Kure Beach Candidates Attend October 21st Forum

Kure Beach Candidates Attend October 21st Forum Featured

By / Local News / Saturday, 31 October 2015 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce hosted a Visions and Views Candidates Forum on Wednesday October 21st at the Kure Beach Community Center to give candidates an opportunity to meet the voting public and answer questions on a range of topics.
Incumbent council candidate David Heglar and candidate Joseph Whitley made opening statements, but since the other candidate withdrew from the race for two seats, Heglar and Whitley cut it short to give more time to the candidates for Mayor incumbent Dean Lambeth and Council member Emilie Swearingen. The two Mayoral candidates answered questions covering a wide range of topics including storm water improvements, parking issues, beach nourishment funding and seismic testing for exploration of off shore oil and gas drilling.
On the topic of seismic testing, Swearingen said, "There aren't many people in Kure Beach that don't already know I'm opposed to off shore oil. I have spoken before congress twice... in opposition to seismic testing."
Lambeth said, "Seismic testing in and of itself is not that big a deal. It's used to make sure we have compatible sand for nourishing our beaches which we all want. It's used to map the ocean floor... it's used to make sure the proper location for wind farms are applicable." He said the Obama administration has supported off shore drilling. He said, "I don't particularly care for off shore drilling but seismic testing does not hurt any animal any way and that's what we need recognized."
Swearingen said she brought articles to the forum showing the harm such testing can cause to marine life by using extremely loud blasts of air from devices towed behind ships to bounce the sound off the ocean floor searching for oil and gas deposits. She said, "One way it's used is by our Navy and one judge in California has already forbidden the Navy from using seismic testing off the coast because it is so dangerous" to marine life.
Lambeth has previously stated he supports off shore drilling for oil because it could generate revenues for local governments. He said he relies on the expert testimony of the people using the technology for over 30 years and, "They have never found any animals hurt from this."
Both candidates addressed questions about beach nourishment. In response to a recent questionnaire, Swearingen commented, "We should never stop working with Congress and federal staff to insure we have beach nourishment funding, until our federal contract expires in 2045 and beyond; and to have our inlets classified as transportation highways by federal and state officials. We need to work with our legislators be sure our State funding remains for our island and inlet, regardless of whether federal funding is available. By November we will know what local funding options will be considered by the County. I will work closely with county staff and commissioners to insure our residents are NOT stuck with responsibility of paying an unreasonable amount for beach protection, while county residents continue to enjoy Kure Beach at no cost."
Lambeth recently commented, "I have been opposed to the Inter-local agreement that puts an undue burden on the beach town populations.  We already fund the infrastructure to maintain the beach and the in-season guests without the support of any county funding.  The ROT that pays for our renourishment also covers advertising, county salaries and is not self-sustaining.  An ad hoc committee of the beach town managers and the clerk of Kure Beach will present our county commissioners their best thoughts and ideas on funding beach renourishment to make it self-sustaining.    All the county beach mayors have met the TDA Board and county representatives, including Chris Coudrot and staff, to offer multiple alternatives to beach funding; none were readily accepted. On inlet dredging funding, Representative Davis was successful in obtaining funds from the unincorporated areas of the county for a one-time, million dollar inlet dredging. We were to split  2/3 of the funds for TDA and 1/3 to inlet dredging.   This is unfair and should be addressed at the legislative level."
To listen to audio of the forum, please visit www.islandgazette.net  on Thursday October 29th.

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