The convention center, annexation, the Cape Fear Skyway Project are all issues important to voters in the Port City, and all issues the candidates for Wilmington mayor have strong opinions on.
Bill Saffo is running for his second full term as Wilmington mayor based, he says, on a commitment to results. “I look for things I feel that need to be done, and then I work like crazy to try and get them done. That’s my job as a mayor.”
Paul Knight wants that job, too. The general manager of radio station owner Sea-Comm Media, Knight says he’s running because he thinks the city’s current leadership does not listen to the people. “I believe I can do a better job at representing the people and not just be a politician.”
Knight says the biggest issue facing the Port City is fighting crime. He says the key is making sure police have the resources they need and use them wisely. “I believe we need to redirect this manpower and have some better supervision when they’re out in the field that gets them walking the streets and getting in front of the citizens and showing a presence.”
Saffo says there are big challenges ahead, especially when it comes to handling the city’s budget. “I think that we have to be very good stewards of the public’s money, and we need to continue also at the same time find ways to attract jobs here and to also implement the initiatives that the community voted for in may of 2006, like parks and transportation.”
Both men agree the Cape Fear Skyway Project is a needed addition to the area. They also agree that the convention center, scheduled to open in about a year, must have a full-service hotel, but their opinions differ strongly on annexation.
Saffo says any future annexation must be done on a scale that allows the city to serve the new area properly unlike, he says, what happened in 1998 when the city annexed a large area that included Saffo’s home.
Knight says no annexation will happen on his watch. “But I do believe in city-county consolidation.”
It’s a plan knight says, if done properly, will save property owners on their taxes in the long run.
There are also 11 people in the running for three open Wilmington City Council seats. The polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Early voting ends Saturday.