Here we are—another local election campaign nears. New and familiar faces alike have been filing to fill three Wilmington City Council seats. Mack Coyle, Alexandria Monroe, Scott Monroe, Harry Smith Jr., Kimberly Spader, Kevin Spears, and Matt Thrift are on the ballot, and up for re-election are Margaret Haynes, Paul Lawler and Neil Anderson. Also, Devon Scott announced his run against Mayor Saffo, who has held his seat since 2006.
In coming weeks, encore will reach out to all candidates to get their thoughts and views on top-of-mind issues concerning our city. First up is Scott Monroe, former Marine and senior vice president for Barnacle Parking Enforcement.
encore (e): Tell us why you decided to run for council. Why now?
Scott Monroe (SM): I take great pride in our city. My wife and I settled here because of the people and beauty of Wilmington. It’s the perfect city, not too big, not too small.
I am passionate about maintaining our city’s character and beauty while being part of the team that develops thoughtful public policy. I spent seven years serving our city as a professional firefighter. I saw the good, bad and ugly; from where we spent our money (or didn’t), our infrastructure, and the social issues affecting our city. I want to work to enhance and remedy the issues I saw.
e: What qualifies you to run for council?
SM: I have extensive experience as a leader in both government and the private sector. As an officer in the Marine Corps (four years active duty and nine in the reserves) I have led Marines in a variety of roles from company commander, operations officer, and a Battalion executive officer. The challenges and experiences from my time with the Marines has built who I am today.
As a Wilmington firefighter, I became intimately familiar with the city’s inner workings. I saw the budgetary process in action, procurement actions and leadership decisions.
On the streets I was witness to traumatic situations that were often a result of violence, poverty, or the opioid epidemic. My understanding of what our city needs is rooted in this intimate knowledge.
Two years ago, I left WFD to help run a technology start-up. Now we are a rapidly growing business with customers in 37 states and 10 countries. The lessons gleaned from my time in the private sector has instilled important values that will serve me on Council.
The city’s budget, procurement, and development decisions would be made by someone who knows what it takes to run a successful business. Our local businesses are the backbone of the community. I understand their needs and struggles. I look forward to developing thoughtful public policy to give them the environment they need to succeed.
e: What do you think businesses need to succeed more in our city?
SM: In my civilian work I have become accustomed to reading ordinances and state laws related to parking and parking enforcement. I have felt firsthand the pain that over-regulation and overly complicated municipal code causes. I will work to simplify our ordinances and make sure they are easy to understand and apply.
e: What do you like about what our council is doing and what do you think needs to be improved upon?
SM: Council has done very well maintaining the city’s budget and “rainy day fund.” They prepared us well for the financial aftermath of the hurricane. They have also done well in recent years developing many stretches of roads like Eastwood and Independence. I look forward to sitting with the council to further refine development in the city.
We have many great developers in our town creating beautiful projects; however, I think we can always be better at ensuring they truly are building projects worthy of our city. And I think we can all agree that our city has built enough self-storage facilities!
e: What building projects would you like to see exactly? And what about our citizens? What kind of thoughtful public policy should we consider?
SM: Let’s continue to create density, walkability, and “bikeability” in the city’s main communities. Well-designed density with mixed-use properties will improve quality of life for our citizens.
I would like to work toward enhancing each individual community around the city. This would encourage/allow residents to live/work/play within their specific area of town. I am really excited about the redevelopment efforts on areas like Castle Street, The Cargo District, Wrightsville Avenue, and Pine Valley—the more unique the better!
e: What are top-of-mind concerns you have for our city and how do you plan to address them?
SM: Smart and beautiful development is of utmost importance. I want green spaces, set-backs and signage restrictions. I want power lines buried and to fully support the city’s tree program. Overall, our city is beautiful. However, we all know there are many sections that could use significant improvement.
Public safety is an essential role of government. I will work tirelessly to refine and support our police and fire department, 911 system, and emergency medical services. I will ensure our citizens are safe, and we are prepared for the next big hurricane.
Workforce housing, affordable housing is necessary for the continued successful growth of our city. Without housing available to all Wilmington’s residents regardless of income, we will not grow in-line with our values.
Many of us complain about traffic. One major contributor to the traffic is that so many are forced to commute from Brunswick and Pender counties where they can afford to live. I would support programs for developers who can create affordable housing.
e: What are your thoughts on the current noise-ordinance regulations the council is trying to rewrite?
SM: I support a thoughtful, but simplified noise-ordinance. Homeowners and businesses need support from the city to ensure their property is not negatively affected by extreme noise. I am cognizant of the needs of venues to have live music events. So, we should have common-sense rules with decibel levels parameters that makes sense. I am eager to better understand this issue while hearing from both sides.
e: Do you have new ideas in approaching our water crisis and other environmental concerns our residents face?
SM: I will always vote in support of policy that protects our environment. I would ensure our stormwater services department is properly funded and managed. Zoning decisions, site plan reviews, development of green spaces, and holding violators accountable for failure to manage their runoff would be of utmost importance.
e: Any ideas on how the city should help combat climate change in our coastal town?
SM: We should develop and zone in a way that can reduce traffic. Fewer idling cars, means less pollution Let’s work to build-out communities in each part of the city to reduce the need to cross town. We should carefully consider the effect of new development on traffic when deciding what should be built. Our infrastructure, design of intersections, and technology can help in the effort to improve traffic.
e: Where do you stand on tax incentives, say for historic property renovation?
SM: Our historic properties are essential to the city’s character. The residents and business owners that step up and spend the money to maintain these properties should be applauded. I would support the Historic Preservation Commission to ensure they have the support needed to function at a high-level. I am in favor of the federal and state tax incentives currently provided.
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?
SM: As a Wilmington firefighter I became intimately familiar with all of the city’s neighborhoods. I have met and become friends with residents in all parts of the city. My wife has treated cardiac patients as a nurse and nurse practitioner in the city for over a decade. I live in Pine Valley, I work in The Cargo District (Queen and 17th), and my son goes to the International School at Gregory (11th and Ann). I have a strong passion to create an inclusive community and lead a government which serves all equally.
Have followup questions for Scott Monroe? Be sure to ask on the online article, and we will see that Mr. Monroe 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.
Read all candidate interviews here.