Thirty-year-old Joshua Fulton certainly isn’t running for Wilmington city council to impress his parents. “I’m not even sure they know I’m running,” he replied when asked if his pursuit of the seat was something he had been encouraged to do. This oddity can reasonably explain his frenetic schedule.
A third-year graduate student from UNCW, Fulton writes, assists in teaching and spends a significant portion of his free time talking to people in town-hall-style meetings. At one of those very gatherings, held on April 26th in the Northeast Public Library in Wilmington, Fulton comfortably spoke at length to a small group while demonstrating—through use of visual aides, nonetheless—what he believes to be gross monetary mismanagements committed by the current city council. He outlined three “key issues” central to his campaign: transparency in government, high taxes and unfair zoning ordinances.
In essence, Fulton wants the local government to be held accountable for every action it takes. He aims to save each Wilmington citizen $500 a year in taxes while simultaneously balancing the budget. He also seeks to revise the tedious zoning codes that “inhibit a free-market economy.”
Yes, most of these issues are standard fare for fiscal conservatives like Fulton, but his arguments against overspending could not come at a more opportune time. For months now, media coverage has put the national budget crisis in the spotlight. Balancing budgets, controlling spending and creating accountability are topics that fall from many lips—Fulton included. Currently, he admits to running a campaign with only $300 in his bank account.
Fulton’s website (www.fultonforcitycouncil.com) positions the candidate on 15 key issues, with copious links to supporting documents, and a succinct demonstration of the positions of the three incumbent council members poised for re-election. Included is the oft-debated issue of the red-light enforcement cameras. Fulton is against them, citing research that they can lead to more rear-end collisions. He is also opposed to forced-annexation, the Skyway Bridge proposal, the government’s development of the Inland Golf Course and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.
However, Fulton’s views are not entirely negative in nature. “I’d like to see more police officers on the streets,” he added, after showing Wilmington’s controversial standing as the 97th most crime-ridden city in the United States (published by CQ press; November, 2010).
When Fulton describes his positions regarding Wilmington’s current financial condition, it is with the passion and panic of a Libertarian. Yet, he’s running for city council as a Republican.
“This is embarrassing and maybe too candid,” he said, “but Ron Paul is the one political figure that I would cry for if he passed away. I would go to his funeral.”
In a follow-up interview, Fulton was rather forthright about his life before Wilmington. His early career as a stand-up and improvisational comedian seems unexpected, but that revelation explained the casual ease with which he presents himself to audiences.
During the town-hall meeting, one aged attendee announced, “If you don’t do what you say you’ll do, you know you’re out of there.”
Mr. Fulton didn’t respond defensively. “I know.”