As another local election campaign nears, new and familiar faces have been filing to fill three Wilmington City Council seats. Mack Coyle, Harry Smith Jr., Kimberly Spader, Kevin Spears, Scott Monroe and Matt Thrift are on the ballot, and up for re-election are Margaret Haynes, Paul Lawler and Neil Anderson (Alexandria Monroe pulled out of the race).
encore has reached out to candidates to get their thoughts and views on top-of-mind issues concerning our city (read them all here). This week we chat with Matt Thrift, who is running for council.
encore (e): Tell us why you decided to run for council. Why now? And what qualifies you to run for council?
Matt Thrift (MT): I served in the Marine Corps as an NCO. I served in Fallujah and Ramadi, Iraq. I ran a small business. I taught high school for two years. I have relevant experience.
Wilmington is growing rapidly and what often happens in a rapidly developing city is you end up with a city council which is indistinguishable from certain interests.
For example, Charlotte City Council could just change their name to Bank of America. They’re puppets.
Many citizens of Wilmington believe this is the case here. People have joked we could cut out the middleman and simply have developers take seats in city council. Feel free to vote me in instead.
e: What do you like about what our council is doing and what do you think needs to be improved upon?
MT: The city does some things right, like historic preservation. I’m not sure how much credit should go to city council. They could cut spending.
e: What are top-of-mind concerns you have for our city and how do you plan to address them?
MT: There is too much violence. The police need to be adequately supported and once this occurs, they need to be held accountable.
I saw a high-school girl stab another girl at Riverfest. I saw a woman dying in the mall parking lot from a gunshot wound. I hear gunshots too often.
Homeless [people] in the streets are unacceptable. Parts of downtown and surrounding areas have become default homeless shelters.
Citizens in low-income neighborhoods can’t take their kids to the park without worrying about stepping on syringes or exposing them to disgusting behavior from inebriated adults.
Librarians shouldn’t have to tell random drunks who take over the library to turn their phones down and risk being bitten by enraged, Hep-C-infected degenerates.
Sanitation and environmental issues should improve incrementally and measurably.
Many people are struggling with increasing costs of housing and rent. We need to do what we can to maintain the conditions in the market favorable to affordable housing. At the same time, we need to manage growth with careful consideration. The citizens of Wilmington need to make the decisions on these issues, not any one interest.
e: How would you propose helping our homeless population and getting them off the streets?
MT: I’m meeting with some people who have had extensive experience in missionary work in every corner of the world this weekend. We are discussing possibilities for relocating every last (long term) homeless individual near Asheville.
This missionary, Jimbo Jones, wants to create a commune where they will live productively, sustainably, and socially justifiably, together with a common goal. As Jimbo Jones points out, homelessness is an aberration. It’s not something we simply have to accept and it’s not reality everywhere.
I’m going to be discussing this further and in detail over the weekend. The funds appear to be there to get started.
e: What are your ideas to ensure affordable housing is a reality and not just a theory we discuss?
MT: As far as affordable housing, we need to do what we can to ensure that the market keeps up with demand. If supply falls short, we get high prices.
e: What are your thoughts on the current noise-ordinance regulations the council is trying to rewrite?
MT: A new noise ordinance needs to be clear and fair, and it doesn’t appear that any proposals have met these criteria so far.
I would want more input from everyone affected. It’s my understanding that some businesses are not happy with what has been proposed so far and I’d want to hear more specifics from them. In other words, I don’t know.
e: Do you have new ideas in approaching our water crisis and other environmental concerns our residents face?
MT: There are new technologies and techniques coming out regularly to improve our environment. At my business, we upgraded our water system to be run on electrolysis. It is satisfying to know you’ve cut out some of those testosterone and IQ-lowering chemicals from your life. If we stay up to date on these technologies and techniques, and offer encouragement to businesses and households to adopt them, I don’t think it would take much nudging.
e: Any ideas on how the city should help combat climate change in our coastal town?
MT: There are many of these technologies and techniques I would like to implement in our infrastructure depending on their feasibility. For example, in Sweden, they’ve been experimenting with treated white paint to apply to roads and roofs. They’ve found it can have significant effects on temperature overall. It’s been used effectively by the military and Los Angeles (not normally a place I would want to emulate).
I think we can also improve sanitation services in general. It’s a matter of setting goals and executing.
e: Where do you stand on tax incentives, say for historic property renovation, or in any other fashion?
MT: I’m all for tax incentives for improving our environment and historic preservation.
e: How do you plan to represent all the citizens in Wilmington? How, for example, will you connect with people who do not live and work in your comfort zone/neighborhood?
MT: I’m an introvert and a good listener. I have no comfort zone. I am open to all.
Have follow-up questions for Matt Thrift? Be sure to leave a comment on the online article, and we will see he receives and answers them for you. His responses will be posted below the article until election day, Tuesday, November 5.
One-stop voting for the municipal elections begins on Wednesday, October 16, and will conclude on Friday, November 1.