It is election time again! As we do anually, encore asked the candidates to answer questions related to their support for our local economy. We are in effect hiring people to manage our money and plan our future. Thus, if we do not ask them to think about and invest in our local economy, we cannot expect them to do it. Over the next few weeks, we will bring you interviews with many of the candidates. We ask you to read carefully and vote critically—but most importantly, vote on November 8th!
David Cignotti, current Mayor of Wrightsville Beach, is up for re-election. He took a few minutes to answer some questions for encore about his buy-local consciousness and interest in local investment.
encore: Are you familiar with either the Buy Local ILM movement or the national movement?
David Cignotti: I am familiar and support the philosophy behind these movements.
e: In our current economic climate, do you feel Buy Local is important to the Cape Fear region?
DC: Certainly, supporting local merchants contributes to a sustainable economy and employment.
e: How does your platform support small business, entrepreneurs and Buy Local?
DC: At Wrightsville Beach, I have always supported the “mom and pop” businesses that make up the majority of our town’s commercial base. I supported the creation of our local farmers’ market and have worked closely with the Wrightsville Beach Merchants Association. I will continue to do my best to create a positive business environment at the beach.
e: Is it important for our government and educational institutions (UNCW, community colleges, school system) to source from our local or regional area?
DC: It makes sense to me as long as it is financially feasible.
e: Do you support policy to reinforce it?
DC: I do not support mandating a policy at this time.
e: Do you frequent farmers’ markets, and what are your thoughts on the place of agriculture within our local economy?
DC: I frequent the Wrightsville Beach Farmers’ Market where I have enjoyed the best peaches and tomatoes all summer long! Since NHC is an urban county, I believe any concerted efforts to support agricultural growth locally needs to include the tri-county area. Basically, it makes sense to grow products in the surrounding counties (i.e. Pender and Brunswick counties both have large agricultural bases) and make efforts to sell the products here in NHC since this is the most populated area.
e: What percentage of your consumer spending do you dedicate toward locally owned businesses (farms and foods included)? Chain stores and restaurants? Shopping on the Internet?
DC: I don’t have a percentage, but for years my wife and I have enjoyed eating out and purchasing goods from our local businesses at the beach. Of course, I do buy some items from chain stores and, occasionally, buy items on the Internet.
e: What is your position on film incentives?
DC: I believe in film incentives as long as the incentive is cost effective and helps to boost the local economy.
e: What is your position on incentives to attract new businesses to our area?
DC: I believe the best incentive is to create a community that boasts a fair tax rate, a clean environment, a great school system, good roads and ample recreational activities. A well-planned community will lessen the need to offer incentives.
e: Do you support any sort of tax breaks or rewards for existing small businesses that provide jobs and pay into the tax base?
DC: As stated earlier, I believe the best reward or incentive is a well planned community that is highly attractive to both residents and visitors.
e: What are your thoughts regarding the collection and remittance of sales tax by large online retailers back to states and eventually municipalities like ours? Should they be forced to comply with sales tax collection?
DC: I have not been involved with this issue, but it does make sense that online retailers should face the same sales tax requirements as our local merchants.
e: Does the Town of Wrightsville Beach currently purchase local or regional goods (i.e., office, building and cleaning supplies, etc.)?
DC: We purchase local supplies when possible but as stewards of the public’s tax dollars, we are bound to purchase the most reasonably priced products.
e: Are small businesses important to the vibrancy of Wrightsville Beach?
DC: The success of our family-owned businesses is crucial to maintaining our town’s identity. Throughout our town’s long history (incorporated in 1899), our merchants have provided services that have been enjoyed by both residents and visitors. Without them, we would simply exist as a large residential development—not the thriving coastal beach town that exists today.