On September 26, the Brunswick County NAACP hosted a candidate forum where each participant was asked a series of questions.

Question 1: What would you say is the the first and foremost concern you have for the citizens of Brunswick County?

 

Dr. Bill Flythe, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County Commissioner, District 3:

Protection of the coastal environment will be a very important issue in the next few years.  I will propose a resolution(s) opposing such destructive practices as seismic testing and offshore drilling.  Local legislators in the NC General Assembly will be encouraged to support policies that will increase monitoring and testing for Gen-X, coal ash chemicals, and other pollutants in the source of our drinking water (Cape Fear River).  The Board will be asked to address flooding problems in the County by updating the local land use plan (UDO).  

Note: Bill’s opponent Republican Pat Sykes did not participate in the forum.

 

Dr. Marcia Morgan, Democrat Candidate for NC House District 19: 

As COVID continues to impact our state and local communities, my top priority would be making healthcare more affordable, starting by expanding Medicaid followed closely by economic reforms geared toward getting everyone back to work. Long term, my priorities would be to strengthen public education by raising teacher pay and per-pupil spending to at least the national average and by making corporate polluters pay rather than allowing cleanup costs to be passed along to taxpayers.

Note: Marcia’s opponent Republican Charlie Miller did not participate in the forum.

 

Dr. David Sink, Democrat Candidate for NC Senate District 8:

There is a long list of Brunswick County concerns; however, the most important is dealing with COVID.  For the benefit of our citizens we must attack the virus on two fronts: They are access to affordable health care and economic recovery.  Expanding Medicaid begins the long journey to putting affordable health care within the reach of those who currently cannot afford it.  Financial assistance must be made available to help our citizens until they can safely return to work.

Note: David’s opponent Republican Bill Rabon did not participate in the forum.

 

 

Question 2:  The sixth amendment says a person has a right to a “speedy” trial.  Why must folks, who have no money for bail, stay in jail waiting for their case to be heard?  It is unconstitutional.

 

Dr. Bill Flythe, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County Commissioner, District 3:

 I agree that it is unfair for a person to remain in jail for an unlimited period of time while waiting for his/her time in court.  Therefore, it will be proposed that anyone accused of a non-violent/

non-threatening crime be released without bail after 30 days.

Note: Bill’s opponent Republican Pat Sykes did not participate in the forum.

 

Dr. Marcia Morgan, Democrat Candidate for NC House District 19: 

I agree and our Republican general assembly has done us a disservice by tying the hands of the judiciary system when it comes to waiving court costs. We must institute reform. We need to look at ending cash bail requirements in instances where there is no evidence of danger to the community or flight risk.  Individuals who are unable to pay even a minimal bail are forced to sit in jail when they need to be taking care of families or working.

Note: Marcia’s opponent Republican Charlie Miller did not participate in the forum.

 

Attorney Ryan Smithwick, Unaffiliated Candidate for NC Superior Court Judge, District 13B Seat 1:

North Carolina repealed its Speedy Trial statute in 1989.  Procedurally, a Defendant must file a Motion or Request for a Speedy Trial and be sure to object to each and every continuance of the trial as it may be requested by the State.  Should the Defendant ever move to continue the case during the time it is pending, it could negate any relief on constitutional grounds. The case law indicates that the delay is not really a problem until at least a year has passed for a felony case.  The Superior Court Judge would then review four factors: 1) length of the pretrial delay, 2) reason for the delay, 3) prejudice to the defendant, and 4) defendant’s assertion of the right to a speedy trial.  The Defendant must show that the delay caused actual prejudice to his ability to present a defense.  A dismissal on these grounds is extremely rare.

Most counties, or districts should have a bond policy which is set by the Senior Resident Superior Court Judge and the Chief District Court Judge.  Guidelines are given to the magistrates that offer suggested bond amounts for certain offenses.   Our Sheriff’s Office has implemented a system that identifies certain Defendants being held for minor, non-violent misdemeanor offenses who have been in jail for a period of time that exceeds the typical sentence and places them before a judge for consideration on the bond or even the pre-trial release program.  Our bond policy has not been addressed or revised since 2008.  I would certainly encourage the Chief District Court Judge and Senior Resident Superior Court Judge to have the conversation.

Ryan’s opponent Republican Jason Disbrow did not participate in the forum.

 

Dr. David Sink, Democrat Candidate for NC Senate District 8:

Change is needed if a person’s right to a speedy trial is denied due to his/her inability to post bail.  Not only is it unfair, it is unconstitutional.  We must end cash bail requirements for those who are not a threat to the community or a flight risk while waiting for trial.

Note: David’s opponent Republican Bill Rabon did not participate in the forum.

 

 

Question for David Sink and Bill Flythe:

Because Chemours has polluted our drinking water, this act of disregard will have a disproportional water rate impact on our marginalized groups and individuals, such as those among us living in poverty including the disabled, pregnant or lactating women, veterans, homeless people, and residents of unincorporated areas of our county.  If elected, what will you do to help relieve that financial impact?

 

Dr. Bill Flythe, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County Commissioner, District 3:

The Board purchased an expensive ($122 million) and efficient water purification system to remove GenX and other chemicals.   Brunswick County citizens should not have to pay the entire cost of this system while the industrial polluter with a bad history (see chemical pollution in West Virginia) doesn’t pay a single penny?  I will apply pressure to local legislators for the NC General Assembly to provide some financial relief through grants.  Board members will be encouraged to aggressively pursue, along with other area counties, some financial relief through the courts.

Note: Bill’s opponent Republican Pat Sykes did not participate in the forum.

 

Dr. David Sink, Democrat Candidate for NC Senate District 8:

The citizens of southeastern NC should not have to pay increased utility rates due to corporate polluters like Chemours and Duke Energy.  Current  proposed settlements require the polluters to clean up their mess.  Cleaning our drinking water source and filtering emissions released in the atmosphere are not enough.  Financial penalties to  the polluters should be extended to cover the majority of the cost for the new water purification system to remove GenX and forever chemicals from the Cape Fear River. Duke Energy and Chemours should not be allowed to pass along their cleanup cost to consumers.  Also, elected officials should not accept political contributions from these corporate polluters.

Note: David’s opponent Republican Bill Rabon did not participate in the forum.

 

Question for Tom Simmons:

How will you support the Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80: North Carolina's Commitment to Address Climate Change and Transition to a Clean Energy Economy and what ideas do you bring to the table to accomplish this?

 

No response as of 10/7/20.

Note: Tom’s opponent Republican Frank Iler did not participate in the forum.

 

 

Question for Dr. Bill Flythe:

How do you feel about the method (Fire Fees) in which Brunswick County is funding its Fire Departments?  Should it be eliminated and a tax be established so that ALL departments might be adequately funded?

 

Dr. Bill Flythe, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County Commissioner, District 3:

 Approximately 20 years ago, I supported Brunswick County leaders when they requested legislators to implement a fire fee.  It was difficult for volunteers to provide dependable service and to raise necessary funds.  Therefore, the concept of a fire fee should remain with one significant modification: Add the tax value of the building/property being added to the formula for calculating the fee.  Currently, the fee is based solely on the acreage or heated square footage.  Once all fees have been collected, funds will be drawn from the County “pool” so that rich, well-developed districts will subsidize poor, rural districts.

 

 

Question for David Robinson and Sherrill Jolly:

Will you promise transparency to families on key school factors — such as course offerings, enrichment opportunities, teacher experience levels, etc. — and the degree to which students of different races and income levels receive these benefits?

 

Sherrill Jolly, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County School Board, District 2:  

This is one area that bothers me.  There are so many advantages our students are offered, but they don’t know they have these opportunities, and the parents are woefully underinformed about the opportunities in our area.  We need to do more to let parents know WHY it is important for them to come to nights set aside for registration.  Brunswick County Schools has a partnership with BCC that offers online and on campus classes tuition free for students enrolled in high school.  They also provide trade classes such as welding and cosmetology.  Students going to college can get a head start on general academic courses, thereby, saving money.  These statistics you are looking for are kept by the county.  I don’t the legality of publication of that data, but if it is legal, it should be readily available that is, people should not have to do research in order to find it.

 

David Robinson, Republican Candidate for Brunswick County School Board, District 2:

No response as of 10/7/20.

 

 

Question for Sherrill Jolly and David Robinson: Salaries for school board are extremely high here per number of students.   As a fairly new resident of Brunswick county, why are the salaries here so high for the board of election members in relation to other counties of comparable size?

 

Sherrill Jolly, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County School Board, District 2:  I didn’t know the answer to this question when I taught for the county, and I still don’t know the reasoning behind the salary increase.  If nothing else, salary increases should not even be considered until we can give teachers and staff more money through stipends.  Salary hikes for board members should be off the board.  It might even be appropriate to scale back salaries in order to provide money needed in another area. 

 

David Robinson, Republican Candidate for Brunswick County School Board, District 2:

No response as of 10/7/20.

 

What can you do to foster greater cultural sensitivity awareness in our county school system?

Sherrill Jolly, Democrat Candidate for Brunswick County School Board, District 2:  

  1. We can offer a wider curriculum.  Perhaps offering an African American literature, African American history, Native American literature or history class, or offering American Sign Language as an option for foreign language requirements. Additional classes and programs of course require student involvement and money. 

  2. Field trips could be planned to areas locally that are important to US history, NC history, and local                                                                 history.  Cultural aspects should always be addressed in discussing history.Community leaders that can shed light on cultural adversity within our community would be beneficial in our schools as guest speakers and mentors. 

  3. Their unique vantage point would be appropriate for helping students to become more culturally aware of the people and situations in  their community that have affected and continue to affect the community.

 

David Robinson, Republican Candidate for Brunswick County School Board, District 2:

No response as of 10/7/20.

 

Comments from attendees during the forum:

Resea Willis: We have to say Black Lives Matter because Black people have always been marginalized since arriving on theses shores. Everyone needs to speak truth as Christ Jesus did and not be concerned about how it appears to your friends and family.  We need to put as much money in advertising these programs as we do on other things. The county has the ability to partner with utility companies and small businesses doing mailings and advertising.  We need more action less talk.