Island Gazette Candidate's Corner: Lynn Barbee For Carolina Beach Mayor

Island Gazette Candidate's Corner: Lynn Barbee For Carolina Beach Mayor

Island Gazette Candidate's Corner: Lynn Barbee For Carolina Beach Mayor Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 26 October 2021 18:44

Island Gazette: We are heading into an election for council, can you give us the inside scoop of being a council member in CB?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: Council is all about teamwork.  Unlike in the private sector where a leader can form their own team and surround themselves with individuals of complementary skills, Council members are elected.  We come from all walks of life, all levels of education and experience. The outgoing council worked hard to put their ego’s aside, drop their personal agendas and work together.  This allowed this council to hit the ground running immediately in Dec 2019.  That is what’s most critical, open-minded individuals, good listeners, who want to work together for their town.

Island Gazette: What was the biggest surprise for you after you were sworn in?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: The serious limitations on municipal government by the state.  Council cannot tackle many if the initiatives residents want.  We can only work within the legal framework given to us.  To make the change at the state level takes years to accomplish, often longer than most local officials’ tenure.  We must stick to a consistent vision that transcends any one council.

Island Gazette: You mentioned this council getting off to a fast start in 2019.  What do you see as the major accomplishments of this 2019-2021 Council? 

Councilman Lynn Barbee: The results are quite remarkable.  COVID helped the town and council focus.  Not a single meeting or workshop was missed.  I think we all learned how to be effective with technology and many meetings moved online.  We continued to meet with County, State and Federal partners as usual but in a more focused fashion with less travel time and distraction.  As for accomplishments, the list is very long, but we stabilized the town administration by hiring a town manager almost immediately.  Working with him and his team, we were able to navigate COVID and ensure that our first responders and employees were kept safe and healthy.  Council immediately went to work on beach nourishment by appointing Councilman Shuttleworth to continue his work, ensuring we renewed our permitting.  We stabilized the turnover in the police department. Mayor Pro Tem Healy has led the charge on a renewed relationship with MOTSU. Lastly, we have put the town on a significantly better financial footing by growing our reserve funds.  These were the top goals in 2019.

Councilman Lynn Barbee: I’d like to add that navigating COVID was not easy.  We fall under the county health department, and as many know the information was changing rapidly.  I must give tremendous credit to Mayor Pierce.  While we consulted on most every matter, she was the face of the town and much of the weight was on her shoulders.  I have heard it said that Mayor Pierce didn’t have the opportunity she deserved as Mayor.  I disagree.  I think Mayor Pierce was the exact leader for the time.  It has been an honor to serve with her.

Island Gazette: What has been the biggest disappointment?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: The Lake Dredge Project.  I remember when running for office thinking “How hard can this be?”.  I remember sitting in with the engineering firms listening to them explain hydraulic pressure, sloughing off of sand-based structures, and transportation of a slurry type material.  It was an eye opener to how difficult this project would be.  I am happy to report that the project is moving, it is just way more complicated than we knew.  It’ll get done.

Island Gazette: Some residents have commented that their quality of life is diminishing?  How do you reassure them?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: Change is hard.  I remember earlier times of great change, when subdivisions like Carolina Sands were built.  I remember the Condo boom in the early 80’s.  Change is inevitable.  Many years ago, I was reminiscing about the glory days to a visiting friend.  He said something that stuck with me, “Nothing will stay the same over time, it will change, that doesn’t mean it is not fantastic, just different”.  I learned to separate my pining for the past from objective observations about today.  We live in the best town.  We have a community with a huge heart.  Our quality of life is top shelf.  Let’s not lose sight of that.  We need to celebrate that and let it fuel us thru the coming years.  It is Fantastic!

Island Gazette: With the pressure of change that we all feel, how are we going to navigate thru this growth period without losing what we have?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: Our quality of life is provided by a symbiotic relationship among the businesses, residents, and our visitors.  It’s a three-legged chair.  If one fails, the chair falls over.  I have lived here when businesses were closed after Labor Day.  Trust me the quality of life is impacted when going OTB is your only option.  If the tourists stop coming, the businesses are hard to sustain year-round.  So, we need to embrace them.  Without the taxes tourist pay, the tax burden on residents would make it more difficult for many to live here.  We need each other.

Island Gazette: Can you be a little more specific?

Councilman Lynn Barbee: We must adjust and stabilize the revenue streams that provide town services.  Highest priority for me is relaxing the use constraints on the room occupancy tax.  Visitors are paying significant taxes, but we have been restricted by the state on how we can spend it.  We need amenities and services to make sure our visitors have a quality experience here.  We need to adapt to the changing times.  Second, as the county grows, we are not going to be able to handle every visitor.  We just can’t.  We are full now on peak weekends.  This is a problem we have never had.  For most of my life every possible visitor was wanted.  We need to ensure that everyone is paying their share and it is applied to the services they utilize or benefit from.

Island Gazette: Any parting words for residents as we look forward to electing the next council?

Councilman Lynn Barbee:  Love where you live!  We are more alike than different.  Lift your head up from some of the tactical issues and remember to enjoy what we have here.  Democracy works.  Vote your conscious and the next council will be fine.

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