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  • Writer's pictureTopsail Times

Candidate Questionnaire: Connie Pletl For N. Topsail Beach Council

1. What are your greatest strengths and skill set that will make you a good elected official?

Some of my greatest strengths and skills are related to my keen sense of curiosity. I want to know about the issues and challenges that the town faces and I want to know not only the quickest and easiest solutions, but what solutions are best in the long run. I also look at every side of an issue, and will choose to fight for the side that I believe is the will of the majority of townspeople, and is best for the town, even if it is not always the one I would have personally chosen for myself.

2. Is there a particular issue that motivated you to run for office?

I have watched the town grow over the years and while decisions that are made at the federal level are the big ones that make the news, it’s the decisions made by small, local governments that affect people’s lives the most; I want to make good decisions for the town and help move it forward in a positive manner.

3. Do you currently or have you ever held an elected office before, and if so, what office?

The only office I have ever been elected to is the one I am currently holding. I was appointed to the North Topsail Beach Board of Aldermen in July 2021 to fill the position of Alderman Richard Peters, who passed away while in office. I ran for, and won, the seat in that November’s election.

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?

The experience I have with zoning issues is what I have studied pertaining to issues in North Topsail Beach and what I have learned at town meetings

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?

North Topsail Beach has a “share the road” bike path on Island Drive and a mile-long multi-use path from the town hall north to the Richard Peters Park but a continuation of a bike path is sorely needed for New River Inlet Road, which is narrow and winding. To that end, the issue of a share the road bike path that would not only provide a continuous safe riding lane for the whole town but also connect to the entire island, has been something the town board has been working to make happen. I am happy to say that the current board has approved funding to move forward on that issue so that our town roads will be safer.

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?

I feel it is very important to work with neighboring municipalities as well as Onslow and Pender counties. The island towns and counties have issues that are unique to the coastal area. For example, hurricane preparedness, evacuation and reentry are topics of extreme importance where all local coastal entities need to work together. While they all work together well, every storm is different and we should always strive to improve.

7. Hurricanes are a way of life in coastal areas. 1) Do you feel your town is properly prepared to handle a major storm? 2) What improvements, if any, would you like to see take place, regarding communication, shelters, or staff?

North Topsail Beach is prepared to handle a major storm but improvements can be made. The town needs an offisland reliable emergency operations center, and the current board has been discussing that issue

8. If elected and a proposal was created regarding term limits, would you support it?

I would support a proposal for term limits. While I feel the voters should always have the choice of who they want to represent them, fresh ideas can sometimes move the government forward in a more positive light. That being said, it sometimes takes years for someone to work through projects to their fruition, so I would not want to cap the amount of terms that an elected official could serve concurrently at too low of a number.

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?

Absolutely I do. Issues should always be studied in preparation for meetings; however, elected officials should always keep an open mind in case new information is brought up during meetings.

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 am satisfied with the paid parking in North Topsail Beach. It is a fair system of obtaining revenue. Property owners pay taxes to NTB, vacationers renting in town pay accommodations tax, it only makes sense that day trippers should also contribute. I feel our rates and times are fair. Additionally, there are county lots in the town that do not charge for parking.

11. Tell me something about yourself that may be of interest to the community.

I have been a fulltime resident of North Topsail Beach for over 27 years. From 1999-2012, I worked for the Topsail Voice newspaper and covered island and area issues. I attended hundreds of town meetings, county meetings, area events and environmental symposiums – giving me the unique experience of learning about many aspects of the coastal area and the town of North Topsail Beach. Additionally, I worked for two other newspapers through 2014. Even after leaving the newspaper business, I continued to stay in tune with the happenings of the town of North Topsail Beach. I enjoy representing the citizens of the town and also strive to look out for the interests of all who live, own property and vacation in our beautiful town.


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