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  • Writer's pictureTopsail Times

Candidate Questionnaire: Heather Allen For Surf City Council

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

I have been a very involved citizen. I will be a strong advocate for all Surf City residents and will be persistent in finding solutions when concerns arise.

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

Surf City is clean, safe, a great place to raise a family and has award winning schools. It reminds me of the small beach town I grew up in, however, due to poor policies, my hometown quickly lost all of those positive attributes. I am extremely motivated to preserve everything wonderful about Surf City!

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

No. I will be coming in with fresh eyes.

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 done a lot of research regarding this issue and I believe it will benefit Surf City to adopt a Unified Development Ordinance. We also should be listening to the School Board members when they say class sizes are becoming overcrowded. I understand we passed the school bond (we still have not finished paying off the previous bond), but we are years away from a new school being built. On the other hand, new apartment complexes are being built in record time in our town.

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?

I recently made a video questioning our random sidewalks. I absolutely believe paving sidewalks that actually connect will bring a sense of community to Surf City. I will say that every time I host a Meet and Greet, not one person supports a “bike lane” but I do agree a separate bike path, especially one that connects to the beach, would be a safe alternative for our younger generation to get around. It would also be great if we could lower the speed limit to 35mph on some Surf City streets so more neighbors can utilize their golfcarts. I would definitely support a traffic expert to come to Surf City and give us their professional opinion concerning our traffic lights and roads.

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?

The biggest complaints I hear from residents is about paid beach parking. Everyone knows I am no fan of this myself. If we are going to charge people to utilize their own beach, it would be nice if all three cities were cohesive. If you pay for the day in Surf City and decide to head over to North Topsail, you will be ticketed. I understand that both North Topsail and Topsail Beach decided not to continue with an original beach renourishment plan that Surf City is still involved in. It would be beneficial if we could work together on this project.

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?

Very few cities of our size have an Emergency Management Coordinator. Surf City is lucky to have that in Mr. James Horn. This demonstrates the town is putting in the effort to be prepared. According to a veteran Surf City Fire Department employee who has also worked for four other local governments, our city is doing a phenomenal job when it comes to hurricane readiness. As a Councilperson, I would make it my priority to know which residents do not have “smart phones” in order to ensure they are aware of storm protocols.

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

100% and I give Marc Caldwell a lot of credit for bringing this topic to light.

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. What I find unfortunate is that our Town Hall meeting starts at 4:30 on a Tuesday when most Surf City residents are working. I feel if we move the time back just one hour to 5:30, more citizens will be able to engage with the council and speak up about their concerns. I personally have the time and a lot of energy to meet with residents and small business owners and will be happy to do so face to face, by email, social media or phone, and talk about the needs of our city.

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?

Pull up a chair and stay for a while! If it were solely up to me, I would abolish the entire beach paid parking system. I don’t think it is right to force *certain* Surf City residents to pay their government to enjoy their local beach. Surf City has been established for almost 75 years and never needed to charge people before. Local government in Surf City has already increased the price and extended the time frame to pay, at a time where everything in life costs more. Not to mention we have people who come out to volunteer to clean Surf City’s beach with Coastal Cleanup of Topsail and get ticketed (not a great way to incentivize volunteering in our city). I have been working hard to at least get these volunteers free parking passes while they are picking up trash off of Surf City’s sand. Some of my own family members do not own “smart phones” and would have an extremely hard time paying to park. More residents do not know where 100% of the funds go, than residents who do know. I know I am not the only one who registered their plates and still received a ticket and had to take time out of my day to clear up the mistake.

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

I am extremely excited to pilot a Jr Lifeguard/Jr Waterman program in Surf City. I believe our town is lacking in youth activities and this would be so well received, not to mention revenue generating. I’ve met and spoken with intelligent people in this industry and know we can put an amazing program together that will teach our children how to respect our ocean, look for riptides, perform CPR, make rescues and stay in shape during the summer. I will absolutely make this a priority for our town.


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