Candidate Questionnaire: Alicia Hawley For Surf City Council
1. What are your greatest strengths and skill set that will make you a good elected official?
Over the past 20 years living in the Surf City area I have gotten to know the community and its people. I think a part of being a good elected official is the ability to listen to your community members and understand what their needs are for the community. Then be able to turn those needs into viable solutions to take to the council and be able to work together to find a result that works for the majority. A good council member should also be able to help communicate information back out to our community so that they understand current events and projects and how they will effect everyone in our community. As a person working in marketing communication is a big part of what I do and I am looking forward to helping improve that between the town and its residents and visitors.
2. Is there a particular issue that motivated you to run for office?
As a parent of an elementary aged child I have seen the growth in our population specifically with young families. However, when you look at the current seated council members this is a demographic that is lacking from our elected officials. I plan to be the voice of those young families and make sure that their wants and needs are taken into consideration when the council makes decisions for our community.
3. Do you currently or have you ever held an elected office before, and if so, what office?
I served as the Surf City Elementary PTA President for two years which was the max term limit. I am still a member at large for the board for the PTA as well. I was also voted in as Treasurer for Triton Village Homeowners Assocation.
4. As an elected official you will have to make decisions regarding zoning. What, if any, is your experience with zoning and how will it benefit the voters if you are elected?
I have made it a point to learn as much as possible over the last year by going to the Town Council and Planning Board meetings. I think we have done a great thing by implementing the new Comprehensive Land Use Plan. I feel by holding to the new rules and regulations we have set in place we can continue to make our growth in Surf City meaningful. I have also seen first hand how some zoning regulations do not benefit community members like the ability to have gates and the requirement for a second entrance/exit to new communities over a certain number of homesites. Rules like this force pre-existing communities to have an open flow of traffic to their neighborhood by pre-existing easements with no ability for the current communities to hold the new ones accountable for maintenance. I would like to see some of these rules modified to take all communities into consideration. I understand that the purpose is safety but we have to make sure we look at the whole picture as well.
5. Traffic is a major issue, especially during the tourist season. One concern is the lack of sidewalks and dedicated bike paths. Do you agree this is a concern and if so, what would you like to see changed or added regarding sidewalks and bike paths?
Traffic is a major issue and I experience it first hand living in the southern part of Surf City on the island. The current sidewalks are not wide enough and they almost always have some sort of debris on them whether it is sand or gravel. I would like to see the sidewalk maintenance done in a more regular and routine fashion including cutting back brush along the sides. I know that repaving of South Shore Dr by NCDOT is in the works and if they could increase the side area to include a dedicated bike path then the sidewalks would remain for pedestrian traffic only. This would be nice to see Surf City follow on our portion of South Shore drive as well. If we are able to accomplish this then it would also be nice to see the same thing follow through on the mainland side of Hwy 50.
6. Our area is unique in the fact that we are comprised of several small towns and two counties. Do you feel it is important to work alongside the neighboring towns/counties and are there any specific issues you want addressed or feel needs more work?
Hearing our community referred to as Topsul Island instead of the 3 municipalities is a great thing. I do feel that there are things we have done well so far but also things that are missing. Possibly pooling our tourism committees when we do large events such as Surf City Live, Ocean Fest, Autumn with Topsail, Liberty Festival, Spot Festival and Jazz Festival would be great opportunities to work with our adjacent towns. Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce is leading the way in connecting our communities and I would like to see more town support for them in this as well. I know Onslow County has a wonderful Parks and Recreation established and with our new facilities it would be great to work with and partner with them on some things also.
7. Hurricanes are a way of life in coastal areas. 1) Do you feel your town is properly prepared to handle a major storm?
Surf City has done a lot after Florence to increase readiness for another storm of that capacity. Our Emergency Management committee is constantly working to improve the way we handle and communicate inclement weather. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to have additional insight into this area by serving as a council member. One of my main goals is to increase communication in general between the town and its citizens. Possibly holding a town event prior to us entering hurricane season where we can discuss how to be prepared and what to do in the event of a large storm would be beneficial to our newer residents.
7.2) What improvements, if any, would you like to see take place, regarding communication, shelters, or staff?
I think we have come a long way since Florence but our full time population continues to increase as well. Setting up community members that have a task to make sure their neighbors are updated on storm plans and impact would be a great community outreach program. They could also be the dedicated agents to access communities and properties in the event of another large storm and be granted early access to Surf City in the event of an evacuation so they can report back to their direct community members.
8. If elected and a proposal was created regarding term limits, would you support it?
Yes I do believe that in order to prosper you need to bring in new ideas and new people that are passionate about the health and wellbeing of our community. There are always opportunities for council members to stay involved even if they are not sitting in an elected seat. They can take their knowledge of the community and continue to put it to work in other committee areas.
9. As time is always precious, do you agree that as an elected official, it is your responsibility to learn about the topics to be discussed ahead of time to help expedite discussions and decisions during the meetings?
Having a degree in chemistry I feel knowledge is a requirement in making any decision. It is our job as council members to find the areas that someone might have overlooked or discuss with community members that might be impacted to see how they feel prior to meeting at council to make a decision. Most of us just live in one house in Surf City and what might help one might hurt another. It is our job to take both of those people into consideration. The same goes for businesses and the environment. Yes or no decisions should be backed with facts not just feelings. If your community has paid parking: What issues do you have regarding the current program and would you work to change or alter the existing program in your community?
10. If your community has paid parking: What issues do you have regarding the current program and would you work to change or alter the existing program in your community?
I do think that paid parking allows us to generate revenue without having to raise taxes. However I do see some parking areas sitting with little to no vehicles in them most of the summer. I would like to find a way to determine which lots generate the least revenue and offer those as free parking year round. Also given that most of the profit from parking goes to beach nourishment as we get closer to our goal for that project I would like to see those revenues go back into things like better sidewalks, bike paths and parks and recreation upgrades. These are things that our local community would use and have access to year round.
11. Tell me something about yourself that may be of interest to the community.
I moved to the Surf City area to work at Sears Landing Grill and Boat Docks when it first opened 20 years ago. I have grown up with this small town and went from college student waitress to having a family and small businesses locally in our community. I have worked on Camp Lejeune as a contractor and love our military community as well. When it comes to someone who is genuinely invested in our community I am the epitome of that. My house, my heart, my livelihood depends on the success of Surf City and I will not fail at taking care of our community and its members.