Sisson, who said he is definitely filing for either the alderman or mayoral vacancy. Sisson said his multiple board experience would serve him well as mayor. 

“I have certainly put my time in as alderman to learn how the town works and what running it is all about,” Sisson said. “I also have experience at the county level from my years on the board of commissioners and two different planning boards.”

One thing Sisson said he would work on if he runs for and is elected mayor is to make sure the aldermen are active on other appointed committees. 

“My feeling is the mayor and the aldermen should share those responsibilities,” he said. “I don’t think being an alderman means you hold down a chair once a month and maybe or maybe not go to any other committee meetings you are assigned to.”

Alderwoman Susan Collins, whose term will also expire at the end of this year, said she has not decided whether or not she will file but that she is considering both offices. 

“It is such an honor to serve the town and right now I am talking to my family and constituents but I am not ready to make an announcement yet,” Collins said. “I have to be sure about where I am going. I am considering all possibilities.”

On the other side of the Intracoastal Waterway, current Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and two of the three sitting Councilmembers up for reelection have confirmed that they will seek another term this November.

Councilman Charlie Rivenbark confirmed that he would seek a fourth four-year term in office, citing several ongoing issues including the Convention Center hotel, along with the upcoming appointments for directors of Wilmington Downtown, Inc., and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. Mayor Pro-Tem Earl Sheridan intends to focus on housing, job creation, and safety issues, which have received considerable attention in the midst of last month’s spike in gang violence. He will be running for a third term in office.

Councilman Kevin O’Grady, who would be seeking a second term, was less clear about his intentions, citing election laws that would require him to file his paperwork within 10 days of making such a statement. Instead, he merely said that he “will wait to file,” implying that he ultimately would do so.

Rob Zapple, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners last year, indicated that he is also considering throwing his hat in the ring for City Council. While Zapple would not officially declare his intentions, he admitted that he had received “a lot of positive encouragement,” and will make a decision within the next couple of weeks.

Mayor Bill Saffo will be running for a fourth two-year term. He is the longest-serving Mayor of Wilmington since Don Betz, who held the position from 1987 to 1997. 

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